You ask the questions: Tony Parsons

(Such as: Tony Parsons, how do you feel about Julie Burchill's vitriol towards you?)
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Tony Parsons, 44, was born in Romford, Essex. He worked at the Gordon's gin distillery in Islington, north London, until the summer of 1976, when he was discovered by the NME (New Musical Express). It was there that he made a name for himself, writing predominantly about punk music. He married fellow NME journalist Julie Burchill and had one son, Robert, before they split (acrimoniously). Parsons has been involved in two TV documentaries - Parsons on Class and The Tattooed Jungle. He is currently a columnist and a regular on BBC 2's arts programme, Late Review. His recent book, Man and Boy, is published by HarperCollins, and he is in the process of writing the follow-up. Parsons has remarried and lives in Islington.

Give me one good reason why I should read your new book?

Hannah Davids, by e-mail

You might like it. It might make you laugh and cry. You might think it's "a touching novel... full of quiet tenderness and written from the heart" (The Independent). You might see yourself in there, because essentially we all go through the same things - the birth of a child, the loss of a love, the death of a parent. That's what Man And Boy is about - the universal. It's not my story. It's everybody's story. That was the idea, anyway.

Did you really have to go and write a sensitive 30-something novel?

Lindsay Cochrane, Glasgow

I think if you try to write a book about the big stuff - watching a child grow up, trying to hold a relationship together, seeing your parents fighting some terminal disease, watching them die - you have to do it with a degree of grace and sensitivity. It's not the time to grandstand or shout your mouth off. I wanted to write one true thing that would mean something to other people. So yes. Sorry.

Are your laddish days behind you now?

Richard Turner, by e-mail

I don't believe in cliches. I'm not one of these old gits who has a baby when he's 40 and suddenly says his world has changed. "Fatherhood has tamed me," says TV's bad lad Martin Clunes. Well, pardon me, pops, but I have been a father for almost 20 years. In my mid-twenties I was getting up in the middle of the night with a baby who was teething. And that's fine - I loved it. But it didn't mean I was ready for the whole pipe and slippers scene, baby. I am just as happy pushing a pram in the park as I am doing the Lambada in a Manila knocking shop.

Julie Burchill is vitriolic about you every week in her newspaper column (or so it would seem). How does this make you feel?

Tanya Seward, Liverpool

Bewildered. It's like having a stalker. Presumably she can write about anything in the world, so I don't understand her fascination with someone whom she split up with 15 years ago. Someone she has had no contact with since, and whom she doesn't even really know. I honestly don't get it. Why is she so interested? Has nothing happened to her since 1984? I think it's her way of having some kind of relationship with me. Let it go, sister. Move on. Try to stop thinking about me. Get a life somewhere beyond Memory Lane.

How useful to your career has it been having a famous father like Nicholas?

John Sherress, Rochester

You might have the wrong guy here. My father was an amateur boxer and Royal Navy Commando (DSM). Game show hosts used to turn up in his stool.

How do the modern working class compare to your generation?

Gavin Coleman, by e-mail

I consider myself part of the modern working class. Le prole 2000, c'est moi. We can go anywhere, do anything, earn a six-figure salary and do it all without changing our accents. I am happy to say that I don't have a middle-class bone in my body. All the dreary tastes of the middle class - crappy little dinner parties, trips to IKEA, cheap wine from Sainsbury's, records called Probably the Best Opera Album in the World - are all anathema to me and the rest of the modern working class. It's much more fun being part of the working class.

You obviously enjoy winding people up. Has it ever gone horribly wrong? What winds you up?

P Brook, by email

Once I made a joke on Late Review about Channel 4 commissioning a gardening programme by Rose West. I thought I was being clever. A viewer wrote in and said: "They were real women the Wests tortured and killed, Tony, do you really need to make jokes about them?" I felt really ashamed of myself.

Bullies and cowards wind me up. There was a comedian on TV the other night who was telling jokes about the disabled. I could have quite cheerfully put him in hospital.

Do you still think that refugees are spongers who should be swept off the streets?

Martyn Jones, Brighton

I never said that. I said beggars are spongers who should be swept off the streets. I now feel that there should be a lot more beggars on the street - the more the merrier. The other day I saw a young woman in a car at a set of traffic lights who was surrounded by about six men banging on her windows, demanding money and pointing at their filthy mouths. It was very intimidating but clearly it would have been much better had there been a dozen of them, even 20. You can never have too many, can you?

Do you socialise with your fellow Late Review panellists?

J Allen, Birmingham

Doing Late Review is a bit like being in a band. We see so much of each other that there comes a point when you are glad to go your separate ways. But they are my friends, quite close friends, in fact. When I have had serious problems - when my son was very ill or when my mum died - Mark Lawson, Allison Pearson and Tom Paulin have all been incredibly supportive. Like all friends, our interests are not always the same. I don't know if you have ever tried persuading Tom Paulin to go down the Arsenal, or tried to get Germaine Greer to go to Stringfellow's for a bit of lap dancing. It's not easy.

Have you ever read any of Julie Burchill's novels?

O Grigson, by e-mail

Not yet. It's unlikely that I will. Julie and I were together for seven years during which we were around each other pretty much 24 hours a day - especially after she cut up my passport so that I couldn't travel. Now I feel I deserve some time off for good behaviour.

Do you have any advice for a budding music journalist?

Helen Gibson, London, E1

Don't let the drugs interfere with the work. Almost every word I wrote for the NME is unreadable today because it was written on a mountain of amphetamine sulphate. One of the reasons I had such good access to bands such as The Clash and the Sex Pistols is because I was delighted to match them line for line and spliff for spliff.

I can't deny we had some laughs - I remember being in a photo booth with The Clash and a gram of speed while a policeman tried to pull the little curtain back. Today I am very anti-drugs and feel that they are always a dead end.

What contemporary British journalist do you most admire?

M Fleming, Salisbury

I love the way Howard Jacobson writes about the turbulence of men's hearts. I think Allison Pearson writes features that are so good you have to keep them.

But my main man is Keith Waterhouse, because he has been writing great columns for longer than I have been able to read them. I once picked up his wallet for him when he dropped it in the Groucho club. I was too shy to say: "Mr Waterhouse, you changed my life, I love you so much." But he did give me a lovely smile.