Saturday, 24 September 2011
I must admit that I didn’t expect much of a response to my previous post (Ask the Plastic Mancunian) though I was pleasantly surprised by the number of questions that popped up in my comment box.
Without further ado, here are my responses in the order received. I hope you are not disappointed with my answers. I apologise in advance if you are.
Also this is quite a long post – so take a deep breath and dive right in:
(1) What is the most risky thing you have done and was it worth it? (From Elephant’s Child):
I do not like taking risks. Mrs PM says that my reluctance to take a chance is driven by the stars (yet another Libran trait). I think this is utter nonsense. I like to make sure that I take the best option by using my head rather than my heart. To do this, I hurl the potential risk into the quagmire that is my brain and throw it about it weighing up the pros and cons until I can be absolutely certain that I am doing the right thing.
So what is the riskiest thing I have done? I would say visiting China in 1999 just weeks after NATO accidentally bombed the Chinese Embassy in the former Yugoslavia – by mistake. It was risky because initially the Foreign Office warned people not to go. Several other factors contributed: Mrs PM and I were working in Hong Kong at the time and my Chinese colleagues warned us not to go; we were on a limited budget; we only had a vague plan; I was terrified. In the end, Mrs PM, a far more adventurous soul, persuaded me to go and it was one of the most satisfying and memorable two weeks of my life. Was it worth it? Absolutely. And I have been back there with work – twice!
(2) If you knew then what you know now, would you still do it the way you did it? (From River):
The answer is yes – and no. There are certain things I would change, particularly in my youth. For example I would have learned to play the guitar and stuck at it. I would have focussed on learning a couple of languages as a child instead of struggling now to learn Spanish. I would have switched my career away from IT and into some form of writing and had computing as the hobby instead. Nevertheless I reckon my path through life would have been similar and I would definitely have avoided some of the more challenging and difficult situations I found myself in. Sadly, I have no doubt that I would invariably still make the same or similar mistakes.
(3) If you could leave your sons three bits of advice, what would that advice be? (From Pandora):
Just three, Pand? I am always offering advice to my lads. Here are three that immediately leap to mind.
(a) Make sure that you don’t rush into marriage. Be absolutely certain that she is the one and that you really do want to spend the rest of your life with her.
(b) See as much of the world as you possibly can. Travel at every opportunity. Travel is good for the soul and opens up all sorts of new horizons.
(c) By all means follow your heart but let your mind arbitrate.
(4) Why do men have breasts? (From Kath ):
The scientific answer is that there is a woman in all of us. We all start off as women and for the lucky ones (or unlucky depending on your viewpoint), testosterone kicks in and some of become men. Sadly, nipples are present before this happens so men are stuck with them. And of course as men get older moobs develop which is probably nature’s way of curing loneliness in old men.
(5) Why don’t chickens have lips? (Also from Kath):
Again the scientific answer is that they have developed beaks because of their revolting taste in food (worms and the like). To help me answer this I actually looked at a couple of Foghorn Leghorn clips and watched as he spoke. It’s amazing how can pronounce words like “Foghorn” without the aid of lips. Maybe they have got lips after all – we just can’t see them.
(6) What is the worst thing you have ever done? (From Mind of Mine):
Is this retaliation for my question to you? Only kidding. The worst thing I have ever done probably occurred during my divorce. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was but both me and my ex-wife, W, were at each others’ throats and things kind of escalated. It was a torrid time for both of us and, in her eyes, actually leaving her was the worst thing I could ever do. She certainly got her own back. It was a time of bitterness and recrimination and we both sank to depths of nastiness. Thankfully we kept the kids at heart and over the intervening years (thirteen or so) we have brushed things aside and focussed our attention on the boys. And now? We are actually very civil to each other – in retrospect we really should have been just friends – hence my advice for the boys above. W simply was not the one – and I doubt that I was either.
(7) The human navel is a truly wonderful thing – but is it visible on any other animal? (From Polly):
I own three cats and to answer this question I picked up the nearest moggy to examine it. Sadly, it was our new cat, Liquorice who has redefined the word “vicious”. If you look up the word “vicious” in the Oxford English Dictionary you now find the definition “Plastic Mancunian’s mad new cat.”. Suffice it to say the only answer I got was written in blood – my blood. Thankfully, my big fat lazy cat, Jasper, allowed me to roll over his massive bulk and have a look without adding to my injuries. And he does have a navel but it is hidden under tons of thick black fur. So in effect it is invisible. So to answer your question – yes it is visible but only if you shave the animal. And I guess you can probably see an elephant’s navel (it has one because it is a mammal – and a whale I reckon too. I’m rambling now.
(8) When was the happiest period of your life? (from drb):
They say schooldays are the happiest days of your life but in my case they weren’t. It was just afterwards when I went to Liverpool University. So many things happened during those three years that it is hard to put my finger on exactly what was brilliant. I went into that period a spotty young dipstick and came out of it a young man with a plan and a degree. I am fiercely nostalgic for my time there and whenever I hear songs from that period of my life I recall the parties, the friends, the studying, the travelling and the fabulous feeling of starting out onto a scary and unknown future. I wish I was that youngster again. My eldest son has just this week started university in Newcastle and I am so envious – and so happy for him.
(9) What is the secret of a happy marriage? (also from drb):
Having failed in my attempt to exist in a happy marriage, I can only call upon my life with Mrs PM since the divorce. In retrospect, my ex-wife and I were too dissimilar and it caused friction between us. I said above that we should have stayed friends and I stick with that. That way we could have walked away from each other and spent time apart. It shows now because as I said we are getting on reasonably well despite everything. Mrs PM on the other hand is a completely different woman who is totally on my wavelength. We have differences of opinion (her musical taste is absolutely dreadful) but she fascinates and enthrals me. I have been with her now for thirteen years (I was married for ten years). We talk to each other, listen to each others’ problems and comfort each other – as well as having an absolute laugh together. She is far more intelligent than I am (despite being with me and liking Lady Ga Ga) and we tolerate each others’ foibles (despite her thinking that I am a tone deaf arsehole with no musical taste whatsoever).
(10) Do you think it is harder to be a woman or a man (also from drb):
That’s easy – it is MUCH harder to be a woman. Being a man is easy – we know what we like, we tell people what we are thinking and our lives are driven by simple things such as sport, music, football and sex. The big problem for women is that hormones can change the sweetest cuddliest princess into a crazed whirling mad creature – usually once a month. It’s not just that though. Buying clothes for a woman is an absolute nightmare. How do you do it, ladies? I’ve posted about this on a couple of occasions so I know what I am talking about (I think). Why for example is a size 10 dress in one shop larger than a size 14 in another or even the SAME shop? And what about make-up? Applying make-up every single day must be an absolute nightmare. And the less said about pregnancy the better. I had better stop here in case I become the target for hormonally charged women. I feel another blog post coming on.
(11) Why do English men hate oysters? (you’re on a roll, drb):
That’s another easy one – because oysters are not meant to be eaten by humans. They taste utterly revolting and the feeling of them “sliding” down your throat is enough to make even the most courageous man want to throw up. And people think they are an aphrodisiac? Cripes – I think if a woman tried to seduce me with oysters she had better be able to stomach the smell of vomit.
(12) If money is no object will you travel to the moon? (keep them coming, drb):
No – because there’s no atmosphere (boom boom)! I’m here all week! Seriously though I think the answer really is “no” because it is too risky and I am risk averse as I explained above. The danger is a little more obvious. I might consider going when they build a moonbase and invent Star Trek style transporter – but then I would have to consider the ramifications of having my molecules scattered and rebuilt across a massive distance – so the answer even then would still probably be “no”.
(13) Why Plastic? (from Anji):
Because I am not a real Mancunian, Anji. I was born in a town just north of Birmingham called Walsall and I consider myself to be an honorary Mancunian, i.e. a Plastic Mancunian. That said, I have actually lived in Manchester for almost 28 years (compared to almost 19 in Walsall) so I am more Mancunian than Walsallian (if such a word exists). I have to say that I really do love Manchester and the only place that could entice me away is Hong Kong.
(14) How would you make the best egg and bacon breakfast? (drb strikes again):
I can make a fabulous full English breakfast, drb. You need more than just bacon and eggs. You need proper British bangers (sausages), mushrooms and toast. Beans, tomatoes and black pudding are optional but I draw the line at things Americans add like hash browns. Here are some tips from me. Get you sausages from the butcher – where you can buy some terrific bangers. The bacon has to be thickly cut otherwise it shrinks and shrivels to nothing. Don’t fry your eggs on heat that is too high – and sunny side up is best (yet another Americanism I am not keen on). Top it all off with some HP sauce and a couple of slices of toast and you have the perfect breakfast – and of course don’t forget the obligatory cup of strong tea.
(15) Can you avoid mid-life crisis? (the final question – again from drb):
I’m not sure whether I have a mid-life crisis yet or not. I think it is supposed to occur when you realise that you have not made your mark on the world and that time is running out. I am a naturally optimistic person and the majority of my life is currently happy. So if there is a mid-life crisis to come there are no signs. The question I have to ask myself though is “Have I made my mark on the world?”. Well I have two fantastic and clever lads and people worldwide read this blog (by accident but they do). I still have aims and ambitions that I can achieve in the time that is left and I have a good woman at my side and three mad cats. So life is peachy. On the other hand if your look on life is pessimistic, I think that a mid-life crisis is inevitable. I have seen it in people who are younger than me. I aim to avoid it for as long as possible – I’ll tell you for sure in about forty years’ time.
Well, that’s it, dear reader. A mammoth post spawned from a fantastic set of questions. I might do this again in future.