Neil was born in deepest south London in 1964 and raised in the Black Country. After reading every book in various branch libraries he progressed to an unsentimental education at Portsmouth, Wolverhampton, Keele and the Open University (where he bumped into Rullsenberg). He likes serendipitous browsing in bookshops; wandering in art galleries, museums; and watching meaningless cricket matches with friends. He wishes he looked like the Mayakovsky of Aleksander Rodchenko's photographs. Maybe he does. Neil blogs at A Cloud In Trousers.
Why do you blog? > I started because I wanted to write more, write better and write more often. And I realized it was a case of fail, fail again, fail better.
What has been your best blogging experience? > When I disagreed with Oliver Kamm over the purpose of art and his call for the sacking of a curatorial fellow at the National Gallery. Also finding old friends and making new friends.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Write fairly often but not so often you become the Billy Childish of the blogging 'verse.
What are your favourite blogs? > Have to mention Rullsenberg Rules for its vivid and lucid critique of pop culture (as a magazine once said Low Culture for High Brows); A General Theory of Rubbish (for keeping up with critical theory and making me laugh); and Hak Mao (for its politics and biting humour).
Who are your intellectual heroes? > C.L.R. James (for reclaiming cricket writing from a deserved conservative, buffery image), Ryszcard Kapuscinski (for bold reporting from the front line), Bertrand Russell, George Orwell.
What are you reading at the moment? > Hard Time, a crime thriller about the Brummie detective Bev Morriss (Maureen Carter), When the Lights Went out (Andy Beckett), Guilty Men (Cato), Alice In Sunderland (Brian Talbot), The Industrial Workers of the World: Its First 100 Years (Fred W. Thompson and Jon Bekken).
Who are your cultural heroes? > Charlie Mingus, Billy Bragg, Orson Welles, Samuel Beckett, David Thomas (sometime singer of Pere Ubu).
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Vineland or Catch 22. (Joseph Heller was once told 'You haven't written anything as good as Catch 22 since' and he replied 'Neither has anyone else'.)
What is your favourite poem? > It's a tough one but I'm going to choose five: 'Ozymandias', 'To The Men of England' and 'Mask of Anarchy' by Shelley; 'Brooklyn Bridge' by Mayakovsky (even if I have to read it in translation); 'Russians in the DHSS' by Attila the Stockbroker.
What is your favourite movie? > The Big Lebowski, Twelve Monkeys, Casablanca, The Godfather, Diva.
What is your favourite song? > 'It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)', for its strident images and politics: 'Even the President of the United States / Sometimes has to stand naked'.
Who is your favourite composer? > Mingus, Shostakovich.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Santayana crossed with Marx and Hegel: 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it (the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce).'
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The invisible hand of the free market. Markets do not provide food to the hungry if the hungry can't pay.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Beyond a Boundary by C.L.R. James revealed the importance of culture and the importance of cricket and how cricket is a part of culture. And for asking, paraphrasing Kipling, 'What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?'
Who are your political heroes? > Fred W. Thompson (Wobbly), Nestor Makhno, Rosa Luxemburg, Antonio Gramsci.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > Billy Childish (but on a strict rotation).
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Greed, stupidity and dogma.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Keep talking with people. Have concern for their well-being.
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? > No, as what would you find to talk about without disagreeing?
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > A willingness to accept that sometimes you will be wrong.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Certainty and people who persist in their certainty even when the legs are toppling under their argument. That and apathy.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > In reposnse to the classic ethics 101 case of an axeman asking 'Where did Fred go?'
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Against BMW drivers, SUV drivers, political willy-waving, people who just ramble on and totally miss the chase without ever cutting to it. Against greed. Against bigotry. Against intolerance.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better' (if a Sam Beckett quote counts).
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Angling. Twitter. Motorsport. Daytime TV. Computer games. (I have only ever played one computer game, once, for 12 hours straight. After that I made a promise to myself never to play another one ever again. And I haven't.)
What, if anything, do you worry about? > What am I doing here? There are books to read. Films to see. Music to hear. Friends to see. Tomorrow.
What is your most treasured possession? > Life, if that is a possession.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to play a musical instrument. And to recover my long lost (cricket) bowling action.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > For reasons of provenance, Wolverhampton Wanderers.
[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.]