I wanted to be a painter but was rubbish, so I tried conceptual art instead. Jaded with postmodern irony, I gave that up and went to law school, planning to prosecute dictators. On realising the impracticability of this goal, I set my sights on a more realistic target and joined a rock band. But when the hypochondriac singer was airlifted out of Sicily after falling from a particularly high bed, the dream was in tatters. I reluctantly took a job as a lawyer, quickly growing paranoid that I might be as boring as my colleagues. Then I read George Orwell's raw early work, which made me think there could be hope for me as a writer. The initial lack of progress almost destroyed me. Then somebody told me that all writers are bloggers now. I set up a page and spent the next six months in foreign lands, posting pseudo-journalistic stories for a non-existent readership. Along the way I decided I wanted to write long-form history for the general reader. With one half-finished manuscript taunting me, it became clear that discipline was essential. So I enrolled in the master's program where I am now, funding my existence writing contracts for one of these new-age web companies. If I can pull off the grand plan, it will all be worth it. If not, I will tattoo the word ‘dilettante’ across my forehead.
What I’m doing with my life
Being a little bit too similar to Mark from Peep Show. I even had a drug-addled, sexual deviant, man-child housemate for a number of years, although he has long since moved to greener pastures.
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
Authors: Ryszard Kapuscinski, Eric Hobsbawm, Camus, Hemingway, Rebecca West, Orwell, Hitchens, Mark Twain, Karen Armstrong (with reservations), Tolstoy, Anna Funder, Nabokov, Dickens, Simon Schama, James Michener, Jan Morris, lots of boring history squares who I won't mention by name.
Movies: The Lives of Others, Blue Velvet, Good Night and Good Luck, A Bout de Souffle, anything by Pedro Almodovar - thanks to whom my Spanish is like that of a heroin-addicted gigolo.
Music: Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Tame Impala, The National, Bill Callahan, Kate Bush, Future of the Left, The Smiths, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Satie, Triangle Head.
But who cares? As long as you don't listen to reggaeton and read Ann Coulter books, we'll get along fine.
The six things I could never do without
Books. Cheese. Autoschadenfreude. Easyjet. Wine. My Fabergé egg collection (I don't really have a Fabergé egg collection, otherwise I would fork out for Guardian Soulmates).