You are reading a Liebster Award-winning blog. I’ll just pause to let that sink in.
Actually, I’m not sure if I qualify, because I don’t intend to fulfil all the criteria, one of which is to nominate eleven other bloggers for a Liebster Award. The idea of being responsible, however indirectly, for other people’s wittering, is too much to bear. It’s bad enough that I feel I have to do it here. So if you are reading this and fancy taking part, please consider yourself nominated. I absolve myself of all responsibility for what monstrosities may proceed.
It’s an award that doesn’t necessarily mean much – it’s not voted for democratically by the public, or the choice of a jury headed by Baroness Trumpington and Natalie Haynes – but this particular Liebster Award carries a lot of clout because it has been bestowed on me by Melanie of the beautiful Bookish Nature blog. I suppose Mel and I have known each other for nearly ten years on message boards here and there, primarily the BBC’s Big Read board (may it rest in peace), and if we don’t correspond frequently, we do at least stay in touch by reading each other’s blogs. So thank you, Mel, and sorry it’s taken me so many months to write this.
What I am now obliged to do is:
a) to tell you 11 things about myself
b) to answer to the best of my ability the 11 questions that have been asked of me
In this post I will tackle the first part (well, some of it; this post is already too long). It’s hard to think of things about me you may not already know. After all, the reason I have a blog at all is that I can’t bear to have a thought unexpressed. The fact that the frequency of my posts here has decreased over recent months is not indicative of my having obtained a life of some kind, rather that I have used up most of what there is to say about myself. Still, I have dredged up eleven things from somewhere.
1. My father bought an Amstrad word processor when I was about six or seven, which was a watershed for me. I learned to type without looking at the keys, I transcribed whole books for practice (Percy Pig, House Painter, I recall, turned out to be less interesting when divested of its illustrations).
I also devised stories of my own. I rewrote Jean de Brunhoff’s Babar with an alternative ending in which (if my unreliable memory serves) Babar discovers on inspection of the kindly Old Lady’s purse some piece of evidence implicating her in his mother’s death. I don’t recall what happened to the Old Lady, but suspect it was grisly. I have it somewhere. I’ll post it here when I find it. A short story I wrote late in Mrs Thatcher’s Prime Ministership:
THE STORY OF ARRESTED MRS THATCHER.
Once upon a time Roald Dahl got robbed by Arthur Scargill! The Police heard immediately about this and they came to arrest Arthur Scargill. At that time Mrs Thatcher was practising a little play because she was going to have a party and she was going to do it there. She was pretending to be Arthur Scargill in her play! The Police had to pass 10 Downing street so they thought they would say hello. They were very surprised when Arthur Scargill came to answer the door. They took Mrs Thatcher to prison! That is the end of the story except that if you are in prison and you hear crying in the cell next to you it will be Mrs Thatcher looking like Arthur Scargill. The end.
2. Quiz and game shows are a weakness of mine, and always have been. From the age of five or six I was devoted to Going for Gold, Blockbusters, Countdown, Fifteen to One and Mastermind, and would doubtless have watched University Challenge too if it hadn’t been on hiatus at the time (it returned to TV when I was about eleven, and I have hardly missed an episode since). I imagine studying geography and history, say, at school gives you a more rounded knowledge of things, but knowing facts always appealed to me, and throughout my youth I probably picked up more information from the TV than I did from lessons. I have a good brain for trivia, and have sometimes pondered applying to take part in quiz shows, but I’d be too camera-shy to go on TV. I did apply to go on Radio 4’s smug music quiz Counterpoint in 2006, and got past the audition stage, but on the eve of the recording of my episode I had to go into hospital for an operation, and so pulled out of the recording, somewhat to my relief. I think I called up Paul Bajoria on his mobile. I wonder if I will ever go through with it.
3. I imagine most people who know me think of me as a law-abiding citizen. I was never in trouble at school, albeit sometimes more by luck than judgement, I have never smoked or taken drugs, I drink but never to excess, and, politics excepted, I am the essence of conservatism. I know my place. But I have stolen from shops (though not since my childhood), I once cheated on an important exam, I have occasionally committed what I would term minor fraud, I bought certain items before I was legally of an age to do so, and in 2000 I smuggled my 13-year-old brother into the Westway Cinema in Frome to see a film rated 15 (Billy Elliot), though it is possible that I went to see it myself beforehand in order to vet it; I don’t remember.
The photo below was taken the year I was born.
[to be continued]