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1. Have you always been Catholic, or was there some point at which you either converted, or made up your mind that you really believed?

I was brought up in a conventionally Catholic family, and we went to Church on Sundays, but both my parents had a fairly sixties left-of-centre attitude - both, for instance, voted against the Church in the great referenda of the early seventies on divorce and abortion. In my teens I drifted away from the Church, as was to be expected. I began to take an interest again during my period in the Army, when I noticed that the only place where one could think serious thoughts was in the chapel. I also realized that this was not a matter of personalities - the chaplain was a very unimpressive person. It was the environment itself that encouraged thought. What really sealed it, though was when, a few years later, I turned to the New Testament with the eyes of a scholar. By then, I had already spent enough time in the company of ancient texts of all kinds to be able to distinguish more or less instinctively between factual narrative and legend; and I was astonished to find that all the Gospels, and in particular the Gospel of John, bore all the signs of eyewitness accounts. It is as a historian that I became convinced that what the Gospels and the rest of the NT describe, really did happen.

2. Was it frightening to leave Italy to attend school in England?

I was not nearly as frightened as I should have been. I was still of an age to be romantic, and there cannot possibly be a more romantic place to study than King's School, Canterbury - look it up: the most ancient school in the world, in the middle of a medieval city, and a part of the establishment of Canterbury Cathedral. Of what other school can anyone say that one literally spends his time in the middle of history? Every time we went to the Cathedral, we passed on the spot where St.Thomas Beckett died - to mention just one. Plus, the situation of Italy in the mid-seventies, when I was sent, was depressing in the extreme. The Seventies! Anyone who is nostalgic about them cannot remember them well: terrorism, 25% inflation, the Soviet Union more powerful and threatening than ever, unemployment, cheap and tawdry tastes. What is there to be nostalgic about? So I did not feel I was leaving anything worth regretting. The problem, of course, is that I was completely unsuited to an English Public School environment. I had absolutely no idea how to behave. It was the first of my great social disasters.


3. You must have noticed that you have a lot of fascinated readers-and-lurkers, many of whom are female; what's your theory as to why that's so?

I am tempted to say that it is much smaller than the number of dedicated enemies, but that does not change the facts. I am one of those people whom people just naturally notice. They know when I am in a room, even if I sit in a back row and do nothing. That is not something I can change, although I have often wished I could.

4. What are you looking forward to this summer? (Summer things, I mean--like a cool drink under the sun).

I have a large terrace outside my flat, and I mean to get some use out of it, both in terms of sitting down in the sun with a book, and of getting some outdoors-type work - DIY and such - done.

5. Are you a morning person, or a night owl?

My body forces me to be a morning one. I always wake up at sunrise; this can be a nuisance in England in June, when it starts getting light at 3.30 in the morning!


And from [profile] norwyn

Ok, you aren't easy....or maybe you are, I don't know...*snerk* Seriously, I had to put some thought into these...

1. Who would be the five people, living or dead, you would invite to dinner, and why?

1) It's kind of difficult, because some people one would want to meet would not be terrific company over dinner, and some would only be good value as conversationalists. (You remember St.Paul in Corinthians remarking on how unimpressive he was in person.) I would say... Dr.Johnson. GK Chesterton. CS Lewis (if he left his notorious temper at home). John Henry Newman, perhaps. Sydney Smith for the laughs - although apart from Newman, this would be quite a witty company anyway.

2. What is a typical day for you?

2) Wake up early (I am conditioned to awaken when the sun rises). Read my e-mails and some internet stuff. Get breakfast. Get working (translating or writing or reading). Have lunch between twelve and one. Often a nap towards two. More work. Dinner between six and seven. More work, phone calls, e-mails, internet activity. To bed by ten or eleven.

3. I'll use your #3, edited because I don't think you've been married...Do you see yourself ever getting married?

3) No.

4. Have you ever suffered a crisis of faith?

4) Constantly. I have to remind myself that there is no INTELLECTUAL obstacle to belief, because the emotional and instinctive ones are so strong.

5. At the risk of appearing shallow, what do you look like? I'm just asking for basic characteristics: I need some kind of mental frame of reference because I think in pictures, and have to remind myself that you are not wearing an ancient battle helmet, although I guess that is amusing, and for all I know, you could very well be wearing one. Everyone becomes their icon, right? My default icon needs a haircut, I suppose, since my hair is bobbed now, not down to the middle of my back anymore...but then I'd have to change the Marysue icon, and lose Sirius Black in the process...

5) Shortish (one metre seventy), fat (almost twice the weight I should be, and the numbers are much too embarrasing to mention), with thick hair still mostly black and just a little thin on top, heavy eyebrows, sallow skin, strongly marked features and rather large brown eyes.
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