Marcus Laughton was born in a park near St Andrews. He studied in Newcastle Upon Tyne and Leeds before accepting a training contract with a firm of City solicitors in 1994. After nine years in London and a couple more in Jersey he moved to East Sussex where he continues to practise law and opens his blinds every morning to the English Channel. He has been blogging at Harry's Place since February 2003.
Why do you blog? > Getting things off my chest; improving my writing; checking I'm not alone in the world and - less frequently these days - getting involved in an online rammy.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Reading the comments boxes at Harry's Place on a good night - wit, enlightenment and the sort of esprit de corps undreamed of elsewhere.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Reading the comments boxes at Harry's Place on a bad night - bigotry, drunkenness and dismayingly poor grammar.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Try to be as truthful as possible, even if the result is that even more people misunderstand or dislike you than normal.
What are you reading at the moment? > I've just started reading a biography of the band, Steely Dan. I'm hoping it provides an insight into what they were going on about. No enlightenment so far, though.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert.
What is your favourite poem? > I spent a fair a bit of time in Japan when I was younger, so when I pick up a collection of haiku the memories flood back. I only read the poems in translation, though. It takes a long time to look them up in a Japanese dictionary if you don't recognize some of the characters.
What is your favourite movie? > Kurosawa's re-working of King Lear: Ran.
What is your favourite song? > Something from Bob Dylan's weird, theatrical album Desire. Maybe 'Sara' or 'Isis'. I've always liked Scarlet Rivera's violin parts on it. Apparently she was just wandering past the studio with a fiddle under her arm when Dylan yelled out to her: 'Hey, you! can you play that thing?'
Who is your favourite composer? > Sometimes Bach, sometimes Beethoven, depending on mood. Boring, I know, but who else even comes close? I'm not old enough for Mozart yet, though that probably won't be long now.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Liberty.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > Politics is the art of the possible.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Fundamentalists with access to weapons of mass destruction.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Most of the time I think the best is yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Don't spend too long wondering where the instructions are.
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? > Yes. It's more difficult, but who's to say you're going to keep thinking the same way all your life anyway?
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Forgiveness.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > People who argue in bad faith.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I suspect everyone has prejudices whether they admit to them or not: the trick is not allowing them to be the last word in any given situation.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > If people other than me enjoy them then they aren't a waste of these people's time. If I don't participate in them then they aren't a waste of my time.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I wouldn't have put that pussy willow up my nose as a young boy, no matter how interesting it felt at the time. And I wouldn't have repeated the episode in the pub two years back for a cheap laugh either.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Cape Town maybe.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I've always fancied travelling in the far north. Up near the top of Norway; Iceland; Greenland; places on the very edge of civilization.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > Eating, drinking, reading, writing, talking and blogging.
What talent would you most like to have? > I would like to be less musically lamentable.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > I'm currently watching Frasier all the way through for the third or fourth time. There's a financial up-side to having a poor memory for jokes.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > It would be nice not to have to fork out for yet another mortgage payment every month.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Even if I won the pools tomorrow I would still be a penny-pinching Scottish miser. I mean I'm a middle-aged lawyer but I still pick up the red elastic bands the postmen drop on the floor.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > I think it might be interesting to invite a trio of Victorians round. I'd be interested to see how they reacted to how the world had changed in the space of 150 years: 'And this is my new difference engine Mr Babbage... manufactured in a workshop in far Cathay.'
What animal would you most like to be? > Cats seem to me to lead enviable (and renewable) lives.
[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.]