26 May 1974 |
North London, England
|Education||University College School, Hampstead|
|Alma mater||Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge|
|Notable works||Schott’s Miscellany, Schott’s Almanac|
The idea that I am cynical because I'm writing the books that I write is a bit like someone saying, 'What, you've done a second album? Oh, I see, cashing in on your first album, are you?' But I'm a musician! It's sort of what I do.
Writing 'Schottenfreude' has reinforced the fact that there are few, if any, emotions that have not been experienced, and analyzed, by some of the world's greatest writers.
I always wanted to be a photographer. While I was at school, I got a lab-monkey holiday job in the darkrooms at the 'Independent.' What they taught me there was: you need to get the whole story in one frame.
The radio's pretty much always on, and I also listen to some American podcasts, such as for 'National Public Radio' and 'Newsweek'.
A great deal of American T.V. viewed on Hulu, which is superb – '30 Rock', for instance, is on very good form.
I spend a lot of time looking at rococo books. And almanacs used to be huge sellers – they were pretty much part of the fabric of life. I thought, this is bizarre, I'd love to buy a book like this, and there isn't one. So I thought, all right then, this could be fun. I'll write an almanac.
For me, writing is like being taken on a walk by a footnote: It's amazing where you end up.
I have the luxury of getting up quite late, so I hardly ever set an alarm clock.
The web can be a fast trip to the library, giving you immediate access to a government report, or it can filter media for you, which is why I look at around 15- 20 of these sites every day.
If I'm researching something strange and rococo, I'll go to the London Library or the British Library and look it up in books.
I'm very fond of an old map of London that used to belong to my father. I'm a big London fan, and the evolution of the city is astonishing, when you look back to Pepys and how small it was – everyone knew each other.
I have always loved the fluidity of language – delighting in dialects, dictionaries, slang and neologisms.
I follow blogs, particularly all the main political ones – Guido Fawkes, Iain Dale, Coffee House, Paul Waugh, Iain Martin in the Wall Street Journal, and so on. And some American ones, like the Huffington Post, Gawker, Boing Boing; or Eater and Daily Candy, also American, which are about where to go to eat.
I read the papers online, and something usually piques my curiosity – that will then be the baseline of my research for the day.