The Love and Garbage blog was set up over five years ago and is currently hosted here. Its author is a 30-something parent, TV viewer and lawyer who lives and works in central Scotland and who writes occasionally on law, politics, the media and scones.
Why do you blog? > There are various motives. Sometimes it is to inform, or to raise awareness of an issue not in general public discourse (e.g. I posted a number of times about whether a referendum could be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament a year before it became an issue in the mainstream media). Sometimes it is as an outlet for absurdity or satire, in the hope that I might make someone laugh. And sometimes there is no thought of an audience - just to write out or about issues that have concerned or interested me, in order to attempt to gather my thoughts in a coherent way.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Making contact with people with similar interests furth of my home area.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Touching on some issues in Scottish politics can lead to the receipt of offensive comments. With young children the receipt of some of these pre-moderated comments into the family email inbox has meant that I have deliberately steered clear of certain issues.
What are your favourite blogs? > I particularly enjoy reading Lallands Peat Worrier, a blog reasonably well known in Scotland but which deserves a wider audience. The blog deals primarily with Scottish legal and political issues with erudition and wit. I also enjoy reading Alex Massie and Obsolete.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Eric Clive. He is one of the unsung heroes of modern life. He was a Scottish law commissioner for two decades and was responsible for the modernization of much of Scots law (including the transformation of family law). Following his retirement from the Scottish law Commission, he is now part of a group working on the codification (the setting out of legal principles in a legislative form) of private law across Europe, bringing together the best of the legal traditions across the continent.
What are you reading at the moment? > I usually have two or three books on the go. I am currently reading China Miéville's The City and the City, Georges Simenon's My Friend Maigret, and Arthur C. Clarke's Collected Stories.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Galton and Simpson, Terrance Dicks, Alasdair Gray and James Kelman. Galton and Simpson should need no explanation. They wrote Hancock. They wrote Steptoe. What more does one need to say? Gray and Kelman rejuvenated Scottish fiction at the end of the 20th century; Terrance Dicks may sit a little oddly on the list and be a more unfamiliar name. He script-edited Doctor Who in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and wrote over 60 novelizations of TV stories. These books - typically 127 or 144 pages - played a large role in encouraging me (and many others) to engage with fiction. I have maintained my old Doctor Who collection and it has been a delight to read them to my children, who seem to get the same pleasure from them that I did.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > I admire many novelists and read a lot of fiction. I admire Banville, Roth, Coetzee, Kelman, Klima, Lem etc. From day to day my favourite novel changes. Today, I'd say Pfitz by Andrew Crumey.
What is your favourite poem? > I could choose any one of a number of poems by Norman MacCaig. Currently, my favourite of his is 'A Man in My Position'.
What is your favourite movie? > Touch of Evil. In some ways the casting is ridiculous: Charlton Heston as a Mexican policeman? But from the opening shot (whether in the original release with Mancini score or the restored version) it is compelling. Welles, as Quinlan, is monstrous.
What is your favourite song? > I prefer instrumental work so this is not quite a song, but I love 'The Wind-up' by Keith Jarrett's European quartet (including Jan Garbarek).
Who is your favourite composer? > J.S. Bach.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > Bicameralism and the virtues of legislators who come from outwith the normal political system. As a student I was in favour of scrapping the House of Lords. Watching the unicameral Scottish Parliament in operation, and its inadequacy as a vehicle for proper legislative scrutiny, I have moved to a position where I feel a second chamber is necessary, and would benefit from independent appointees from outwith the political parties to allow for scrutiny that was not dependent on the party whips.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Liberalism.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Viscount Stair's The Institutions of the Law of Scotland. I have read and continue to read this. It is the foundation of modern Scots law, and consequently has had a major role in the development of the legal system I use in my day-to-day work. It is a work informed by great Roman law texts of the past, by natural law thinking (of which I am largely sceptical), and by a familiarity with the approaches of European legal traditions.
Who are your political heroes? > Roy Jenkins and J.S. Mill.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > The UK is an odd place in that in order to find out what the laws are that govern our day-to-day lives you need to trawl through multiple volumes of legislation, and case reports, and commentaries. I would have a written constitution delimiting the powers of the state, and codify our private and criminal law to take an important step in demystifying the legal system.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > The best is yet to come, provided humanity never loses its innate curiosity.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > With the economic difficulties of the day it is easy (and understandable) to worry about what might happen. Having children – and the way in which when very young they live in the instant – has taught me the truth of Dennis Potter's words in his final television interview when he described the 'blossomest blossom' and living in and celebrating the present tense.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I tend to avoid novels where the writer's name appears in large gold-embossed letters on the cover. This meant I did not read John Le Carré for some time, which was a mistake.
What is your favourite proverb? > In primary school we had an old English textbook that mangled proverbs in an exercise where you had to find the real proverbs or phrases. The mangled 'Many hands make good canoe' remains my favourite.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > I've never understood the attraction of golf.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Norway.
What would your ideal holiday be? > A lengthy period in Oslo and the surrounding countryside.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > I read; and I enjoy DVDs and CDs of old British dramas and comedies.
What talent would you most like to have? > Some musical competence.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Legislative drafting has its attractions as an intellectual discipline. Writing for television was my ambition when I was a youngster.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Of the living Larry David, Chris Morris and Magnus Mills. Of the dead: Thurber and Hancock.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Cynical Italian defenders from the 1980s. I was the solitary child that played at being Claudio Gentile in school football matches rather than trying to be Kenny Dalglish.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Dennis Potter, Orson Welles and John Banville.
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