The 5-minute Interview: Felix Dennis, publisher and author

'Down with the nanny state'

Anna Hoyles
Monday 10 March 2008 01:00
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Felix Dennis, 60, was one of the original editors of 'Oz' magazine and was jailed in 1971 following a notorious obscenity trial. Acquit- ted on appeal, he went on to found a magazine publishing company and publish several books. His latest, 'Island Of Dreams: 99 Poems From Mustique', is out now.

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be ...

Making money, writing poetry or planting trees. I'll probably be doing all three today.

A phrase I use far too often ...

It has to be one I use a lot in my business life – "overhead walks on two legs". It's my own invention and has even been in a book of quotations. It means "if you don't need to hire more people, don't". It's always harder to get rid of someone than it is to take them on.

I wish people would take more notice of ...

Their own business. This modern mania for interfering in other's lives, usually under the guise of health and safety concerns, is highly irritating and counterproductive. Down with the nanny state.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was ...

Having the Royal Shakespeare Company perform my poetry.

A common misperception of me is ...

I couldn't care less what anyone's "perception" of me is. I'm too long in the tooth to care.

I am not a politician but ...

In the words of the late Sir Peter Ustinov: "I couldn't bear to be a politician – I couldn't bear to be right all the time."

I'm good at ...

Guessing what my readers want, fractionally before they know they want it.

I'm very bad at ...

Suffering fools gladly.

The ideal night out is ...

Dog, wood fire, piles of books, single malt whisky and no bloody interruptions.

In moments of weakness I ...

Shout and carry on. None of my personal staff take any notice whatever.

You know me as a rich git but in truer life I'd have been ...

A hermit. I really love my own company.

The best age to be is ...

28 to 35 – just enough wisdom to keep out of jail (except in my case) but still intrepid enough to try everything at least once.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is ...

Just do it. It is far easier to apologise afterwards than to obtain permission.

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