Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XXVIII:Andrew Brown

Andrew is the author of Someday I Will Treat You Good

What made you decide to start blogging?

I was a councillor and interested in being more accountable to my electorate. I'd been lurking for a while, and came across Stewart Bruce's blog, so knew there was at least one councillor blog. I figured that I could start it and no one would see what I was up to for a bit and so if it didn't work out I could stop. Little did I realise...

What is your best blogging experience?

There have been a fair few.By and large I blog about my local community, so the good experiences are when what I write creates debate and where the people taking part are prepared to listen to other points of view. When I lost my council seat in May last year a lot of people wrote me very nice emails because they'd been able to see what I'd been doing as a councillor. These weren't all Labour voters, but they'd appreciated the chance to engage with local politics online. It gave me a real sense of the ability of blogs to inform our political culture. And it was very touching on a personal level. It was nice to be the person that got a range of the Lewisham bloggers together in a pub for an evening. I wasn't sure that others would want to put aside political differences, or take off their masks of anonymity, but they did and we had a lovely time.

And your worst?

I think its the negativism and smearing of people in politics that seems to be the bread and butter of some blogs.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I think the ones I'm currently proudest of are the ones where I've done some research. So for instance I'm interested in why sexual health in South East London is such a problem and have done a couple of posts about that. I also did a posts about knife crime and food miles which taught me things I didn't know. But if push comes to shove I'll nominate the post I did about prison.

Favourite blogs?

Paulie at Never Trust a Hippy for his refusal to accept negativism; I'm pleased that British Spin came back to blogging; the two Toms at Let's Be Sensible and Freemania inspire; and to remind me what being a bag carrier was all about I like The Hamers. And Idiots 4 Labour to keep us on the straight and narrow, and to remind us of the shining light.Outside the beltway I've drawn on David Wilcox, Nancy White, Strange Attractor and Content to be Different.Locally I like Lewisham Isn't Great for Everyone, Last Bus Home and Bob, while Max and I have crossed swords and recipes so often now it doesn't bare thinking about.

What inspired you to get involved in politics?

Nothing different from lots of other people I expect. I come from a family that argues about politics, while essentially agreeing most of the time. I joined the Labour Party after university and didn't really realise that I could do that and not be an activist, and I've stayed active because I'm not just interested in armchair politics.

Food and politics, an interesting mix. Is there a link there at all?

No, not really. The food blogging came about because I lost my council seat and found I suddenly had a lot more time on my hands and I choose cooking over trying to learn how to write the code for websites. Having said that, I suppose it does go along with my general attempts to show that people involved in politics aren't as two dimensional as we're sometimes seen as.

What did you most enjoy about being a councillor and would you do it again?

I loved being a councillor. I had 9 years where I learned a huge amount, about how to work with all sorts of different people, how large organisations work (and don't), how to make a speech in public and the sorts of thing that'll get you in the local press. I guess what I liked most was working with people (my fellow politicians, officers and local residents) who knew what they wanted to achieve and had a "can do attitude". That and the corporate parenting role; where I got to know a number of young people who were being looked after by the council. I won't say never about trying to get myself elected again, but probably not for a while. I've got a young family and it's been lovely not having to give up 3 or 4 nights a week and every other weekend.

Is there anywhere abroad, which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

South America seems like a big place and I've not been there, but the people I know who've seen bits of it say what they've seen is fabulous.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Oh lots and lots. But in particular I'd love to be able to go back to Pakistan where I had a long walking holiday in the Hindu Kush which was incredible.

Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

I've got a lot of respect for James Callaghan, but best British Prime Minister, I don't know.

Which person has been your greatest inspiration?

My mum and dad are a touchstone for me. But in public life I am/was privileged to know Llin and John Golding who taught me a lot about public service.

Favourite Bond movie?

Not all that bothered about Bond.

Favourite Doctor Who?

I'm enjoying David Tennant.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Vanilla

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

Oh, that's tough. Maybe you can choose anything from: The Saints, in 1976; Television in the late '70s; Neil Young at any time but in particular during the Weld tour; Fairport Convention with Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson; Dexy's Midnight Runners before they went Celtic; Otis Reading at any point; or Bettye Swann in the late '60s.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

Barsby looks nice.

Favourite national newspaper?

I've stopped buying them and while I read most that do websites for work I can't say I have a favourite. They all irritate me for one reason or another.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Can't say I've got any, unless the cooking counts.

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Songs: Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (Fairport Convention); Silver Rocket (Sonic Youth); (My Heart Is) Closed For The Season (Bettye Swann) Books: A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry); Gravity's Rainbow (Thomas Pinchon); Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson).

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