Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXIX: Ttony

Born and brought up in an overspill estate in North Manchester. Escaped to University, and, via a degree in Spanish, to Spain where he lived for five years (though has never visited the Spanish Mediterranean). Came back to the UK and lived quietly ever after - until he discovered the Internet. Ttony's blog is The Muniment Room

What made you decide to start blogging?

I decided to start blogging when I realised that posting on forums was like shouting in a large group of people in a noisy pub. I had things to say and even if people weren't interested, or if what I wanted to say wasn't very clever, I wanted them at least to have the chance to work out what it was they weren't interested in.

What is your best blogging experience?

Having one of the blogfathers saying that TTony had got something spot on!

And your worst?

I haven't had one.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Oddly enough, one which introduced some people to the poetry of RS Thomas

Favourite blogs?

Religious: all the ones in my blogroll plus Damian Thompson. Political: Guido, Iain Dale, Dizzy. Mihir Bose. Daniel Hanman

How did the Vatican make a mistake initally with regards to Bishop Williamson?

The Vatican is (institutionally) dreadfully naive - culpably naive - as well as employing people who will push their own agenda before the Church's. Its mistake with Williamson was to think he was just one of four Bishops in the SSPX file, and not to think that all four of them have the sort of distinctive personality traits which need to be considered in all Bishops. In Williamson's case: and how!

You have a reputation for being a Conservative Catholic. In the postmodern sense, in what areas would you define yourself as a liberal?

I don't really know what a postmodern liberal is, other than somebody who reads the Guardian while sending his children to selective or private schools (I do neither), but:

I think prisons should be about rehabilitation, that too many people go there, and spend too much time there. I think selective education is Wrong. Private education is OK but shouldn't have charitable status. Immigration is fine, though I'd impose an EU preference. I hope that people get things right second time.

Who would you like to see become the next Archbishop of Westminster?

There's a sense in which the who doesn't matter, that he should be of a type or class. But Cardinal Pell, if only to epater les sandalistes, would have my vote, had I one.

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

The Southern Cone: the southern Andes, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, the Beagle Channel. My father, on his return to the UK from WWII joined the Travel Book Club and I have most of the books he bought. I have travelled most of the world in my imagination, but Argentina and Chile on a decent budget would set me up for the rest of my life.

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

Two answers:

The Necropolis underneath the Vatican, ending at St Peter's bones. I have touched the Age of the Apostles.

Istanbul. I visited Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul on one visit. Fortunately, I was a guest of the Turkish Government and had incredibly privileged access to all sorts of places.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I have several - I am a big Churchill fan, and think Disraeli was something else. At a less dominate-the-world level, I admire (and realised lately that I am inspied by) the way in which Ruth Kelly and Anne Widdecombe have carried on regardless.

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

St Dominic Savio and St Maximilian Kolbe. Both like me - pretty useless - until they totted up what God wanted of them and just did it, I have this vague idea that if the chips were really down, and I didn't chicken out, they might help me do the right thing. And in the meantime, they might understand what I'm about and pray for me.

Favourite Bond movie?

Live and Let Die

Favourite Doctor Who?

Pertwee or Eccleston - I really don't know

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


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

I suppose the one that premiered Beethoven's Choral Symphony, just to watch them getting to grips with the piece and then seeing their reaction to the public's reaction on its first night.

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

I don't know anything about Barsby, and having googled it have decided that it might not fill a weekend. Oxford if by myself (I know my way round the bookshops and libraries); Cambridge if with my wife (just because she's never been there).

Favourite national newspaper?

The Morning Post. I put up with the Telegraph because the Morning Post hasn't been around for the last 75 years or so..

What would you say your hobbies were?

Collecting: what I collect varies (coins and stamps come and go in long cycles; early editions of books are a joy; books are, in fact, an obsession) but I like to have things with provenance. Family History: how on earth did somebody like me end up somewhere like here.

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

Books: Don Quixote. One I haven't seen yet which is the complete works of Dickens in one volume (I try to read all the novels, except for The Old Curiosity Shop, which I find unreadable, every year). And Pride and Prejudice, which, I think, is a foretaste of the perfection which is divine.

Songs: The Cliffs of Dooneen, which makes me nostalgic for somewhere I have never been. Soul Of My Saviour, the earliest hymn I can remember and the one I love most. And Bryn Terfel singing "I Must Go Down To The Seas Again".


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