Q: Can you do anything to erase a public perception of you as that guy who snorted heroin on the prime minister’s plane?
A: It’s a strange thing: I’ve worked through therapy, apologized to my family, admitted it was a foolish thing to do—but when you pose a question like that, I feel like, “Yeah, and I’d do it again!” It sparks some nerve in me—I start feeling quite violent. I was ratted out by a guy in the press corps, but you can’t blame other people. I was a stone junkie for 20 years. It was gonna happen.

Q: The first photo I ever saw of you was from around 1992—you were ironing a suit. Do you still have the suit?
A: No, no! That was a very funny time in my life, when I was post-marriage and living in an amazing squat, an enormous house in Belsize Park, in London. People had squatted there for 25 years—it was kind of a museum of the counterculture.

Q: You’re a physically imposing figure, and you’ve done a lot of TV. Do more people recognize you from TV than as a writer?
A: TV is a much bigger medium than the kind of fiction that I write. It eclipses any other activity, by a factor of a hundred thousand or more. I do two or three hours of TV a year, and yet that’s enough to ensure a far, far greater profile and notoriety. If you appear on a BBC prime-time show, you may be watched by up to 7 million people. When people stop me, they say, “I know you! You’re a comedian!” And I say, “No, you don’t, and no, I’m not.”

Q: By the way—how tall are you, anyway?
A: Seven foot two. You tell that fucking wanker Crichton I’ll take him on anytime.