Bermondsey Mum was born 44 years ago and grew up in rural western Ireland. Of the options available to her at 18, she didn't much fancy the Civil Service or teaching and, anyway, there were no funds to pay for Teacher Training College so she trained as a nurse in Dublin and on qualification moved to London in 1987. The nursing proved vital to funding a legal education and she qualified as a Solicitor in 1998. Along the way, she moved to Bermondsey in 1995, married Bermondsey husband, got involved in politics with him, and had two children. She blogs at Bermondsey Mum.
What has been your best blogging experience? > My friend at Sensible Footwear alerted me to a company called Old Town which makes a fabric called 'Bermondsey in Bloom'. A bit of blogosphere to-ing and fro-ing has resulted in Old Town sending a bolt of the fabric to one of the schools where I am Chair of Govs and in return we are sending them a sample of fabric designed by Bermondsey schoolchildren. And of course, this!
Who are your intellectual heroes? > People who write lucidly about complex issues and ideas – John Lanchester, David Runciman, Linda Colley in the LRB and, although he's perhaps not an intellectual hero as such, I admire the ideas given expression on Matthew Taylor's blog for the RSA.
What are you reading at the moment? > Any Human Heart by William Boyd (finishing), Netherland by Joseph O'Neill (starting), and London Belongs to Me by Norman Collins (can't put down).
Who are your cultural heroes? > Mark Rylance, Bruce Springsteen and Thomas Heatherwick.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > I couldn’t just choose one because, for different reasons, they all leave a mark. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell.
What is your favourite poem? > 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' by W.B. Yeats.
What is your favourite movie? > The Way We Were.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Does Creationism count as a philosophical thesis? Then that, at every opportunity, ought to be stamped on. Look what's happened in the US when such ideas go unchallenged and often for cynical, political reasons.
Who are your political heroes? > Bobby Kennedy, John Hume, Barack Obama.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > All politics is local.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > Electoral reform, specifically introduction of the STV form of PR because it would change everything. It might take a while but it would transform 'safe' seats and the resulting excesses, party funding and patronage, media patronage of the current main parties and possibly even voter disenchantment. Some elements of the print media, in particular, have spread the idea that PR/coalition politics is messy and inevitably leads to compromise, but is that such a bad thing?
What would you do with the UN? > Gosh, BM gives advice on world peace! Well, for a start I would make every country's UN Ambassador more accountable to their home country. I had to Google to find out who is the current UK office-holder (Sir Mark Lyall Grant). I wonder how many people would know that without checking. He needs to report and explain why negotiations on, for example, nuclear proliferation are so important, why relief for poorer countries is essential, not just on moral grounds but to ease migration and displaced populations etc.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Fear is usually at the root of it all. There are so many individual issues which could become a threat: e.g. diminishing resources against increasing population size, and nuclear proliferation. But as long as countries continue to communicate with each other, especially the ones we fear or distrust, then maybe it will be OK (which is where regular well-publicized reports from our UN representative would be good).
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Best is yet to come, definitely. If the 20th century saw the dawning of the nuclear age, will the 21st be the genome or internet age and what developments will that lead to? Whilst it feels like the world is going through a major transition with economies and old orthodoxies in trouble, and those changes may have politically de-stabilizing effects, it also feels like an exciting time to be alive.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Live it as best you can.
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.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Empathy - because I believe that if you can imagine yourself in the other party's position, you are better placed to be tolerant, patient, kind and compassionate.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > To protect my children.
What is your favourite proverb? > Not a proverb but a saying of Oscar Wilde's: 'We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars'.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching other people play golf.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Where to start more like... Will my children grow up to be happy, well-adjusted people? Will I ever earn a living wage again? How likely am I to beat my maternal line genetics and live past 68?
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I would not have hesitated but gone to Ireland the weekend before my mother died.
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > A Cusack or maybe Fiona Shaw.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Somewhere warm, possibly Italy.
What is your most treasured possession? > The last birthday card my mother sent me.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to play the piano.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Used to be Dave Allen, now possibly Rob Brydon. I loved the Gavin & Stacey series, also 30 Rock. Who knew Alec Baldwin could do funny?
Who are your sporting heroes? > Eric Cantona, Willie John McBride and Arthur Ashe.
[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.]