Posts Tagged ‘stuff’

Last week, I started a Ten Things post, then the time and words both ran away with me so I ended it after five, always intending to complete it with the final five today.

So, here is the rest of the post I should have written last week; five more things I’m grateful for, right now. No sarcasm, no snide ‘yes, I’m really grateful for that’ while my expression could curdle milk at seventeen paces…

Just Ten Five More Things I like, and am grateful for, right this moment, with the usual Ten Things reminder… they’re not the objectively considered best things in my life, nor necessarily personal favourite things. They’re just, in no particular order, Ten Things I like… at the time of writing. (And why.)

Last week’s started with my son, comedy, comics, friends (very much including my ex-wife Laura) and… London.

And so…


It was only when I saw the last five today that I realised they share a theme, which kind of surprised me as I didn’t realise they did when I wrote them out last week.

The enthusiasm of others for things I don’t like or don’t understand
Not for everything, of course. I don’t understand, not really, enjoyment of mocking or decrying someone ‘because they’re different’. That doesn’t mean that I enjoy others’ doing it.

And I should say immediately that ‘not liking’ something isn’t the same as ‘disliking’ something. If I don’t like something, say, a tv show, then it just means that I don’t get enjoyment from it. It doesn’t mean that I actively dislike it. Some things I do actively dislike; some tv genres, for example. I actively dislike talent shows. OK, not the shows themselves, but everything that makes the shows everything that others enjoy. I dislike the auditions, which seem to me to be merely the current iteration of ‘laughing at the halfwits at Bedlam’. I dislike the judges pantomime reactions and their performative playing to the audiences. I dislike the blending of ‘quality’ and ‘popularity’, and their conflation.

But that aside… I don’t enjoy sports. There are some aspects I actively dislike, mainly due to my early experiences and for that you can blame a) my teachers at school, b) the prizing of athletic ability and my own weedy body as a youngster, and the general view at my schools that bullying while officially decried, was unofficially tolerated and encouraged.

So, no, I don’t enjoy sports, especially team sports, especially at the amateur level. It brings back too many bad memories. But professional sports? Something I have no experience with other than ‘not liking them’? So, so many of my friends do. And watching their enjoyment, that I quite like.

Same with tv shows. There are few (as above) genres I dislike, but plenty of critically acclaimed dramas and sitcoms that I merely ‘don’t like’. I don’t share other’s enjoyment of them… but I do like their enjoyment. There’s little enough in the world that brings unfettered enjoyment so when you find it, and enjoy it… I enjoy your enjoyment.

Another one: food. As I’ve mentioned before, many times, I’m not a foodie. The enjoyment of preparing, making and consuming food entirely escapes me. Honestly. If you could give me a pill that would give me all the nutrients, the feeling of fullness from eating a meal (and it didn’t taste like shit, that’d be nice), I’d take it without feeling like I was missing out at all.

My friends, every single one of them, Do Not Understand This, and most of them think I’m just saying it. I’m not. I would take such a pill. (Some have suggested the powder thing that does the rounds every so often, but to be honest, it looks so complicated to buy, measure out, use etc, I might as well stick to food…)

But I genuinely enjoy the pleasure other people take in food. Some friends love cooking and baking. I love that they enjoy that. Others are epicureans, enjoying the finest food they can… and their pleasure in that consumption is something that pleases me enormously.

I like that others like things, even if I don’t share that enjoyment, nor even understand it. If that’s odd, well, it’s not the oddest thing about me, now, is it?

The Internet
The comedian, actor and director Chris Addison once had a bit in his stage show that went, roughly:

The Internet is one of the genuine modern miracles. If I want to look up information, it’s there in a heartbeat. If I want to buy a book, or go to the cinema, or even watch a movie there and then, or even if I want to see what a traffic cam in downtown Tokyo is seeing right now, I can. At the click of a button. It’s incredible, it’s wonderful. It’s… a genuine miracle that we take for granted at our peril.

BUT… if this modern miracle, this wonder of our ages… if the internet goes down, it takes about thirty seconds for this wonder of our ages, this thing unimaginable to generations before us…

…to become a basic human right.

He’s right of course. The internet ceased to be something ‘new’ and a luxury item some time ago. Many things, certainly many interactions with the state, with national and local governments, or with your bank, can only be done online, or at least can only be done efficiently online.

And while I hugely dislike that, I do like the first bit. I was born in 1964, and discovered ‘the internet’ in my 20s. I discovered computers before that, sure; we had a teletypewriter unit at school, but ‘the internet’ I discovered in my 20s. But I didn’t ‘get online’ until I was 30. That was almost thirty years ago, and I was part of probably the last generation to think of the internet as ‘new’, and the last to still think of it as a privilege to be allowed to use the internet.

Today? I genuinely cannot imagine what life would be like without not only The Internet, but also constant access to it via phones, tablets, computers…

I like that I can, with a press of a keyboard button, or a tap on the screen, bring up the news of the day, or the weather, or a dating website (heh, yeah, not going to happen) or tv listings, or a site offering mental health advice.

Or that I can visit odd, fun, weird websites such as

See, how could you, or more importantly, I, not like that?

Technology
As I’ve mentioned before, I have a windows laptop, an Apple iPhone (currently an iPhone 12 Pro) and an iPad (currently an iPad Air 2019).

There’s nothing I can say about these that you don’t already know… except why I like them, especially the iPhone and iPad.

Simply, they do everything I need them to, and introduce me to new things that they can do that I didn’t know I’d enjoy.

Every phone I’ve ever had has had a camera.

I’ve not been able to take night photos like these on previous phones though.

I like that technology improves, and improved what you thought you needed, and what you thought you can do… which leads me straight onto…

Innovation
Well, this one is cheating, because it’s not innovation I enjoy so much as the study of it by one James Burke. I managed to finally get ahold of videos of all three series of his wonderful Connections tv show, possibly the finest ‘science explainer’ of all time. Between that, and the books and the radio shows… no one has done more to explain to the interested public in a fun, sensible, clever, entertaining way how innovation works, why it works, and what it’s meant.

As he points out, history rarely happens in the right order, with Thing A leading to Thing B, leading to Thing C. What Burke does again and again, is explain how Thing A led to Thing Omega which led to Thing Woogahoomtamoof… which led to Thing Q. And not only that, that in some cases, the same destination could have been reached by another path or seven, while for other cases, that’s the only way it could have happened to get to that destination, for the destination was never been imagined when that first domino was toppled.

This
The final thing is an odd one. Because it’s this… this blog… or, more precisely, the opportunity, ability and inclination to just type something and see where it goes. Ok, you say, you know where it goes. It goes into an app, which when I hit ‘post’ pushes the content onto a pre-formatted page on the internet.

And that’s true enough.

But as often as not, I don’t know where the blog entry will end when I start typing it. And I don’t know how it will be received. And I don’t know whether it will mean something to someone, will spark an idea of theirs. I don’t know whether they’ll like what I write.

But someone might. Someone reading this might well like what I write, might enjoy it, might have thought “that was time worth spending in his words’ company”.

And THAT? That I like very much indeed.


If you enjoyed this Ten Things, I’ve done others… During the last huge blog run, I did a few ‘ten things’ I liked: individual episodes of tv shows, individual comic book issues, and pilots, and two on old movies ,then one on old-ish movies, and a couple about podcasts. And I wrote a series of Doctor Who posts, about each incarnation/regeneration, and my sometimes tenuous relationship with the show.

And in this run, I did one on things I’ve been watching during the various lockdowns plus others… and then Ten Columbo episodes I liked and Ten More Columbo Episodes I liked


See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Today is the 100th entry since I started these runs of ‘57 minus….‘ and ‘57 plus….‘ blog entries.

Well, ok, not quite.

A moment’s mental addition – 57 posts in ‘57 minus….plus 43 posts of ‘57 plus….‘ adds up to 100, fair enough. But that ignores the 57 plus/minus post I stuck up on the actual day of my birthday.

And since yesterday was a ‘fast fiction from the vaults’ day, I figure today’s as good a time as any to take stock again, and ask four questions

  • How’s it gone for me?
  • How’s it gone for you?
  • What have I learned from these runs that I didn’t expect, having done more than a few of these countdowns?
  • What’s next?

Especially since it occurred to me while setting up this post that we’re now only a couple of weeks from the end of this run of ’57 plus…’ blog posts. And I need to start thinking about that last question properly, rather than just shoving it off into the far distance, as I have done for the past couple of weeks.

OK, so let’s get on with it.
 
 
How’s it gone for me?
Well, I’m glad I asked. I mean, I’d say I’m glad you asked except that you haven’t, which we’ll deal with in the next section. 

I’ve found this run – the ’57 plus…’ run – a bit harder than the last run. Don’t think that’ll come as the hugest surprise to any of the six of you who are reading this.

I’m not entirely sure why, but yeah, this one;s been a tad tougher to do every day.

Let’s be fair, both to the blog and to me; There are, being sensible, three days a week where it’s… easy for me. Tuesdays long ago became the ‘fiction from the vaults’ day. And that’s just a matter of me reviewing some previous fiction, picking two I like, and slapping them into what is – for the most part – a pre-formatted post.

The Saturday Smiles are again, pretty much pre-formatted and it’s just finding three funny videos, one that I hope will genuinely make you smile (from a ‘awwww’ reaction or a ‘that’s very sweet’ reaction) and one song from Mitch that I particularly like.

Thursdays, the new fiction, isn’t… that hard for me either. Keep an eye out for a picture that sparks a story idea, and see whether that idea will turn into a story.

Which leaves Friday – the `Ten Things’ day, and only Sunday, Monday and Wednesday in which I need to come up with something discursive.

The problem has been, this time around, finding something I actually care about enough to write 1,000 words or more on. And that’s been the hard bit this time around.

Because what I’ve wanted to write about… I really couldn’t, either because it’s too personal and would talk publicly about stuff I’ve really not wanted to publicly talk about… or because it’s so jaundiced and cynical that the words would bore you. And I kind of figure I owe you more than that.

The other reason of course is that after the best part of a dozen of these countdowns since 2014, I’ve already said a lot on the subjects I’d want to talk about.

Yes, ok, the political situation is very different now than it was, say, in 2015. But there’s not a lot I can say that doesn’t rely on me making half the post “I said this, but now it’s that“. Again, not great.

My religion? Not something I actually feel that qualified to talk about that much these days.

Book reviews? Well, yes, I owe you all three differently reviews which I hope to get to.

Personal life? Yeah, not gonna happen. There’s a reason another term for personal life is ‘private life’.

So, yeah, I’ve two weeks left, and got that kind of planned out, but beyond that… well stay tuned.
 
 
How’s it been for you?
I have no idea. Genuinely. Not a clue.

As I said when I kicked off this latest run, I know that the days of people commenting on blogs – at least general blogs, not focusing on one issue – are in the long ago. In fact, I’m reminded as so often of L P Davies’ line that ‘the past is a foreign country, they do things differently…’

And while various readers are kind enough – thank you! – to ‘like’ the posts, and one or two of you link to the individual posts on social media… for the most part, I have no idea who you are, or what you think of the blog, or of individual posts.

(And the idea I had the other week of asking you didn’t exactly provoke dozens of replies. I’m very grateful for the couple of replies I did receive, but yeah, well…

As in that post, however, if you do want to say hello or express a thought or seven, you can comment in reply to this entry… or via email at budgie@hypotheticals.co.uk or even DM me @budgie on Twitter.)

So I have no idea whether the fiction from the vaults entertains you, or bores you. I’ve not the slightest clue whether the new fiction on a Thursday fascinates you or irritates you. I have no real sense of whether you eagerly await the latest Ten Things, or just ignore them when they pop up.

And, possibly most crucial, I don’t know which of you are getting pissed off by this or that or maybe the other… and why.

I long ago ceased to trust the stats offered by WordPress within the site. So I’ve not even an accurate record of how many people are reading this thing; both the blog itself and/or individual entries.

If this continues, I need to figure out how to fix all of the above.
 
 
What have I learned from these runs that I didn’t expect, having done more than a few of these countdowns?
Quite a few things, but here are three. All of them fairly trivial, but they… irk when I think of them. which suggests to me that I might need to shake things up if this continues.

(i) If I haven’t started writing ‘today’s blog entry’ by 3pm, it becomes a chore. Odd, I know, but true. I need to start writing them earlier in the day.

(ii) After umpteen different methods of how to promote on Twitter, this one seems to work for me. I have no idea if it’s actually ‘working’, but it feels right. Tweet it once when posted, retweet at around half-11 to midnight; Schedule a ‘For The US crowd…’ tweet at 8:30pm Pacific Time, 11:30pm Eastern. And one ‘”ICYMI, yesterday on the blog…’ at 10:30am the following morning. And no-one’s objected to the multiple posts. But do I need to change that as well? I dunno.

Also, though, I’ve definitely noticed a drop off in reactions by not promoting it outside Twitter, other than on Tumblr. Again, if I want to get any traction, I need to think of something else to do.

(iii) Remember to use pictures (usually from my own camera roll or from Unsplash) in the entries themselves to break up the text. Even I wince at some of the long streams of text without anything to break the monotony.
 
 
What’s next?
Well, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been reading for a while that there are two options: (i) take a break which is intended to last only a month or so, but ends up being a year or more, or (ii) take a couple of days break, or perhaps a couple of weeks, and run a countdown until the end of 2021 and the start of 2022. And then decide what to do.

Right now, I genuinely have no idea which of those two is going to happen. Of course, usually when I say that, a week or so later I’m telling you all when the next countdown is going to start.

But this time, I honestly don’t know. Partly because I may – if certain other ‘irons in the fire’ come to fruition, to mis my metaphors – have other calls on my time. Partly because I’m not entirely sure I want to continue writing these, and I’m equally unsure you want to carry on reading them.

Basically, I guess the single thought that occurs to me is… I have some thinking to do.

Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

Usually, before I head bedwards, I’ll watch some news, then head to bed to read. I’m usually asleep by 2am-ish. I no longer – not for some years – go out wandering the streets at 1am, say.

(I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’d been pinged, and that I self-isolated. Well, yes, of course, I went for a wander at midnight the day my isolation ended.)

But the past two nights, I did it again, one leaving the flat for a wander at 11pm-ish… and last night where I went out at 1am and got home around 4am. I genuinely hope this isn’t the start of a habit.

I guess I’ll discover that in the next couple of nights. 

 

You can see above what time I took the pics on Euston Road and Oxford Street, about a third of the way through the wander.

Now, fair enough, getting home at 4am isn’t the worst thing, even though my advancing age doesn’t encourage it. but fair enough, a cuppa, then bed, and a decent kip will sort me out and–

Yeah, the fire alarm went off before 9 this morning. By the time I awoke, shrugged some clothes on, and left the building, I was greeted by the below.

 

 

Nothing to worry about; someone burned some toast and the alarms were set off. And we could go back into the flats in about half an hour.

All of immediate preface is to say… yeah, I’m very very tired.

And since one post I’m writing is a very discursive, personal, one, more personal in fact than I’d intended when I started writing it, and includes some stuff I need to think carefully about before I post publicly, that post ain’t going to be today’s.

Instead something else.

On occasion, I’ve 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 even detailed Q&A’s, where followers would submit five questions to be answered.

And I’ve equally occasionally done one here, both in ‘remembrance of blogs past‘ and because – for whatever reason – I want to stick one up.

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

Although, I guess, if a word becomes used often enough to mean something unintended, more and more people will come to believe it’s a valid definition. See the ongoing argument between rebut and refute; they really don’t mean the same thing.

But as for the Q&As, they were just something people… 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 definitely might 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 inbetween, 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.

I haven’t done one this run, but for the reasons above, I’m very definitely doing one today.

It’s always amusing, well amusing and horrifying in equal part, for me to grab the questions from a decade old post, and see, as I delete them, which answers would remain the same as those I wrote so very long ago (am I that boring? that unchanging?), which answers are going to change, and which previous answers from back then are incomprehensible to me. How could I have done this, felt that, thought the other?

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

Time to answer some general questions…

100 questions, 100 answers
1. Full Name: Lee Barnett. No middle name, despite some people thinking that “Budgie” really is my middle name. And, as I’ve previously mentioned, I much prefer ‘budgie’ to my given name, and if you’ve ever any doubt which you should use, please, I implore you, use budgie. And, as also previously mentioned, if your response is ‘I don’t like using nicknames’, then I invite you to always refer to our previous Prime Ministers as ‘Anthony Blair’ and ‘James Brown’, and American presidents ‘William Clinton’ and ‘James Carter’.

2. Were you named after anyone? Yes, for my mum’s maternal grandmother, Leah. In Judaism, you tend to name after those who have died. I know nothing about her at all. And, as sometimes surprises people, I’ve no interest, not even a mild curiosity, in knowing about her, either.

3. Where did your nickname/handle come from? It’s a constant surprise to me that people who’ve known me for more than a month don’t know the story. A friend named Dave Rothburn came up with ‘budgie’, at Manchester Poly, coming up on 40 years ago. Full story’s here.

4. Are you superstitious? No, not at all. And have never really understood those who are. There are some remnants of my Jewish knowledge that I observe, but that’s more in memory of those who’ve died. And there’s some Jewish dietary stuff that I have no idea why I observe but I do. But no, I don’t ‘touch wood’ (wrong religion anyway), avoid cracks in the pavement, nor throw salt over my shoulder.

5. When did you last cry? From physical pain? Last week. My foot was bad. Otherwise, I had a mini-meltdown a couple of months ago, and at one point cried from pure and utter frustration.

6. Do you like your handwriting? ‘Bestest’ handwriting (i.e. when I’m handwriting something for someone else to read or because I want it to be ‘nice’) isn’t that bad – thank a previous boss for that – but my normal scrawl is horrible, full of personal abbreviations, and often indecipherable to me later.

7. What is your birth date? 17th August 1964, which this blog run should have made obvious. Yes, that means I’m officially “old”, well at least almost certainly older than you. Not necessarily, but I’d say the odds heavily favour it.

8. What is your most embarrassing CD? Currently? Probably the CD that came with my printer when I bought it. I don’t think I own any other CDs. If you mean albums, I gave up worrying about being embarrassed by my music tastes long ago.

9. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? Highly unlikely. To be fair, I think I’d probably be hugely surprised (both good and bad) if I knew how people honestly thought of me, let alone what I’d think of me – I suspect there’d be bits of me I’d like, and bits I’d be bored by, and very very certainly bits I’d detest. But no, I don’t think I’d be friends with me; almost certainly not. I’m not an easy person to be friends with, at all.

10. Are you a daredevil? In no way whatsoever. I rarely take risks, definitely not physically, and on the vanishingly rare times I do, I’ve analysed (over-analysed?) them to the nth degree.

11. Have you ever told a secret you swore not to tell? Yes, but (a) only back in the days when I was a financial director, when ethically, I had no choice in the matter, and (b) I chose to break a confidence in order to correct a seriously wrong (and potentially dangerous) impression person A had of person B.

12. Do looks matter? No… in the kingdom of the blind. In any other sphere, of course they do! I can’t understand anyone who thinks that looks don’t matter. I know that some disagree with this, but I think looks are what gets you interested in someone you don’t know… and everything other than looks keeps you interested. Other than romantically… the answer’s the same. In politics, in fashion, in every sphere of human endeavour, looks matter. I wish they didn’t – man, do I wish they didn’t, he says looking in the mirror – but they do.

13. How do you release anger? ‘Writing it out’… or ‘bunkering down’ for a while have both been known. If I’m furious, really furious, then ‘writing it out’, pouring the venom onto the page… then deleting it… had helped more than once. Hell, more than once a month, often.

14. Where is your second home? My closest friends, in Ham. They were my ‘social bubble’ during lockdown and after my son and ex-wife, they’re my family.

15. Do you trust others easily? Most people? No. It takes a long time for people to earn my trust. There are (and have been) exceptions, of course. That said, I don’t expect anyone to trust me, until I’ve earned their trust.

16. What was your favourite toy as a child? Lego. No question. I had other toys and games, but it always came back to Lego.

17. What class in school do think is totally useless? Geography. Never saw the bloody point of it. If you’re going to need it in your later life, or you’re going to make it your career, great, I’m pleased for you. You can learn it at GCSE and save the rest of us having to know it. I can’t think of a single thing I learned in the subject that’s been any use whatsoever in my life post-school. (I’m well aware that what I learned in ‘Geography’ at school is not what’s taught in the subject now. Cool, I’m very pleased for them. My answer remains the same.)

18. Do you keep a handwritten journal? No, I always have a notebook on me in which I scribble down thoughts and ideas, but it’s not a diary nor journal.

19. Do you use sarcasm a lot? A lot? No. Sometimes, yeah, when I think it’s necessary… or occasionally funny. Actually, strike that. I use sarcasm like I do any other rhetorical device: when I think it’s necessary and appropriate.

20. Have you ever been in a mosh pit? No. No no no no. No.

21. Favourite movie? Couldn’t narrow it down to just one, even if you paid me. A dozen, ok. Half a dozen, maybe. One? Not a chance.

25. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? There are people who don’t?

26. What’s your favourite ice cream? Carte D’Or Banana. That they no longer make it is irrelevant. The best ice cream I’ve ever had, however, was melon flavour. Only had it once, in Israel in 1980, but the memory lasts…

27. What’s your shoe size? 11. My foot size varies, it feels like anyway, depending upon how bad the pain is. My usual foot ware is Karrimor Summit trainers. They’re great, and almost the only things my foot feels ‘solid’ in.

28. What are your favourite colours? Black and red. Look I had to give two, so I added red.

29. What is your least favourite thing about yourself? See the answer to question 21 above.

30. Who do you miss most? Michael, my late brother… more recently, for various reasons.

32. Are you patriotic? Not in the least. I don’t feel any pride about being British, nor any specific link to Britain in general. I quite like living in London, but if i had to move elsewhere in the UK, wouldn’t really bother me other than missing friends. The same answer applies were I to have to move abroad.

33. What are you listening to right now? A playlist called Walkin’. Currently the Theme from Shaft.

34. When was the last time you ate chocolate? Yesterday; a bar of Whole Nut.

35. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Don’t have a bloody clue, and suspect I wouldn’t care less about it..

36. What is the weather like right now?

Like this:

37. Last person you talked to on phone? My ex-wife, Laura, checking what time we’re doing the weekly Zoom session with our son, Phil, who lives in Wales.

38. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Depends on how far away they are. If they’re close, eyes. But in general, their face. (See answer 12. above.) But eyes? And eye makeup? I’m a sucker for gorgeous eyes.

40. How are you today? Tired, in a bit of pain, irritable.

41. Favourite non-alcoholic drink? Coffee. Or still water.

42. Favourite sport? Don’t have one. I’m not a sports person. Games? Sure. Snooker. Sports? No.

43. Your hair colour? Heading rapidly towards full white, with the occasional bit of steel grey.

44. Eye colour? Brown. And staying that way, thankfully.

45. Do you wear contacts? Yeah, for most of the the week. One or two days a week, I’ll skip them. Some friends have, I suspect, never seen me wearing spectacles.

46. Favourite month? November, no question. (See answer 49. below)

47. Favourite food? Don’t really have one. If I like it, then I like it as much or as little as anything else I like. I’m really not a food person. At all.

48. Last movie you watched? In a cinema? No idea. Can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema. On telly, a rerun of Air Force One, the other evening.

49. Favourite day of the year? 2nd November, my son’s birthday.

50. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings, every time. I don’t enjoy scary movies, generally at least. I have enjoyed the occasional one. I still think the original The Omen is one of the best movies for so many reasons, but I’d prefer a happy ending most times. The question’s unfair, though – nothing says you can’t have a scary movie with a happy ending, is there?

51. Summer or winter? I always used to prefer Summer, but I’m unsure these days…

52. Hugs or kisses? Depends on the person I’m with… or want to be with.

53. Do you smoke? Currently? No. I quit in November 2016, and after a brief ecig phase have vaped ever since. But I’m very aware that despite never wanting a cigarettes in the past three or more years, all it would take is one bad day.

54. What is your favourite dessert? Banoffee Pie.

57. Living arrangements? I live alone, in a small flat, in Abbey Road. Yes, that Abbey Road. Can’t ever see the former bit changing, though of course the latter might.

58. What are you currently reading? Prose – a non-fiction book about US Constitutional Law; comics – rereading Sandman.

59. Do you have any kids or do you want to have kids? Yes, one twenty-five year old son, the Phil mentioned above. I don’t want any more; very happy with the one I have, thanks.

60. What’s the first thing that the opposite sex notice about you? No idea, but I’d guess the hair.

61. Have you ever fired a gun? No. Strangely enough, I don’t feel as if I’ve missed out any. I’m mildly curious as to what it would be like to shoot one, and to see the effect of me pulling the trigger, but only mildly curious. It’s a curiosity (like parachuting and bungee jumping) that I’m more than content to leave unsatisfied.

62. Favourite games? Backgammon in ‘real life’; snooker on the iPhone.

63. What did you watch on tv last night? Lots, but I’m a news junkie so always safe to say “news” and MSNBC before bed.

64. Favourite smells? Citrus, leather, freshly mown grass and freshly baked bread.

65. What is the first thing you think when you wake up? “Ugh.”

66. How tall are you? Six feet exactly

61. What photo’s on your screen lock? I don’t have a photo; a digital image of the hypotheticals logo .

68. Ever been in rehab? No, but have been in a mental health unit, both voluntarily and otherwise.

69. Have you ever killed an animal? Other than insects, spiders, wasps, etc.? No. And wasps deserve it, the little buggers. In fact I think that great effort should be made by various people to make animal experimentation compulsory for wasps.

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

71. What’s your favourite Christmas song? Probably this one.

72. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee. Strong coffee. Very strong coffee.

73. Do you do push ups? No, I don’t do any form of formal exercise other than walking, when the foot is up to it.

74. Have you ever been hospitalized? Yes, many times. Most recently was a year or so back.

75. Do you like painkillers? When I need them, I take them like sweeties.

76. What’s your secret weapon to attract the opposite sex? Hahahahahahaha. If anything, I have a not so secret weapon to repulse them; it’s called ‘being me’.

77. Do you own a knife? Yes, two Swiss Army knives, one that never leaves the flat as it turns out it’s illegal to carry in the street (due to it having a lockable blade.)

My main one is this one, the Deluxe Tinker.

78. Do you have ADHD? No, or not that I’m aware of.

79. Have you any tattoos? No. I’m allergic to pain.

80. Have you any piercings? No. (gosh that was an easy set of three to answer.)

81. Name three drinks you regularly drink: water, coffee and single malt scotch whisky; Jura 10 yr old as the usual, The Balvenie 12 yr old Doublewood on special occaisons.

82. When did you last get lost? Last week; was on a wander, thinking about stuff, looked up and realised I had absolutely no idea where I was. I’d turned off the main road and was in a cul-de-sac.

83. What’s under your bed? Nothing but carpet.

84. What time did you wake up today? 9:00 am (see preface above)

85. Current haircut? See answer to 43 above.

86. Current worry? See answer to 21 above.

87. If you could play any musical instrument? Mouth Organ. Usually popular, and no one ever asks you to sing. I have one. I should learn to play it.

88. What was your first paid employment? Other than working for my father in the hair salon? Supermarket (Sainsbury’s) shelf stacking and on the checkout.

89. What was the last CD you bought? Again, I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD. Last music I bought was a Dolly Parton collection.

90. Do you have a motor vehicle (car, bike)? No; even if I could afford one these days, I’m not entirely sure I’d get one.

91. Who’s the one person from your past you wish you could speak with one more time? My late brother. No surprise there.

92. Where do you want to live? Quite happy in London, thanks.

93. Number of pillows you sleep with? Two on each side of the double bed.

94. Are you paranoid? Why do you want to know? Why? Why?

95. Latest crush? Latest? I don’t remember the last one I had. I guess I sometimes get them, but fortunately, for both people involved, they fade fast.

96. Last thing you ate? Toast, with a couple of slices of cheddar.

97. What’s in your pockets right now? Money, keys, iPhone, vape liquid.

98. Are you single? Well, I appreciate the interest, but you’re probably not my type, and I’m definitely not yours. Whatever your type is, trust me, I’m not it.

99. Have you ever won any awards: Yes.

100. Who do you tell your dreams to? I rarely remember dreams, and those that I do are always nightmares and I really wish I didn’t.

  

See you tomorrow, with something else… 

 

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

“Nu?”

Posted: 20 May 2020 in housekeeping, stuff
Tags: ,

I’ve received a couple of messages asking why I suddenly stopped blogging in April, shortly after briefly restarting, and whether I’m planning on restarting any time soon?

Well, quick answers are

    Because it was becoming a chore

and

    I wouldn’t call it a plan; more of a hope

In January, I took a couple of months off after six months of daily bloggin. At that time, I fully intended to get back to the daily blogging, but it turned out when I restarted… I wasn’t enjoying doing so at all.

One of the rules I set myself when I restarted in 2019, after a couple of years off was not to check the blog stats, the readership.

Other than under very odd circumstances, when someone promotes an entry or something¹, I never expect a big readership. And the idea of receiving comments on individual entires – which several years ago was entirely expected – now seems to have fallen out of fashion, at least in this place.

Which is fine. But it means that I’m writing primarily for me, not for anyone else. And writing for me…? Well, I don’t need to publish anything on here to achieve that.

So, yeah, when I started again in April… I found that I really didn’t enjoy the experience of blogging and it astonishingly rapidly became a chore, something I did out of an imagined obligation.

So, yeah, I stopped.

And yes, I do intend to return… at some point, or at least I hope to. When I’ve got something to write about that a) I enjoy writing, b) I enjoy publishing, and c) I think other people will enjoy reading.

Until then, I’m slinging something up on goingcheep most days.

I hope all of you and yours are well, and that this nuttiness, this absurdity, in which we find ourselves, is soon over.


¹ Oh, by the way, for some reason I’ve been mystified by, one entry from November – this one – has had more than 10k hits since March… Someone put it up on Pinterest and it’s taken off. Weirdness writ large.

Sorry about skipping yesterday; I really wasn’t in the mood to write anything, let alone a blog.

I’m not wholly convinced I’m in that much less of a bad, melancholy, mood today, but after yet another crap night’s sleep, I kind of feel that if I don’t write something today, the blog will lapse into disuse again. One day off I can allow myself. More than that? No.

Because the past week hasn’t exactly been great for a lot of people, and that includes me.

Oh, that sleep reference? Well, this is what I wrote around 5 am this morning.

As for the rest, well, I can’t say that it suddenly hit me, the full absurdity of nuttiness in which we find ourselves; it’s not been sudden at all. It’s been growing day by day since before the harsh ‘lockdown’, but the last week has been rough.

And I’m one of the luckier ones. I mean, though I know people who’ve got coronavirus, I don’t personally know anyone who’s died. I know people who have lost people, and know of some others, but those who’ve died? No, I didn’t know any of them personally.

As far as I know, anyway.

That’s not going to last.

Six weeks ago, more or less, a friend predicted that in the very near future, we’d all know someone who’d died of this bastard virus. I can’t honestly say that I decried the idea, nor that I swallowed it unquestionably. But yeah, I was foolish enough to not wholly agree at the time.

Yeah, they were right, I believe.

And given the increases we’re now seeing – a reminder, those who are dying now, picked up the infection before the lockdown started – I suspect that horrible moment is going to come a lot sooner than even they feared.

Another friend of mine said, ages ago, that I’m ‘dangerously’ content in my own company. I’m not sure I’d agree with the adjective, but content in my own company? Oh, definitely. I’ve been very determinedly single for many years, and I haven’t been either the most social or sociable of people for more than a decade. I wish I could blame that on the mental health issues that became apparent almost ten years ago. I really wish I could do that, but it’d be cheap and nasty and self-serving to do so.

The truth is that I was never the most social nor sociable of people before that; the problems I had may have exacerbated it, but no more than that.

(Oh, by the way, you wouldn’t believe how pissed off I am whenever I see someone online suggesting that that those who live on their own and aren’t very social are handling it better… because I’m not. At all.)

What I have had over the past few years, though, to help me in my mostly solitary life, are a set of ‘safety nets’ .

One of them was grabbing coffee and having a regular catchup with my ex-wife, my lad’s mother. Laura’s lovely, and as I wrote at the end of last year:

Laura’s one of my favourite people on the planet. As well as being Phil’s mum, she’s been a part of my life for coming up on thirty years. We catch up for coffee every week or so, and if for some reason we can’t, there feels something fundamentally wrong with the world.

She’s a lovely lady; smart and funny. And I like her enormously. I’m very pleased she entered my life in 1992; that she’s still in it is A Good Thing.

I wouldn’t change a word of that. But who knew that when I wrote it, that the “…and if for some reason we can’t, there feels something fundamentally wrong with the world” would come to seem so prescient?

So, yes, Laura’s one of my safety nets.

Another is the Family Benn. I wrote about them as well in that post. But not being able to see them every week, to see Clara and Roger and the kids, to see Mitch… hurts. And I hate it. I truly hate that I can’t see my closest friends, and can’t share laughter and silliness and physical presence, let alone physical contact.

The other ‘safety net’ is one I’ve been well aware of for a very long time: being surrounded by people, usually at a coffee shop, who don’t know me and don’t give a damn about me (and it’s reciprocated in full, I assure you)… but it is being surrounded by… people. It eases the ‘yeah, I’m on my own’, just a bit, and highlights the difference between being on my own… and being lonely.

As I say, I’ve been single for a long time. And usually, mostly, almost exclusively, I like it. Or at least I’m fairly good-naturedly resigned to it. With occasional phases of being very bad-naturedly resigned to it, admittedly.

But never have I loathed it like I have the past couple of weeks. Never have I utterly detested my own company so frequently, so hugely, and so definitely.

Now, I shouldn’t need to say the following, but since every day there’s more evidence to justify the old saw”nothing is ever ‘needless to say’…”, of course I’m following the government guidelines/rules.

I’m only leaving my small flat for exercise (an hour’s walk), to go shopping, and occasionally for medical reasons, to pick up a prescription from the pharmacy or – as I’ll do in about two weeks – to donate blood. And when I return, I’m washing my hands. As I’m doing on a regular basis anyway.

(Not for nothing, but while I have no idea which songs you’re using to mark the ’20 seconds’ you’re supposed to wash your hands to, I’m using the first chorus of of (I’m) Reviewing The Situation from Oliver! That takes a little over 20 seconds.)

Other than that, I’m staying inside, I’m reading, watching tv… and struggling to do either for more than about 20 minutes at a go. I’m writing, a bit.

I’m going out for a walk… when the foot allows, and even sometimes if it doesn’t, knowing that getting out for a walk is – just about – worth the pain the walk will reward me with later that evening. I’m struggling with that balance as well.

“Struggling”. Yeah, that’s the word.

Especially since, yeah, as I mentioned above, I don’t really have anything to complain about… compared to many, many others. Others have people ill in their families, others have friends and relatives who’ve died. Others go into work in the NHS, working in horribly stressful conditions and, while protecting themselves as much as possible, look after patients seriously ill with this bugger of a virus. Others have lost their jobs, their income has collapsed, or they’ve physical problems that make my fucked up foot look in perfect health by comparison.

Me? I’m stuck on my own, and keeping myself to myself… which is what I’ve been doing for the most part for the past few years anyway.

So, yeah, you can add ‘feeling guilty about feeling shit’ to the mix.

I’ve been better.


Before I close this entry: a note of thanks, to everyone who’s currently using their time, either through their work or while they’re staying home, who are… making life better for someone else. Whether it’s singers and artists bringing enjoyment to others, comedians lightening the mood even if just temporarily, or those sharing their lives with others, letting them know they’re not alone, that everyone is finding it tough right now. Thank you. Thank you so much.

And, of course, thank you to everyone in the NHS, from the doctors and nurses on the front line, to receptionists, to those maintaining the equipment, to those managing the organisations… to everyone. Thank you…
 
 
Something a bit more cheerful, or at least less melancholy, tomorrow.

OK, after a couple of days of housekeeping, I now find myself with a blank screen.

And after writing, and deleting, three different posts for today, with each of which I ran out of words after about 100 of the damn things, let’s hope that this one at least gets written.

I’d intended to write something personal about how I’m dealing with the lockdown. I really did. But everything I wrote seemed, on review, to be a little more ‘personal’ than I’m comfortable being. I mean, sure, there’ll be something on that – spoiler: I’m not doing brilliantly right now, I’ll acknowledge – but I’m apparently not quite ready to write that post.

Instead, you get something about London In Lockdown, or rather: my London In Lockdown. I suspect you’ll get more in future instalments but you get something today about what’s changed.

For example: busses. Now yes I know that we should all avoid taking public transport unless absolutely necessary. I do know that. And, for the most part, when I’m just going for a walk, I do.

I took the opportunity the first few days to find three different routes to walk, all of which have the two things necessary for me to enjoy a walk: no even slightly steep inclines either direction, and some pleasant scenery along the way. So, I don’t get bored either with the route or the scenery.

But yeah, busses. Because sometimes I need to take busses. The combination of a fucked up foot (a purely technically medical description, you understand, about more of which in a second) and where I live means that although there are a couple of shops within easy walking distance and a decent size Sainsbury’s within… an ‘ok’ walking distance, if I want to go to A Big Supermarket, then it’s a bus. And to be honest, the past week or so, even if I want to go to the decent size Sainsbury’s, it’s a bus.

Why? Well, for whatever reason, my foot has been bad the past week, seriously bad. Whether that’s because it’s actually playing up more than usual, or possibly after years of putting it off, something serious is going on inside the thing at the end of my left leg… or whether it’s psychosomatic, or I’ve just stressed it more than usual with the hour’s walking…. or whether it’s a combination of all of the foregoing… I have no idea.

But it hurts like hell at the moment.

I’m usually very grateful anyway to whoever the hell it was who first had the idea of combining codeine in a decent amount with paracetamol and gave me the wonderful ‘take the edge of the pain’ medication known as cocodamol. OK, I’m also very grateful to the doctors I’ve had over the years who’ve checked me out, seen the MRI and then gone “yep, repeat prescription”. But I’m particularly grateful to both the past week.

As a result of their efforts, I can at least go for my government allowed hour of exercise outside the flat every day. OK, I say ‘exercise’; what I mean is that hour’s walk in what passes for fresh air in London.

The foot + cocodamol combination has meant that I can, for the most part, go out and have a wander for an hour, and then there are the busses for the other occasions.

I’ve noticed several things about taking a bus now that didn’t apply before ‘all of this’.

(As a side note, I wonder when this global crisis will get a proper ‘name’. Whether it’ll be described as “the Event” or “The Incident”… you know, as such things are always described in sf comics, novels, tv shows and movies.)

Sorry, back to the busses.

I’m not sure when ‘oh, most of the other passengers wearing a face mask’ became what I expected to see, instead of merely unsurprising, let alone the anomaly.

I’m equally unsure when seeing people sitting together was the exception rather than the rule; it’s as usual now as it is for children of any age to be well behaved. I can’t remember the last time I saw a child even boisterous, let alone misbehaving, on the bus.

Similarly, almost every time someone gets off the bus, there’s a ‘thank you’ or ‘thank you, driver’, called out. Again, the rarity is someone not saying it rather than it being said.

Finally… many busses have taped off the seats nearest to the exit doors. I’m not wholly sure of the reasons for that one, but I’d imagine it’s to do with reducing the chance of anyone standing by the doors coming anywhere near anyone sitting in these seats.

So, yeah, taking a bus these days is a very different experience to before all this kicked off. (Mind you, I could do without the dirty looks from anyone in the street when I exit the bus.)
 
 
Apologies to all, kind of. This blog entry has been a bit of a mess. It’ll get better.

See you tomorrow…

55 plus 51: Odds and sods

Posted: 7 October 2019 in 55 plus
Tags: ,

Housekeeping: we’re now approaching the ‘time limit’ I set for myself to keep the ’55 minus/plus’ going, ’55 plus 55′. I’m genuinely unsure whether to drop it, and a bit scared – I’ll admit – that if I don’t have a daily countdown/up to use, I’ll skip a few days, and a few days more and then a few days more.

I don’t know what the answer is, but it does seem a bit silly to continue the numbering after 55 plus 55.

I don’t know. I’ll have a ponder.


Anyway, hello.

Not a long entry today, but an entry nonetheless. A mixture of odds and sods stuff. Something about London, something about the time of year, and something about the time of year. Yes, the repetition is deliberate.
 


 
I mentioned when I was in Edinburgh that I had a few favourite places at which to drink coffee. Whether it’s because I’m used to London, and I’ve had coffee at some many places, I don’t know, but I don’t really have a favourite place in London. At least not to drink coffee.

I have favourite places, but they tend not to be related to the consumption of coffee. And, let’s leave ‘friends’ homes’ out of it as well; it’d be unfair to them.

But here are three places I like in London, just for the hell of it.

Richmond Town Centre: Not a huge surprise, given that I lived there for so long, but yeah, I like Richmond as a place. Nice shops, it never seems too busy, and it has Richmond Green just off to one side of it. And I do like Richmond Green. Perfect place in the summer to spend some hours listening to music, or a podcast, laying on the grass, letting the world go by for a while. And, a nice place to write, surrounded by families enjoying themselves, children laughing, and just for s short while, you can forget the troubles of the world.

(I’d say Richmond Park is also ideal for letting the world go by, but you do tend to interrupted by deer every so often. Yes, honestly.)

Outside summer, the green and the park are less… inviting, I’ll be honest. I mean, it’s not that I don’t like autumn or winter, both places are distinctly less nice during the season. Colourful, sure. As nice? No.

OK, maybe a town centre is too big a thing to truly like.

How about a street? Regent Street, say, in Central London. The office of one of. my first jobs in London was in Regent Street and I kind of liked the street stratigraphy from the start. Not so much for the street itself but everything that was two minutes’ walk from it. I mean, ok, you have decent shops in Regent Street, yes. But most of them are far too expensive for me, or for my tastes, anyway. I’m quite happy with a nice warm overcoat; I don’t need one that costs £500. But at one end, you have the BBC, at the other Piccadilly Circus. Off to one side, you have Carnaby Street – not the fashion centre it once was, but still fun to wander through; off to the other, you have… wel, not mush. Some nice squares. You also have Oxford Street cutting across it with no embarrassment whatsoever. And you have Hamleys, half way down. Again, not the icon it once was, not even the icon of Regent Street (I suspect that’s the Apple Store, these days). And five minutes from Oxford Circus Tube, you have the third of my favourites… and after a town centre and a street, let’s take it smaller, much smaller, a room in fact.

The Phoenix Public House. Well, to be precise, downstairs at the Phoenix, where you have a comedy club cum dance area. Now, fair enough, it’s rare that it’s both at the same time, and with my views on my dancing, you can be forgiven for immediately knowing it’s the comedy that attracts me.

Once a month, first Tuesday of every month usually, The Distraction Club takes place there. And you know – or should know – how much I love that evening. Three hours, or near about, of musical comedy, however you wish – or the comedians wish – to define that. And every Monday, well nearly every Monday anyway, you have Old Rope, an evening when comedians old and new, famous and just starting out, try out new material. Dirt cheap prices, and you’ll get a load of comedy you will enjoy. Some you won’t, but that’s cool, that’s what the evening’s for. And especially when it’s helmed by Tiff Stevenson, you’re in for a fun evening.
 


 
It’s October, which means it’s chilly, and rainy, and the kids have gone back to school, and everyone is just waiting for the end of the month, and then the end of November, so they can start enjoying the Christmas season. That’s the rules,: no christmas celebrations before 1st December, nothing but Christmas celebrations after 1st December.

But yeah, it’s chilly, and rainy.

Have some pictures.


 


 


 


 


 
Oh, sometimes, though, if you’re lucky, you get a lovely bit of weather…
 

 


 

It’s also the time of year – see, I told you the repetition was deliberate – when it’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement.

It’s been a while since I’ve regularly celebrated and/or observed either, and indeed, regularly celebrated or observed any Jewish traditions other than yahrzeit for my late brother and father.

I’m not entirely sure why. And I’m not entirely sure I want to know why.

But then again, given that I’m genuinely interested in knowing why I do stuff, and why I don’t do stuff, you’d kind of think that I’d want to know.

Maybe a longer post on this is required. Maybe.

Yeah. Maybe.
 
 
The usual Tuesday tomorrow. And, hopefully, something more entertaining.

I’ve not subjected the readers of this blog to one of these yet in the couple of years I’ve been writing here but you know what? Time to answer some general questions…

100 questions, 100 answers
1. Full Name: Lee Barnett. No middle name, despite some people thinking that “Budgie” really is my middle name.

2. Were you named after anyone? Yes, for my mum’s maternal grandmother, Leah. In Judaism, you tend to name after those who have died. If we’d have had another child, I’d have named them after Michael. As it was, my younger brother’s oldest is named after him.

3. Where did your nickname/handle come from? It’s a constant surprise to me that people who’ve known me for more than a month don’t know the story. A friend named Dave Rothburn came up with ‘budgie’, at Manchester Poly, coming up on 29 years ago. Full story’s here.

4. Do you wish on stars? No, never have; and never really understood it at all. I’m not superstitious at all.

5. When did you last cry? A few days ago. I had a mini-meltdown and at one point cried from pure and utter frustration.

6. Do you like your handwriting? Heh. No. ‘Bestest’ handwriting (i.e. when I’m handwriting something at work) isn’t that bad, but my normal scrawl is horrible.

7. What is your birth date? 17th August 1964. Yes, that means I’m officially “old”, well at least almost certainly older than you. Not necessarily, but I’d say the odds heavily favour it.

8. What is your most embarrassing CD? Leaving aside the ones brought for me deliberately as a gag? Probably Best of Chris De Burgh.

9. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you? Highly unlikely. To be fair, I think I’d probably be hugely surprised (both good and bad) if I knew how people honestly thought of me, let alone what I’d think of me – I suspect there’d be bits of me I’d like, and bits I’d be bored by, and certainly bits I’d detest.

10. Are you a daredevil? In no way whatsoever. I rarely take risks, and if I do, I’ve analysed them to the nth degree.

11. Have you ever told a secret you swore not to tell? Yes, but only back in the days when I was a financial director, when ethically, I had no choice in the matter, and (b) I chose to break a confidence in order to correct a seriously wrong (and potentially dangerous) impression person A had of person B.

12. Do looks matter? No… in the kingdom of the blind. In any other sphere, of course they do! I can’t understand anyone who thinks that looks don’t matter. I know that some disagree with this, but I think looks are what gets you interested in someone you don’t know… and everything other than looks keeps you interested.

13. How do you release anger? As a general rule, I don’t. Through ‘writing it out’… or ‘bunkering down’ for a while have both been known.

14. Where is your second home? Don’t have one, though Laura’s would probably come closest.

15. Do you trust others easily? No. I usually find it incredibly hard to trust people. There are (and have been) exceptions, of course, but it takes me an incredibly long time to trust most people.

16. What was your favourite toy as a child? Lego. No question. I had other toys and games, but it always came back to Lego.

17. What class in school do think is totally useless? Geography. Never saw the bloody point of the subject. And I can’t think of a single thing I learned in the subject that’s been any use whatsoever in my life post-school.

18. Do you keep a handwritten journal? No, I have a notebook in which I scribble down thoughts and ideas, but it’s not a diary or journal.

19. Do you use sarcasm a lot? A lot? No. Sometimes, yeah, when I think it’s necessary… or occasionally funny.

20. Have you ever been in a mosh pit? Heh. No. Not my thing.

21. Favourite movie? Couldn’t narrow it down to just one, really.

25. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yeah, usually.

26. What’s your favourite ice cream? Carte D’Or Banana. That they no longer make it is irrelevant. The best ice cream I’ve ever had, however, was melon flavour. Only had it once, in Israel in 1980, but the memory lasts…

27. What’s your shoe size? 10. My foot size varies, it feels like anyway, depending upon how bad the pain is.

28. What are your favourite colours? Black and red. Look I had to give two, so I added red.

29. What is your least favourite thing about yourself? See the answer to question 21 above.

30. Who do you miss most? Michael, my late brother… more recently, for various reason.

32. Are you patriotic? Not really, no. I don’t feel any pride about being British, nor any specific link to Britain in general.

33. What are you listening to right now? Well, I’m watching BBC1, this week’s Have I Got News For You?

34. When was the last time you ate chocolate? This afternoon.

35. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Don’t have a bloody clue, and suspect I wouldn’t care less about it..

36. What is the weather like right now? Cold, very cold.

37. Last person you talked to on phone? No idea, it was a wrong number.

38. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Depends on how far away they are. If they’re close, eyes. But in general, their face.

40. How are you today? Next question…

41. Favourite non-alcoholic drink? Dr Brown’s Cream Soda. And it’s a crying shame that you can’t get it in the UK. In that absence, I’ll go with coffee.

42. Favourite sport? To watch? These days? Don’t have one. I’m not a sports person.

43. Your hair colour? Grey, more white than dark.

44. Eye colour? Brown.

45. Do you wear contacts? Yeah, for most of the the week. I usually end up giving my contacts a couple of days a week off. And occasionally, I’ll give them more than that; I still remember with amusement turning up for a drinkup wearing glasses and at least one friend being rather surprised, because they’d never seen me wearing them.

46. Favourite month? November, no question.

47. Favourite food? Don’t really have one. I’m incredibly fussy about food, but if I like it, then I like it as much or as little as anything else I eat. I’m really not a food person. At all.

48. Last movie you watched? In a cinema? No idea. Can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema.

49. Favourite day of the year? 2nd November, my son’s birthday.

50. Scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings, every time. I don’t enjoy scary movies, generally at least. I have enjoyed the occasional one. I still think the original The Omen is one of the best movies for so many reasons, but I’d prefer a happy ending most times. The question’s unfair though – nothing says you can’t have a scary movie with a happy ending, is there?

51. Summer or winter? I always used to prefer Summer, but I’m unsure these days…

52. Hugs or kisses? Depends on the person I’m with… or want to be with.

53. Do you smoke? Yes.

54. What is your favourite dessert? Apple pie with ice cream. I’ll have the latter without the former, but never vice versa.

57. Living arrangements? I’m lucky enough to live with close friends.

58. What are you currently reading? Prose – rereading Terra by Mitch Benn; comics – Young Avenger by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie.

59. Do you have any kids or do you want to have kids? Yes, one eighteen year old son, the Phil mentioned above. I don’t want any more; very happy with the one I have, thanks.

60. What ‘s the first thing that the opposite sex notice about you? No idea, but I’d guess the greying hair.

61. What’s on your mouse pad? I don’t use one.

62. Favourite games? I don’t play computer games, and don’t really have a favourite game on the iPhone or iPad, so let’s just play safe and say backgammon. Probably.

63. What did you watch on tv last night? Lots, but I’m a news junkie so always safe to say “news”.

64. Favourite smells? Citrus, leather, freshly mown grass and freshly baked bread.

65. What is the first thing you think when you wake up? “Damn.”

66. How tall are you? Six feet exactly

67. Have you ever fired a gun? No. Strangely enough, I don’t feel as if I’ve missed out any. I’m mildly curious as to what it would be like to shoot one, and to see the effect of me pulling the trigger, but only mildly curious.

68. Ever been in rehab? No.

69. Have you ever killed an animal? Other than insects, spiders, wasps, etc. No. And wasps deserve it, the little buggers. In fact I think that great effort should be made by various people to make animal experimentation compulsory for wasps.

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

71. What’s your favourite Christmas song? Fairy Tale of New York. I don’t care that it’s become a cliché for people to say it; I fell in love with that song the first time I heard it.

72. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee. Or Tea.

73. Do you do push ups? No, but I probably should.

74. Have you ever been hospitalized? Yes, many times. Most recently was a year or so back.

75. Do you like painkillers? When I need them, I take them like sweets.

76. What’s your secret weapon to lure in the opposite sex? Haven’t got one. If there is one, please tell me.

77. Do you own a knife? Yes, two Swiss Army knives.

78. Do you have A.D.D.? No.

79. Have you any tattoos? No.

80. Have you any piercings? No. (gosh that was an easy set of three to answer.)

81. Name three drinks you regularly drink: water, coffee and tea.

82. What’s the last song you played on your CD Player/iPod Paint It Black, Rolling Stones

83. What’s under your bed? Nothing but carpet.

84. What time did you wake up today? 9:00 am, but I didn’t get to sleep until 7:30 am.

pic85. Current haircut? See pic.

86. Current worry? See answer to 21 above.

87. If you could play any musical instrument? Mouth Organ. Usually popular, and no one ever asks you to sing!

88. What was your first paid employment? Other than working for my father in the hair salon? Supermarket (Sainsbury’s) shelf stacking and on the checkout.

89. What was the last CD you bought? Again, I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD.

90. Do you have a motor vehicle (car, bike)? Yes, a Ford Fiesta Style+.

91. Who’s the one person from your past you wish you could speak with one more time? No surprise there, my late brother.

92. Where do you want to live? Quite happy in London, thanks.

93. Number of pillows you sleep with? Two on each side of the double bed.

94. Are you paranoid? Why do you want to know? Why? Why? Huh? Huh?

95. Latest crush? Next question…

96. Last thing you ate? Couple of bagels.

97. What’s in your pockets right now? money, cigarettes, iPhone.

98. What colour are your bedroom walls? White.

99. Have you ever won any awards: None since school.

100. Who do you tell your dreams to? I rarely remember them anyway, and those that do, I really wish I didn’t.