Sunday 3 May 2020

Conversation Starters

So here we are in the UK currently languishing in day 41 of the lockdown. The news this week is encouraging in that the number of deaths per day is stabilising and falling and the trend for new cases is also dropping slightly. The government are talking about the potential of easing the lockdown and a strategy for doing so. I don’t want to discuss the politics of the situation but the news is encouraging, even though we will feel the effects for months in my opinion.

Let’s start a conversation from Sunday Stealing.

1. What is your favourite song lyric? Why?

I have a few favourite song lyrics. To me they are like poetry if written well. The late great Neil Peart, drummer of my favourite band – Rush - wrote some amazing lyrics. Basically his lyrics tend to be deep, meaningful and thought-provoking, Here are a couple of examples that hopefully illustrates the point I am trying to make.

From the song Losing It. This is about artists, authors, dancers who were brilliant in their youth but now they are old, they are losing the skills that made them great.

Some are born to move the world
To live their fantasies
But most of us just dream about
The things we'd like to be
Sadder still to watch it die
Than never to have known it
For you, the blind who once could see
The bell tolls for thee

From the song Second Nature:

Folks have got to make choices
And choices got to have voices
Folks are basically decent
Conventional wisdom would say
Well, we read about
The exceptions
In the papers every day

2. Who was the worst teacher you ever had?

I attended a grammar school and all of the teachers were pretty adept at their subjects so I can’t really complain about any of them. If you twist my arm, however and force me to name the worst one, I will have to point the finger at my third year geography teacher (I was about 13 or 14 at the time). I won’t name him to protect the guilty – but let’s call him Mr Bogus.

Why has Mr Bogus won my prize as worst teacher? Because I was absolutely dreadful at geography – it was by far my worst subject at school. Mr Bogus was also my Form Master which meant that I had to deal with him all of the time. Mr Bogus did nothing to encourage me in the subject or in the classroom generally. Quite the opposite in fact. He often used me as an example of somebody who could possibly fail in life because I answered back when he tried to use me as an example. I didn’t really like him at all and during that year I was on the receiving end of several detentions for, well, just being a cheeky little git. I guess I deserved that so I can’t complain too much.

I gave up geography at the end of his year, thank goodness, and never had to deal with him again. In fact, if I were to see him now, I would say “Hi Mr Bogus! I think I’ve proved you wrong haven’t I?”

3. What were 3 things that scared you as a child?

I was both scared of, yet fascinated by, vampires. My dad taught me a lesson for mithering him about watching horror films – he let me watch Christopher Lee playing Dracula when I was about ten years old. It scared me half to death.

My dad was also partly culpable for my second fear. After watching a child friendly version of “A Christmas Carol” at the age of about eight, I asked about ghosts and whether they exist or not. My dad was a great story teller and he told me that ghosts were the spirits of people who were dead but didn’t know it, and lived their ghostly existence in anguish, trapped where they had died and wailing in self-pity for somebody to rescue them. I was convinced my house was haunted until my own rational mind told me it was a load of old codswallop. Ironically, the only time that I thought I saw a ghost, was when I was 19 – and that ghost was that of my own father. But that’s another story.

My third fear was insects and spiders. I still hate them to this very day.

4. What are 3 things that scare you now?

I am now, unbelievably scared of heights. I am also scared of public speaking, even though I have done it quite a lot. Finally, the shift in politics worldwide and the misinformation being passed around scares the hell out of me but I won’t go into that.

5. Would you rather have the power of time travel or the power to see the future?

Time travel definitely. I would go to the future to see how technology has developed over the next few hundred years. I might just pop back to the past for a laugh too.

6. Money, power, or good looks – which would you rather have an unlimited supply of?

I would go for money because with money comes power and if I had an unlimited supply of it, I could help out the needy. Even better it would allow me to build a fleet of spaceships that I could use to explore the galaxy but manned by the most odious people on the planet, like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Piers Morgan etc. etc.

7. Are you jealous of anything?

Not really. I love life so I want to experience it forever, so unless I am immortal already (or can find a way to become immortal), I would have to be young again. In that respect I am jealous of young people.

8. What makes you feel most loved?

A cuddle on the settee with Mrs PM. I am a man of simple tastes.

9. Do you believe in soulmates?

Yes – see the answer to the previous question.

10. What is something that made you laugh the most?

There are quite literally thousands upon thousands of things that have made me laugh throughout my life and to single out one of them is near to impossible. I love comedy so I will single out one of my favourite comedians – Mr Billy Connolly – as an example of somebody who has made me laugh a lot over the years.

11. What were 3 of the happiest days of your life?

Two of them were the birth of my two sons. The third? I’m not sure to be honest – probably the day I graduated from university. There have been some really good days in my life.

12. What is your biggest flaw

I think that my biggest flaw is possibly also a strength. I am quite risk averse so I will not try anything if I think it is too risky. For example, I would never hurl myself into a venture that I didn’t think I could cope with or that I had serious doubts about. People who like taking risks would argue that this is a flaw because sometimes risks can pay off and your life will improve as a result.

However, on the other side of the coin, in my mind at least, if the risk doesn’t pay off then you could potentially pay the price and never recover. In that way, I think the fact that I am risk averse has given me a life that I am quite content with.

13. Who would play you in a movie about your life?   

I would say somebody like Johnny Depp because he is a weird looking guy who could just about pull it off, I reckon.

14. What is something you experienced that you have no explanation for.

See my answer to question 3. I thought I saw the ghost of my father. Way back in 2010 I wrote a post about the experience and I still can’t explain it. Here is the post.

15. What is the saddest book you ever read?

Honestly? I don’t know. I tend to read science fiction, novels, thrillers, horror stories or anything that is weird – and because they are all so weird, they cannot really be described as sad. Sadness is one of the many conflicting elements of them all but not the dominant one. So I’m afraid I can’t answer this one.

16. What is your dream home like?

I would like one of those old English mansions with many rooms that can be converted to be the following:

(a) A pub
(b) A snooker room
(c) A home cinema
(d) An entertainment room
(e) A music room
(f) A gym
(g) A swimming pool

17. What creature/insect would most creep you out if you found it crawling on you?

Any insect in reality but in particular a huge spider would freak me out so much that I would be running around screaming blue murder.

18. What’s your preferred Monopoly piece?

Really? I don’t have one. Okay – if I had to choose it would be this one:

19. What was your most embarrassing moment?

Oh dear - there have been too many to mention. I will tell you one though. I was working in Amsterdam and in the evening, a work colleague and I was with him in an Ethiopian restaurant enjoying a nice meal.

I had run out of beer and I waved to a female waiter to bring me a new one. I shouted “Excuse me,” and waved to her repeatedly. She was a beautiful African woman with a white blouse and a black skirt and dressed like the other waiters. She stared at me as if I was insane and I stupidly thought this was because she was Dutch and couldn’t understand English (momentarily forgetting that everybody in Holland speaks perfect English). My colleague said “No Dave no!” I wondered what he was talking about so I waved again and shouted to her – “Can I have another beer please?”

She walked through the tables across the restaurant to me and as she was doing so, my colleague said “You bloody idiot! I’ve just seen her come out of the toilet – she’s a customer!”

I was mortified but she arrived at the table anyway. “Would you like me to ask at the bar for you?” She said with a smile. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “I thought you were a waiter.”

To rub salt into the wound, she walked away found a real waitress and directed her to my table. People were sniggering at me openly.

I am not a person to let something like that lie, so when we left I walked to her table and apologised again. She was with a friend and said “That’s quite alright. It was an easy mistake to make.”

I heard them laughing as I left. My colleague said rather too loudly I thought “That’s the last time I come to a restaurant with you.”

20. Could the earth be flat?

Of course it couldn’t. I come from a scientific background and the earth is 100% definitely a sphere. This is one of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories I have ever heard. There are so many scientific facts proving without any doubt whatsoever that our planet is a sphere. I won’t bore you with this topic again but if you are interested in my thoughts on this madness, please read a post I wrote in 2016.

Here it is. 

Here is a video about why people might fall for this bullshit:

For me, personally, the flat earth theory is just a load of old codswallop.


Stacy said...

I've never really thought about it, but I guess like you, I am one who doesn't like to take big risks. I wasn't always that way. Older and wiser?
What is it with dads who like to scare their kids? My dad used to get a big kick out of scaring me half to death whenever we walked past a cemetery at night and my husband never gave letting our son watch Child's Play when he was three a thought.
What an embarrassing moment. I would have been mortified.

Have a great week ahead!

Kwizgiver said...

Oh, your embarrassing moment is priceless!

Lots of great answers!

Bev Sykes said...

about ghosts, you might be interested in this article I wrote a few years ago:

CountryDew said...

Codswallop is not a word we use in the USA and I think I shall have to change that.

Me, Myself, and I said...

LOVE Billy Connolly--great choice :)

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Stacey,

I've always been a little risk averse but it is getting worse as aI get older (and wiser I hope).

I guess dad's do like scaring kids (I have been a little guilty of it too).

And yes - I was mortified.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kwizgiver,

Plenty more where that came from.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Bev,

I shall read it now.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi CD,

Oh yes - please do. It's a great word.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Me,myself and I,

I saw him live once - he was relentless for three hours solid.