Q+A  :  PERSONAL  :  PERSONAL VIEWS - politics / ethics / beliefs / values


Alan, are you a feminist (that's a tricky one, eh?)

Not too tricky. I believe men and women are equal but different. Generally speaking, men are good at some things, women at others but that doesn't mean they can't sometimes cross over. I love confident women with brains who also recognise their femininity. I think that makes me a feminist. Now, stick the kettle on, love;-)

Do you believe that censorship is sometimes necessary to protect the rights of individuals?

In principle I believe in freedom of choice but in practice, yes a little sensible control. Certain watersheds are probably a good idea, warnings etc....

How do you mean that women are different to men?

I mean that male and female brains work in different ways. Generally, women are better at certain skills and are more inclined towards particular activities (in the work place for example) while men are attracted to other kinds of work which uses different neuro skills. How many male nurses do you know for example? Or how many female construction engineers? In cognitive tests, the typical female brain scores better on things like word association and hearing etc. while the male brain tends to excel at dexterity tests and certain problem solving exercises and so on. Of course, there are exceptions. It has been shown that men with typically female brain patterns are more inclined to follow typical female occupations (like nursing for example) and vice versa.

There are a couple of other differences I can think of as well.....

What is your definition of femininity?

Saucy little bum, nice tits.... (Ron)

Should beauty be more than skin deep or are aesthetics more important?

We are getting deep, aren't we? Aesthetics are very important to me but I quickly lose interest in dolly birds with no lights on.

Do you seriously think that Di's accident was not an accident? I can't quite believe that somebody like the Queen, let alone Queen Mum, has the guts to hire a killer! Anyway, isn't that just a cheap explanation for the fact that somebody like Di is just as mortal as anybody else?

I wouldn't think the orders came directly from our dear old queenie but, like many people in England, we know it wasn't an accident and we weren't ALL weeping in the streets.

Are you interested in British policy? As we've now got a new government in Germany, I'm interested to know if Tony Blair realised the promises he made before his election. What do you think about him?

Bit smarmy but basically Blair's o.k. I'm not into politics in a big way and I don't agree with all his policies but that's always the case with any government. I thought Paddy Ashdown made more sense during the last election campaign but the Lib Dems were never in the running - but the country had to have a change from the Tories which is why Labour won so easily. Lots of good marketing went into it as well.

I know you might not believe this one but did you know that females (and this is proofen by American scientists!!) are better technicians?

Titter.... are they any good at spelling?

What is your view on capital punishment?

I think it should be compulsory for Norwegian referees, Radio 1 D.J.'s, National Lottery players and Jeremy Beadle.

Do you think that life exists in the universe(s) other than on earth?

I think there's an extremely good chance that it does, in fact it's almost a dead cert. Law of averages and all that. It's quite irrational and even arrogant to think that we are alone......wooooohhh.

Would you say how you voted in the last general election?

I voted for the candidate who I felt best represented my interests in the area where I live.

As an Englishman, what's your view on Northern Ireland? If there was a referendum in Britain to leave the mad Irish to each other's throats, what would the result be?

I don't think a referendum would be very conclusive to be honest. Like many people living outside Northern Ireland, it is very easy to make assumptions and take sides without understanding the full story. However, that said, I think the whole business of the Drumcree parade is disgusting. As happened a few years ago, why three children should have to be burnt to death in their beds because some idiots in bowler hats want to provoke an opposing neighbourhood is absolutely beyond me.

What do you think of the Bill Clinton news involving Monica Lewinsky?

Hilarious. We all know that nobody cares about his sex life.

Is there a lot of talk in the UK about this?

We have our fair share of political sex scandals although they're very much more 'English' and far less 'Dynasty'. Nothing like blue cocktail dresses in the Oval Office - more like school-girl outfits with Madam Whiplash in a flat in Pimlico. A few years ago a senior policitian was found naked, trussed up like a Xmas turkey, with a plastic bag over his head and an orange stuffed in his mouth. No....it wasn't murder or anything as innocent - he was just unwinding after a rigourous day in the Commons ;-)

What's your opinion of bombing the hell out of Afghanistan? Do you think this millionaire terrorist is indeed a threat? They say he's hiding out. Do you think he should be assassinated? Tell me you don't buy the "WAG THE DOG," theory!;)

Well, it is all very interesting isn't it - following hot on the heels of his other 'wagging the dog' incident ;-) I'm not sure I agree with this childish attitude of 'get him before he gets you' and unfortunately I fear there will be some serious reprisals from the Islamic fanatics. Then again, if the Intelligence services have proof against this bloke, perhaps it was the right move.

What is your general opinion about English society?

I love our history and our culture, and our class system is fascinating. London is also a very 'happening' city at the moment. Being an island, we feel slightly apart from the rest of Europe and we're very patriotic. There are also things that I hate about the English and some of our habits, but I don't think I would live anywhere else (just yet anyway).

How far are you generally interested in questions related to natural science?

Well, firstly I'm no great scientist and I was never very good at physics and chemistry at school but I am a great believer in science and I find certain aspects of discovery very interesting and exciting - such as genetic research and astronomy.

Do your computing and programming interests go beyond their application in music? In particular, are you interested in questions concerning A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)?

My computer skills just about stretch to programming this website - at a push. And I can airbrush somebody out of a photoshop document. As for A.I., it's fascinating but I don't know much about it.

I was wondering if you had any religious feelings within you, and if so, how does it affect your work and private life. ie. do you pray? do you believe in fate? etc..

I don't follow any recognised religions. No, I don't pray and I believe you make your own destiny. To some degree fate intervenes due to our genetic programming which obviously plays a significant role in an individual's direction. I believe in my own personal inner strength, which I suppose you could call spirit.

Did you mourn after Princess Diana´s death? Or wasn't it of any interest for you?

I just came up with about 25 conspiracy theories in about 5 minutes. The national outpouring of grief astounded me. It was akin to mass hysteria - totally irrational. I never understood it at all. Made good TV though....

Have you ever met her or seen her?


In respect to your response to Robert Winberg (10/6) you believe that our 'nature' is predestined. Does this mean that you believe that our lives are 'chosen' for us before we are born? And if our nature is already chosen for us, how do you feel the tone of your work speaks about your nature (you don't seem to be the Jack the Ripper type)?

I was referring to genetic programming which obviously predetermines most of our character traits, most notably our appearance and arguably many of our abilities. Clearly, our environment also makes a big impact on our lives and destiny but is probably more responsible for triggering our negative actions rather than creating them. There are strong arguments that traits such as violence and mental instability are in fact more down to genetics than previously thought. You can also say that a stable background and upbringing can go a long way to preventing an otherwise genetically imbalanced individual from indulging in antisocial behaviour. A strong moral code probably overrides some of your natural impulses. Perhaps my own personal moral code allows me to release any disturbing sides of my nature through music. Part of the reason I think my music veers so much towards the darker side of life is because it is so fascinating.

Do you like whales and/or dolphins?

I'm sure they're lovely creatures but priority for their welfare seems to be well out of proportion considering the real problems of the world and my tendency is always to put people before animals. One of the few things the British ever get really passionate about is their pets - we're pretty blasé about famine in Ethiopia but if a fluffy little lambkin has to be slaughtered, we're lying down in the middle of the motorway protesting. I find this misplaced sentimentality alarming.

What are your feelings concerning the forthcoming currency the 'Euro'?

I'm all for progress but this should never be at the cost of losing a country's individuality and national identity.

Your comments on the paranormal recently were interesting because I remember reading in an 'Ask Alan' questionnaire that you had once visited a clairvoyant and then revealed that you wouldn't be in DM in 10 years time (this was around 1993 I think). Did the clairvoyant tell you this and has anything they told you come true? Do you believe in psychic ability?

I went to see a clairvoyant many years ago (early '80's) at my ex-wife's insistence. Nothing she told me came true or, indeed, bore any relevance to my life. I don't believe or disbelieve in psychic ability - I keep an open mind about these things but I do know that most so-called clairvoyants are either misguided or con-artists.

What is your opinion about supernatural and paranormal phenomena? Do you believe, for example, in ghosts and have you ever seen any? Do you watch 'The X-files' sometimes?

There are many phenomena that we simply don't understand and those that are currently attributed to supernatural or extraterrestrial activity will, I've no doubt, be explained by science in the future. It is of course more romantic to believe in strange alien or spiritual forces at work and while we cannot explain everything away with science, it has been proven that many bizarre occurrences that were once deemed controversial are in fact down to mother nature or extraordinary feats of mankind. Just look at the explanations we now have for the Bermuda Triangle, the so-called Alien flight-paths in Peru, fish falling from the sky etc. I find this so much more exciting than the paranormal. I've only ever watched one episode of the X-files - that should give you an idea of what I thought of it.... ;-)

I read about your the plane crash when you were driving. Did the experience offer a new light, besides the one from the flames of the wreckage?;)

Well I didn't find the Lord, if that's what you mean... but it did leave its mark. Both Hep and I dream regularly about the incident or about planes crashing in general.

I work with a project called 'Plast'. The music is dark and based on different samples to build up a "violence today" feeling - just like your own music. Do you think this theme makes people react more in their own society?

People only become violent if they are predisposed to violence in the first place. Music, or art in general, cannot be held responsible for the actions of those who are unstable, even though I'm sure there's some truth in the fact that certain antisocial acts have been triggered by exposure to the media.

In last month's Q + A you said you were not a Christian. Does that mean you, like most British, are actually "C of E" and, like most Protestants, don't really give a damn what the Bible says?

I'm not anything. I was 'required' to go to Baptist church every Sunday by my father until I was 16. The perfect way to turn a teenager away from the church for the rest of his life.

Were there ever any times when for moral/religious/personal reasons you ever felt uncomfortable or awkward playing and singing backing vocals for Martin's more controversial songs like 'Blasphemous Rumours', 'Master And Servant' and 'Something To Do'. Personally, I would find it hard to keep saying "I think that God has a sick sense of humour" repeatedly.

Not really. Most of his words make sense to me and as I'm not a Christian, nor interested in any organised religion for that matter, I don't find the line offensive. To be perfectly cynical, if I did believe in an omnipresent watching our every move, I'd have to agree that it was a pretty fair observation.

If you could give me advice on life, what would it be?

Never take the advice of cynical, old gits....

What do you think about dead?

Dead what? Dead mice, flies, wasps and Radio 1 discjockeys - great! Dead picture on my TV screen when I'm trying to watch the footy or cricket - no laughing matter......

Human cloning: For or against it?

That's a toughie.

The probability that somebody will look at you, is directly proportional to the stupidity of what you are doing! Is that true or what?

Unfailingly so.

If one tells God to piss off, will he (or she, or it) actually do so?

Dunno. Why don't you try it and find out?

What is your position on marijuana use and legalisation?

I think that considering the minimal risk factor and definite medical benefits of the plant, it should be legalised or at least decriminalised - it's certainly no worse than alcohol. I don't think it's right to turn the hundreds of thousands of responsible and law-abiding people who use it into criminals.................... man.

What are your views on the bombing the USA did on Kosovo?

Well for a start, Nato carried out the bombing raids on the Yugoslav republic, not the US alone - it includes Britain, Germany and other countries who may only be indirectly involved but who are supporting the action. What do I think about it? History suggests that it might be a good idea for Nato to challenge a dictator before it is too late - after all, the Balkan regions have been the catalyst for previous world wars. However, I'm not yet convinced that there wasn't a deeper, more sinister agenda behind the Nato bombing and I can understand the Serbian resolve against outside interference. I think that it would have been a crime to ignore the suffering of people in Kosova but I'm not convinced that the air raids haven't exacerbated the situation.

What do you think of haunted houses? Do you believe in ghosts and poltergeists? Do you think they exist?

I don't really believe in ghosts. I don't get spooked easily.

As a journalism student (I promise, I WON'T become a music critic!)...

Get off my website!

....I've noticed that British print journalism is becoming less and less journalistic and more and more feeble attempts at stand-up comedy and one liners. Do you agree?

Take my wife......... please! (boom, boom)

Don't you find the British tabloids so f***ing damaging to the country? Pandering to our nations inbuilt xenophobia (who cares if you speak a different language in your country - I'm English and I'm gonna speak English to you - and I'll speak louder if you can't understand!). Just from travelling a little it's apparent that we can learn from other nations in a number of areas. And here's the tabloids preaching 'protect your history', treating people who approve of monetary union as 'The Enemy', and inventing up headlines linked with 'We're British - 2 world wars'. Have you any thoughts to share on this waffly semi-question, semi-rant?!

Well we did....win both wars.....and the World Cup in 1966.....and English is the recognised International language so everyone else should be able to speak it....and we do make the best suits (Savile Row), the best shoes (Church's), the most luxurious cars (Rolls Royce), a decent cup of tea, unbeatable award-winning television (BBC), the most successful music ......and we used to have a huge Empire that introduced transport to places like India (along with syphilis and gonorrhoea) .....and we still have a proper Royal family.....and the world's favourite airline....and we invented football and cricket....and we love our pound and our millions of flavours of crisps and our unique sausages, and no Brussels, we don't want to call them 'reconstituted meat tubes' and oi, Oskar de la Fonteine, get your grubby mits of our taxes too.....this jewel set in a shining sea, this happy band of men, THIS ENGLAND........

How does it make you feel that half the world's most dangerous weapons are loosely kept under the control of the world's OTHER great vodka enthusiast, Boris Yeltsin?

Silly old coffin-dodger keeps falling over in public - pissed I think. They're no worse than the Americans though....

The President of the World has just come on television to tell everyone that murder has been legalised but there is a legal limit of 5. Who's on your list and how will they meet their sticky ends?

1. Kay Burley - highly irritating and thoroughly unpleasant, stroppy, man-hating Sky TV newsreader. Death by sexism for her. Locked in a room with ten builders.

2. Matthew Kelly - as representative for all nauseating camp game show presenters (mainly on ITV). Death by ingrowing beard.

3. Anyone who plays the National Lottery. Tell them they all won £24,000,000 and when they come to pick up their cheque, whip it back from their greedy little palms and explain that it was all just a joke and they should go out and earn their money, thus inducing fatal heart attack.

4. Mary Whitehouse - bigoted, narrow-minded anti-everything campaigner. Obviously slow death with Alf Garnet doing the commentary.

5. Will Smith - for trying to do everything and being completely crap at all of it. Not to mention the pullovers, those unreasonably sticky-out ears and that sickly record where he held his kid in his arms. Death by 'Reservoir Dogs style' ear slicing or bizarre self-suffocating puffer jacket incident.

I'm attempting to research a PhD in Russian politics and wondered if you were interested in such things; a long shot I know?

My knowledge of Russian politics is sorely limited I'm afraid.

Considering current events, news and so on, do you ever feel as though you are unwittingly caught up in an insidious, far-reaching and deeply entrenched global conspiracy of incompetence?

Without a doubt. Incompetance is the bain of my life.

What is your opinion on this 2000 = Armageddon nonsense? Beyond the fact that Judgement Day mania ran well about the populace around 1000 A.D., it has always seemed most rational to me that any Deity wishing to exact penance on mankind would fashion it to be indicative to our character, i.e., struggling for aeons to attain perfection and peace amongst ourselves whilst always succumbing to inherent weaknesses. Knowing of your scepticism with religion, I'm still a bit curious of your thoughts on the subject.

If I knew what you were on about Michael I could give you a rational answer on the subject but since I haven't heard of any 2000 = Armageddon mania, I can only suppose if there were to be a Judgement Day it wouldn't be likely to be based around our recently invented calendar system. My main fear is that the millennium bug is going to cause our satellites to crash, thus redirecting the planet directly towards the sun, consequently upsetting my video player while it's recording 'Match Of The Day'.

Speaking of God, when you die, do you expect to find him laughing? Or perhaps the devil strapping a pair of eternal headphones to your head and putting 'Ultra' on repeat?

Ooh...scratch yer eyes out..... I won't know whether the good Lord's laughing or not since I'll be downstairs with all my mates.

What's your point of view on men engaged to women who are more than 10 year older than them? Sounds a weird question but I think a good friend of mine is in this kind of relationship and I'd like to have your view on it.

My parents have a 10 year age gap, Hep's parents have a 10 year age gap, and Hep and I have a 10 year age gap - spooky, eh? Obviously works.

What do you think of accountants? ;-)

Indeed......... and furthermore Mr Wilder can we have your completed C42457 revenue form with said details as aforementioned in my letter of the 19th? The inspector would also like to know your exact bin-liner expenditure from 1979 since we are in dispute over this matter at present....Finally, I am pleased to enclose of cheque for £0.000.79p, your remittance due from the Fidelity Investment you took out in 1982, oh and also, our firms bill for this month.

Many thanks,

Malcolm Malcolm

Malcolm & Malcolm, Pettigrew -Smyth, Forsters and Goldensteinberg and Sons Inc.

Hi, I don't know if this'll reach you but as a Depeche Mode / Recoil fan, I happened to notice that you enjoyed my dad's (Stephen Hawking) TV series last year. I have to admit that I found it rather boring but then that's probably because there wasn't a mention of me! Through me, my dad has become quite a DM / Recoil fan. Unlikely combination I know but it's true! Anyway, just wanted to say keep up the good work!

Thank you- it's good to know both of you like the music. He's a top bloke, your old man - not that I pretend to know what he's on about most of the time ;-) but I find the study of the universe absolutely fascinating nonetheless. Just last night I watched a very interesting documentary about 'black smokers' (no, not Samuel L Jackson); hydro-thermal vents on the bottom of the ocean located along a massive fault line which circles the planet and is wrapped up with the whole process of continental drift.

Just finished watching 'Pi'; a wonderful movie that tries to prove that mathematical patterns will explain nature / god / art. I believe this theory is also relevant in music and the continuing debate between electronics and more 'natural' instruments. What is opinion of this theory in light of your ability to merge the two in your music (art)?

You wanna have a word with Tim Hawking - sounds like his department to me ;-) It's difficult to equate that bemusing blackboard of equations with the intuative process of writing music but when you stop to think about what we know about the brain etc, there's a lot of sense to those kinds of theories. Seems to me that maths / physics is the best method humans currently have of making some sense of everything.

I find it interesting that you seem to have such a low opinion of religion and religious people but you seem to have been heavily influenced by gospel music and the traditions that surround it, particularly in some of your later Recoil work. Just intrigued by it or something?

It's not that I'm contemptuous of religion - each to his own - I'm just very much a believer in science and self-empowerment. I can understand that some people feel the need to turn to religion to try and make sense of our existence but, personally, I don't feel comfortable with the idea of devoting my life to a particular doctrine. I also don't like to see vulnerable people being preyed upon. Basically, I think we're all responsible for our own actions - I hear too many people say "God made me do it" or "It's in Gods hands". As for gospel music, I just love it.

I'm not trying to convert you, it's just that I think maybe there are some philosophical and theological matters perhaps you haven't considered. I resent people getting all on their high horse about how naive religious people are as some of the most brilliant minds of history were religious, and far from naive (although I too am disgusted by the naivety of many fundamentalist Christians in the US). I'm Catholic but enjoy reading existentialist philosophy. How strong are your beliefs if you haven't truly given your existence and purpose some serious thought?

What makes you think I haven't thought about my existence and purpose just because I've come to a different conclusion to you?

Now that the 90's are officially over, how would you briefly sum them up?

I'm still too close to the decade to really tell. I find it quite hard to pinpoint a 'look' or 'feeling' that sums it up in the same way I can for the 80's. In terms of those areas that seem to determine a decade like music and fashion, there's been a lot of retro stuff going on and for me anyway, not a lot of new ideas. Technology has progressed at the most amazing speed - the internet, genetics etc. so perhaps that's something that could define the decade.

I know it doesn't have anything to do with music but I just wanted to know your opinion on the situation in East Timor. Here in Portugal everybody is completely shaken with this and we all feel obliged to do something about it. What do you think about the position of the UN?

Same as my thoughts on Kosovo really. Noone in their right mind wants to see an oppressive regime in force. Help them regain their independence as soon as possible.


Q+A  :  PERSONAL  :  PERSONAL VIEWS - politics / ethics / beliefs / values