Sunday 29 March 2020

Alec Clayton's Questions

My hair is loving this lockdown. As you may have heard, we in the UK are locked down and can only go out for a little exercise once a day, for essential work and shopping for food and medication. My hair isn’t too long at the moment but after another couple of weeks it will require cutting and I can imagine that it will be a total uncontrollable mess by then and have a life of its own.

I might publish a photo just to cheer people up – but then again, maybe not although I could ask it to write a guest blog post.

In other virus news, Prime Minister Boris Johnson also has the virus and a couple of his cabinet have the symptoms as well as the Chief Medical Officer. Critics and cynics are arguing that he hasn’t been following his own advice. Maybe he thinks he is indestructible. Apparently his symptoms are mild so he can still “lead the country” from his isolated position.

Anyway, it’s time for some Sunday Stealing questions created by an author no less, called Alec Clayton. This means they may be tough.

I like a challenge – so let’s dive straight in.

1. If there's a personal god, what quality would you most like that person to have (and why)?

To me, a personal god would have to be one that is kind and forgiving and, more than anything else, can provide comfort and advice and one who doesn’t govern by fear, choosing to help people in need.

2. What's your death-row meal?

I would ask for the biggest and thickest steak that could be found, with a mountain of thick cut chips and several pints of the best British ale.

I know it’s bad for me but I wouldn’t care, given that I was on death row.

3. Assuming we make it through this outbreak with minimal loss of life, what do you think our big takeaway should be?

I am hoping that this pandemic gives each and every one of us a massive kick up the arse, especially our leaders and so-called betters.

In the UK we have seen some amazing acts of kindness and assistance and I know that such acts are being reflected by ordinary people all over the world. We all need to help each other and countries need to work more closely together instead of being bastards to each other.

I doubt things will change but we can hope.

4. Whom do you find yourself missing more than you would've predicted?

I’ve been in touch with friends and family but it’s not the same as being in the same room as them. At least I have Mrs PM to keep me sane.

5. What brings you the most joy? Not happiness, not contentment -- JOY.

There’s not an awful lot to be joyful about at the moment as the UK lockdown has removed most of the things that make me joyful.

However, usually on Friday, Mrs PM and I stroll down to the local village and have a beer or two and a meal – a kind of date night if you like. We obviously can’t do that at the moment, so we have transferred that experience into our home and for two hours we turn the lounge into a “virtual pub”. We share wine, put on some background music and chat over a meal. It is fast becoming the highlight of our week and adds a little joy.

There is always a way.

6. Do you find yourself regretting anything you've said or done on social media?

No. This blog is really the only thing I use to express myself in cyberspace. I have accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – but I rarely use them.

7. What are your favourite and least favourite things about your body and face?

As I mentioned above, I hate my hair. And my eyes are so bad that I can barely see without glasses.

However, a few women have told me that I have a nice arse (though why women like arses I have no idea) – so I will say that as a favourite.

8. and your life?

Far too many favourite things but I will give you as taste:

Expressing myself in words (even though I am not very good at it), travelling, football, music, socialising with friends, family, Mrs PM of course, the British countryside, movies, epic box sets, reading, learning new things, dining out, rock concerts.

Least favourite things:

Being stuck at home and not enjoying the favourite things I mentioned above, my career (soon to be over with any luck), chores.

9. How's the self-isolation affecting your libido?

No change. Why would it?

10. Which three places in the physical universe would you most like to visit?

Since space travel is unlikely to become a commercial business in my lifetime, I will stick to Planet Earth and the places I have never been to:

Scandinavia: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland

New Zealand


There are also lots of places I would love to go back to.

11. On whom did you have a crush years ago? Have you ever told them?

I had a crush on these lovely ladies. I could never pluck up the courage to write them a fan letter.


Lynda Carter

12. How have your religious views changed since you were in high school?

I was raised as a Roman Catholic and was immersed into the religion from a very early age, reading the Bible (both New and Old Testaments) and listening to the stories and the life of Jesus etc. with a mixture of awe and, if I’m honest, terrible fear.

I was told by scary priests that we were tainted with Original Sin the moment we were born and were promised that we would spend the rest of our lives trying to atone for this and all of the other sins we would invariably commit as our lives progressed.

The punishment for failing to do this would be Purgatory or Hell itself where, for basically being a sinner for three score and ten years, we would be punished for the rest of eternity by Satan and his evil army or torturing henchmen.

I don’t like the idea of being governed by fear. That’s why I started to question everything. For example, what made St Paul so special? Why did God appear to Moses in the first place and ask him to save his people but then make sure that Moses never actually make it to the Promised Land himself afterwards having done all of God’s bidding?

It seems to me that God could appear to me and convince me very easily that he actually exists. Instead, we are asked to have faith and trust in something that has never manifested itself to anybody.

As a person with a scientific background, I need tangible proof and have yet to see it. The only evidence I can see are the words in a book that has been rewritten so many times that I imagine the messages have been changed, embellished and adjusted to favour the authors.

In conclusion, I have asked lots of questions, got no satisfactory answer and therefore stopped going to church. I know that religion plays a part in making people feel comfort and for that reason I would never argue with anybody’s beliefs, as long as they didn’t use those beliefs to kill, maim or suppress other people. Religion is important – but not to me. We’ll see what happens when I shuffle off this mortal coil. I may have some searching questions if there is an afterlife, the first one being:

“Where were you, when I needed you?”

Here is a nice little song about religion, sung with the tongue firmly placed in the cheek.

13. If you could change one law, what would it be?

I would make it mandatory for all politicians to hook themselves up to a lie detector when campaigning or being interviewed. If they were found guilty of lying, then they would go to prison for six months and never be allowed to stand for office ever again.

Perhaps it would do something about these two:

14. If you could add one commandment to the original ten, what would it be?

Thou shalt share thine wealth with those less fortunate than thyself if thou art obscenely rich.

Sunday 22 March 2020


Things are very serious with Coronavirus now so it seems fitting to answer a set of questions about the subject from Sunday Stealing.

Let’s dive straight in shall we?

1. Has the COVID-19 affected your work environment?

Yes. On Friday 13th March, we had a briefing that told us that we can work from home if we choose. I chose to do so starting the following Monday. The company then decided on the following Wednesday that everybody except those who look after the IT infrastructure and deal with 24 hour support must also work from home. The company have two adjacent offices and one of them, the one I work in, has now been closed, the other one being closed to all but the absolutely essential staff I mentioned above.

Given that I work in IT and technology exists to accommodate home working, this is a no-brainer. I am bored at home, I have to admit, but we do have daily “stand up meetings” via software that ensures we can see each other face to face via our webcams, enabling each member of my team to get a glimpse of each other’s homes for fifteen minutes.

We also have an end of day chat which is less formal and geared more towards having a chat about general stuff, as we would over a coffee during office hours. This is being extended to the entire company at set times over the coming weeks so that we can pop in have a chat.

Sadly, Mrs PM’s company are insisting that she goes into the office, but she is a contractor and when the company is forced to send people home, we fear that she might be let go. This isn’t unexpected but for now she is driving to work every day and taking the usual precautions.

2. How are you feeling about the Coronavirus?

I am a hypochondriac with mild OCD so my anxiety levels are slightly elevated. I am trying to be pragmatic and following the advice to the letter, even though our wonderfully inept government have been dragging their feet until recently.

I have actually been washing my hands so much that they are drying out a little and I have had to use Mrs PM’s moisturiser to help a little.

Don’t tell anybody – that’s between you and I, dear reader.

What I do feel annoyed is that certain people think the virus will not get to them or that they are indestructible and if they do get it will survive as if it were just a bad cold.

Equally, I am annoyed at those who are panicking so much that they are hoarding and stockpiling at the expense of the most vulnerable people in our society. Worse, the people who really matter, like doctors, nurses, medical professionals and those who are helping to keep the country going, are struggling to get supplies because of the selfishness of idiots.

I heard yesterday that there is a shortage of freezers because people are buying extra ones to fill up with their ill-gotten gains from the supermarkets. I am quite angry about this.

3. Has anybody you know been tested / have you?

On the same day my company had the Coronavirus briefing, we discovered that a young lad was off with the symptoms. Three weeks earlier he had been to Italy on holiday. He returned on Sunday and was advised to self-isolate for 14 days. He did exactly that and then came back to work on Tuesday. He was ill the following Friday.

The problem is that we can’t be sure that he has the virus or not because the NHS is not testing people unless they are admitted to hospital. This means that the official number of cases doesn’t represent the true picture. The government have acknowledged this and given the official number plus the extrapolated number too – and that is much higher as you would imagine.

Stop Press: Mrs PM has an old friend from university who lives in Liverpool. The BHS helpline have just informed him that they think he has the virus. He won’t be tested until his symptoms become so bad that he ends up in hospital. Let’s hope that isn’t the case.

4. Do you have any friends stuck in any exotic locations?

No. Mrs PM’s dad was in Turkey until yesterday and had to be flown back to a different airport as flights were very limited to get back. He is back safe and sound now and is immediately self-isolating hopefully.

5. Have you changed any of your personal habits due to the pandemic?

Yes. I wash my hands a lot more and I haven’t been socialising with friends for a couple of weeks. I have been going out for walks to avoid cabin fever and observing the advice of keeping far away from other walkers. I fear that we will soon have to stop doing even that.

6. What is the craziest thing you've seen or heard about the outbreak?

Apart from nutters stockpiling things? People have largely been ignoring advice and still going to the pub and restaurants, although that too will now cease as the government has ordered all such establishments to close down.

A lot of people think they are invincible and are just not changing their ways. That to me is crazy.

I’ve also watched Donald Trump’s bullshit over the past few weeks, telling blatant lies to the American people and then getting experts telling the truth just a few seconds later. How can Americans believe the Orange Goblin any more?

Another thing I have seen and heard is that people have stopped drinking Corona Beer because in their minds it might actually be responsible for the outbreak.

That is almost as crazy as some of Trump’s bullshit.

7. Do you think our politicians are doing enough to curb the crisis?

My view on Trump in the US is above. In the case of the UK the answer is also no.

I have read a few reports over the past couple of weeks about the spread of the virus in mathematical and statistical terms and, since that was my main background at university, I understand what they mean. Western governments have not been following the advice until it is too late and the UK government is only now realising the seriousness of the situation. The actions in Italy, Spain and France have hopefully given Boris “The Clown” Johnson the kick up the arse that he needed.

Over the past week we have ramped up our response, closing pubs, restaurants etc, closing schools and tightening restrictions. I welcome this but we are, in my opinion (based on some of the reports I read) about two weeks too late. The good news is that sporting bodies, theatres etc. acted before this, so that we went some way to actually changing our behaviour before the government made it official.

Let’s hope things improve and we aren’t too late. News from Italy and Spain suggest to me that perhaps we have acted too late.

8. Have you stockpiled anything because of the crisis?

No. I have been angered by the behaviour of certain irresponsible individuals despite warnings from everybody. My son and his girlfriend said that they saw two people fighting over a box of eggs in the local supermarket last week.

As far as we’re concerned, Mrs PM and I have been doing the regular weekly shop as normal. We have enough toilet roll for a while, as well as other bits and pieces. My hope is that people will start to behave properly over the next week or two.

The bottom line is that the country has enough food, cleaning products etc. for everybody so hoarding them is doing nothing more than depriving the needy and the most important people we need to help us through all of this.

9. What do you think you will miss the most if you are subject to a lock in?

Probably going for a walk. I have been calling on the introvert within me to help me cope with working alone from home. Thankfully, I am quite happy in my own company and of course Mrs PM is here too. I will miss going to pubs and restaurants with friends but I can cope with that. I have enough to occupy my mind, I think.

Oh – and since the football season has been suspended I miss watching it on a Sunday afternoon. Also, the travel restrictions will almost certainly mean that our planned trip to Italy in early June and Spain in late June are cancelled. I have accepted that. We can travel when all this is over.

10. What is the weirdest rumour you've heard about the virus?

I think it probably has something to do with why people are stockpiling toilet roll. This is a respiratory illness and does not cause you to spend more time on the toilet.

Now I do know for a fact that some people eat toilet paper. Stick with me on this. I have lived with people in the past who I suspect of this weird diet. I go to the toilet in the morning and there is a full roll available for use. When I next go, about two hours later, I notice that there is one single lonely sheet dangling sadly from the cardboard. Only one person has been to the toilet during that time, my flatmate. I can only conclude that he had a breakfast of loo roll on toast.

How else would he have used so much? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

11. Do you have a favourite meme about the virus?

This one:

12. Has the virus made you grateful for anything?

I think we are discovering that people can generally be wonderful (if you ignore selfish hoarders). We are seeing good deeds more and more as most people try to pull together during these tough times. I’m grateful for that, I applaud it and I hope that it changes people in the future.

13. Have any of your plans been upset by the outbreak?

Yes. I’ve had a couple of concerts cancelled and I guess that June will see another one cancelled plus two holidays. I would rather the outbreak be over though; we can go to gigs and holidays and socialise when all of this is over.

14. Are you planning do to anything different because of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Working from home, obviously and taking the time to sort out my life a little. There will be ample time for self-reflection over this period – and I mean positive self-reflection rather than trying to dwell on how bad it is.

Oh – and Mrs PM is having a spring clean starting next week so that will give us the opportunity to declutter (within reason).

15. What do you hope to see in six months time?

I hope that it is all over by then and that we can return to something like a normal life.

I am being quite realistic though and there is a chance that we will still be restricted (albeit not as much as now).

Once we have a vaccine, things will improve, although rumour has it that this won’t be for another 12 to 18 months. In six months time, we will at least know much more about the virus, how it is transmitted, how to mitigate its affects, how to mitigate the spread and, hopefully, have a massive long list of lessons learned, should there ever be another similar virus in future.

 16. Has the Coronavirus upset your mental health in any way?

As I said above, I am slightly more anxious as I succumb to several personal nemeses. They are:

Captain Paranoia – the person who tells me that nothing will improve and the future is bleak. No matter how careful I am I will catch the virus eventually.

Captain OCD – the person who tells me that I can catch the virus via my own computer because somebody else might have typed on my keyboard three weeks ago. He is also turning my hands into leather gloves thanks to all the washing.

Captain Hypochondria – the person who tells me that if wake up feeling a little tired, then I have COVID-19. If I have a slight headache, I have COVID-19. If I sneeze I have COVID-19. If I look at a person in the street I will catch COVID-19.

The good news is that I am a sensible and fairly clever chap, so I largely ignore these arseholes. They have been with me all my life and I am still here.

The three of them can just bugger off - and so can Coronavirus!

Sunday 15 March 2020

Sleepy Rambles

Let’s forget what is going on in the world and take a minor diversion to answer a couple of silly Sunday Stealing questions.

Shall we?

1. What is the wallpaper on your computer screen? Why did you choose it?

This is my wallpaper and I chose it because it reminds me of a tranquil place. I took the photograph in Australia on my trip there as the sun was rising in the early morning over the Coral Sea in Port Douglas. It helps divert my mind when I need to relax. I have it on my home laptop and my work laptop too.

2. Who is the person you text the most in your life? What relation are you?

I don’t really text. I use WhatsApp instead, which is, I guess, a similar thing but to groups of people. The people I send messages to most are family and close friends – mainly Mrs PM.

3.Is there carpet or hardwood floor in your bedroom?

It is a fluffy carpet and quite pleasant to put your bare feet on.

4. Do you believe in superstitious things such as breaking a mirror?

Not really. I don’t believe in superstition as a rule. I can’t remember the last time I broke a mirror but it didn’t bring years of bad luck, that much I do know.

5. Do you like those ‘end of the world,’ ‘Armageddon’ movies?

What – like "Coronavirus – The Movie?"

Actually, yes I do and I also love post-apocalyptic novels. I prefer unbelievable ones such as alien invasions or meteorites heading towards the planet rather than outbreak ones.

Having said that, I did like 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later and I am an avid fan of The Walking Dead.

6. Chocolate or strawberry birthday cake? Choose one.

I prefer chocolate cake but if it isn’t available I will happily devour strawberry cake too.

7. Do you eat more vegetables or fruits? What’s your favourite fruit/veggie?

I eat about the same amount of each. I love bananas, apples, nectarines, peaches, plums and citrus fruit. I like most vegetables too, mainly carrots, broccoli, green beans and peas.

8. Does the dentist calm you or does it tend to stress you out?

It depends what I am having done. Mostly, the answer is no. The problem I have is that I hate the sound of metal objects on teeth and I have to endure this both from the hygienist and the dentist. I had a crown replaced a couple of years ago and that was a rather unpleasant experience.  As he was drilling, tugging and generally doing nasty things, I tried my best to push my mind elsewhere. It was difficult but I prevailed.

9. If you had to choose, which is the worst movie you’ve ever seen?

I’ve seen some pretty dreadful ones in the past but the first one that leaps to mind (because Mrs PM dragged me to the cinema to see it) is Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2. It was the culmination of one of the most dreadful series of films I have ever had the misfortune to see. I can almost hear you asking “Why the hell did you watch more than one?”. Let me summarise:

Twilight – I watched it out of curiosity because I love vampires. I though it was awful.

Twilight: New Moon – I was on a long haul flight and I ran out of films. I stupidly thought that it couldn’t be as bad as the first one. I was horribly wrong.

Twilight: Eclipse – I was on another long haul flight and I ran out of films. I stupidly thought that it couldn’t be as bad as the first two films. I was horribly horribly wrong.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1: Mrs PM wanted to see part 2 of this garbage and I had dragged her to the cinema to see one of my films. I decided foolishly that I would need to see Part 1. So I paid for it on Sky Box Office and watched the movie in the comfort of my own home. It was dreadful but I always keep my promises to Mrs PM and reluctantly agreed to pay AGAIN to see Part 2 at the cinema.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2: This film was by far the worst of a bad bunch of films. I hated it. HATED it. Thank God they are not making any more.

10. Have you ever found yourself talking to an inanimate object?

All the time. I talk to my monitor when I am working, much to the amusement of my work colleagues.

11. Do you like movies that are originally based on children’s books?

Not really. The exception is the Harry Potter series. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

12. Is your hair more thick or thin? Is it more curly or straight?

Oh dear – not the hair again. My hair is awful. It is thick and curly/wavy and totally uncontrollable. I keep it short to make it more manageable.

13. Something on the human body that grosses you out the most:

Feet are pretty horrible. I avoid them whenever I can.

14. What is your favourite colour of apple? Red, green or yellow?

I love Granny Smiths – so green.

15. Do you hardly ever remember where you put things at?

I have places for my keys, wallet and various other things. I am slightly OCD and such habits help me recall where everything I need is situated. Mrs PM is hopeless and constantly asks me where her stuff is. Sometimes, she moves my stuff from its usual place too – and then forgets where she moved it to. That annoys me – and she rarely does it now.

16. Do you ever lay in the grass and look up at the sky, just because?

No - which is a shame. The last time I did something like that was in Greece a few years ago. We had a villa and at night time, I lay on a sunbed and just watched the stars. It was a beautiful night with little light pollution and no cloud. It was very relaxing.

17. Are you a controversial person? Do your views oppose others?

Yes I am and I have had to rein myself with things like Brexit, mainly for my own sanity. So far, this year I have tried to listen to the views of other people and try not to be to controversial and, most importantly, not to start to get angry when they start having a go at me for my views. I can talk to most people about anything, even something I loathe like Brexit but sometimes I have to walk away or stop the discussion before I resort to calling people idiots (which I have done in my youth).

18. Have you ever thrown a surprise party for someone? Who for?

No. I’ve had a surprise party thrown for me and I hated it so I have no desire to inflict such a thing on another person.

19. What would you say your average word per minute time is on the keyboard?

I had no idea so I have just tried it. I type with two fingers, even though I type for my day job (as a software engineer). The answer is 65 words per minute but I guess it depends on how long the words are.

20. Do you like fiction or non-fiction books more? What’s your favourite?

I much prefer fiction books but I do try to read non-fiction occasionally.

What's my favourite? Too many to mention.

21. Do you know how to play pool? Are you any good at it?

Yes, I do know how to play pool. I haven’t played for years sadly. I used to play fairly regularly when I was in my 20s and 30s and I was average at best.

22. The most painful medical procedure you’ve ever had?

I haven’t had a medical procedure (I suppose I have been lucky). Having a crown replaced at the dentist is the most distressing I guess (see above).

23. Are you someone who tends to take a whole lot of naps?

If I get a good night’s sleep then absolutely not. My ability to nap is directly proportional to the shortfall. If I have 7.5 hours sleep I am fine. Any less than that I and I make it up during the day (usually about 4 to 5pm) dozing in front of the telly.

That said, when I am on holiday in a hot place, I tend to have a nap in the afternoon - perhaps it is the heat.

24. Have you ever been pulled over by the cops for speeding?

No and I have no plans to do so either.

25. Is anyone in your family a firefighter? Who is it anyway?

Nobody in my family is a firefighter.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Sunday Stealing - Cottage By The Sea

Another Sunday, another set of silly questions from Sunday Stealing. Shall we?

01  What is the worst nickname that anyone has ever called you?

I’ve had so many nicknames over the years that it is difficult to choose. I worked out at an early age that the more you protest about a new nickname, the more likely it is to stick. Moreover, sometimes they stick just because people think they are funny anyway. I know that I have invented a couple for others that have stuck because the person in question protested too much.

At work, for example, I once said to a colleague:

“Your surname sounds just like the word “Tufty”"

which caused mayhem when others started laughing. He wasn’t happy but let it drop. Then, a couple of months later, we had restructuring of the department and he ended up sitting next to me. I had completely forgotten about the similarity between his surname and “Tufty” – but he hadn’t.

Nobody had called him “Tufty” since I first mentioned it months earlier – yet it had irritated him to the point where he was almost obsessed. He sat next to me on that first morning and said:

“Can I just say one thing? While I’m sitting next to you, there will be no mention of “Tufty” at all – not once. If there is, there will be trouble.”

I burst out laughing and, my reaction shocked him a little. One thing he didn’t really know about me was that I don’t like that kind of attitude. I just said:

“No problem Tufty Bear!”

He just stared at me with shock. And then somebody else said

“Tufty Bear! That’s really cute!”

And so it began. He was called “Tufty Bear” from that point onwards until the day he finally left the company a few years later. He did realise his mistake and just accepted it. Every morning I would come in, gently pat him on his shoulder and say “Morning Tufty!” or “Morning Tufty Bear!” or “Morning Tuffers!” or other variations.

He tried to retaliate with nicknames for me but none of them stuck and in the end he called me what everybody else called me.

He would probably answer this question with “Tufty Bear”. I will give you a list of the names I have been called and let you judge for yourself:

Snowy, Bagpuss, Joe 90, The Milky Bar Kid, Banaspec, Specky, Scrumper, Bricktop, Rambo, Mr Puniverse.

Sorry for the long answer – I got carried away.

02  Have you got a favourite flower?

Not really. As long as a flower is colourful, pretty and free from wasps it is okay by me.

03  Do you add a sauce, ketchup or other artificial flavourings to your food?

Sometimes. It depends what I am eating of course.

04  Describe yourself using only words that begin with the letter 'T'.  

Tactile, talkative, tenacious, tolerant, tidy, trustworthy, truthful

05  What is/was your lover's pet name for you

I am not saying but Mrs PM does have a public term of endearment for me that relates to my awful unmanageable hair – Flossy!

06  What is your least favourite colour?

Easy – pink!

07  Who did you vote for in the last election, and did they win?

I did not vote for the candidate that represents the Conservative Party led by the walking disaster that is Boris Johnson. Sadly the majority disagreed with me and the dangerous clown is now our Prime Minister. God help us!


08  What is/was your grandfathers’ names?

My dad’s dad was called George and my mum’s dad was called Gilbert.

09  What is the best present you ever received?  

Probably a trip to Australia from Mrs PM’s mum who insisted that we go with her. She had always wanted to go and on her 60th birthday asked us to go because she was nervous about travelling all that way with just her husband.

I was very uncomfortable about it and offered to pay for myself but she absolutely insisted.

Mrs PM and I are seasoned travellers so had a lot of experience. I acted as a travel guide, especially in Hong Kong and Singapore, where we stopped on the way there and back.

I also wrote a travelogue for her and presented it to her a month later as a memento.

10  What is 17 1/2% of 97 + 42 x (6 / 2) – 137 ?


11  What would be the best possible way you could live?

Exactly as I do now but with a little more money and a different career.

12  Given the choice of absolutely anything, what would be your dream job?  

A writer – probably a travel writer so that I could document my travel experiences. But I would also quite like to write a huge space opera with a little bit of horror involved.

13  What position do you sleep in at night?

I have no idea. I am asleep.

14  What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

Far too many to mention here. The key is to embrace them and laugh at yourself – that makes such episodes less embarrassing.

15  Who is your favourite fictional character?  

That’s a tough one. Off the top of my head I would say Harry Keogh from Bryan Lumley’s Necroscope saga because of the incredible things he can do.

16  What food do you hate most in the world?

Rhubarb by a long, long way.

17  When was the last time you were ill?

January 2019. I caught a rather nasty cold that lasted about four days.

18  If you were transformed into a wild creature, what would it be?

Probably a chimpanzee. I think I look like one anyway.

19  What was your favourite toy as a child, and whatever happened to it?

I had a massive collection of model cars, including models of vehicles from TV shows like Captain Scarlet, UFO and Thunderbirds. I would lose myself in my own imagination and use them to create vast action stories.

Sadly, I gave them away to my cousin when I grew up and I have no idea what he did with them. I wish I had kept them.

20  What's the most amazing thing you've ever seen?

I’ve seen so many things on my travels that it is difficult to single one of them out. I’ve just looked up the Top 20 sights in the world according to Lonely Planet’s “Ultimate Travelist” so I shall list the items from that list that I have seen:

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Great Wall of China
Grand Canyon (from a helicopter)
Colosseum, Rome
Iguazu Falls (Brazil and Argentina)
British Museum, London
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Santorini, Greece

There are lots more things but it is difficult to list them all or to say which is the most amazing.