I was born and raised in the English midlands where I had a somewhat idyllic childhood, my parents and grand parents nurtured my interest in history, politics, science and philosophy. I was lucky to be brought up without the influence of religion, my grandmother Sally (Sara Helena de Morgan nee’ Manheim) was Austro-Hungarian, Jewish and Atheist, before coming to the UK to study she had been apart of the Logical Positivist School in Vienna, she instilled in me a passion for knowledge and learning, I contend to this day that I learned far more from Sally than I did from school and university, she was a passionate advocate of the Socratic method, Occam’s Razor and Bertrand Russell’s maxim “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof” these are ideas that have informed my life.
I was lucky enough to earn a place at King’s College Cambridge where I read SPS (Social and Political Science) and further degrees in History and Philosophy, In 1992 I published my PhD in Social and Economic theory entitled “Linguistic Power Structures Within Professions”. After five years in higher education I left for a career in the British Military, where I spent twelve very happy years doing a job that I absolutely loved. Due to an injury and personal circumstances I resigned my commission in 2004 and embark upon an academic career at University College London after four very happy years I moved on to do consultancy work in the nongovernmental sector.
I have many heroes in an academic and literary sense, far too many to list, however there are few major influences I should mention. Foucault really gave us a new way of examining epistemology, I don’t by any means agree with every word he wrote but his methodology of an Archeology of Knowledge is perhaps the best method for gaining an understanding of events and history. I love the writing of Albert Camus, he probably more than any other literary figure of the 20th century defines the quest for happiness in our complicated world. George Orwell fills me with an enthusiasm for writing and the power of literature that no one else does, rather like his hero HG Wells, Orwell redefined the art of writing. Christopher Hitchens is so sadly missed, his books have given me so much inspiration to read and be better informed I will write about Hitch in some depth at a later time.
I’m a bit of an anorak when it comes to music, I collect rare funk and soul 45s, but I’m more generally a music fan, loving everything from psychedelia and garage rock to ska and early doo wop. The Smiths played a major influence on my life, The Smiths gave me a connection to people in my teenage years that otherwise I don’t think that I would have had, they gave me something to belong to and a group of like-minded friends that have influenced my life in so many ways.
I love so many things, good television: The Wire, Sherlock, Game of Thrones, BBC 4, HBO, Doctor Who, Mad Men, Homeland, House, QI etc. Comedy is another big passion: Peter Cook, Monty Python, Black Adder, The Mighty Boosh, Bill Hicks, Charlie Brooker etc. Movies: Kubrick, Welles, Frankenheimer, Shane Meadows, David Lynch, PT Anderson etc, I could go on forever, so I shall cease.