Chris White was born in Florence. His childhood was spent in Italy, Africa, Sweden, India and the UK. He studied French and German at Bradford University, almost did an MA in French Theatre, nearly did a PGCE, but went to Italy instead to teach English, and then accepted a job offer to become a journalist at a small trade magazine in London. More than 20 years on and he is still there and, to coin a phrase, liked it so much he bought the company. Chris speaks several languages, travels a great deal, likes books, and is learning to play jazz drums. He lives in Battersea, not far from Battersea Power Station and Battersea Dog's Home. His photo blog is at Travels with my iPhone.
Why do you blog? > Mine's a picture blog. I've always liked taking photographs of things, and I stored them online. Other people said they liked my photos, so I got into the habit of posting them. Taking photos removes the boredom from business travel. It also makes me see the world differently. I'm trying to do a blog, as well, about the jazz records I listen to. So many people say they don't like jazz; the real problem is they don't know jazz.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Albert Camus, Christopher Hitchens.
What are you reading at the moment? > A book of essays by V.S. Naipaul entitled Finding The Center, which I bought in a second-hand bookshop on a recent trip to Los Angeles, and Hemingway's Collected Short Stories.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Albert Camus, Saul Bellow, John Updike, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Lennie Tristano, Lee Konitz, Pierre Boulez, Igor Stravinsky, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan, Sean Scully and Jeffrey Smart; and I have a thing about a Florentine painter called Jacopo di Pontormo.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > War and Peace was a complete revelation to me. I love John Updike's four Rabbit books, and treasure a first edition of Rabbit, Run that I bought for a small fortune a few years ago. I'd like to have met Updike, but can't imagine he would say the same thing about me.
What is your favourite movie? > Sorry, but one isn't enough. So it's City Lights by Charlie Chaplin, Fellini's Amarcord, Truffaut's Les Quatre-Cent Coups, an Italian film called I Soliti Ignoti, and In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar-Wai.
Who is your favourite composer? > Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring' thrills me every time I hear it.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament. I always thought Russia had the best of intentions. It seems they didn't.
Who are your political heroes? > Thomas Jefferson, for all his flaws, must have been pretty special. And, while I know this is by no means a universally popular choice, Tony Blair: at last a British politician of the centre-left who wins elections, and he changed the Tories too.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.'
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Poverty. Islamic Fundamentalism runs it a close second.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > Be kind to strangers.
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, I think I probably could. Don't they say opposites attract?
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Friendliness.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > The triumph of slovenliness and the second rate.
What is your favourite proverb? > The Germans have one I like: 'You can't dance at every wedding'.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Watching sport for the sake of watching sport, and drinking for the sake of drinking.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Death.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'd have been much bolder, younger. All those girls I didn't dare to kiss.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > There's a place not far from Florence where I think I could be very happy.
What would your ideal holiday be? > I like to visit the buildings of famous architects. Last summer I went to Finland to look at Alvar Aalto.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > At the moment, watching my garden grow.
What is your most treasured possession? > A gold watch owned by my great-grandfather, a nice man called Ilio Berti. I inherited it on the death of my older brother Mark. I wish I still had him and he still had the watch.
What talent would you most like to have? > The ability to accent the snare drum while playing time on the ride cymbal.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > A jazz musician or an architect.
Which English Premiership football team do you support? > I look to see if Manchester United have scored and if Lancashire are winning at cricket. I'd also like to go to Fenway Park to watch the Boston Red Sox.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I'd call Renzo Piano and ask him to build me a house in wood and glass in a pine forest by a lake.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Albert Camus and I would vie for the attentions of Sophia Loren and Lee Miller at the Brasserie Lipp on the Boulevard St. Germain.
[A list of all the normblog profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]