I've never been one to turn down the opportunity to air my opinions (especially in writing!), so I jumped at the chance to be interviewed by Sheri...
We had a few minor technological problems (I really have to work on my geek status), but never mind. Here we go:
What campaign promise of Obama's do you hope to see come true?
OK, have to admit lack of knowledge here: I'm not 100% sure exactly what he did promise, but the pulling the troops out of Iraq thing sounds like quite a good move to me.
What are the best and worst things about your town?
I live in Montpellier in the south of France. It's a beautiful city, and I think it's just about perfect in terms of size (about 250,000 inhabitants). I live just outside the city centre (about 10-15 minutes' walk) in a much-sought after part of the city where everything you need is just on the doorstep. We're also just 10 km from the sea, 3 hours from Barcelona, 4 hours by train from Paris and surrounded by amazing countryside.
On the down side, I find the dirtiness (as in dog dirt) of the streets of this beautiful city totally appalling and a downright scandal.
What is your favorite possession and why?
This is tough. But right now, I guess I really love my camera - it's a FujiFilm A900 FinePix and it's the first camera that's actually succeeded in getting me to take good pictures. And it makes videos with sound. Love it. (Plus: I bought it on special offer!)
If you could interview one person, living or dead, who would it be and what is the number one question you would ask?
Ah, this one's easier. I would choose Jean Cocteau, without a hesitation. I studied French literature at university in Scotland and my favourite course - by far - was the 20th century theatre module I took in my final year. Cocteau was the ultimate all-rounder: a writer, a poet, a film director, an artist, a musician... and a cat lover! He knew great suffering (death of his young lover, Raymond Radiguet...), was scorned by the pretentious homophobes (hypocrites one and all) of the Surrealist movement, was brave in his own way in the Second World War and has a legacy that lives on. If I could only ask one question, it would be "Where do you get your inspiration from (apart from opium that is)?".
What is the stupidest question a professional journalist would ask during an interview?
I know this has already been said, but the "How do you feel?" type question, asked of someone who's just suffered some kind of major traumatic event, really makes me mad.
What are the major issues in your country and how do you think they should be solved?
First, what do you mean by "my country"? I was born and raised in Britain, but haven't lived there since 1992 (God, that makes me sound ooooold. Who'm I kidding? I AM old), and have lived in France since 1992. My partner is French (though his origins include Russian), my daughters are more French than British. I guess I should stick with France.
So, the major issues right now are social unrest. Yesterday (29 Jan) there was a general strike here in France, with 2.5 million demonstrators on the streets nationwide (that's in a country with 60 million inhabitants). The "credit crunch" is hitting hard (though less hard here than in Britain or the US, for now), the right-wing government doesn't seem to give a shit and people have had enough. If I were President (God forbid) of France, I would try and even out the share of wealth (totally agree with Obama's anger at the 20 billion $ bonuses bankers gave themselves in the US), and I would change the higher education system and its ridiculous refusal to accept any type of selection process for entry into first year. This would give degrees some value (they don't have any right now - just about anyone can go to university) and might help even out the job market. I would legislate to give freelance workers (like I am in real life) a fairer deal and I would try and encourage schools to teach modern languages (ideally English, but other languages could be useful too of course) from kindergarten onwards (kids are most receptive in the 4-5 year old age group).
I guess most of this wouldn't change a thing in social terms, but maybe it would help a little. It would make me feel good anyway!
Many thanks to Sheri for her questions!
Now, it's my turn: if any of you out there feel like being interviewed, leave me a comment and I'll post some questions on your blog (haven't quite figured out the e-mail thing - I don't want my address visible, I guess you guys don't either... I warned you, my geekdom needs serious work).