This has been typed pending my first viewing of Torchwood so apologies for any incoherence.
1. Do you find many outlets in Law for subversive creativity or is it something you can only really indulge in outside your work environment?
There is scope for creativity in law, but not much for subversion. I work primarily in what sometimes is disparagingly referred to as “black letter” law – where questions of classification are crucial. Much of my research work is about piecing cases and statutes together for various purposes. Creativity in that context is constrained by the requirements of the system (for example, you can say a case is wrong but would require to justify it using other cases or principles). Subversion is occasionally possible – I have occasionally proposed a wilfully obtuse interpretation of a line of cases to irritate some people in a presentation, but never in print. My subversive streak is primarily limited to lectures (I once taught a small group that a legal concept required satisfaction through the medium of interpretative dance assuming no-one would believe this – I was hauled up by the course organsier at the end of the year because three people had answered the exam question on the basis that the concept had not been satisfied because there was no dance) , this blog, e-mails to football teams applying for managerial positions, and occasional short stories.
2. Scottish politics – what’s the medium-term (10-20 years, say) of Scotland’s political landscape?
I come from a border town and my family spent most weekends growing up shopping in Carlisle. I see much more in common between Dumfriesshire and Cumbria than Dumfriesshire and central Scotland. My instinct then is to hope that nothing happens that will risk that. If asked even a year ago I would have confidently stated that politics in Scotland is so in thrall to the Labour party that a coalition government with Labour as largest party within a devolved Scottish parliament was pretty much a givenf or the next decade or more. The coalition party may alter (I suspect the Scottish Green party will become more influential) but I did not anticipate the SNP making a breakthrough. My views are changing though. The SNP looks electable. When comparing SNP front benchers with Labour ministers often the SNP spokesman appears more professional, with more ideas, and seems more ministerial. This is partly the responsibility of Jack McConnell who installed a ministerial team of friends and managed to lose the most talented Scottish labour politicians to lives outside politics or to the backbenches. That Labour now is the conservative party – the only party in favour of the status quo – with a consensus among other parties in relation to matters such as fiscal autonomy will posiiton Labour as the Conservatives became in the early to mid-1980s. The Conservatives suffered because they did not respond to the public mood changing. While there may not be a call for independence as yet, there is a move to seek greater fiscal powers for the Parliament – partly to make it more accountable. I think amendment to the settlement is inevitable within the next decade, and would now be surprised if the SNP did not form at least part of a government within the next three electoral cycles.
3. You seem to be experiencing a similar ‘distancing’ from modern popular culture to me – at what point do you think you fell off? When did you realise you hadn’t heard of these people on the front of the tabloids, and does it bother you?
I was never wholly in touch with popular culture – music had always passed me by, but my despair with the media culture really began with Big Brother 2. When it became apparent that people were going on a show to become famous – as opposed to the more honest collection in series 1. And that the media responded and made these people famous, and continued to be interested in them after Big Brother – with “world exclusive” interviews in tabloids and “celebrity” magazines (like the New Yorker wanted to interview a hairdresser that had been on the telly for a fortnight in the summer in the UK…). I like people to be (in)famous for things they have done – writing, acting, performing, and the like. Not for merely existing.
4. Charlie Brooker – visionary genius or just someone whose head is going to explode someday soon?
TV GO Home was a brilliant website and Brooker’s Guardian Screen Burn columns and TV show are wonderful. I’m glad he watches the rubbish so I don’t have to – instead I scour TV listings to see the type of rubbish I miss. Brooker is not a genius though. That’s Chris Morris – Brooker is his voice on earth at the moment.
5. Most Doctor Who enthusiasts have their own list of ‘people who should’ve been the doctor’, their own alternate-history timeline of Doctors. What’s yours?
I like Colin Baker in the audios and wouldn’t wish him or Sylvester McCoy out of existence (McCoy inspired a fantastic series of novels). I quite like Lance PArkin’s suggestion of the Ian Richardson incarnation, but was intrigued by the new SFX where RTD and Verity Lambert are jointly interviewed and Lambert indicates that Peter Cook would have been her choice when she was approached to bring Doctor Who back in the early 1990s (Presumably she’d finished GBH) . I’d like to have seen Cook (or thinking of GBH Robert Lindsay) in the role. Cook – particularly if played in the manner of Michaal Rimmer from The Rise and Rise of MR would have been fascinating.
If anyone wants 5 questions (not promising they’ll be particularly deep or meaningful) wave.