Archive for the ‘q&a’ Category

As I’ve mentioned before, on occasion, I kind of like that I used to do do these things every so often.

Now, I’ve no illusions that me doing them will restart the trend of others doing them, nor that anyone will find them actively interesting,.

I’m just more than aware that I find it easier to reveal stuff about me when I’m answering questions than by just writing about personal stuff, although I’ve done that a couple of times in this run already. But I’m genuinely fascinated by how I’d answer the questions now, compared to the last time I did it, whether that was a month ago, or ten years ago.

Besides, who knows, you might learn something about me you didn’t before. (I mean, let’s be honest, probably not, but you might.)

So, here’s another set of questions, and answers. All the answers are honest ones; some are less than serious, however. And I’ll try to answer some with more than a single word or line.

OK, so…

Is there someone in your life you know you’d be better off without?
Up until fairly recently, I’d have probably replied “Not that I can think of”. That’s changed, thanks to the past few years in British politis, and especially during #ThisFuckingElection, as I’ve taken to referring to it on Twitter.

So, yes, there are people in my life who not only would I be better off without, but I’m actively doing something about it. There have been plenty where I’ve been saddened by the termination of the friendship, but not one I’ve regretted. I suspect they’d say the same about the latter, while I’ve not the slightest clue about the former.

As to whether anyone is reading this and thinking “actually, I’d be better without budgie in my life…”, well, if so, you know what to do about it, with my blessing.

Do you get criticized because of your body?
Not really, no – my appearance, yes, but not my body. Very few people have, the past few years, seen my body, and those who have haven’t been that repulsed by it. I think.

But my face? How I look, dress, etc. Yeah, I’ve been criticised, with some justification. I’ve never thought of myself as objectively ‘good looking’. I’m… ok, I guess. Nothing special, nothing particularly horrible.

Which is, admittedly, a step forward from thinking I’m a genuinely ugly bugger, which I honestly went through most of my teenage years and adult life thinking.

How much did you weigh when you were born?
7lb 7oz, so I’m told. I wasn’t paying a lot of attention at the time. In fact, given the circumstances, I’m kind of surprised my parents noticed.

Did you kiss the last person you called?
No – the last person I called was a hospital appointment booking line. So… no. It’s been a while since I’ve kissed anyone romantically, though.

When was the last time you danced?
A very long time ago. A very, very long time ago. I really, really didn’t like dancing even before I buggered up the foot. Actually, thinking about it, I genuinely can’t remember the last time I danced. Not really. Would have been more than a decade, probably, though

When was the last time you jumped on a trampoline?
Unless I had a go when Phil – my lad – was learning as a young kid, would have been almost 40 years ago, when I was at Manchester Poly. Again, since the foot became fucked, I doubt it would be a smart thing to try.

Do you keep in mind other people’s feelings?
I try to, but suspect I manage it less than I’d like or than is ideal. But, I’d observe, ‘keeping in mind’ doesn’t mean always being careful not to offend them. There are times that I’m very aware of others’ feelings, but what I have to say, or do, is more important to me than not offending them. I’d say that’s probably the same for most people.

Are any of your friends pregnant?
Not currently, or at least not that I know of. I’ve reached the age now, though.where the question should include the children of friends of mine as well. And the answer to that would be the same right now: not currently, or at least, none that I know of.

If you have a hang nail, do you pull it or clip it?
Pull it, usually. Occasionally, I’ll cut it with the scissors on my pen-knife.

Who or what do you want to forget?
Very little. I’m a huge advocate of the ‘everyone is the sum of their lived experiences’ view; take away my experiences, and I’d no longer be… me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you understand, but at least I – and everyone else – is used to who I am… for good or ill.

Changing that runs the risk of me being someone awful. Or at least someone more awful.

Who was the last person to send you a letter?
Leaving aside the obvious answers like “the bank”, etc., I genuinely can’t remember the last time I received a personal letter. Last time I sent a personal was to a friend who’d specifically asked me to write to her. and the biggest problem I found was… I didn’t know when to end it, how long a personal letter should be. Three pages? Seemed too short? A dozen? Seemed too long.

How much money is in your wallet?
Fifteen pounds.

How far have you gotten with the book you are reading?
Almost finished the book I’m currently reading; have a new book ready to read when I’m done.

Who did you last tell to shut up?
Seriously, as in I meant it? No idea. Not seriously? Probably within the past week.

What’s your favourite book at the moment?
Robin Ince’s I’m A Joke And So Are You. I’ve read it and reread it several times. However, my favourite book of all time remains a novel: The Man, by Irving Wallace.

What’s your favourite cereal?
Winter: Shredded Wheat; any other time: Frosties.

How do you feel when people lead you on, but they don’t even like you?
Furious; I’ve fallen out permanently with people, including friends who’ve made nothing of it, over it. Dishonesty is horrible, yeah, but the calculated dishonesty in this is unforgivable, to me.

Could you live without sunlight?
I could, but I don’t suspect I’d like it very much. Or like me very much.

What’s something you know is bad, but you want to do it anyway?
Define ‘bad’. Criminal? Nothing springs to mind.

Morally? Whose morals?

Do something ‘bad’ to someone? Only if they deserve it, but fuck me, some people deserve it.

What was the last thing you lied about?
When I was nice to someone in person recently just for an easy life, to back out of a conversation that would have turned very nasty for all concerned.

Do you regret anything you’ve done in the past week?
The last week? Oh fuck, yes. The last day? Ditto.

Do you have a common outfit for when you go ‘out’?
I started dressing all in black about 15 years ago; I did it a couple of times and people, friends, were foolish enough to say it suited me. And pure laziness kept me doing it. I feel comfortable in it, and it means I never have to even mildly concern myself with what I’m going to wear.

What is a sport you would like to play?
What would I like to do? Oh, surfing, and basketball; I can, unfortunately, do neither of these either because of physical limitations. Other than that, and they’re easy answers, excuses… I don’t like sport.

At all.

Not only do I not like sport, I’m wholly and genuinely puzzled by people who do, especially those who support a team through thick and thin. I’m mystified by how anyone can claim their team is [always] “the best” when, objectively, they’ve very much… not.

The tribal nature of supporting a team is beyond me.

And that’s leaving aside that I actively dislike participating in sports. I dont think sport is an objective ‘good thing’, not when you’ve experienced the bullying and frankly horrific abuse you get when you’re ‘not good at sports’, like what I was.

When was the last time you felt like crying?
From emotion? No idea – can’t remember.

From frustration? Last week.

From pain? yesterday.

Have you ever wanted to kill someone?
In my life? Twice. Both as adult. I’d be flabbergasted if anyone knew who, however.

What was the last song you listened to that wasn’t sung in English?
A month or so ago, when I did the 30 Songs thing: 99 Luftballons

What did you last draw?
I sketched a Batman a couple of days ago, trying an app and iPad stylus.

What TV show would you like to be on?
“Did I mention Doctor Who?”

If you could choose a Pokemon, who would you pick?
I’d pick one named “KillMeNowPlease”. And then do so. Repeatedly.

What was the last video game you played?
Snooker, on the iPhone, yesterday.

Have you ever been in a musical?
Once, a very, very long time ago. Jesus Christ, Superstar. I was one of Caiaphas’ priests. Never again.

Do you follow your own style or everyone else’s?
Sorry, ‘style’? What is this thing of which you speak?

Do people use you a lot?
Define “a lot”. Am I used? Yeah, sometimes, but probably no more than I use others.

What are you doing two days from now?
Wednesday? Recovering from tomorrow’s Christmas Distraction Club, I’d imagine.

Were there any teachers at your school that disliked you?
I don’t think I went to a single school or college where there wasn’t at least one teacher with whom I fell out. Some didn’t like me because I was, well, me.

On two occasions, they were flat out antisemites, and made it obvious they didn’t like me or the other couple of Jewish kids.

And one sports teacher was a sadistic bastard who got pleasure from bullying physically weak kids. If you’re thinking my dislike of sport comes from this, you may not be wrong. Those memories last.

What turns you on?
Stuff. And more stuff. You don’t really want to know, though, do you? I mean, eugh.

Did you ever believe there were monsters in your closet?
It didn’t even occur to me.

Did you have an autograph book?
Yeah, pretty much every kid had one when I was young. Filled up with celebs I met, and school friends.

Would you adopt a child that had a mental illness?
I don’t intend to have/adopt/be responsible for any other children. It’d be unfair to them would be one reason. It’d be unfair to me is another.

Does thinking about death scare you?
Not at all, neither my own or anyone else’s… with the very, very rare exception. And even then, it’s not being ‘scared’ exactly.

If you died, would you go to Heaven or Hell?
Neither. No idea what happens when you die, and I’m quite ok with that.

Do you care what people say or think about you?
I wish I didn’t. But I stopped worrying about it when I realised that anything they say anything about me that’s ‘bad’, I’d probably agree with.

However, I don’t like being the subject of gossip. When my wife and I separated, it – and the suggested reasons for it – became the subject of some gossip among people I knew. And I hated that.

Have you ever had surgery?
Several times, last time to fix my foot. It didn’t. and I’m likely having a procedure in near future.

Have you ever been threatened?
Many times. But only two death threats that stand out, after one of which I involved the police.

Which side of your family do you get most of your qualities from?
My father, for good or bad. Very little I got from mum; very much I got from dad.

What was the last thing you drank?
Coffee.

Have you ever kept a relationship a secret?
Several, but as above, I’ve not been in a relationship for many years.

How much do you weigh?
Around 13 and a half stone, give or take a pound.

How much do you want to weigh?
Around 12 and a half stone, give or take a pound. But it’s too strong to say I ‘want’ to. It’d be nice, sure, but it doesn’t really bother me that I’m a stone heavier.

What street do you live on?
Not the street where you live.

What is a quote that you love?
“In his ninetieth year, he could afford to be agreeable to everybody, though he tried valiantly to resist the inclination.” — Alistair Cooke, on Frank Lloyd Wright

I genuinely hope someone says that about me one day.

Do you think of pure hate as human created?
Of course. Much as I do ‘pure love’.

When was the last time you wanted to scream?
Wanted to, but didn’t? Nothing springs to mind.

Did so, in pain? Yesterday.

Other than in genuine physical pain? From fury, and contempt? About a week ago.

What are your thoughts on discrimination?
Intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, discrimination? All things that make me think less of humanity as a species.

Would you give a million dollars to charity if you had two million?
No.

Do you see the world in black and white?
More often that I’d like to, or probably is wise.

Do you think cell phones can cause cancer?
Don’t know, don’t care.

Where does the rainbow end?
Midgard.

Do you believe in any religion?
I’m Jewish. My level of observance varies somewhat. I guess I’ve some few but unbreakables but they’re observances, traditions, rather than ‘believing’ per se.

I don’t know what the hell I actually ‘believe’.

What’s your definition of life?
The same as the Oxford English Dictionary’s. Seems to work for me.

Something you never want to do again is what?
Make a damn fool of myself in front of people I respect, or people I care about. The chances of me never doing this again, however, are minuscule.

When was the first time you realized the world was small?
As in “it’s a small world”? When I was very, very young.

Do you spend a lot of time contemplating life’s mysteries?
Hardly any at all. There are some questions I realised some time ago I’m just not smart enough to understand all the arguments, let alone the answers.

If you could create a new law, what would it be?
Any politician who gives out provably false information, knowingly or unknowingly (I truly don’t care if it’s unknowingly – it’s their bloody job to know), in a speech or policy statement is fired from any ministerial position, barred from ministerial office for a period of five years, and is additionally thrown out of their legislative chamber, having to run again in a by-election.

No ifs, no appeals, just… out.

Ever discuss your political beliefs with people?
Before the past few years? Not really. Since then… when asked. But there’s no political party I current agree with even a majority of their platform, and I disagree fundamentally with something in each of their policy manifestos.

Do you care about the environment?
Not as much as many of my friends.

Are you at all racist, sexist, ageist, or homophobic?
I hope to hell not; I try not to be. But I fear that like most people, I betray my prejudices every time I open my bloody mouth.

What’s your motto for life?
Regret, but never brood.

Is progress destroying the beauty of the world?
All of the natural world is temporary on the longer term. Doesn’t matter to me whether a particular view is there or not. Another view will be there instead, and if I don’t like it, so I find a view from a different place. In other words… no.

Do you believe there is life somewhere else in the universe?
Yes.

Sentient life? Still yes. However, I don’t think we’ll ever meet it. I’d say there’s more chance of time travel being invented that us meeting sentient aliens, or vice versa.

Would you like to rule a country?
Absolutely not. Gods, no. Never. Never. Never. I don’t want to even stand for local councillor.

Do you believe everything has a purpose?
Absolutely not.

Do you think animals have real feelings?
Define the term – animals feel pain, for example. If you mean, emotions, possibly. Do you mean emotions they understand? No. But I’m freely willing to accept I’m wrong or all of that; I’ve never owned a pet – though have lived with some – so do not have that experience.

Is war ever for the best?
No, but it may be the least worst solution.

Could you kill anyone?
Depends on the circumstances. To save Phil’s life? I’d kill someone and sleep well afterwards.

Do you believe global warming is really our fault?
Man made? Anthropogenic? Almost certainly.

Does love conquer all?
Not. A. Fucking. Chance.

Is euthanasia morally acceptable?
Voluntary euthanasia? Yes, though I have huge concerns as to the administration were it ever to be made legal.

Is world peace impossible?
Impossible to envision, let alone achieve.

Does prison work?
Depend on what you’re trying to achieve.

Do you trust the media?
Yes, to serve their own agenda, and increase ratings/sales.

Is pride a good or a bad thing?
Again, depends on the circumstances.

What is the purpose of life?
There isn’t one purpose. There might be many, but one? No. Unless you’re going along the ‘the purpose of life is to live’ route.

Do you believe in karma?
No. Not at all. Not in the least.
 
 
OK, something else tomorrow.

I did say yesterday that I had other questions, but limited my post yesterday to one question.

Here are some more, less serious, questions that I’ve never been able to answer satisfactorily… or at least to my own satisfaction.

So, a dozen thoughts and questions, to which I want responses and answers. Yes, after several months of writing this blog, you do some work, dear readers:

  1. What’s the best current reasoning why the US moved to mm-dd-yy format from the British dd-mm-yy. I’ve heard lots of guesses, and many suggestions, but what’s the latest theory? (I once called the Library of Congress because this was bugging me. And received four different suggested answers, including the suggestion that at one point the current US method was what the British used, and it was we who swapped…)
  2. I wonder what the NRA’s equivalent would be in the DC or Marvel universes? I know that both in Marvel’s Civil War (the comic book storyline at least) there was a Congressional impetus for the Superpowers Registration Act, but would there be a well funded – by various supervillains – campaign that “powers don’t kill people; people kill people”?
  3. What is the oldest cliché in the book?
  4. And what is the oldest acknowledged trade or profession? (Excluding sex workers which is, frankly, a lazy answer.) What was the first invoice for?
  5. Having recently thought about it, Dez Skinn was right; a far better title for the John Cleese co-written “True Brit” (What if Kal-El’s rocketship had landed in England?) would have been Fawlty Powers. What other classic works should have had better titles?
  6. If a doctor had a heart attack or a stroke while doing surgery, would the other doctors in the theatre immediately – until backup arrived – work on the doctor or the patient?
  7. How does hair know which length to grow to? (i.e. why is the hair on my hair longer than the hair on my body? And similarly, what’s the evolutionary reason for underarm hair?)
  8. How come refrigerators have little lights in them but freezers don’t?
  9. When undertakers dress a corpse for viewing, do they put underwear on the corpse?
  10. How often do ‘crime reconstruction’ tv shows receive telephone calls identifying the actors as the real purpetrators of the crime that the police are looking for? And do the police investigate them [at] all?
  11. Also, when there are photos of the previous victims of a killer – in a ‘criminal of the week’ show like CSI or Criminal Minds – who are they? And do they get paid for the use of their images? (Just to make it clear- these people do not appear in the show other than as ‘previous victims’. No lines, no appearance within the show, no flashbacks… just a set of photos on a wall.)
  12. And finally – one that’s always bugged me: the invisible woman is in a room with no windows and non-reflective walls. The only light is a single bulb. She turns the bulb invisible. Does the room go dark? What if the walls are reflective?

OK… go.
 
 
Something else tomorrow…

So, we had Prime Minister’s Questions today. Or, more formally, “Questions To The Prime Minister”.

I’ve written about PMQs several times before, and even posted a transcript of my livetweeting of “The PMQs that never happened but should have” six weeks or so back.

But, yes, I’m writing about it again, with another take on it: why it may be tinkered with every so often, but why it’ll never be fundamentally changed. Not now.

Quick bit of context, though.

In a parliamentary system, where the executive is formed from the legislature, then the way they’re held to account is two-fold:

The first and certainly more important, though less well known or appreciated, is by the system of select committees. Every department has one attached to it. MPs, usually about a dozen of them are on the committed, usually in proportion to their numbers in the House of Commons. It’s chaired by an MP elected by their peers, again usually in proportion to the numbers in the House. So most of the committees are led by Tories, some by Labour, some even by SNP MPs. They get ministers and civil servants, representing that department, in front of them and subject them to questions, trying to hold them to account for decisions the government has made, the effects of a policy, and sometimes the unexpected consequences of that policy.

Sometimes, rarely, this actually achieves something. A minister torn apart by a select committee doesn’t tend to last very long. And it’s not unknown for a government policy, ripped to shreds by a select committee – either in person or in a written report – to be amended or even repealed.

The Prime Minister, by the way, not representing a department, doesn’t face a departmental select committee… but a committee known as the Liaison Committee, a committee made up of the chairs of all the other select committees.

(However, this is one committee whose sittings tend to be anything but consequential.. PMs tend to regard it as an annoying occupational hazard, and don’t expect anything that happens there to truly matter. They’re rarely incorrect in that. And, to be fair, they wouldn’t get to be Prime Minister if they weren’t used to avoiding questions and/or people trying to hold them to account.)

The other way ministers are held to account is in the Commons itself (or the Lords, but that’s a whole other thing, so let’s just ignore them, eh?) when they face questions from MPs and are supposed to answer, but rarely do.

That’s unfair. They answer questions. It’s just not unknown for the answers to be to entirely different questions, to the questions the minister wished had been asked. And they happen every couple of weeks or so. Treasury Questions, or Environment Questions. Or Foreign Affairs Questions. Sometimes the Secretary of State will answer the questions, sometimes a junior minister with specific responsibility for a policy area.

And the same thing applies to Prime Ministersm in theory.

OK, so Questions to The Prime Minister (ok, I’m going to call them PMQs from now on, since that’s how they’re commonly referred to) take place on a Wednesday.

Way back when, when the UK maintained the polite fiction that a Prime Minister was merely ‘first among equals’ – the ‘prime’ minister, but no more than that – PMQs were a far more leisurely affair.

A question would be asked, and occasionally, the PM would even designate another minister – with responsibility for that area – to answer for them. So the PM would be asked about the government’s recent tax rises, and the Chancellor would answer.

Bbut mostly the Prime Minister would languidly answer the question asked in a way that signalled the mild astonishment that the PM should actually have to explain themselves.

Back then, PMQs took place twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for two, fifteen minute, weekly sessions. The Leader of the Opposition got three questions, the leader of the ‘third party’ (for most of the 20th century, that was the Liberal Party/Liberal Democrats.) got one.

In 1997, however, on coming to power, Blair changed the format; it would now be a single session, thirty minutes long, the Leader of the Opposition would get six questions, the leader of the third party, two questions. Again, at this time, it was still the Liberals, or the Liberal Democrats as they’d then become.

By then, of course, PMQs had morphed into something familiar to watchers now.

A clash, a battle, a Q&A (or Q&A-to-something-else, that bit hasn’t much changed), between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Under Speaker John Bercow, that half an hour has stretched out, and it’s usually around 45 minutes now, but it’s been almost an hour on occasion.

That can be split, roughly, as follows:

  • Five minutes of introductory questions (usually, one tory, one labour)
  • Fifteen minutes of Leader of the Opposition questions (what most people think of, when they think of PMQs)
  • Seven or eight minutes of the third party leader’s questions (these days, the SNP)
  • And the remainder with backbencher’s questions, just under half an hour of those

And after all these changes of format, has anything really changed in the past forty years, say?

Not much, no. Oh, the format has changed a bit. Used to be that all questions would be two parters. The first part would be on the order paper, and the MP would just say “Question 6, Mr Speaker”. That question would be something asking the PM to list their engagements for the day.

Since the previous six questions had all been the same, the PM would respond with something like “I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago.”

The MP would then stand and ask the question they actually wanted to ask: “does the PM think the latest unemployment numbers show his government is utterly fucking useless?” Or something like that, with less unparliamentary language, at least.

That was pretty much abandoned a few years ago as well. And now, MPs are just listed on the order paper as going to ask a question, without the question itself there. MP gets called, they ask the question they want to ask. (Or in the case of backbench MPs of the same party, the question they’ve been fed by the government: ‘Would the Prime Minister agree that the leader of the opposition smells? or “would the Prime Minister agree that the government is on the right course?”)

Now I’m a heretic: I’m still of the opinion that PMQs should matter; it’s just been a very long time since I’ve thought they do.

I recall Tory leader William Hague, who regularly ‘won’ the clashes when Tony Blair – no novice at PMQs – was PM, commenting that the sessions matter little outside the Houses of Parliament but are important inside; it didn’t matter so much if you weren’t excellent at them – either asking or answering – but if you were utterly crap at them, you were finished.

Well, Jeremy Corbyn put the lie to that some time ago.

He’s much better than he once was; but it took years to get there, and in ‘ye olde days’, his dire performances at PMQs for well over two years would have meant he’d have been replaced.

He’s still there, you note.

But what do they accomplish?

Honestly? Not much

Not much at all.

Corbyn has turned them into five questions you can basically ignore; he regularly lost the clash with Cameron. he came out about evens with May (because both were utterly awful at it) and it’s too early to tell with Johnson though Corbyn did well today. But Corbyn’s. turned his sixth question into a mini-speech, hitting the lines that do well on social media, and the clips are released to the faithful minutes later.

So, if it’s so bloody useless as an event, and it never accomplishes what it’s supposed to, then why don’t we do away with them?

Well, every Leader of the Opposition comes to power as PM having promised to reform them. Cameron pledged to do away with the ‘punch and judy’ style. And he tried… for about three weeks, before he got fed up of trying to be polite, while others took chunks out of him.

But why won’t they at least change to do exactly that: remove the punch and judy stuff?

Two questions there:

Why won’t they ever really change?

What are the excuses they offer for not changing?

The simple answer though is: because no one wants them to. Not enough, anyway.

No, really, no matter what backbench MPs say, and no matter how often ministers and Prime Ministers later say they hate PMQs, it’s still their moment in the spotlight, their moment to squash their foes. And if they didn’t manage to this week, then there’s always next week.

There’s tradition, that word always trotted out when people are desperately searching for a reason not to do something, whether it’s amend PMQs or ban fox hunting, and for the same reason.

And there’s parliamentary inertia; to change something in parliament, without the support of the party leaders, takes forever, is complicated and rarely occurs.

And there’s always the One Question per session, the one serious question asked by a backbench MP, about a disaster, or a constituent in trouble, or a local employer that’s failing… the House falls silent. The MP is heard; the PM stands, slowly and carefully. The tone is serious, the compassion offered is often fake-but-looks-sincere, the House hears the PM in silence.

That’s the ‘cover’; that’s what MPs point at, and protest: ‘See? That’s what PMQs can be. That’s what we can get it to, so it’s always that serious, that important.”

They’re wrong. They don’t even believe it themselves.

And most of them don’t want it to change, because there’s still a small part of them that thinks ‘it could be me asking the questions, the eyes of the House, the eyes of the nation – hey, I never said they’re realistic – on me… hell, it could be me answering them.”

Why won’t it change?

Well, you raise a very interesting point. I’m extremely obliged to you for doing so. And I refer you to the answer I gave some weeks ago.

Next question!
 
 
Something else tomorrow…

As part of my ‘hey, I finished the #55minus, so I can occasionally just stick something up here for the hell of it’, another set of questions and answers that I answered long ago on LiveJournal but would answer almost entirely differently now…

Here’s some questions and answers, from Eh to Zed…

THE LETTER A:
Are you Available? It depends on what you want. To chat, usually. To meet, occasionally. To vent, mostly. To go out and have a fun time? Rarely.
What is your Age? 55. This should not come as a susprise.
What Annoys you? Intolerance, hypocrisy, me, stupidity, self-delusion, gullibility, lack of intellectual curiousity, lazy thinking, lazy writing… oh, so many, many things.

THE LETTER B:
Do you live in a Big place? Location? Sure. I live in London. Residence? No, I live in a small flat.
When is your Birthday? 17th August. Every year, funnily enough. Well, ok, every year since 1964.
Does Beauty matter? Always; there’s not enough beauty in the world, but it’s there if you look for it.

THE LETTER C:
Which Car would you own, if money was no object? Had to think about this one, because I’ve never really been what you’d call a ‘motorhead’, but then I realised that I’d love to drive any of the following: Aston Martin DBS, Ferrari Dino, Jensen Interceptor, Morgan. Though if money was no object, I’d be quite happy with a little runaround. I miss not having a car, I’ll be honest
Who’s your Crush? No-one that I’d be happy acknowledging, let alone admitting publicly.
When was the last time you Cried? Because I was hurt emotionally? A very long time ago. From sadness, a few months back, watching the news. From pysical pain, last week.

THE LETTER D:
Do you Daydream? Not really, no.
What’s your favourite kind of Dog? A Australian Labradoodle named Rowlf, who belongs to/lives with my closest friends. I’m not really a pet person, until/unless I get to ‘know’ them, and sometimes not even then.
What’s your favourite Day, of the week? Don’t have one, really. Any day I get to see my lad, I guess.

THE LETTER E:
How do you like your Eggs? Scrambled or with cheese in an omelette.
Have you ever been in the Emergency room? Oh yes, most recently within the past month or so.
What’s the Easiest thing ever for you to do? Think. That’s not always a good thing.

THE LETTER F:
Have you ever Flown in a plane? A few times, yes. Not for some years, though. Which reminds me, my passport’s probably up for renewal in the next year or so. For the first time, I’m not entirely sure I’ll renew it. I mean, I should, I might need it, but it’s a cost I could do without.
Friends or Family? With the notable exception of Phil, the latter, every bloody day of the week. I’m not close to my family, the people I grew up with, for various reasons. I don’t wish them ill, genuinely, but everyone’s better off if we do not encounter each other again. Ever.
Have you ever used a Foghorn? No, but there seems something fundamentally wrong in not having done so.

THE LETTER G:
Do you chew Gum? Very, very rarely.
Are you a Giver or a taker? Quite probably.
Do you like Gummy candies? No.

THE LETTER H:
How are you? Irritated at such a stupid question. I’ve never forgotten the definition of a bore as being someone who, when you ask them how they are… tells you.
What’s your Height? Six foot.
What colour is your Hair? Grey/white with the occasional strang of what’s left of my brown hair.

THE LETTER I:
What’s your favourite Ice cream? Banana. (Used to love melon flavour, but haven’t seen it in years.)
Have you ever Ice skated? Once, wrenched my knee and swore never to do it again…
Would you live in an Igloo for a bet? Not even if it would solve world hunger.

THE LETTER J:
What’s your favourite flavour Jelly/Jam? Strawberry. Every time. I had a stay in hospital a few years back. The only edible thing I ate while there was strawberry jam on toast. (Wow, haven’t thought of that in ages…)
Have you ever heard a really hilarious Joke? Yes, several that have had me literally crying with laughter.
Do you wear Jewellery? Yes, a thin gold chain with an equally gold Star of David (a 21st birthday present). I used to wear a wedding ring; every so often, I’ll catch sight of my left hand and it’ll take a second to realise what’s ‘missing’.

THE LETTER K:
Who do you want to Kill? Right now? No-one, but ask me again another time.
Do you want Kids? I’ve got one, thanks: a pretty amazing son named Philip. No intention of ever having another. (It’d be unfair for me – to the mother and child – to have another. Odds are I’d be dead before the kid was out of his or her 20s.)
Where did you have Kindergarten? Nursery? Luton.

THE LETTER L:
Are you Laid back? Sometimes.
Do you Lie? Sometimes. (See immediately above)
Have you ever been to London? It’s been known. Well, that’s obviously silly. So, instead, let’s go with:
Have you ever been to Los Angeles? Yes, spent part of my honeymoon with Laura there. Loved the place.

THE LETTER M:
What’s your favourite Movie? I bloody hate this question… I couldn’t narrow it down to one, so let’s go for one I can watch repeatedly: The Lion In Winter.
Do you still watch Disney Movies? Some of them, sure.
What type of Music you listen to? A very eclectic mix, everything from hard rock to ‘easy listening’, from muscial comedy to Clannad, from Glen Miller to Glenn Frey, from musical soundtracks to Chris De Burgh.

THE LETTER N:
Do you have a Nickname? Heh.
Favourite Number? 1729. For the obvious reason.
Do you prefer Night over day, or day over Night? The former, definitely. Always been more of a night owl.

THE LETTER O:
What’s your One wish? For Philip to be happy.
Are you an Only child? No, I’ve a younger brother, though we’re not in touch, and had an older brother.
Do you wish this was Over? Not particularly. And not as much as anyone reading.

THE LETTER P:
What one fear are you most Paranoid about? I have my fears, but none that I’m paranoid about. My paranoias are old enemies, I’m resigned to them now.
Do you love the colour Pink? No, not at all. My only even faint liking for it was that it occasioned a nice story I wrote for the daughter of close friends; she loved the colour pink, and asked me for a story for her birthday, about the colour pink. So I wrote one for her.
Are you a Perfectionist? When I had a day job, about work, yes. Outside that, not really. By inclination and training, I like accuracy and it’s probably why I have so many problems with those in the real world who treat both accuracy and the correct use of information as disposable when inconvenient.

THE LETTER Q:
Are you Quick to fall in love or lust? ‘Love [or lust] at first sight’ type thing? No. Only ever happened a couple of times, and that immediacy was never a good thing in the long run. For me, or for them.
Do you enjoy pub Quizzes? On occasion, yeah. Not as a regular thing, though.
Have you ever rode a Quad-bike? No, but I think it’d be fun to try.

THE LETTER R:
Do you think you’re always Right? Lord no – I’ve made so many mistakes it’s incredible. But once I’ve made my mind up on something, it takes a lot to change my mind. Unless it’s on a matter of fact. When I’m shown that I had a fact wrong, I’ll hold my hand up to it without protest.
Do you watch Reality TV? I loathe so called reality television with a passion that is terrifying to imagine. It’s the one genre of tv (as opposed to individual shows in a genre) I intensely dislike.
What’s a good Reason to cry? There are very few bad reasons.

LETTER S:
Do you prefer Sun or rain? Light rain.
Do you like Snow? Yes, but I hate slush.
What’s your favourite Season? A cool, but not bitingly cold, spring or autumn.

THE LETTER T:
What Time is it? Oh look at what time it was posted and then knock off a couple of minutes.
What Time did you wake up? Just after half-six this morning.
When was the last time you slept in a Tent? I don’t think I’ve ever slept in a tent.

THE LETTER U:
Do you own an Umbrella? Actually, I don’t think I do, any more. I had one, but lost it in Edinburgh last year, and haven’t replaced it.
Can you ride a Unicycle? No, not at all.
Have you ever said someone was Ugly? Usually the bloke in the mirror.

THE LETTER V:
What’s the worst Veggie? Brussels
Where do you want to go on Vacation? Again, money no object? New York, Bermuda, Antigua, Sydney, Skye, Edinburgh outside the Fringe.
Where was your last family Vacation to? I genuinely can’t remember. Haven’t taken a ‘family holiday’ in the past 20 years, unless you include taking Phil to comic cons, and even that you’re talking almost a decade or so back .

THE LETTER W:
What’s your Worst habit? Way, way too many to mention here.
Where do you live? Abbey Road, about ¼ mile from the studios.
Who’s your hero? I don’t have one.

THE LETTER X:
Have you ever had an X-ray? Lots of them.
How old were you when you first saw an X-rated movie? 15 or 16, I guess? No idea.
Favourite Xenomorph movie? Aliens. Much preferred it to the original, or the other sequels, despite its admitted faults.

THE LETTER Y:
Would you be friends with You? I doubt it, hugely.
What Year would you time travel to if you could? Temporarily? 2044. I think 25 years in the future is near enough that I wouldn’t suffer from much culture shock, but would still have enough of a ‘wow’ factor for me.
What’s advice would you give Younger You? How much younger? Teenage me? You WILL have sex at some point, I promise. Married me? Enjoy being married, while it lasts. Because it won’t. Me of a decade back? It’s ok to lean on others. Plenty of advice I’d give, but younger me would never believe Older me. because I wouldn’t believe Older me if he came back and gave me advice now.

THE LETTER Z:
What’s your Zodiac sign? Leo, but it’s utter bullshit.
Do you believe in the Zodiac? Of course not; it’s utter bullshit.
What’s your favourite Zoo animal? Not a huge fan of zoos.
 
 
OK, something more substantial tomorrow. Probably.

55 plus 02: me me me… meme

Posted: 19 August 2019 in 55 plus, Meme, q&a
Tags: , ,

I did a Q&A early in the #55minus run, and lamented – not really, but kind of – that blogging has changed since my days on Livejournal, where sooner or later everyone did one of those “Answer 100 questions with a single word for each” or detailed Q & A’s.

They were usually on Livejournal referred to as memes, although they weren’t really.

They were just something someone… did, and other people thought a) they were kind of a neat idea, b) they were a pleasant-ish way to pass half an hour completing, and c) that their friends might enjoy reading… and equally enjoy mocking the answers therein.

Some bloggers treated them with the utmost seriousness, answering every question honestly and without any deviation or guile. Others would treat them as opportunities just to crack gags, and smart arse replies. I’d guess, looking back, that I fell somewhere in between, where all of the answers were the truth, and nothing but the truth, but rarely – as a set – the whole truth. And any questions I didn’t want to answer, or felt uncomfortable answering, I’d answer with the aforementioned gags or smart arse replies.

As I say, I did one early in the run leading up to my birthday, but only the one.

Time for another.

As with the previous post, it’s part amusing for me, part horrifying, seeing which answers are the same as I wrote so very long ago (am I that staid? that unchanging?), which answers have changed, and which previous answers are incomprehensible to me that I did this, felt that, thought the other.

Still, those previous answers are for my pondering. You just get the current ones.

OK, some nonsense:

10, 9, 8…

10 favourites:
Drink: Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee… Oh, you didn’t mean my ten favourite drinks? Well, the drink I most often drink is coffee. My favourite remains is a soft drink – Dr Brown’s Cream Soda. But you can’t really get it over here in the UK. I rarely drink alcohol these days, but when I do, it’s scotch. Single malt if available, blended otherwise.
Song: It varies day by day, let alone week by week. At the moment, have got Everywhere’s Uphill from Mitch Benn stuck in my head, for what might be obvious reasons….
Garment: Leather jacket, which I bought almost on a whim several years ago and it’s just about perfect.
Website: Purely on the basis of what site I always have open? BBC News site, probably. I’m a news junkie, I’m afraid, and the BBC site is so well put together.
Time waste: Twitter, unquestionably.
Memory: Couldn’t narrow it down to just one, but almost all of them involve Phil.
Movie: Couldn’t narrow it down’ depends on my mood.
Way to cook eggs: Scrambled, on toast.
Body part: Of mine? Oh, I dunno – my eyes, I guess; they’re usually the things that get complimented the most. But really, nothing. I’m not a huge fan of my body.

9 currents:
Mood: Looking forward to more Edinburgh shows.
Taste: According to those who know the music on of my iPhone, I have no taste.
Clothes: Long T-shirt, trousers. All black.
Lock screen: the hypotheticals graphic? .
Tiredness level: I’m fine; slept very well last night.
Time: about 11pm, UK time.
Surroundings: Edinburgh.
Annoyance(s): Myself, for various reasons…
Thoughts: See answer directly above.

8 firsts:
Tattoo: None, and there won’t be any. I have no problem with tattoos on other people, and indeed, quite like them at times… but not for me. Ever. (I always find it amusing, genuinely, at people’s reactions to my lack of reaction to tattoos. At some point, it apparently became necessary to have an opinion about tattoos and piercings. I’m not sure why.)
Heels: Stuck at the back end of my feet.
Partner: My ex-wife, I guess? Well, she was my wife before that. And my fiancée and my girlfriend. But the only person I’ve ever truly considered my “partner”.
Sex: Still the same one as I was born with.
Blog: LiveJournal.
Cellphone: A Nokia 5210, a fantastic phone that did exactly what I wanted, and no more… I still kind of miss it on occasion.
Memory: Being cuddled by an aunt. All I remember is that she was wearing a blue dressing gown and had brown/ginger hair. Knowing when she died, I must have been about two. And I can’t place that memory in context at all… (I do wonder how many people who remember very early things can possibly place them in context.)
Cigarette: November 1982. Manchester. Student Occupation of the polytechnic’s admin block.

7 lasts:
Cigarette: Around 11:30pm on 30th November 2016. I quit.
Food: A pizza, about an hour ago.
Drink: A glass of water.
Car ride: About a week ago, getting a lift to the station.
Kiss: From a friend’s kid when she was going to bed.
Song played: The Baby Song by Kate Lucas
TV show watched: Tonight’s news.

6 have you ever(s):
Danced naked: No.
Watched a sunrise: Yes.
Laughed so much that you wet your pants: No.
Lied to your mother: Many, many times.
Hit someone you didn’t know: Yes, but to be precise, I was hitting back.
Lied about your job: No, but was tempted after Enron to tell people I played piano in a whorehouse; it seemed somehow less embarrassing than saying I was an accountant.

5 When will you next:
Go on holiday: Coming to Edinburgh every year is my holiday.
Check your email: I have my email on permanently, on the iPhone and iPad.
Have an aloholic drink: Tomorrow evening.
Go out for the evening: Tomorrow evening.
Go to sleep: In about three hours.

4 things:
You did yesterday: Saw several Edinburgh shows, Saw friends, helped a friend celebrate her birthday, met some comedians I’d been fans of for years.
You can hear right now: The news on the telly, and the keys being tapped on the keyboard, my breathing, and someone getting ready for bed…
You’ve done today: Caught up with friends, laughed a lot, laughed some more, done a lot of walking.
You do when you’re bored: I have a very high boredom threshold. I’m very rarely bored.

3 people
You could give up your life for: Phil. Anyone else reading this can guess whether I’d do so for them.

2 choices:
Coffee or tea: The former.
Abba or The Rolling Stones: The latter.

1 wish:
It’d be nice, just once, to remember a good dream…

Some Questions, some answers

If you were going to describe your current mood as a traffic sign, what sign would you be?

How long have you lived where you currently live? Just over two and a half years; I moved in at the start of February 2017.

How long do you stay somewhere on average? Tough to say… As an adult, I’ve lived at addresses for as short as three months and as long as seven years.

Do you want a hug? A cookie? No to both, thanks.

What is the last article of clothing you purchased? A plain black t-shirt.

What’s the story behind your Twitter username? Oh Lord, is there anyone who doesn’t know? But you can go here to learn the origin story of ‘budgie’.

What’s the longest time you’ve stayed out of the country/where? 1980, from mid-July to mid-August. On a BBYO tour of Israel.

One thing you’re grateful for, today. Cocodamol.

What is your favourite high school memory? Surviving it without getting beaten up too many times.

What is your worst high school memory? Going into school the first day after having a curly perm.

Describe your dream wedding: 28th August 1994, the only wedding I need think about, and absolutely the only one I’ll ever have.

Read any good books lately? Yes, thanks.

Does size matter? Depends.

Is 15 minutes enough? Depends.

Worst fashion trend Anything I wore between the ages of 12 and 25. I was a barometer for fashion. “Look what Barnett’s wearing!” “Bimey, it must be ‘out’…”

The school picture you buried in your bottom drawer? None. I don’t mind being embarrassed about them.

Do you have any weird fetishes? Define ‘weird’.

What is one thing you will never understand about the opposite sex? Everything they do.

Who is your best friend? Jointly, Mitch and Clara Benn.

Who is your boy/girlfriend? Don’t have one; have been single for a very, very, very long time. Several Prime Minister’s worth of time…

Four things you’re doing right now:
1) Vaping
2) Typing
3) Breathing
4) Watching telly

Give yourself a porn star name: Ebeneezer Ramthrust.

Do you have any weird sleeping habits? Not that I’m aware of, and no one to say otherwise.

What do you plan to do this summer? Same as I do every summer, Pinky, conquer the world.

What is your favourite song right now? Paint It Black – Rolling Stones

Write a line from any song If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d want to do…

Do you know at least one Disney song by heart? Which one? Yes, Be Prepared from The Lion King. And no, don’t even think it.

Your typical sleepwear? Nothing. I live alone, and no one gets to say otherwise.

What’s in your wallet? Bank cards, picture of Philip, money, various membership cards, photos of Mike, business cards.

How much money do you have in your wallet right now? Two five pound notes.

What is your favourite pair of shoes? Karimoor trainers. They’re the best things I’ve found for my fucked up foot.

If you could’ve gone to your senior prom in a different outfit, what would it be? I’d not have gone. Come to think of that, I didn’t go.

Threes

Three Names I go by:
In rough order of how often they’re used:
1. Budgie
2. Dad
3. Lee

Three Jobs I have had in my life:
1. Junior in a hairdressers
2. Director of Finance and Administration
3. Writer

Three Places I have lived:
1. Luton
2. Richmond
3. Abbey Road

Three TV Shows that I watch:
1. Last Week Tonight
2. The Blacklist
3. Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Three foreign countries I’ve visited:
1. Bermuda
2. Russia
3. America

Three of my favourite foods:
Food? erm… Oh, ok.

  1. Smoked Salmon on rye bread
  2. Spaghetti Bolognese
  3. Pizza

Three songs you love:
1. “You’re My Home”, Billy Joel
2. “Love’s Been Good To Me”, Frank Sinatra
3. “A Night Like This”, Caro Emerald

Three books you would have read more than once:
1. “The Man”, Irving Wallace
2. “A Short History Of Nearly Everything”, Bill Bryson
3. “I’m A Joke, And So Are You”, Robin Ince

Three movies you love:
1. Air Force One
2. A Few Good Men
3. Fiddler On The Roof

Three Things I am looking forward to:
1. Seeing Grainne Maguire’s Edinburgh Show
2. Seeing Marlon Solomon’s Edinburgh Show
3. Seeing Andy Zaltzman’s Edinburgh Show

Three drinks:
1. Coffee
2. Water
3. Scotch

Three people you miss:
1. Mike
2. Phil, though I get to see him soon…
3. Lots of people I’ve lost contact with, either deliberately or otherwise.


Something else tomorrow…

[Oh, before I start, I got asked yesterday where I’m getting the photos from that I use for this blog. Other than ones I’ve taken myself, or have express permission to use, they come from an iOS app entitled Unsplash which supplies copyright free photos. Also on: https://Unsplash.com]

Had an entry all ready to finish today – subject matter, bullet pointed out, everything – but got caught up with other stuff that’s pretty much consumed my day.

And to be honest, with something that’s occurring tonight, I’d struggled to get my head ‘in the game’ to write anything serious.

So another entry already part-completed but planned for half way through this run is appearing, oh, a week and a half early.

Ain’t that always the way?

No?

Well then you’re substantially better at keeping to schedules than I am.

But it’s amusing to me how blogging changes. Before Twitter, I’d think nothing of sticking up three or four blog posts a day on Livejournal, containing this link, or that photo. Twitter, instagram, Facebook, Tumblr… they killed that kind of blogging, probably a good thing.

But on Livejournal, sooner or later everyone did one of those “Answer 100 questions with a single word for each” or detailed Q & A’s. They’d be of the

          Ask me five questions and I’ll answer honestly

type.

A couple of dozen people would play, and I’d have 100 or so questions to answer.

And at some point, when I’m doing one of these countdown runs, I’ll grab some of those questions, and answer them with today’s answers. (It’s part amusing, part horrifying, for me, seeing how many of the answers are radically different now, seeing how many are the same.)

So here’s a collection of questions asked of me through the years, from Livejournal, from formspring, from curiouscat with some up to date answers. All of the answers are the truth, and nothing but the truth. As always, however, rarely the whole truth.

Some questions, some answers

What is your middle name? Often surprises people that I don’t have one. Growing up, I wish I did, as I utterly loathed ‘Lee’ as a name. It’s no coincidence I grabbed ‘Budgie’ as soon as I acquired it. And as stated previously, I prefer to be called that now.

Why are you called Lee? I’m not. I’m called ‘budgie’. Ok, since you insist. I’m Jewish; we tend to name children after those who have passed on, who have joined the choir invisible. Who have died. I’m named after my maternal grandmother, Leah.

Where does most of your family live? My ex-wife and our son live in Barnet. I believe my mum is still in Luton, and a brother & his family live in Bushey. But we’re not in contact… which suits all of us just fine, thanks.

When was the last time you visited the street where you first lived? Well, I was born in Luton; very deliberately haven’t been back to the town, let alone the street, in years, other than to the airport.

Most memorable birthday? My 50th, in Edinburgh. Pretty much everything was perfect about the day: surrounded by friends, comedy, alcohol, presents, and much fun and laughter. Also the first few after Phil was born; there are few things as nice in life as your very young child singing Happy Birthday to you, and giving you a card he’s made.

So, what do you want for your birthday this year? Best wishes. That’ll do it, thanks.

Do you make friends easily? No, not easily at all. And I’m a lousy friend to have; fair warning.

But if you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? The temptation is to say “no”, but I don’t have a clue; I’m hopeless at judging myself objectively in any way.

Are you jealous of anyone? Still can’t top a friend’s answer when he answered this more than a decade: The usual raft of envy regarding other people’s good fortune, intelligence, academic prowess, family relations, published writing, and effortless ability to be likeable, but not actively and specifically “jealous”.

Do you vote? In elections, you mean? Every bloody opportunity I can, since 1987. In every election, even those where I’ve intended not to because I was pissed off with all the candidates. Turns out I can’t not vote. I’m a huge believer in, and advocate for, voting. And no vote is a ‘wasted vote’. If it’s for candiate who can’t possibly win, well, your vote might save their deposit. Or give them/their party confidence for next time.

1987? But you were 18 in 1982? Yeah, I didn’t vote in the 1983 general election. Was away studying and didn’t bother to register there.

What characteristic do you despise in people? Gratuitous intolerance. Everything I dislike in people (including, but not limited to, lazy thinking) stems from that.

Do you have any prejudices you’re willing to acknowledge? I stupidly, very stupidly – it’s a flaw, I know – tend to extend a good faith assumption that someone who’s intelligent in one area will be equally intelligent in others. Oh, and I’m unfairly biased in favour of intelligent people with interests beyond who got kicked off of Celebrity Big Brother last night.

Illegal drugs? Not right now, but thanks. But no; while I have in the past, I some time ago realised that I’m too old and my body too broken to tolerate even marijuana these days. The last time I tried… well, it didn’t go well.

Are you photogenic? Lord, no. But better than I used to be.

Do you like having your photograph taken? Generally? No, I really don’t like it. I don’t mind if I know it’s being taken, but I really, really hate and loathe it when I don’t know it’s being taken. The chances I’ll like the pic if I don’t know it’s being taken are miniscule. And if someone takes a candid shot, I’ll often ask them to delete it, or at least not put it on social media.

Is looking good important to you? [looks in a mirror]. Obviously not.

Do looks matter? Other than in “the Kingdom of the Blind?” Yes. Always, always, always, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Do they matter in terms of attracting you? I’ve always thought that looks are what gets you interested in someone, while everything other than looks is what keeps you interested. Well… me, anyway.

Which hurts the most, physical or emotional pain? Physical, every bloody time. I’ve been told “There’s something wrong with you if you don’t choose emotional pain”, a sentiment with which – when it comes to me – I wholeheartedly agree.

What do you think of hot dogs? The owners should be prosecuted for leaving them in the car.

Have you any tattoos? No.

Piercings? Hahaha. No.

Do you trust others easily? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha. No.

What subject in school did you find totally useless in later life? Geography. I cannot truly express the heights of my disdain for geography as a subject, or at least how I was taught it. I left school wholly convinced that it was an entire waste of time unless you intended to use it as a future career. I’ve never been completely sure I was wrong.

What kind of hair/eye colour do you like on the opposite sex? No particular preference, but if the eyes are communicative, can send messages? I’m a sucker for that. However, even then, I’m hopeless at interpreting such messages.

What is the most pain you have ever experienced? Breaking my foot – felt like I’d plunged it into molten lava. Since then… still the foot, on a regular basis.

Do you have siblings? One dead, one still alive.

What are your weaknesses? Way, way too many to list here.

If you got to live for a prolonged period of time in any time period, which would it be? I wouldn’t. To visit? Early 1960s, maybe mid 2030s. But to live somewhere? No, I lack too many cultural references and background knowledge, let alone the language and social norms. And going back far enough, I’d likely die from this disease or that one.

First thing you ever got paid for writing? A short sketch on BBC Radio 4’s Weekending. As I recall, it was about Boris Yeltsin. Followed shortly thereafter by one about Michael Heseltine.

Ever have a near-death experience? Yes. Three, in fact.

Name an obvious quality you have. Well, according to several people, a very skewed perception of how I’m regarded by others. That’s their opinion of an “obvious” quality, not necessarily one with which I agree.

What’s the name of the song that’s stuck in your head right now? A Night Like This by Caro Emerald.

Would choose to sing at a karaoke bar? I wouldn’t. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

If you could suddenly get the skill to play any single musical instrument, which would you choose? Mouth organ – that way no one would ever ask me to sing. (Some years ago, friends bought me one. I started to learn, then put it down; I really should get back to learning it. I’d genuinely actually quite like to.)

Do you read your horoscope? No; if I want to read fantasy, there’s plenty of better written stuff out there.

Ever seriously questioned your sanity? Yes, on many occasions, though not for a while.

Have you ever killed your own dinner? Have I ever killed something and then ate it, no. Have I ever destroyed a meal I was making? Hell’s teeth, you’re asking questions of someone who could burn corn flakes. I’m a terrible cook. Abysmal.

What’s the longest time you’ve stayed out of the country/where? 1980, from mid-July to mid-August. On a BBYO/youth group tour of Israel.

And the 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.

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.

Why do you always pretend you don’t know when someone’s interested in you when you obviously do? Erm, we’ve obviously never met. My not realising it has been the source of humour in the past to friends. Nowadays it’s a source of mild irritation, and sometimes not that mild.

Life lessons? Two:

  1. Learn from your mistakes; regret ’em, but don’t brood on them.
  2. Accept completely, and irrevocably, that life is an ongoing and consecutive series of ‘well, it seemed like a good idea at the time’.

Exam lessons? I’ve taken a lot of exams in my life. I learned these four lessons far later than I should have done:

  1. Don’t worry about ‘answering the question’; ensure you ‘get the marks’. The two are often only the same thing by coincidence.
  2. The first half marks in a question are always easier to get than the last half.
  3. KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid; don’t assume the marker knows anything
  4. RTFQ: Read the fucking question

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, John Oliver, Samantha Bee… mainly so I can tell them how much I’ve enjoyed their work. And some celebrities, public figures, who have, the past few years, stood up to defend Jews against antisemitism solely because it’s the right thing to do. I’d like to meet them so I can just say ‘thank you’.

Would you ever consider running for political office? Not. A. Fucking. Chance. Ever.

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

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.

What’s your favorite black and white movie? Always have problems with ‘favourite’ questions, because I have different favourites depending on genre. But probably Casablanca as a ‘serious’ movie, and Duck Soup as a comedy. (Definitely not It’s a Wonderful Life. Can’t stand the movie. At all.)

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 Katrina and the Waves always makes me smile when I hear it.

Are you afraid of the dark? It’s never given me a reason to be afraid of it. So far.

What’s your favourite music to dance to? Even when my foot allowed it, I disliked dancing. Hated it. I’m too self-conscious; I cannot get it out of my head that everyone’s looking.

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

Can you recommend a coffee? I always recommend a coffee.

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.

Favorite Number? 1729

Can you speak any languages other than English? The odd word of yiddish, but absolutely fluent rubbish.

Would you rather visit a zoo or an art museum? I’d rather visit neither.

Do you own a knife? Well, does a Swiss Army Knife count? If so, yes.

What did you want to be when you were little? Older… and taller.

Is there any subject that should be off limits for humor? No. None. However, just because a joke can be made about a subject doesn’t mean it should be made, or told.

Are you a hypocrite? Yes. Next question?

Just curious – what’s your type? Arial Rounded MT Bold.

If you were one of The Endless, which one would you be?
As a general rule though, never really feel like a character created by someone else. I’m more of a self-made person who has a healthy disrespect for my creator.

Why did you stop the fast fiction stories? Mainly because I’d written 700+ of them and I didn’t want to write 800. They may return at some point, if there’s a reason the format suits the occasion.


Something else tomorrow, something a bit more serious and a lot more sensible…

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.