Johnny Guitar was born in county Armagh in 1980. He spent his teenage years reading vast amounts about Irish and Russian history while simultaneously maintaining an unhealthy obsession with Louise Wener. After a couple of years faffing around pretending to be a journalist, he went off to university in 2000. Five years and two degrees later he moved to Belfast with his partner and took up a lowly job in the media where he remains to this day. Johnny blogs at Your Friend in the North.
Why do you blog? > To get the ideas floating frantically around my head put into a coherent form of words.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Any engagement with a reader who contributes a thoughtful comment in response to one of my posts.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Getting drawn into a pointless dispute about the BBC reality TV series The Apprentice with a friend of one of the contestants who took umbrage at some of my remarks.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Uphold a clear set of principles, write for no one but yourself and don't take it too seriously.
What are you reading at the moment? > Shelley's Revolutionary Year by Paul Foot.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh.
What is your favourite poem? > 'An Ulsterman' by John Hewitt.
What is your favourite movie? > La Chinoise.
What is your favourite song? > 'Faster' by Manic Street Preachers. Well, that's what it is today. Ask me the same question tomorrow and I'll most likely give you a different answer.
Who is your favourite composer? > Shostakovich.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Just over two years ago I came to the conclusion that I had been wrong to oppose the intervention to topple the Ba'athist dictatorship in Iraq. In doing so I realized that changing your mind is not always a bad thing.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Anything written by Christopher Hitchens concerning the fight against terrorism and totalitarianism following the attacks of September 11th 2001. Reading his various articles and essays finally made me appreciate the absolute necessity of the current struggle and the hopelessness of those on the left who preach either spineless neutrality or treacherous support for the forces of reaction.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > May I borrow Terry Glavin's answer? ('Social-democratic internationalism.')
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Postmodernism.
Who are your political heroes? > The trade unionists that organized strikes and marches in protest against terrorist violence in Northern Ireland back in the early 1990s. They played a small but significant role in helping to illustrate the opposition of ordinary working people to the killing and did their bit to force the sectarian death squads to end their campaigns. Unfortunately, these days people are more likely to remember the non-existent input of Hillary Clinton into the peace process.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.'
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I would abolish faith-based education. Apart from the fact that it offers absolutely nothing, it has also done immeasurable damage here in Northern Ireland by contributing to the sectarian apartheid in our society.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Nationalism and religion.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > I already am.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'It doesn't matter what you give a pig, it'll still shite black.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Video games.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I would brake slightly earlier in order to avoid crashing into the car in front of me at a set of traffic lights in Portadown on March 17th 1999.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Adrian Edmondson.
What would your ideal holiday be? > A week in Paris is always a delight.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Chris Morris.
Who are your sporting heroes? > The 2002 Armagh Gaelic football team.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > I would like to see the Labour Party organize in Northern Ireland. Its failure to do so and the extent to which its presence could have helped reduce sectarian division is for me one of the great 'what ifs?' of 20th century Irish history.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd buy more hardback books.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Michael Collins, Cathal Goulding and Gerry Adams.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]