My Secret Life: Rob Newman, comedian & writer

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The Independent Online

Rob Newman was born on 7 July 1964. A comedian, author and political activist, he read English at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he met David Baddiel, Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt, alongside whom he appeared in The Mary Whitehouse Experience from 1990 to 1993. Six years later, he covered the Seattle protests for Channel 4 News. He continues to perform sell-out live shows and has written three novels. He lives in London and the double DVD of History of Oil and From Caliban to the Taliban is out now, 14.99.

I drive/ride ... the same bicycle I have had for a decade. I am the slowest cyclist in London. I have never, to my recollection, ever over-taken a single other cyclist.

If I have time to myself ... I play tunes on the ukulele, or have a stab at Bessie Smith's "Down-Hearted Blues" on the piano.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... walking on my hands.

A book that changed me ... Richard Heinberg's The Party's Over about peak oil and the post-hydrocarbon world.

Movie heaven ... Laurel and Hardy's Utopia.

Comfort eating ... fresh dates.

When I was a child ... I was obsessed with skateboarding. I wore clean through the front wheeIs of my second skateboard.

All my money goes on ... fixing the damp in my home. There was a period last year when it was raining in three different rooms in my flat. Once the damp is fixed in one room the walls start rippling in the next. It is terribly demoralising. The one thing indoors should be, since roughly Neolithic times, is dry and warm. Can we change the subject please?

My favourite building ... The Regent's Canal. The greatest urban cycling route in the world.

My biggest regret ... is that I am so dim and stupid.

At night I dream of ... In my escape-themed dreams, when I finally get cornered by the wild bull/Gestapo that is chasing me, I wake myself up. Such cowardice!

My favourite work of art ... Tolstoy's War and Peace.

I wish I'd never worn ... I got a black kilt made by a company called 21st Century Kilts, who assured me that they were re-launching the kilt as a hip fashion garment. It was just me.

If I wasn't me I'd like to be ... Cary Grant.

The shop I can't walk past ... Charity shops.

My favourite work of art ... Raphael's Madonna della Sedia [in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence].

The soundtrack to my life ... Water dripping through the ceiling.

The best invention ever ... Contraction and Convergence, invented by Aubrey Meyer. It is the only socially just way of lowering emissions while enhancing equity between rich and poor, north and south, and as such is the only serious response to climate change. Which is why you don't hear much about it.