An acquaintance of mine pointed me in the direction of a certain website (no, it’s not pornography – I do occasionally visit family-friendly sites in my less prurient moods). Here’s the link:
Essentially, it’s a never-ending Q&A for those of you who like to blow your own trumpets. Well, who doesn’t? I haven’t blown my own trumpet in a long time; as I recall, it gave me a back injury and made my ribs ache. So now, I feel it’s high time I shared a few random thoughts with you, my minions, by cherry-picking a few questions from Plinky. It is also possible to answer the questions on the website itself, but I shan’t do that. The reason is that I am reluctant to sign up to yet another application and go through the tedious process of thinking up yet another complex password. If I laid all of my passwords end to end, they would probably cover the length of a tennis court. I’ve had to store them in a secret location known only to myself and guarded by a series of cunning traps, each more deadly than the last. Heaven help me if I should ever forget one of them. Anyway, I promised you answers and here they are.
What are the first things you notice about people you just met?
The correct answer to this, whoever you are, is the face. Some people (usually feminists) genuinely believe that we men only notice a woman’s breasts. This belief, when shared with their fellow clucking hens, is usually followed by a rolling of the eyes and a good deal of tutting. In fact, it is human nature to notice the face first of all and to recognise other people thus. Remember what your art teacher told you? Pay particular attention to the face when painting people, whether on canvas or on a sculpture, because the viewer is drawn to the face, especially the eyes. Whenever I meet someone new, I notice things like eyes, nose, mouth and hair, then the rest of the body. However, I am inevitably going to notice a whole lot more if said person is an attractive female.
Describe the worst flight you’ve ever taken.
It was October 2008. I was looking forward to a two-week holiday in Florida with a few close friends, a much-needed break from the tyranny of work. Our flight was cancelled, so we had to wait for six hours in Terminal 3 of Heathrow. If you’re ever travelling to London Heathrow, try to go through Terminal 5, if you can. It’s delightfully futuristic and orderly. Terminal 3, on the other hand, is a giant toilet. The foul stench of Pakistan assailed my nostrils as I entered that godforsaken edifice. I had to elbow my way through throngs of subhuman, inbred terrorist sympathisers and rapists who had only a nodding acquaintance with soap. What was left of my good cheer evaporated completely as I lay down to rest on three hard plastic seats in a giant waiting room. The flight itself was not much better. Unless you travel first-class, I don’t see how anyone can enjoy being stuck in a pressurised tube for seven hours on a seat which is slightly more comfortable than an iron maiden, and where the food served is akin to flavoured rubber. Flying would be a lot more bearable if the airline companies provided some sort of private room which passengers could book for 20-minute slots. This would be perfect for married couples eager to join the Mile-High Club, and for angry loners like myself who need to bash the bishop every now and then (especially on long, boring flights). The holiday turned out to be a delight, but I still hate flying and all the dehumanising security checks that come with it. I look forward to the day when airships come back into fashion. Then I’ll be able to wander around as much as I like!
Invent a course that every high school student should have to take.
In my neck of the woods, ‘high schools’ are generally known as secondary schools. Regardless, as institutions of learning, they are meant to be places where those aged between 11 and 18 go to be enlightened, nurtured and prepared for the big, wide world. Unfortunately, the reality is rather different. From what I can remember, my teachers spent half of their working lives yelling at us to be quiet and stop misbehaving. I learned how to work the system very well, doing the barest minimum required of me so that I could spend more time reading comic books and drawing caricatures of my loathsome classmates. Needless to say, my drawing skills improved a great deal back then (alas, not enough to secure me good grades in art lessons). Seven years of social studies class could be summed up in two phrases: ‘use a condom’ and ‘drugs are bad’. It turned out that the second of those is a bare-faced lie. So much time was wasted in school on needlessly complicated procedures and pointless exercises.
Looking back, I am convinced that we could have learned much more at no extra cost to the taxpayer. If I had my way, I would ensure every secondary school devote one or two hours per week to a kind of ‘general studies’ lesson. I don’t mean that Mickey-Mouse A-level that today’s teenagers are awarded for simply turning up on time or wiping their backsides correctly. No, my lesson would be much more useful. Call it what you like – ‘household management’, ‘life science’, ‘citizenship’, I don’t care – but every schoolchild must learn how to live like an adult. After all, most of them will live to see adulthood and need to know a few basics. By this, I mean such day-to-day activities as cleaning up after themselves, washing and ironing, filling in tax forms and job applications, financial management, wiring a plug, social etiquette, and so on. You would be amazed at how naive young people can be these days. Take my housemates, for example. Those idiots know every feature of their precious i-phones and are positively encyclopaedic when it comes to reality television, but they have still not worked out how to recycle. They do not seem to understand that dirty kitchen surfaces and unwashed crockery are fertile breeding grounds for bacteria. Those airheads have failed to establish the connection between food particles in the kitchen sink and that raw sewage smell coming out of it a day later. Yet still, they whine about it! If every school had the kind of lesson I’ve described, there would be many more clean houses around and consequently fewer diseases. The economy would be in better shape, because everyone would know how to budget. An hour or two of Spideron 101 each week of every term would be of tremendous benefit to Britain and her international reputation. We need to teach the youth of the nation how to stand on their own two feet, because if we do not, there’s a chance they may never learn these valuable life skills and instead embarrass us all with their shameful ignorance.
Would you ever participate in a food-eating contest?
Absolutely not! Eating is a basic need, but also one of the greatest pleasures in the world. Where is the profit in cramming dinner into your stomach as fast as possible? I do not care what the prize is; nothing is worth that, especially when you consider how many millions of people in the world are malnourished. Food should be enjoyed and savoured, not shovelled into the mouth before a crowd of braying morons. Obesity is disgusting and immoral, the plague of our time; we must not, under any circumstances, encourage its spread. If I ruled the world, the only eating contest I’d allow would be a HEALTHY-EATING one. That’s right, whoever consumes the most nutritionally-balanced meal wins a free weekend at a health spa. You have three hours starting now.
Describe the best live musical performance you’ve ever attended.
The year was 1997. The location: Durham Cathedral. The choir there sang Allegri’s ‘Miserere’, some Charpentier and assorted Gregorian chansons. To my untrained ear, they sounded sublime. If you ever get the chance, I urge you to visit the glorious city of Durham. The drinks are cheap and the architecture is beautiful. I’ve heard a lot of live music over the years and I sing in a choir myself, but nothing has ever come close to that heavenly sound I heard all those years ago. My good friend Listerine loves going to rock concerts and larking about in the mosh pit. I honestly don’t see the appeal.
Do you collect anything?
When I was a little boy, I used to collect stag beetle larvae. I kidnapped them from their tree stump and kept them prisoner in an ice cream tub. Those little fellows were fascinating, with their plump, white, undulating bodies and shiny orange heads. Unfortunately, I neglected to feed them, so they began to starve. One of them, a particularly ill-looking specimen, locked its jaws on my finger and refused to let go. Consumed with rage, I tore its head off, then proceeded to kill the rest of them, the way a capricious Olympian god would massacre a whole village on account of some perceived impiety. Eventually, I grew tired of lesser mortals and their unreliability, so I took to collecting crab claws. I’d scour the beaches of Cornwall for them and would order crab in a restaurant, just so I could expand my collection. Nowadays, I the only things I collect are Viz comics. I dislike clutter, so I’m perfectly happy to destroy or give away anything which is no longer of any use to me, including childhood keepsakes. My parents have never understood it, but the charity shops aren’t complaining.
What’s your city known for?
The town council website will tell you all about Shitsville’s annual festivals and other public events. Moreover, it has a good university and transport links. Those are all well and good, but if you lived here, you’d soon learn about its less savoury side, such as the benefit-scrounging, shiftless layabouts that infest the place. Shitsville has numerous bars and pubs, most of which are frequented by scrofulous cankersores who can’t handle their drink and whose entire moral code can be summed up in the phrase ‘don’t grass’. The only single women in this town are ugly, insolent, semi-literate alcoholics. If you see a pretty girl here, she’s either a student or a Pole and will only open her legs for a man in sports car. Consider yourself warned. The town centre’s widely considered good for shopping, and I’m inclined to agree. That is, if you’re content to walk at a snail’s pace behind an ocean of polyester-wearing chav detritus with their pushchairs and their loud, irritating voices.
Describe what your handwriting looks like.
Like a spider crapped all over the page.
Would you rather be a great singer or a great dancer?
I think I’d rather put on my dancing shoes. Dancers, in my opinion, get a lot more sex. Think about it! All those smooth moves, all that bodily contact, what’s not to like? Indeed, a Thai woman once told me that I make love like a dancer, but cannot dance like a lover. That said, I can do the Charleston.
When did you first start using a computer regularly?
Whenever Populous 2 was released for the Commodore Amiga. That’s the exact point I transformed from casual gamer to addict. I was soon hooked on other games, like ‘Sid Meier’s Pirates’, ‘James Pond 2’, ‘Turrican 2’ and all of those wonderful titles from the Cinemaware series. I do believe that the happiest moments of my childhood were spent playing video games at my cousin’s house. It was the perfect end to a fine day: setting off bangers in people’s gardens, dinner with ‘Gladiators’ on the box, then onto the serious business of shooting things that never existed. Years later, as a gangling adolescent, I bought my first PC and whiled away the lonely hours with a dose of such memorable games as ‘Civilization 2’, ‘Dungeon Keeper’, ‘Baldur’s Gate’, ‘Daggerfall’ and ‘Birthright: The Gorgon’s Alliance’. The memory of them fills my heart with joy. That was quality ‘me’ time which nobody in the world can take away.
If you had your own television show, what would it be about?
I’d love to make a docu-drama about ghosts, similar in style to Discovery’s ‘A Haunting’ or LWT’s ‘Strange But True?’ I’d travel to quaint villages and interview the locals about their neighbourhood spectres, then hire some young, beautiful actors and actresses to play them in my own, heavily-edited version of events. I’d be both executive producer and narrator, using my smooth, rich voice to set the scene and plant fear in the minds of viewers. Spooktacular!
Will you attend your high school reunion? Why or why not?
I remain in contact with a few old classmates, but that is far as I am willing to allow. I was as pleased as punch to get out of primary school, only to discover that the secondary one was seven times worse. During those long years at Lord of the Flies Comprehensive, I encountered so many arseholes, it’s a wonder I’m not a qualified proctologist by now. I wish I could tell you that my schooldays were like ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’, but that would be a lie. The last thing I need is to listen to the success stories of those who once considered belching the national anthem to be nothing short of comic genius. It is not my wish to have such an egregious injustice shoved in my face.
Are you an optimist, a pessimist, or something else?
I run the gamut, from optimism to pessimism via neutrality. I get irritated by that expression ‘I’m not a pessimist; I’m a realist!’ I always seem to hear it from the world’s most miserable sacks of crap, usually in some grimy pub.
That’s enough questions for now. The hamster covering my shift at work is getting tired, so I’d better resume my responsibilities before I am discovered and turned into Spideron paté. Tune in for more Q&A shenanigans next time!