2016 minus 26: answers to questions asked

Posted: 6 December 2015 in 2016minus, life, personal
Tags: , ,

I know, I know – I’d planned what I was going to write for today’s entry; I even hinted at it yesterday, but no. Not today. I need to do some more careful thinking on it. And yes, I know that me thinking carefully about things is not always the best plan, but hey, I should at least try it on occasion, nu?

So, instead of that, this… something else for a Sunday evening. A while back, in another place (Livejournal, I used to do Q&As fairly often. For whatever reason – in part because the fashion for them has thankfully if not died, then at least suffered a setback – I’ve rarely done them here. But why not, for a change? Why not indeed. So below are a number of question asked of me over the years, and my current answer were they to be asked of me now. Fair enough?

OK… let’s see how this goes. 

Call me curious. Why do you write?
Either because I have a story I want to tell, or to meet a challenge, (self-imposed or external), or something occurs to me that I have to get down… in order for it to make sense to me. And sometimes, the format itself gets in the way. A story won’t work in prose, but it will as poetry, or only as a scrupt.

Who will play you in the film about your life?
No one would be daft enough to take on such a career-ending role.

Why are you called ‘budgie’?
A long story that you used to have to get me very drunk to tell, but now…? The full story’s here.

Why are you such a grouch?
It’s obligatory. Comes with my membership of the Curmudgeonly Club.

Furthest you’ve ever been from where you were born?
Singapore. Flew there, stayed six hours, flew back. Long story. Not as long as the flight, though.

Biggest regret of 2015?
Having low expectations, and failing even to live up to them.

Where did the idea for the Fast Fiction Challenge come from?
I hadn’t written anything for a while, and I was chatting with a well-known writer friend, saying I needed something to get me “hungry” about writing again… I came up with the idea for the fast fiction challenge and he said it would certainly get me writing… but I’d hate myself after about twenty… but I’d still write them. Well, I didn’t quite HATE myself but after about 100 I wondered whether I’d burn out. 700 of the buggers later, I’m still wondering.

Why do you pretend you don’t know when someone’s interested in you when you obviously do?
Erm, we’ve obviously never met.

Do you think of yourself as “Budgie” or “Lee”?
Oh, good question… Depends on the circumstances; with comics people, or people who I’ve met via online contacts, almost always as “Budgie”. At work, it was “Lee” or occasionally “Mr Barnett”, which I loathed. I’ve never really liked “Lee” as a name; as an androgynous name, I occasionally got letters addressed to “Miss Barnett”. Amusing as an adult, painfully embarassing as a teenager.

If you could change one thing about yourself whether it be physical or not, what would it be?
Physically? Full body transplant.
Mentally? An injection of “grow up” serum.

What is your favourite word?
Poltroon.

Which writers do you find inspiring and / or influential?
I can’t think of any writers I’ve found inspiring as in emotionally inspiring, but inspiring me to write? Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Peter David, David Morrell, Irving Wallace. Influential? Oh, a bit from everyone, though something longform I wrote was described by a friend as being heavily influenced by Douglas Adams’ style.

Please pass on an important piece of advice about life.
Two pieces of advice: (1) Learn from your mistakes; regret ’em, but don’t brood on them. (2) Accept that life is an ongoing series of ‘well, it seemed like a good idea at the time’,

Do you have any prejudices you’re willing to acknowledge?
I tend to assume that someone who’s intelligent in one area will be equally intelligent in others. And I become unfairly (and obviously) disappointed when it proves not to be the case.

Who would you most like to meet?
There are any number of people with whom I’ve corresponded online that I’d like to meet, including some that have become friends. Celebrities? Stephen Fry, Peter David, Jon Stewart, Jeremy Paxman, in the main so I can tell them how much I’ve enjoyed their work.

Would you ever consider running for political office?
Absolutely NOT!

What is the first thing you notice about people?
Their face. I’d like to say their eyes, but it’s their entire face.

Do you believe in ghosts?
Nope, not at all. I think that those people who do are… misguided.

Which is your favourite song that you would choose to sing at a karaoke bar?
I wouldn’t. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

If you were to be famous, what would you like to be known for?
As the disreputable and slightly embarrassing father of a very talented son.

Have you ever had cosmetic surgery?
Heh, no. You think I’d choose to look like this?

Pretend you live in a world where everyone wears real, physical masks all the time. Halloween masks, masquerade masks, and so on. What would your favorite mask look like?
Completely blank, like that of THE QUESTION.

What do you do if you forget the name of someone you’ve just been introduced to?
I’ll usually apologise and admit it…

What is your favorite pizza topping(s)?
Sweetcorn, Pineapple, Extra Cheese.

Tell me: One strength. One shortcoming. One plan of action. One goal. One fear.
One strength: determination, not stubbornness.
One shortcoming: stubbornness, not determination.
One plan of action: under no circumstances ever say ‘next year has to be better than this year’; I’ve been burned before on that.
One goal: make it through this year relatively unscathed.
One fear: the confirmation of other fears.

What’s your favorite black and white movie?
Always have problems with favourite movies, because I have different favourites depending on genre. So I’ll say probably Casablanca as a serious movie, and Duck Soup as a comedy. (As it’s the Christmas season, and as an aside, can’t stand It’s a Wonderful Life. At all.)

What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?
Had loads – I was a telly addict growing up; ’twas a family joke. But my earliest memories of ‘must-watch’ tv were Doctor Who, Magpie (a kids’ magazine programme), The Banana Splits, Thunderbirds and H R Puffnstuff.

What do you wear to bed to sleep?
A duvet.

What song always makes you happy when you hear it?
Not sure about ‘happy’, but Walking on Sunshine by Katriona and the Waves always makes me smiled when I hear it.

Are you afraid of the dark?
Not at all, but then it’s never given me a reason to be afraid of it. So far.

Have you ever used a gun?
A ‘real’ one? No, and no eagerness to do so.

What three television characters do you wish were real so you could hang out?
The characters I most like on tv are almost without exception characters that I’d really not like to spend that much time with in real life, and I’m pretty sure they’d not want to spend time with me either…

Name three things you hate doing.
Rarely ‘hate’ doing anything, but I’m a lazy sod – hate doing anything the “hard way” if there’s an easy way of doing it…

But, as a general rule of thumb?

(1) Even when my foot allowed it (long story), I loathed dancing. Hated it. Not only cannot I not dance, I’m far too self-conscious – I cannot get it out of my head that everyone’s looking.

(2) I hate seeing photographs of me, or to be precise, I actually don’t mind it when I’m posing for a photo, but I detest being photographed when I’m not expecting it or when I don’t know about it. I think that in my adult life there’s maybe, MAYBE, been four ‘candid’ photos taken of me where I look anything approaching ‘ok’. The rest? I’d rather they never existed.

(3) I hate having to be polite on occasions when I know I should be polite but I really don’t want to have to be, including when I receive a compliment that I either know or suspect is ‘fake’.

Can a man and a woman who find each other attractive (physically, intellectually…), be just friends and stay friends?
Yes, they can. Finding someone attractive, mentally and/or physically does not mean you desire them sexually. I’ve several female friends I think are incredibly attractive, intellectually and/or physically; that doesn’t mean I want to take them to bed. There are all sorts of entirely valid reasons why even if people do find each other attractive, the relationship will stay “friends only” or “just good friends”, or however you want to describe it: one or both people being attached, being separated by distance, etc. (Of course there’s always the possibility/probability/likelihood* that while they both find each other attractive, one or both won’t have a clue the other DOES find them attractive.)

[*delete as appropriate]

And also on that note: is it possible to be friends with someone you’ve got a crush on?
Yes, as long as they don’t have a clue you’re crushing on them. If they know? No, I don’t think it’s possible, or at least advisable, at least not for me. There’s a BUT coming. And here it is: BUT I’ve always considered “crushing” as unrequited. The moment it becomes reciprocated, that’s not crushing… that’s fancying each other, and you’re foolish if you don’t do something about it, circumstances allowing. But unrequited crushing? If someone wants to let me know they’ve crushed on me, fine… I won’t stop them, but me? No, I’d never let someone know.

What’s the favourite fast fiction you’ve written
It changes every time I think about it

Do you think writers are too in love with themselves?
Oh hell, no. I think most writers don’t like themselves very much at all.

Do you like being your age or would you rather be a different age? Why?
I don’t mind being my age; I just don’t like FEELING my age.

What would you like to see written on your gravestone?
Seriously? Merely my name and the dates of my birth and death.

Jokingly? “To Be Continued…”

Do you have a partner/significant other? Does s/he support your writing?
No, I don’t. I’ve been single for some years; many, many years in fact. Many, many, many… you get the point, I hope.

Can you recommend a coffee?
I always recommend a coffee. It’s a rule.

Would you like to know what your future holds or would you rather wait and see what happens ?
There are times I’d like the former, but on the whole, overwhelmingly the latter.

Can’t see the point in knowing what’s going to happen; either you give up the concept of TRYING at that point, of effort itself, OR if you genuinely saw the ultimate consequences of every action you took, you’d go insane… OR you’d constantly seek to change the future.

I think either way, you’d go nuts pretty quickly, in one way or another.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever traveled?
Travelled for work to Singapore… was there six hours and flew back again. It’s… a complicated story.

This is a question from my 3 year old: Can dogs fly? I’m guessing his next question will be: Why not?
It depends how hard you throw them.

If you could write any comics character (Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc.) which one would it be?
This is the genuinely the first answer where I didn’t recognise the person who wrote the answer last time around. My answer now (‘about bloody time,’ I can hear a Mr Ellis of Southend growl) would be my own characters. That’s who I’d like to write. There’s one graphic novel adaptation I’m working on which is someone else’s character and it’s enormous fun. But yes, my own characters please.

Are you a good friend?
I suspect not, but you’d have to ask my friends about that.

If I lived in the UK would you date me?
I’ll even date you if you’re not in the UK. Neolithic? How close am I?

What is your idea of a truly romantic evening?
I’m not a romantic person. Really.

Which Doctor is “your” Doctor, and do you think the ‘new’ Doctors live up to their predecessors?
“My” Doctor is the Third Doctor. I barely remember the Second Doctor; it’s John Pertwee’s Doctor who was the first I watched properly and yeah, he’s “my” Doctor. I think all of the ‘new’ Doctors have lived up to their predecessors and then some. Mind you, I’d had loved to have seen the earlier Doctors with the production values they have now. Wow.

If you had another child, what would you name him/her?
No idea – I don’t intend to have any more children. By the time I’d want any more, I think I’ll be “too old”, in my opinion. I don’t think it’s fair to children if the parents are too old; you’re increasing the odds massively that you won’t be around when the child is still relatively young. However, had I had another child, a boy would have been named after my late brother, Michael.

Who is the strongest person you know?
Couldn’t narrow it down to one person; so many people I know have triumphed – or are struggling to do so – against horrible things that have happened to them, that I couldn’t narrow it down to one person.

What song do you want played at your funeral?
I’ll likely have a traditional Jewish funeral. At those, at least in the UK, there’s no music played.

Who’s your favorite Star Trek Captain?
MacKenzie Calhoun

What are you reading at the moment?
THE LAST DAYS OF JACK SPARKS by Jason Arnopp and TRIGGER WARNING by Neil Gaiman.

Would you ever do a bungee jump?
Not even if world peace depended upon it. I have a distinct fear of, you know, dying. As Jack Dee said, there’s no ‘grey’ in bungee jumping if it goes wrong… just a big red smear.

Favorite Number? Season? Jewish Festival? Day of the week? Month?
Number: 1729
Season; Spring
Jewish Festival: Probably Chanukah, but no real favourite.
Day of the week: don’t really have one
Month: November, because it contains my son’s birthday.

Do you like your handwriting?
Depends which handwriting you’re talking about. When I deliberately write neatly, yeah, I quite like it. The rest of the time it’s a scrawl that I’m faintly embarrassed about.

Atheism is becoming more acceptable. If God doesn’t exist, why did the concept of his existence become almost universal?
Well, while not entirely accepting the premise of God not existing, but for the sake of argument: because early man needed SOMETHING to explain why the sun came up and what the lights in the sky were.

Well, that was nice.

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