Chas Newkey-Burden is a bestselling author and has written for a broad range of magazines and newspapers including The Times, The Guardian, Mail On Sunday, Private Eye and Time Out. He is a fortnightly columnist for Jewish News and a regular studio guest on BBC London. Chas also co-authored Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy with Julie Burchill. He blogs at OyVaGoy.
Why do you blog? > OyVaGoy is my way of reaching out to Jewish people and especially Israelis who rarely hear any positive or supportive voices from England. Many of my readers live in Israel. I think it's good to show that some of us see through the spin that's directed against them and we're firmly and fondly on their side. I'm not particularly interested in winning any arguments; I just think it's powerful to reach out a hand of friendship. As a professional writer, I also enjoy having a writing project that isn't driven by any commercial consideration. It's great fun to be able to post whatever I like.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Several times when people have told me that something on my blog encouraged them to do something positive themselves to support Israel.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > It's better to let your blog go quiet for a week than to post half-hearted or pointless articles.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Not sure he would normally be described as an intellectual hero but I think the Baal Shem Tov (the founder of the Hasidic movement) would be at the top of a very tall tree.
What are you reading at the moment? > Disgusting Bliss: The Brass Eye of Chris Morris by Lucian Randall. It's wonderful.
What is your favourite movie? > It differs from day to day but it would normally be one out of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, District 9 or Once Upon A Time In America.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Many, but most dramatically the death penalty. I used to bitterly oppose it but now I support it with certain conditions. Also, before I bothered to properly learn about the Middle East I suppose I had a vague, lazy sense of ill-informed suspicion of Israel, whereas now I am obviously firmly supportive.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > I read the memoir of cancer-beating cyclist Lance Armstrong, called It's Not About The Bike, when I had lost my way a bit in life. When I look back at the wonderful things that have happened to me - both personally and professionally - in the years since, I can trace a lot of them back to that book.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister who would you choose? > You know what? I'd bring back Tony Blair. I both admire and miss him.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The best is always yet to come.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Don't worry, be happy.
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'd be bored to tears if it were not that way, but I think shared values are important.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Genuinely positive energy. If someone has lots of that, then the other important things tend to follow.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Jealousy, because it usually leads to such destructive and cowardly behaviour.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > I've never been a fan of office parties, New Year's Eve, or any other instances of what I see as 'enforced fun'. True joy is nearly always more spontaneous than that.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > I used to worry all the time, but then I looked back at all the time in my life I had wasted worrying about things that never happened. So I rarely worry about myself anymore, but I still worry about my loved ones quite a bit.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Just one thing: I would have gone to a different secondary school. I went to a terrible place run by a cult and the teachers made my life hell for six years because I wouldn't join the cult. I'm over it now of course, but if I had to do it all again I'd give that place a wide berth!
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Several cities appeal including Boston, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv and Bath. But I really love where I live and I enjoy getting excited about visiting all of the above places.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > I love long distance running. I feel free and uplifted as I run, and my mind races with me. I've done two marathons (personal best 4hrs 3mins) and I run all year round. If I'm too ill, or the roads are too icy, to run for a few days I really, really miss it.
What is your most treasured possession? > My house. Where would I be without it? (Well, homeless - obviously).
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > Never mind my first name, how about the chance to change my surname? I'd change that to just about anything!
What talent would you most like to have? > Stunning guitar playing, ferocious football skills, an extra few inches of height.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I'd love to run a restaurant. I can imagine being full of enthusiasm for that and I also think I'd take massive pride in my work.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > Arsenal FC, though since they moved from Highbury and I moved from London, some of the fun of actively following them has been lost.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > Dazzling, perfect white teeth.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > See previous answer.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Golda Meir, Simon Cowell and my boyfriend Chris.
What animal would you most like to be? > Alpacas look like they have a lot of fun.
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