Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's The End Of The Week As We Know It ...

... which in 'Spill land means of course that it's Wednesday and time for another EOTW quiz. I've been planning one of these for a while now so I hope it's up to 'Spill standard. Unfortunately my planned greatest personal sporting achievement question was shamelessly nicked by gordonimmel last week (I was a bit suspicious when that photographer started snapping away as I was leaving Toffee Hall last Tuesday evening and I realise now that my draft list of questions was partially visible through the transparent folder) - anyway I've had to do a bit of serious thinking but I think I've got some that you'll enjoy.

1. Back in about 1987 or '88 I lent a Gray Nichols cricket bat to a friend of a friend and have seen hide nor hair of it since (not that it had either). It wasn't a particularly expensive item and I don't think I got into double figures with it more than once, but I liked it and I've often thought that if I still had it, I'd probably be a top international cricketer by now. So, the first question is: What special item have you lent to someone and never got back?

2. Last week I went on a school trip to the British Museum and found myself face-to-face with the Rosetta Stone. I've know about it for years, and I've been interested in its significance and I've probably seen it many times before, but there was something about seeing it close up, in real life, as it were, that just blew me away. Question two is: What historically significant artefact has done the same for you? What is your personal Rosetta Stone?

3. I'll come clean - I'm a bird watcher. I enjoy looking at small feathery things in my garden and, on occasion, I have been known to leave the confines of my own green space and venture forth into fields and farmland, binoculars and field book in hand. And I have to admit that I'm slightly embarrassed about it. It's not cool - it's certainly not rock'n'roll, never mind, punk, heavy metal or free jazz. But I bet you've all got some dark secret that you're dying to get off your chest (no, tincanman, not that dark). So question three is: What's your slightly embarrassing hobby?

4. There's been a lot of discussion over on the Mother Ship this week about books - science fiction in particular - and it's made me want to revisit some of those books that I read in the early/mid-70s. I know some people feel that once they've read a book, that's it - they can't or don't want ever to go back. But not me - there's nothing I like more than re-reading old familiar books (well, perhaps one or two things) and there's one book in particular that I keep coming back to: and that book is Ridley Walker by Russell Hoban. It's at the top of my desert island book list and if I was anal enough to have such a thing [What's that behind your back? Ed.] it would also be top of my most read books list. Question four is therefore: Which book have you read the most - and why should the rest of us read it?

5. About twenty years ago, I was driving back to Watford from Edinburgh with my dad, and we'd reached somewhere around junction 15 on the M1. Or rather he was driving and I was sitting in the passenger seat, making idle conversation. I asked him a question (no idea what) and he didn't answer immediately - assuming that he was pondering (it was, naturally, a deep and perceptive question, of that I'm sure) I waited patiently for his answer. Only to find out that he wasn't pondering - he was sleeping. Doing about eighty miles per hour in the fast lane - or rather the fast asleep lane. Deciding not to opt for the gentle tap on the shoulder, I instead went for the banshee-like wail - which probably saved us. Anyway, we both lived to tell the tale but it was one harrowing moment and that's for sure! The final question (which in a way, I suppose that very nearly was) is this: What's the closest you've ever come to meeting your maker?

Over to you ...


debbym said...

Beautiful presentation this week, Mr. Boy! Bloody difficult questions to answer, though.

1) I don't think I've ever lent people *things*, but I do give stuff away if anyone really wants it.
Not true, Julie Goding has never given me back my copy of "Brideshead Revisited" which I had of course read BEFORE the TV series came out (wasn't that where Jeremy Irons got invented?)

2) Mind gone blank; very probably an illustrated manuscript, but I can't think of a particular one off-hand. Guess that's not very blown away...

3) I used to do folkdancing; these days I just sit around getting fat(ter), does that count?

4) The book I have returned to again and again and again is "Lola isn't sleepy and she will not go to bed" by Lauren Child; helps calm panicking daughters, soothe ailing daughters, entertain niggly daughters...

5) I don't think I have a Maker, I think I just evolved (all 9 lives still intact)

Back to work, see you all tomorrow!

DarceysDad said...

1. Um, a three piece suite, actually. I was "between homes" and a friend said he could look after it. I thought he was using it; he wasn't, but lots of mice were, and it rotted in his garage.

2. Not so much an artefact, more a place. Sun Studios. I can't even begin to tell you the effect those three small, shabby, visually unremarkable rooms had on me. Sorry to be pathetically unaffected by "real" history, but ... so it goes!!

3. Car number plates. It started as a childhood game to pass the time on long journeys - you have to spot a 1 (on its own, not as part of a bigger number), then a 2, and so on. Over the years the curiosity has metamorphosed into an unhealthy interest in personalised plates: what does it say? How well does it say it? How much did that cost? Most ridiculous I've ever seen? a black Range Rover with smoked windows - SPL1F. At the moment there's another huge 4x4 nearby with the plate M155CEE - Maddy gone all 'Sod the environment', perhaps? [Just kidding, misscorvette]

4. No contest - Christopher Brookmyre's One Fine Day In The Middle Of The Night. Doesn't matter how many times I read it, I still laugh out loud ... lots!
More thought-provokingly, I've just re-read John Christopher's The Death Of Grass, which still gives me the same goosebumps as it did thirty years ago, and it was twenty years old then! Apart from mobile phones and the internet, it could easily be set now. If anything, my adult knowledge and cynicism of politicians generally, make this tale even scarier than the mere threat of nuclear and natural armageddon did to a naive teenager.

5. Some of you have heard this tale before - I was sat 2nd row at the front of a 14ft bus that slammed into a 10ft6in railway bridge at 40mph, on my way back from the first Monsters Of Rock at Donington in August 1980. Novice, tired driver took a wrong turn off a roundabout, forgot his height, and hit a four-track mainline bridge so hard we came right out the other side, leaving the roof concertina-ed behind us. All of the seat-top grabhandle chromes were scraped on the bridge's underside. I'd only woken from a nap (with my head against the side window) less than 100yds from the bridge ...

steenbeck said...


ejaydee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ejaydee said...

1. I can only think of items I've borrowed and haven;t gotten back yet, like a copy of Prince's Black Album

2. Well, not far from the Rosetta Stone, in the African section, there are the Benin heads from a Nigerian kingdom whose name escapes me, I had heard about them because my ex-girlfriend was writing an essay about them. Even better, while helping my parents clear the basement a few months ago, I realised they had one, and offered it to me!

3. I think there are too many, I'll have to get back to you on that.

4. I think it may be Albert Cohen's Solal, but it's not translated in English, unfortunately. If I ever keep an elegant, regal cat, his name will be Solal, if he's a bit nuts, it'll be Kikuchiyo.

5. My school in Paris was along a big avenue. We'd often hang out on a bench on that avenue and muck about. One day, I was balancing on the curb, and a friend grabbed me and pulled me as a bendy bus rushed behind me. These buses are almost completely silent while braking.

I'm sorry if these answers have been poorly written, I'm trying to make full sense of Synecdoche, NY, which I saw tonight. Loved it.

goneforeign said...

Two are dead easy, the others I'll come back to.
Books: There are at least two, or maybe three.
1. I've mentioned it before but no one seemed to be listening so I'll shout a bit louder this time,
A fabulous book that deals with the history of just about everything in science, much of which occurred in England. I've read it twice and have him reading it on my iPod, it's wonderful when I listen to shuffle to get a chapter on 'how they weighed the moon or whatever'.
2. The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell, four fabulous novels that weave the interactions of a group of friends/colleagues in pre-war Egypt, must be read in sequence. Google it for details, you'd love it! I've read it twice and keep going back for more.
3. A History of Architecture by Sir Bannister Fletcher, 18th ed.
A book I've enjoyed for 70 odd years, there's everything about every piece of classic architecture in the world, an invaluable reference.
OK, just one more.
4. Blood, Tears and Folly by Len Deighton. - An objective look at WW2. I've read a lot of books on this topic, this is the best. It contains information not found in any of the others, like the financial impact of WW2 on GB amongst much more.

#4. I recently mentioned the dreaded 'Great North Road' on another post. In approx 1962 my dad was working as a bricklayer on the lord of the manor's estate in Suffolk, said lord died, his widow told my dad that there was a garage full of cars that she needed to get rid of, was he interested? There was a pristine black Jaguar Mk V, he said how much? She said 'would a hundred pounds be OK?' We had a spanking new Jag!
Shortly thereafter we drove to Sheffield to see my grandmother, actually I drove because my father thought that anything over 35 was flirting with death and he always kept the side window down so he could always give his hand signals. So I was driving on the A1, 3 lanes. There was a slow lorry ahead so I pulled into the middle lane to pass, at exactly that moment there was another lorry in the southbound lane; we all were adjacent for an instant and I was doing about 85! 'Tha cut that a bit short didn't tha' said my dad as he sat there rigid with fear.
I've had a couple more since then, both at the same spot in California but I'm still here to tell the tale, never had a serious accident but I've come close.

ejaydee said...

Here's an an example (not the best) of the Benin heads (it turns out they were for the Benin kingdom):

5. Not too long ago, while driving in the middle of the Brazilian nowhere, Rick James' Superfreak was playing, when a tyre blew up and sent us swerving on the road, luckily my friend's notorious reckless driving finally proved useful, and he got us back on the road safely. We also could have been eaten by some kind of jaguar while changing the tyre, in the darkest of nights, now that I think of it.

Chris said...

These are toughies, TB, and your articulate presentation deserves a considered response. But not now.

Ed: I've been trolling around here trying to connect with another Synecdoche fan. It's the only film I had to see a second time within a week, just to delve deeper. And I suspect it just gets better and better with more viewings. I blurted my guesses out on a Graun blog last week. Kaufman didn't post to say I was wrong....

goneforeign said...

Chris: It's been on my Netflix list for a couple of weeks, as soon as it's in DVD i'll see it and I'll let you know.

Japanther said...

great presentation and liked the way the etymology of each question was given as a way to not only set it up but to give your own answers, very clever.

But, difficult questions which I reserve the right to change my answers to.

1. I can only think of albums i've lent. My mate (now in Portugal) admitted just a couple of weeks ago that he still had my copy of "The Holy Bible" (the Manics' album that is, rather than the biggest selling book in history) after what is well over 10 years and that he had no intention of giving it back! Cheeky bugger!

2. I'd read Yukio Mishima's incredible (based on real events) novel "The Temple Of The Golden Pavilion" and just had to see the temple for myself, so, my trip to Kyoto was for this purpose only. The whole scene of the temple ("Kinkakuji") with all the gold and the reflection of the water was everything I expected it to be and was truly beautiful.

3. Can't think of any embarrassing hobbies. Erm...I quite like libraries and I do read a bit of manga now and again, but I think manga (or "comics" if you prefer) are accepted in the mainstream these days as legitimate art forms.

4. I very rarely re-read a book (mainly because I rely on libraries), but I did go back to "No Longer Human" by Osamu Dazai to attempt to detect the hidden depths behind the simple story...I kinda found them! I'd definitely recommend it for any fans of existentialist novels where not much happens to tragic young people searching for the meaning of life and their place in society.

5. I used to have a party trick of hanging off of balconies and things (tall lampposts etc) when drunk. I remember being on a "lad's holiday" and hanging off a very high hotel balcony whilst completely off my face with no-one making any attempt to stop me. Thinking about it now, just one slip and i could quite easily have died or at least been seriously incapacitated for the rest of my life. But hey, that's what being young and stupid is all about, right??

goneforeign said...

My number 3 is my interest in cars; I'm interested in the technology but not of Toyota's and Fords etc, I'm interested in the cars of a bygone era, cars with names like Delahaye, Duesenberg and Delage just to randomly pick 3 D's. They're all 'classic' cars, luxury cars, collectors cars. I read magazines devoted to them and occasionally I'll go to Concours and to auctions. To me the late 30's French Delahayes were the most beautiful cars ever built, they were pieces of sculpture.
They, plus most of the cars I'm interested in sell in the millions of dollars so my interest is only technical and academic.
Still having problems with #1, perhaps I don't loan things that I value highly, I don't loan records or books.

Japanther said...

GF - to pick up on an earlier thread. Unbelievably, ALL of the Ken Burns documentary seems to be on Youtube...have just started watching the first part..will I ever leave the house again?!

nilpferd said...

1. I don't really have any irreplaceable objects which I'm in the habit of lending.. I lent someone a copy of Robert Byron's The Road to Oxiana, which I haven't had returned, but I suppose I'll just reorder it on Amazon sometime.
2. I think the Babylonian Ishtar Gate, currently in Berlin's Pergamon museum, has been the historical relict I've been most in awe of recently, and I remember an awesome Aztec exhibition in London about 6-7 years ago which had some beautiful sculpture.
3. Going online under a wacky pseudonym to answer questions set by someone I've never met, perhaps...
4. Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino. It's a charming little book which imagines Marco Polo describing each of the fantastic cities he's seen to Kublai Kahn, although each description actually refers to some aspect of Venice. But I don't necessarily think the rest of you have to read it.
5. I did get knocked over by a cyclist three years ago and narrowly missed landing on the road in front of a bloody big truck, but otherwise I've led a very sheltered life.

Abahachi said...

1. Can't off-hand think of anything 'special', but lots of books (have now stopped lending books to students, however desperate and tearful). Am currently sulking about fact that we allowed a friend to make use of our greenhouse this spring, as she hasn't got room for one herself, and she's strolled off with four young courgette plants and put them into her allotment - but I'm not sure if that counts.

2. My uncle used to work at the Museum of London, and there used to be, close to the entrance, a reconstruction of an ancient burial with skeleton and grave goods. I found it utterly fascinating, so started by wanting to become an archaeologist like him and then became a historian instead. No idea if it's still there.

3. None - unless you think the cycling lycra is embarrassing - but I used to paint little model soldiers and wargame, and even got sucked into RPGs for a while.

4. I re-read a lot - there are some books that I return to at least every other year; a choice between The Alexandria Quartet, Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (brilliant panoramic view of the middle years of the twentieth century) and Georges Perec's Life A User's Manual. It's the last that I'd really recommend to everyone: fascinating book offering snapshots of all the different stories behind all the different rooms in a Parisian apartment block, clever and funny and disturbing. Wonderful.

5. Interesting how many of these involve cars... Me too: overtaking a lorry on a long straight road somewhere between St Andrews and Edinburgh, lots of space and time - and suddenly something went 'twang' in the engine, and the car started losing speed just as a lorry appeared in the other direction. Thankfully the one we were overtaking allowed us to pull in.

TonNL said...

1. None, the nice people to whom I lend books/cd's/memory cards are always friendly enough to return them.....

2. British Museum - Lindow Man
Was always fascinated by the story after reading it for the first time in a history book (and seeing a picture of him). Seeing the Lindow Man for real was as impressive as I always had imagined.

3. Birdwatching, train spotting, plane spotting, I'm doing it all, and I am not the least embarrassed about it.

Slightly more embarrassing might be my collection of the German Kreisstädte-letters from number plates I've seen (A for Augsburg, AC for Aachen etc.) in an Excel worksheet (the count stands currently on 172 btw.....)

4. I agree fully with nilpferd on Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, a work of beauty. His "If on a winter's night a traveler" is also a very intelligent/cleverly written and highly enjoyable book

5. Overturning my mother's car 1 3/4 times, ending up on its side in a ditch. A tyre blew (it turned out that I had driven over a sharp piece of metal that had dropped from some agricultural vehicle), the car swerved to the right straight into a big tree, I turned the steering wheel violently to the left, the back of the car just clipped the tree, and that started the car rolling....

I got out of the car with just a small scratch on the back of my hand....

Survived two more car crashes and a train derailment (followed by a fire) completely unhurt.....

May1366 said...

1. I sort of covered this in a previous confessional about borrowing and lending records - as records are the only possessions I've both valued enough to worry about losing and considered temporarily dispensable enough to lend to others. So it'll be the Elvis in Memphis '68 double-LP that was one of the signature items in my collection at the time that may well still be hanging around doing nothing in my good friend Martyn Muscatelli's front room, since he still is.

2. I was blown away by the Alhambra at night and there was something weirdly thrilling about the experience of sitting in a tiny cinema in the Debbie Reynolds Hotel in Las Vegas, being told by Debbie Reynolds (on screen) where the toilets were. But my personal Rosetta Stone is Picasso's Guernica, not behind glass, at the Reina Sofia gallery in Madrid. It actually seemed to have an aura, so that just being in the same room, even when it was out of my eyeline, I was aware of it, like when there's a famous person in a bar or restaurant and everyone's looking at them or being aware of not looking at them.

3. I've not been pursuing my joint careers as a professional tennis player, golf pro and highly ranked amateur baseball player on my son's Wii for a few weeks, so I'm afraid this here be it.

4. "The most" would probably be "twice" as I'm not a particularly voracious re-reader. (Actually, I'm "not a voracious reader" as my mum once told me, apropos to bugger all, while I was having my tea). The author I've always been most inclined to re-read is Josef Škvorecký, so - despite the attendant claims of Raymond Carver's short stories, the once-read but once-there-it-stuck Don Quixote and the only 70 pages in, 800-odd to go, but it's shaping up to alter me in the way Cervantes did, 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, oh and obviously my book (which mathematically is the one I've read the most but that's not really in the spirit, is it?) - I'll go with a Škvorecký: The Bass Saxophone, which was my introduction, a lovely meditation, set in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on music's power to transcend not only totalitarianism but the daily network of defiance, compromise and subjugation used to withstand an oppressive system.

5. The boring answer (only because it mirrors the question) would be a similar motorway misadventure, though it only ended up with a mashed up door, mirror and front tyre and a few cones left in my wake, so I'll go with the cool-sounding but probably over-dramatic answer which was the month I spent in Sri Lanka in 1983, which happened to be the first month of the recently-ended civil war, when the violence was at its most widespread and random. The Sliding Doors moment in that time was the bookshop we'd been to (for curfew reading matter) that, ten minutes after we left, had been the site of a shootout between army and paramilitaries, with guns on the roof just like the Clash said.

May1366 said...

Oh, and ejay/Chris - another Synecdoche In New York fan here. Superb - funny but bleak then bleak but funny, probably the most time you want to spend in Charlie Kaufman's head at any one sitting but there's more ideas in one scene of his than in most Hollywood films put together.

Chris said...

A patchy response from me, I'm afraid:
1. I don't think I have anything I'm that attached to, apart from my Fender acoustic, that I'd get upset if it wasn't returned. I know I've lent books and DVD's out that haven't made it back but I can always replace them. I've never lent my guitar to anyone for more than 30 minutes and it never left my sight!
2. I was lucky enough to be very well paid for a few years and I did several trips to (older) centres of civilisation in Asia and Latin America. I exhausted my meagre vocabulary of superlatives quite soon whilst walking around Egyptian and Mayan pyramids, Khmer temples, Buddhist statues, Terracotta Warriors and so on. Often it was the small things in museums that struck me - objects buried with the dead for their journey into the afterlife, for instance - but what I always found mind-blowing is monumental sculpture. The Rameses temple at Abu Simbel (plus the engineering feat to move it in the sixties to allow for the new Aswan dam) is a famous one but there are many exquisite examples in India. The best - and I consider it a true Wonder Of The World - is at Ellora, in Maharashtra state.
Jain, Buddhist and Hindu monks carved over 30 temples and dormitories out of the rock between 500AD and 1000AD. The most astonishing one is the Kailasa Temple, which is a two-storey 'building' with a tower, surrounded by life-sized elephants and other animals, excavated from a area of rock 33 metres high, 84m deep and 47m wide. All the rock surfaces are covered with carvings, including a 'cartoon strip' version of the Ramayana. It's estimated to have taken 7,000 people 150 years to complete. Just how do you go about that? What if you make a mistake? Some more info and pics can be found here:
3. Apart from the good old Grateful Dead, I haven't really had a hobby since making Airfix models as a kid. And I don't really collect GD stuff either. I'm not embarrassed by my interest but I have seen the occasional funny look from others.
4. I've re-read very few books. There seem to be too many I haven't got round to reading for the first time. My favourite for ages was Crime and Punishment: I'd have to re-read it to find out if it still held that status....
5. The downside of the money earned to fund the globe-trotting was that I had to spend many an early morning driving down the country for a meeting in Luton or some other dreary place. Dragging yourself from your bed to then sit for a couple of hours in a very comfortable, air-conditioned, cruise-controlled car, with Radio 3 filling the air is a very easy way to kill yourself. Too many missing seconds to bear thinking about.

sourpus said...

1) Mostly albums - Working Week's first album comes to mind, along with a whole bunch of early Eighties indie. So long ago now ive forgotten exactly what, but one word of warning to all musicians; never to be tempted to lend anything to the other guys in the band, especially in the name of cameraderie or a feeble attempt to win favours of any kind. Mistake.

2) Historical artefact's are usually more affecting for me when they get closer to home. I remember a German officers ceremonial sword which my grandfather brought back from D Day, as well as Ration Books and a Gas Mask that my Grandmother held on to. WW2 paraphernalia of any kind still gets me every time.

3) My most embarrassing hobby is surely...hang on!

4) The book I have read the most often is probably 'How to talk dirty and influence people' by Lenny Bruce. I'm afraid I cant recommend it unless you love Lenny's work as much as me. If you are a fan though, its a window on a great mind.

5) Naturally most of mine involve music related events. Once when I was about 14, I had a borrowed Gibson SG, through an ancient WEM valve amp in my bedroom. I was standing facing the wall, trying out a tremolo pedal, when I suddenly felt an almighty jolt and found myself lying on the bed clear across the other side of the room. 'That'll be the leccy' I thought to myself, as the smoke rose from the top of my head.

Picked it straight back up and started knocking out a riff. Such is youth.

sourpus said...

Actually, I have a better one for No. 5. At the risk of making you all think I must be channelling Tesla or something, 11 years prior to my mishap with the Gibson, one infamous family Christmas, I spotted a pair of scissors, one bored saturday night, over-stimulated by all those selection boxes, crawled behind the sofa and snipped through the Christmas tree wire.

I can only imagine how it must have been for the rest of my family who were half-snoozing, half watching the movie. A flickering of lights, a loud bang, "Where's our sourpus?"...look behind the couch and there I am, scissors in hand. No idea to this day how I got away with it; the flex was cut clear through.

goneforeign said...

Toffee: I think this has been the most interesting post we've had in a while, I'm intrigued by what an interesting and literate collection of oddballs we all are.
Thank you.

snadfrod said...

TB - really good questions and definitely a nice presentation.

Strangely I have just answered at some length, clicked publish and seen my post disappear. If it turns up this afternoon then all well and good, otherwise it'll have to wait til tonight as I can't face typing it all out again. Soz.

DsD said...

I suspect it has disappeared, Snadfrod, as it hasn't come through as an email comment either.

Gotta go ... busy busy busy

snadfrod said...

Right, belt readjusted, teeth gritted, let's try again, then...

1. I'm pretty bad for lending out books, cds and so on in a spirit of zealous eagerness, and then just letting them drift. I can't remember many specifics, but I know that SOMEONE out there has my nicely packaged Alien Quadrilogy box set...

2. Its probably the remains of the monastery atop Skellig Michael, ten miles or so off the SW coast of Ireland. I posted about it last year afetr my visit but it really is a jaw-dropping place. The craft, discipline and dedication to a purpose of those who built it blew me away. I could have stayed for days just imagining it all.

3. I'm not really much of a one for hobbies, aside from this. Sometimes I get a bit ashamed that I like to play golf on my own. Does that count?

4. I tend not to reread books, largely, I think, because I read quite slowly and carefully and invest a great deal of imagination in the text. A good book, then, is a big effort for me with great reward. When I have a big pile of books by the bed I feel that to go back over others would be to move something else to the back of the queue. This may well go some way toward explaining my attitude to question 1.

I've read a few books twice - Heart of Darkness, Catcher, The Corrections - but I've easily read more Shakespeare than anything else.

5. I'm lucky never to have had a life-before-the-eyes moment, I have only ever broken one bone (goalkeeping, if you must know) and have only experienced a few minor motorway moments.

This time last year, though, we were spending a week in Provence with Mrs Frod's side of the family in a villa near Carpentras. One afternoon, as we sat around the pool, Mini Frod - who was nearly three at the time - slipped on the edge and fell into the deep end. I can still see the image of her sinking fast to this day.

I wasn't very far away at the time but have never thought quicker or moved faster in my life. Fully clothed I jumped in, scooped her up and kept us both afloat long enough for her to be grabbed (it was very deep in that part and i was held under whilst trying to keep her above the surface). Once out of the water Lola was wrapped up in a towel, shocked but fine, and was back in the water later that day.

The whole thing probably lasted only 20 seconds start to finish, and wasn't the greatest drama of all time, but it made me strangely happy to know just how fast the human brain will act in order to save those closest to it.

My jeans got ruined, though. Natch.

goneforeign said...

If anyone is even mildly interested in the idea of collecting cars, check this website, it's Jay Leno's, he collects cars. Here he talks about his Delahaye.

gordonimmel said...

@Toffeeboy, it wasn't one of MY snappers outside Toffee Hall last week so I can only assume that somebody else is on to one of your other dirty little secrets!

1. I'm more of an offender than a victim of this one. As a teenager I was in a rock band with some school mates. We did a few gigs and some photos were taken but not by me or mine. I kept mithering the two lads I'd kept in touch with to lend me their photos, wwhich they eventually did. Then I lost touch with one of them and the other works permanently abroad so I STILL have their photos and negatives of our band. I don't half feel guilty.

2. Back in'92 finding myself with too much time on my hands I took myself off on 'Le Grand Tour' (i.e. slumming around Europe with a back pack). In April of that year I saw a Roman Arch in Koln (Cologne). Four months, seven countries, three religions and three alphabets later I saw another set of Roman ruins in Cairo. It was only then that it really hit me how big the Roman Empire had been.

3. Nothing too embarrassing nowadays except maybe a penchant for computer games. However, this grew out of a similar chilhood hobby to Abahachi i.e. Wargaming, with soldiers I had painstakingly painted myself. I was into Napoleonic re-enactments and I built up an army for each of the five major powers of the time - Britain, France, Austria, Russia and Prussia. Each army consisited of about 400 figures - infantry, cavalry & artillery - all painted in authentic uniforms with the correct regimental colours for collars and cuffs. I still have them all, stored away in boxes on my shelves.

4. A book I come back to every few years, which effected me deeply and which has been read avidly by everybody I've recommended it to (even frauimmel, who normally hates anything war related) is 'The Forgotten Soldier' by Guy Sajer. Now, some of you may think that with my interest in Military History I'm some sort of psychopathic gun and uniform fetishist but I'm not. Read this book and you may realise why nearly 30 years ago, it disabused me of any lingering thoughts I may have had that there was any glory in war.
The (apparently - there are doubts) true story of a Franco-German teenager who volunteered for the German Army in 1942 he found himself in the middle of some of the most of the horrendous battles on the Eastern Front, which by that time normally involved the German Army in retreat. It describes absolute horror, disillusionment, grief, fear and eventually hopelessness of a typical German 'Landser', with a strange twist at the end as he manages to get out of the clutches of the Red Army and to surrender to the British. A devastating read.

5. Yes, mine also invlolves fast cars, parents, screaming and sleep although not in the same order as toffeeboy. When I was 16, I was snoozing in the back seat of the car as we returned 'en famille' from Glasgow down the A74. I was suddenly awoken by my Mum's screams and looked up to see a coach 'parked' accross the carriageway. Actually it wasn't parked, it was just executing a U-turn from the hard shoulder of the southbound carriageway accross the central reservation onto the north bound but had failed to spot us. We had two lucky breaks. Firstly my Dad is a good driver (Advanced Motorist etc.) and secondly, the coach driver didn't see us and slam on his brakes but kept moving. This allowed my Dad to swerve the car around the back of the coach (I still have a clear image of the rear lights on the coach as they sped past inches away from my window) and he then managed to swerve back onto the road before we went off the embankment at the roadside.
We were all a bit shook up! My Dad went over to the coach driver to 'have a chat' and I think it was only then that he realised what he'd nearly done.
I've had a few narrow driving escapes since then (although only one minor accident)but that was the closest we came to making a headline that read 'Family Of Five Wiped Out At Accident Blackspot'

Chris said...

DsD: Personalised number plates always have me reaching for my metaphorical AK-47 but one on a speeding Porsche had me grasping frantically for my rocket launcher: 1 5ELL.

I'm told it's illegal to display a car's registration with spaces in the wrong places or characters placed around the screws in order to alter them. Doesn't seem to stop anyone.

ToffeeBoy said...

Wow! I've been unable to get any quality time at a PC all day (started work at 7 o'clock this morning and won't be away for another hour or so) and I won't be able to do justice to all your magnificent contributions until much later tonight.

One thing I would like to say is, regarding question 1, I really think that we should all follow debbym and May1366's example by naming names. Let the guilty be thrust into the limelight to face the colective 'Spill justice. Give me back my bat Bob Gill - legal action be damned!

And judging by your answers to question 5, it's a miracle that we're all here to take part in all this tomfoolery ...

TracyK said...

1: I often lend books and dvds willy-nilly: unless they were specifically given to me by someone special, these things are replaceable in the big scheme of things.

2: The Pergamon Museum in Berlin was a doozy: the Pergamon altar itself is gobsmackingly impressive, espcially the way the entrance forces you to confront it without any kind of warning. It makes you feel ridiculously small. the Ishtar Gate was also daunting. There's a Botticelli tondo in Berlin that made me well up. In the UK Stonehenge made me feel very wobbly and impressed too.

3: I used to like D&D too, always roleplayed a female cleric. Never went as far as LARP though. Part of me soooooo fancies wearing a leather bustier and waving a mace though.

4: I comfort read Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry books over and over. Really evocative mixture of Celtic, Norse and Arthurian mythology with fantastic characters. I use Kate Atkinson's books for comfort reading too.

5: A housemate had the back off the telly and I leaned over it with soaking wet hair. He was petrified and I couldn't understand exactly why he was so freaked out, but it was still plugged in. A friend also nearly killed us driving her Lada through Liverpool: we were all crouching, screaming, she carried on Voguing. Brrr.

steenbeck said...

1. I get very excited about movies I love, and lend the DVDs to people (usually after going on about them at a party). Probably the people have no interest in seeing them, and that's why it takes ages to get them back. I lost BIlly Liar, Masculin/Feminine, L'atalante, Mystery Train...

2. The Islamic Room at the Met in NYC always puts me in a mood.
When I was, maybe 13? we went to the British Museum, and it suddenly occurred to me that all the arms and armor we were looking at had quite possibly been put to use killing people. I was going to write a short story about it, but I never did. I still think of that today when we take the boys to the museum in Philly, because that's the section they're most drawn to at the moment.

3. Well I've already outed myself as a birdwatcher, but what do you mean it's not punk rock? We put on our DMs and tattered tartans and stomp through the woods yelling, OI! YOU--WOOD THRUSH--YOU DON"T LIKE OUR ATTITUDE? FUCK YOU! While the kids walk behind us sneering and saying "It's so boring being a birdwatching punk. I want to be a rude boy, so I can collect butterflies."

4. As some others have said, if I'm reading a book over and over, it's not necessarily the best-written or most powerful book I've ever read, it's one that I find comforting in some way. Maybe Joan Aiken's Dido Twite books. Or, you know Jane Eyre, or something like that.

5. I might have told this story before--flying back from Hawaii when I was 15--out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about as far as you could be from land, I could feel the plane shudder and then lose altitude, shudder and then lose altitude. Finally the captain announced that we'd lost an engine. It was 3 hours till San Francisco and our emergency landing, but I really thought we might die. My father even said, "well, we've all had good lives." I'm still scared of flying to this day, because of that incident. Which is a shame because I love travelling. I wish I could erase the memory of it.

snadfrod said...

I'd like, if I may, to addend my answer to question 2:

The Duomo in Siena. I literally couldn't breathe, let alone speak, for about a minute after entering. The very living embodiment of why all those cathedrals were built - to inspire awe in the realest and most visceral sense.

Also, re. personalised plates, I find it hilarious when someone tries really, REALLY hard to achieve some effect or other and just ends up looking like a tool with a confusing number plate. That said, though, I saw a drain-unblocking company's van the other day whose plate was (I think) V1 POO. Top top personalising.

Abahachi said...

@ToffeeBoy: fair enough. Anna Hales, you've ruined my courgette harvest this year, as two plants won't be enough to guarantee reliable fertilisation! And if I had any idea which ex-students still had my books - or, worse, had sold them on - I would long since have hunted them down and/or wrecked their job prospects...

ejaydee said...

Chris, I really like you wrote about the house on fire, that made sense to me.

TatankaYotanka said...

My 15 year old heart .. Jane Heath still has it ..

Sitting in Maeshowe Neolithic cairn, Orkney a week before the Winter solstice

Ikebane … seriously, did a few classes a long time ago as a bit of a laugh but, the road less travelled n’all that ….

Pig Earth – John Berger – What goes around stays around …

Working in Biarritz; Spanish fascists blew up the next door factory during my lunch break and collapsed the roof on our warehouse. Got bits in my baguette ;-O

TracyK said...

Oooh, Maeshowe, jealous! Another of my very geeky pastimes is looking at pagan/folkloric sites. I'll get me cloak...
PS If Bethnoir is redaing, is that pic on 6 Music's goth day site you or another Bethnoir?

Blimpy said...

EOTWQ gets mightier by the week! Epic even!

ToffeeBoy said...

Yes, blimpy ... and your answers are ...?

cauliflower said...

Always late at this party, but it's been fun thinking and reading all these stories.
1. Special item lent?
My first car, a Ford green 2 door Mark 3 Cortina. Gorgeous! The doors were so wide that, with the windows all the way down, you could jump in, Starsky-&-Hutch-like, and drive away without that irritating door opening palaver. It broke down on the M62 and my kid brother agreed to pick it up and get it fixed while I went back to London to work, on condition he could borrow it for a couple of weeks. He sold it within 3 days for £200 because, he said, he needed cash, fast. It was worth more than £1K then, and is a collectors car now, all done up, cruising in the Manchester area. Say hi if you see my greenie...

2. Personal Rosetta Stone?
The pyramids. [as Chris said - I haven't seen all the other wonders he described]

3. What's your slightly embarassing hobby?
I love watching the garden boids, though not embarassed. I suppose cake-making, in the quantities my household consumes, is somewhat embarassing - it's certainly not a 'normal London thing' to do.

4. Which book?
I love Ridley Walker too! But my favourite book, re-read many times, which is unusual for me, is Echoes Of Celandine (aka The Disappearance) by Derek Marlowe. The first two pages floored me the first time I read it, and every time since. It's very filmic, written in the frame of mind of the main character, who appears to be losing his sanity. Friends find me copies in second hand shops - if you spot one (esp the Penguin paperback) PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get it for me! People borrow my copies, and they never seem to come back.

5. Meeting your maker? I'll take that as The End...
Another road-related potential catastrophe. In Iran, 40 years ago, on a remote mountain road with my family, all traffic stopped because the road ahead had been washed away by the spring-flooding river, half a mile below. People from the vehicles had got out and were standing on the remaining road watching whole trees falling into the river, being tossed about and broken like matchsticks. The long haul lorries started turning round to go back 400 miles to the previous junction to take a 1000 mile detour on dirt tracks through the mountains. My mum, fed up and anxious about getting back on the road, told us kids to get back in our van. About 10 seconds later, the road that we'd all been standing on fell away, dropping like dust into the river, and disappearing.

cauliflower said...

DebbyM - I don't have a Maker either ;-)
DarceysDad - Re number plates - a Swedish journey game appears to be to start at 001 and go through to 999 in order. We've been playing for some years and I'm only at 037.
ejaydee - Benin bronzes are amazing, aren't they? A friend was recently telling me about their history, looking forward to finding out more. He has several, which are extremely beautiful - and he's a good afternoon tea location in Bayswater, if you want to view them.
goneforeign, Abahachi - I've tried to read the Alexandria Quartet, especially since meeting someone at Durrell's house in Greece (in 1979 when I worked as a holiday rep) who was supposed to be the basis for Justine. Maybe next time I'll managae to get into it!
Japanther - my young and stupid risk taking was all drink-related. But dangling from balconies is going a bit far!
nilpferd, TonNL - Invisible Cities was one of my most read and favourite books at college. It's great!
May1366 - I'm hoping to go to the Alhambra in the Autumn - looks beautiful in pictures.
sourpus's stories reminded me of being in an ancient French hotel with even older wiring... I was playing, foolishly, with a shiny new metal profile gauge picked up in the bricolage, for its beauty rather than functionality, testing it on all the funny shapes - table edge, teapot, door frame, electric socket. Oops. Cue big bang, black soot everywhere and a bemused - and extraordinarily forgiving - hotelier.
Snadfrod - my heart was in my mouth, racing to discover the fate of miniFrod. Thanks for jumping to the rescue!
gordonimmel - you've made me want to read 'The Forgotten Soldier, which is quite a feat. Thank you!
TracyK made me think of the Pitt RIvers Museum in Oxford. If you haven't been, please go NOW. And rummage through the drawers in the chests - there are collections of body parts, glass eyes and many other bizarre items collected from a range of cultures, showing common human obsessions. It's wonderful!
Steenbeck - another terror-ride on your plane... so frightening. I wonder if birdwatching is the reassuring end of winged flight?

ToffeeBoy said...

Jeez, what a day. Over twelve hours at work, drive home, get changed, go and play football for an hour or so, get home, collapse into a bath, grab a quick bite to eat, sit down at the computer and ... well, that just about brings us up to date.

So where do I start, responding to all these amazing comments? Let's take a line from Julie Andrews and start at the very beginning ...

@ debbym - that Julie Goding is a bitch - official! Folkdancing scores about six on the embarassing hobby scale - we really need to know whether you're costumed-up or not. Lauren Child should be canonised - if there's a girl alive aged five to fifteen who hasn't read Lauren Child (or had LC read to her) then ... well, there just shouldn't be. OK?

@ DsD - thanks for subtly correcting my spelling of artefact. I've now changed it in the original post and it'll be our little secret that I ever got it wrong. Your near death experience wins the prize in my book - have you ever sat upstairs on a double-decker since the bridge incident?

@ ejd - I admire the confidence you have in your friend returning the Black Album - ah, the naïvety of youth ...

@ goneforeign - thanks for the kind comments and right with you on the Bill Bryson thing. Everyone should own A Short History ... essential reading.

@ japanther - and thanks to you too. If you ever make it to an RR social, you'll have to show us all the lamppost trick - don't worry, we'll catch you. Nah, y'right, pal, s'OK - we've g. oh, shit...

@ nilpferd - you mean that's not your real name?

@ Abahachi - wargaming? Now we're talking - this is definitely the sort of thing I was looking for. Do you know the Warhammer thing? All the boys at my primary school (and one of the teachers!) are mad about it.

@ TonNL - I think you've drawn level with Abahachi - German Kreisstädte-letters - brilliant. Have you got SüW - my personal favourite!

@ May1366 - Guernica must be amazing in the flesh. I'm jealous.

@ Chris - I can't say I've ever seen a monumental statue outside of a museum. Even if they're impressive they always seem a bit sad to me, stuck in a gallery where the proportions are never quite right. A bit like a caged tiger in a zoo, they deserve better. It must be wonderful to see them in the right context.

@ Sourpus - now that's rock'n'roll! The only problem is that I will now always see you as Michael J Fox in the opening scene of Back To The Future. The image is firmly set in my mind.

@ snadfrod - that must have been terrifying. I know how I felt when one of mine fell over and grazed their knee or bruised themselves. Good god - it doesn't bear thinking about.

@ gordonimmel - you'd love Warhammer! Perhaps we should start a 'Spillhammer group? We could have little characters for each of the regulars - as long as gremlin's on my side...

@ Tracyk - I thought for a moment that you'd written: "I used to like DsD too" - we all did, Tracy ... we all did. Sorry, I just had a vision of the TracyK Warhammer figure - errrmmm... where was I? [Takes deep breath.]

Right ...

@ steenbeck - I had exactly the same thought last week at the BM. One of the children in my group asked if they were real swords and I think I possibly gave too graphic an answer ...

Oh, and I love the image of punk birdwatchers. Sid Vicious with a pair of bins around his be-safety-pinned neck spitting at sparrow hawks.

@ TatankaYotanka - she wasn't good enough for you. And mega(lith)donds for Maeshowe. One of the most stunning monuments on earth. Orkney (as I've mentioned elsewhere) is my ancestral home and there's nowhere else quite like it.

Phew! I hope I haven't missed anyone. Thanks again for all the encouraging comments. Better go now, it's RR time.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ cauli - our posts crossed in the ether.

I think your car loan wins the prize for question 1.

Have you read any other Russell Hoban novels? Kleinziet is another one that I've read perhaps ten times. He also wrote some great children's books including the Mouse And His Child which I know is one Abahachi's favourites.

ToffeeBoy said...

... and the Pitt Rivers museum is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself with a spare hour or two in Oxford ...

cauliflower said...

cheers Toffee - now I feel included, though I don't deserve it, taking this long to get going. Any ideawhere the RR blog is?

ejaydee said...

I see the blog but can't comment, the post box won't load.

ejaydee said...

Oh and Toffee, I'VE got his copy of the Black Album.

DarceysDad said...

ejaydee said...
Oh and Toffee, I'VE got his copy of the Black Album.

Ditto here.

Won't load via Safari or Internet Explorer.

DarceysDad said...

Damn. Copied the wrong Ed quote!!!

Flustered I am, proper flustered.

ejaydee said...

Can anybody comment in the guardian blogs?

ejaydee said...

Oh there we go, so not just me then.

ejaydee said...

Firefox won't work either.

cauliflower said...

me neither. either Chrome or Firefox. Just about to inform the moderators...

ToffeeBoy said...

I've got to go to beddie pies now. If we ever get on, would some kind soul please nominate the following three Jonathan Richman songs for me:

Abominable Snowman In The Market
Corner Store
Rockin' Shopping Center


ejaydee said...

I'm not going to hang about too long, I'll claim SHoppin' For Clothes by The Coasters.

goneforeign said...

I've got a better #5, I'd repressed it 'til somebody mentioned water. Many years ago a friend had access to his uncles yatcht for the weekend, he asked if I and my girlfriend would like to go sailing, 'sure we would'. Joni had a whippet, a lovely dog named Maxwell, he came with us. We were several miles out from LA when Maxwell started acting strange, I think he was maybe seasick or needed to take a crap which he knew you didn't do 'indoors'. In a flash he went over the side into a brisk choppy sea, we were moving quite fast.
As we pulled away he was rapidly disappearing from sight in the waves, I did the only decent thing an English gentleman could do, I tore off my shirt and dived in. I swam to Maxwell who'd never been in water before and he was frantic, when I got to him he treated me like like a rock, something to scramble up onto to escape the water, he clawed at me ripping my chest open trying to get above the waves, as he did so he pushed me down. I was very weak and exhausted and when he kicked me down for one final time I said 'This is it, I know I'm going to die".
I finally grabbed him, pulled him close to my chest with my arms around his legs and frantically trod water. A large power boat came close and the owner shouted 'You need any help? He backed up to us and reached over the transom, grabbed Maxwell's collar and hauled him aboard, I couldn't make it, I was too exhausted so I rested for several minutes hanging onto the boat and finally they dragged me in also. Just about this time the yacht appeared, it had taken them that long to turn around and to tack back to where we were. In that time Maxwell would have been long gone. At that point Maxwell let go an almighty shit, diarrhea, all over the deck!
What can you say to a bloke who's just saved your life except 'I'm sorry'.

ejaydee said...

Comments are live, I think.

Chris said...

TB: what I said was 'monumental sculpture', not 'statue'. Using fairly unsophisticated tools, people excavated parts of a huge rock and left a free-standing, fully-ornamented Shiva temple. With some huge statues left standing in the excavated courtyard. They thought of it in terms of simply uncovering the temple that had always been standing within the rock.
Take a look at the link to get a better idea.

Shoey said...

1. Those books & records never seem to find their way home do they?
2. Is Stonehenge too big? If so will go with viewing Leonardo's sketch books.
3. Comics. If you've ever seen or heard the chararacters who frequent comic shops, you know why this is embarrassing.
4. Think we did most read before, so an author I would reccommend is WIlliam Gibson, father of cyberpunk. His observations and characterisations get sharper with each book. His current cycle is set in the present, but his trilogies set in the far and near future are also a great read. He also co-authored The Difference Engine, the steam-punk classic where the computer is invented in the Victorian age. Sometimes the payoffs are not as good as the journey, but give him a try if you haven't already.
5. Learning to windsurf in Rhodes. My novice craft lost it's anchor in the 1st 5 minutes and I nearly made it to Turkey before anyone noticed.

Better late than never. You are a very talented writer, T-Boi.

gremlinfc said...

1. Over the years I have lent many things out (being a generous sort of guy) but I rely on people being honest and getting them back to me, because I am quite simply forgetful jones. Consequently I have lost so many things and the worst thing is i can’t even remember what i’ve not been given back! One thing I am pissed off about losing is a great DVD about Germany’s 3 World Cup wins which was in German and lent to a 6th Form student who never brought it back.
2. My personal rosetta stone was my visit when I was little to Hadrians Wall. I thought it was brilliant and loved every minute of this great feat and the stories that went with it, fuelling a lifetime of love of history , probably including my choice of A Level ,quite a few years later).
3. My embarrassing hobby is my obsession with STATS. Being a footie coach and having links with 4 teams at my club, there is plenty of scope for compiling stats, but one thing I will say in my defence is that they are all used for improving performance or to inform players of how they are doing (e.g. minutes on pitch, oals scored , assists, passes completed etc). I like putting numbers in little boxes basically.
4. My favourite books when I was little were : Goalkeeper’s Revenge / Topsy & Tim the whole series/ Bobby Brewster stories. Then I discovered Charlie & Chocolate Factory & Roald Dahl. Then Animal Farm & Brave New World. Then as a 6th Former / student foreign literature and a whole new world opened up. My favourites therefore are in 3 categories : a) child- Goalkeeper’s Revenge or Stig of the Dump (both read to my own son): b) teenager / student – Animal Farm + Secret Diary of Adrian Mole : c) adult – Anything by Heinrich Böll , esp. Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum.
5. When I was about 13 I had the habit of not stopping at junctions on my bike but trying to “judge” the traffic by simply listening to what was coming and not stopping unless i heard an oncoming car. One day i was hurtling down a hill towards Armthorpe Road in Donny and a major T-junction and did the usual; cocked my head to the side as I hurtled and then turned straight left into the road. However, I had misjudged it badly and as I turned into Armthorpe Rd at considerable speed, a car hit me for the right and i ended up about 15 yards away but my bike was about 3o yards away. Miraculously I got up, picked my bike up and walked home. Not only that I played football the next day against ThorneMiners Welfare, though had to come off after 15 minutes due to “sore pelvis”. Yes, i did learn my lesson.

sourpus said...

Toffee, we're an hour ahead here and I had no joy either with the site either, so I (and my own Jonathan nominations) also hit the hay deflatedly.

TracyK said...

Cauli, I seem to have just bought myself a copy of Echoes of Celandine on your interesting description. It's the Penguin, so once I've read it, I'll wing it over to you, okay?

sourpus said...

TB, dear old Michael J F-x. I do love that movie, although I cant say I share Mickey boy's taste in hair metal. I do seem to find a kindred spirit in his desire to stir things up a tad though. So shoot me.

treefrogdemon said...

My post got lost too, which I noticed only after feeling anguished because you hadn't commented on it, TB. I'm not really into shops and shopping so I'll try again:

1 The Readers' Digest Complete Book of Gardening, bought because I'd just acquired a garden and knew sod all about it. Found it v useful, bragged about it to neighbours, they borrowed it...RD continued to pursue me to buy more stuff for several housemoves afterwards. Think I've lost 'em now though.

2 I like the mummified bloke in the glass case full of sand in the BM, and visited him many times as a young thing. (I still like dead bodies a lot.) But as he's not really an artefact I'll go for the stack of WW1 postcards I bought from a junkshop in Shrewsbury - they were sent by a soldier at the front back to his girlfriend/fiancee/wife and told her very little - but they all end with "Hoping this finds you as it leaves me, in the pink". Reading them has given me many a Wilfred Owen moment (and WO lived in Shrewsbury before he went off to the war).

3 Well...I collect Sasha dolls. I now have 30 and am thinking of getting some more contents insurance. How sad is that?

4 Got to be Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson. My parents had very few books when I was little so I read all that I could manage. Jackson is mostly known for her horror writing, but this is a semi-autobiographical description of bringing up children, and it is SO funny. I recently retrieved my copy from my elder daughter's bookshelves and I'd lost several more previously through 'friends' hanging on to ones I'd lent them, so maybe this should count as a 1 as well.

5 My Chappaquiddick a car crash with someone else's husband. We were in a Reliant when one of the rear tyres blew: the car hit the kerb, flew up into the air, turned over three times and got its roof sliced off. (They're made of fibreglass.) No damage to the driver (and, reader, I married him, though not till much later - there was nothing going on at the time) but I was thrown out and landed on my hands and knees in the road, and ruined a perfectly good pair of purple lace tights - it was 1967. I was picking bits of gravel and glass out of my knees for several years later.

cauliflower said...

TracyK - wow!
It will be a wonderful thing for me to hear what someone else thinks of it - I may have been delusional all these years... I do hope you like it. If you do feel like recommending it, maybe it could wing its way around the RR posse, if anyone else feels the urge. But if it ends up here I'll be VERY happy. Thanks!

Mnemonic said...

I went to the bookshelf to check on my copy of Echoes of Celandine and it's not there. I wonder who I lent it to??? It's also known as The Disappearance as that was its title when it was filmed.

However, my favourite Derek Marlowe is still on the shelf, Do You Remember England?. In my teens, he was one of my favourite writers and I wish he'd been a bit nore productive. I found a second-hand copy of a book of his that I didn't know existed (The Rich Boy from Chicago) in a bookshop in Lyme Regis last year. I was well pleased.

I love the crossword puzzle feeling I get from his writing. You have to work hard to follow the plot sometimes but it's always worth it.

treefrogdemon said...

Personalised hairdresser has JUST CUT which should be JU51CUT, but I forgive him cos I love him.

Then there's a new Mini with ECOSSSE which should be EC05SSE; also I have a colleague with one that spells out her name: I won't say what it is, but it's an Irish reg and starts with LIZ. What she obviously doesn't realise is that she's a terrible driver and also parks in stupid places, and everyone knows who it is.

cauliflower said...

mnemonic - I think we should start the book group with Celandine, then work our way into the back catalogue ;-)

Marconius7 said...

Somewhat late to the show but...

You put together a very interesting are my short answers:

1. Various books but none that stand out.
2. Six monthes after 9/11 we visited New York and seeing the ground zero blew me away. The fireman's display with fire department badges from around the wrold was very moving. Had me so choked up I couldn't speak.
3. Slightly embarrasssed that I am a couch potato - love watching TV, especially crime dramas like CSI, Criminal Minds, Law and Order, Without a Trace, NCIS, Flashpoint and others. Maybe more mebarrassing - I enjoy watching reruns of Friends.
4. I reread books I like and amog these would be novels by Ayn Rand, Chaim Potok and Leon Uris - best by each - Rand: Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, Potok: The Chosen, The Promise and My Name is Asher Lev, Uris: Trinity, Mila 18
5. Like other commentators here, I don't believe in a maker, but I remember my wife and I driving in the countryside and going through a stop sign at a busy road. No accident but I realized it could have been a bad accident if a car had been coming along and woke up in cold sweats for weeks.

ToffeeBoy said...

For all the Johnny come latelies around here - your comments are still appreciated, whenever they arrive. But I do have my limits - the 'Spill points for best answers will be awarded on Sunday evening - just so you know.

@ goneforeign "Joni had a whippet" - I may be wrong but didn't they have a minor hit in 1988?

@ Shoey - what do you mean "Is Stonehenge too big?" Who are we to criticise the architectural designs of our Bronze Age ancestors?

I like the sound of The Difference Engine - I'll seek it out.

@ Gremlinfc - I love Hadrians Wall - a few years ago I was up that way on business and me and a colleague drove due-west from Newcastle hoping to see bits of it. We got about ten miles out without seeing any trace of it, only to discover that we'd been driving along it. Apparently the Victorians thought it made an ideal foundation for a new road. Jeez!

Stig Of The Dump! 'Hear hear'

I've seen plenty of cyclists like you but I've never managed to hit one - yet.

@ treefrogdemon - old postcards are one of my passions. I love trying to find out about the people who wrote and received them. I've got loads from 1911 (you'll know why!) but I love the sound of your WW1 ones.

Sasha dolls? Sasha Distell? Confused...

@ Marco - Friends is one of the most under-rated sitcoms there is. Just because it's popular and enjoyed by young people doesn't mean it isn't superbly crafted and well written.

I hope that all of you know me well enough to understand that I have no belief whatsoever in any sort of maker - it was just a turn of phrase. Richard Dawkins thinks I go too far with the whole science has all the answers thing...

AliMunday said...

Great post, fascinating answers, I expect everyone has gone home now but here is my tuppence worth:

The guillotine (for cutting paper) which my brother gave me - my husband lent it to the Buddhist centre in Bradford and never asked for it back. It seemed churlish to hassle them for it but it was REALLY ANNOYING.He lent them my steam wallpaper stripper too and I never got that back either. Not that I'm bitter. Oh no.

Yes, Maeshowe is amazing, also the grey cairns of Camster (Caithness), the rock of Cashel (Ireland), the fogou somewhere in Cornwall, Gurnigoe and Sinclair Castle (near Wick) ... I guess places do it for
me, rather than things.

I collect postcards. When I was a kid I used to buy one wherever I went (because they were cheap and a good souvenir given that my photography was limited to a Box Bownie)- then people started sending them to me from all over the place ... then I started buying collections like Ordnance Survey map covers ... one day I'll catalogue them all and (and do what? Ed.)

Nothing intellectual - Elizabeth Goudge, "The Little White Horse". Kids book - fantasy - Cornwall - salmon pink geraniums (I grow them to this day) and a woman called Loveday Minette. Read it again in one sitting when I was waiting for sprog to arrive (he was 2 weeks late, so I did a lot of reading as I looked like a whale and physical activity was challenging). They've brought it out as a film now ("Moonacre"), but I haven't been to see it because I like the book too much.

Umm ... pulling out in front of a car transporter on the M6. Various drunken episodes involving passing out and throwing up (when I was young). Accepting lifts from strange men (when I was young). Getting lost in the dark on my friend's converted lifeboat outside Swansea Harbour. We'd strayed into the main shipping lane but fortunately the coastguard spotted us and guided us in. I was too busy being sea-sick to notice but thought about it afterwards. Umm ... nearly stepping out behind a reversing bus (my friend's dad saved me) ... emergency Caesarean, anyone? Probably wasn't in danger but it wasn't very nice.

Blimpy said...

1. I lent my first guitar distortion pedal to a "friend" of mine, who broke it and refused to replace it. Even tho this was 15 years ago, I'm still annoyed.

2. "The Mud Bath" by David Bomberg (1914)

Probably the first piece of non-trad art I saw, that made a big impression/inspiration

3. Um....

4. Currently i'm not allowed to read anything that isn't Fantastic Mr Fox

5. Reading Festival August 2001, an OD inducing cocktail of all sorts of nasties.

gremlinfc said...

Blimpy went to a READING Festival!
I am well impressed!
Was the highlight an interpretation of "Fantastic Mr. Fox?

cauliflower said...

Blimpy's Bomberg reminded me of the first time I went to the Tate aged 17 on a school trip. Wandered into the Rothko room and wept. Unbelievably powerful, and no way of understanding what I was feeling. The big hitters operate below the radar, wish I knew how.

goneforeign said...

Cauli: Did you see the Simon Schama program on Rothko?

TonNL said...

No SÜW in my collection yet, the relevant part of the spreadsheet:
ST - Steinfurt
SU - Rhein Sieg Kreis / Siegburg
SW - Schweinfurt

Blimpotron50000 said...

@cauli - couldn't agree more! Very well summed up. I think I was 13/14 when I saw the Bomberg at the Tate, whether that's why I spent 4 years at art school, I don't know. My parents had some bizzare (to a child) art on their walls, op art and modernist stuff - and there's no doubt that it has an effect. I think a good future Eotwq question could be "what's yr fave thing you have hanging on your own walls?". Take note, whoevers doing the qs next week!!!

DarceysDad said...

@ ToffeeBoy - my sincerest sporting condolences for today's result: I missed the whole game, but will watch the highlights later.

In answer to your earlier question - Basically, not if I could avoid it, and NEVER on a route I didn't know. It still gives me cold sweats if I think about how close to death I was. An accident involving a similar bus and bridge, around six months after ours, killed six pensioners. I was more surprised to still be alive immediately after our big head-on crash in Dec 2003 (my very first thought was "Shit, I'm still here!"; my second thought was "Jess?"; my third was "Ow, that hurts!"), but that's probably because of my age; you think you're immortal at 16y.o.

goneforeign said...

El Blimp: Funny you should say that, I was wondering how to do a EOTWQ and that was one of my list you thieving git!
Has anybody bagged it?

Blimp O Tron BA (Hons) said...

@goneforeign- next weeks EOTWQ is all yours. All you have to do is post it on Tuesday or Wednesday, whichever you fancy . The only rule is that there's 5 questions, and none of them are music related. Can't wait!

steenbeck said...

Donds for Goneforeign's EOTWQ!!

Blimpy said...

80 comments!!! Nice work 'Boy!

ToffeeBoy said...

81. Less than 24 hours to go until the BIGGEST event of the week. That's right - it's near;y time for the EOTWQ Awards ceremony. Don't forget to tune in - BIG 'Spill points are up for grabs.

tincanman said...

I think this is the toughest set of questions yet. Probably because of the work that went into the narrative, it seems wrong to fob them off withe jokes and other literary devices invented to hide behind. Which is probably why I've found excuses - all good ones, mind - not to answer them so far. But I'm so curious what others have said, that I must get out of my shell and reveal that:

1. Special item lent and never got back?
My virginity? I had a cassette of really really old Fabulous Thunderbirds stuff that a friend made me that got borrowed at a party, and 25 years later it still bugs me because the recordings are just not available anymore. Oh, come to think of it, one time in my youth I was whiling away a few days in a youth hostel waiting for some money and I wrote lyrics for a country song I called Leaving Alone Together, Again. It was about a guy who went to a certain bar every Friday night and didn't have the courage to ask a certain girl to dance. So every week they went home alone, together, again. Guy at the hostel had a guitar and said he'd put some music to it, and that was the last I saw of him or them. It probably sucked anyway; I was young and have no clue how to write a song.

2. Historically significant artifact: I went to see an exhibit of Baroque Masters paintings and undertsood for the first time that seeing them in a book doesn't work.

3. What's your slightly embarrassing hobby?
Answering Question of the Week? I would have to say the most recent one is I thought it'd be a good hobby to take old PCs people are essentially throwing away and use the parts to make refurbished PCs I could either give away or sell for a few bob on eBay. Asked for a got a Building PCs For Dummies book for Christmas, and now have 9-10 towers, carrier bags of parts, half a dozen CRT monitors, etc. in the lecky cupboard. One of these days I will ......

4. Which book have you read the most - and why should the rest of us read it?
I re-read A Prayer For Owen Meany every couple of years. Something about spirituality and self-determination in it hits me right, I guess, and it's one of the few 'meaningful' books I can understand.

5. What's the closest you've ever come to meeting your maker?
Came out of a bar drunk one night with some buddies and we thought it'd be a neat idea to tip over a Hell's Angels guy's bike. That's the closest I'll admit to in public anyway, lmao.

And now for a good read. 81 comments? my lord, you ppl have been busty

saneshane said...

1 50 pages of artwork 'RE-Evolution Messiah' graphic novel in its portfolio.. up to 10 bits of design on each page. I went missing - never saw it again - not that fussed but would be interesting to see the work again.

2 does the Berlin wall count. tram lines into the wall affected me most.

3 I get embarrassed by everything.

4 'Dreams of leaving' Rupert Thomson but I don't know why... it needs editing but means a lot to me.

5 umm.. the answer would say too much.. put it this way, if there did end up being a maker the arguments would be intense.

tincanman said...

I never thought of places for Rosetta Stone moments, but DsD & Marconius did and that reminded me of a couple. Well, a few - a driving tour of the U.S. cover all the main points, and the Lorraine Motel and Memphis was probably the highlight. I might post a pic or two one day.

A few years earlier I stopped at Little Big Horn, and it is a real shock to see all these little hillocks and how both sides were pinned down wounded and hungry waiting for re-inforcements - and you could see them coming a couple days' ride away across the plains and you knew, you just knew, when they would get there ansd who's side they were on.

The most memorable, though, was Lockerbie. You stand on that windswept hillside and realize how many innocent lives are changed forever for no good reason. And you cry.

DsD's admission of 'collecting' car number plates reminds me of my 'fetish' for street signs. All my life, I have passed road signs, business signs, etc and thought 'wish I had a camera so I could take a picture and send it to ....whoever it remined me of.'' Other times I did have a camera and thought of stopping and turning back, but never did. We didn't always have a camera with us the way we all seem to with our phones now, so I missed so many it never developped into a hobby. But I saw one the other day that reminded me of an RRer and said to myself for the hundredth time, if you had only started when you wanted to.... ah, regrets.

May1367's remark on borrowing and lending records reminded me of a friend's brush with death when he left a borrowed copy of a rare Otis Spann on the back shelf of his car. In the summer. Turned it into a nice candy dish. Luckily he lived within driving distance of Schoolboy Records in Ann Arbor, Michigan (the best record store ever). Unluckily, it was going for $500. Luckily, while he was in Schoolboys I was trolling the other record stores in Ann Arbor (it's a college town; University of Michigan) and found it for $10.

@ snadfrod. Playing golf on my own is the only way I can win a round.

@ steen. Your remark about lending DVDs to people (usually after going on about them at a party) caught my eye. You get invited to parties? Can you teach me how to do that?

DarceysDad said...

Oh Christ ... Lockerbie.

When I was working in Cumbernauld, ne of my Drivers, hauling a 40ft-er up the 74, was close enough to the explosion to see it in his wingmirrors.

I was due back in Bradford the next day, and was one of the first cars allowed back southbound past the scene. I never, EVER want to see anything like that again.

snadfrod said...


Re. Personalised plates. At the top end of our road I have just seen the van for a pest control company. Its plate?

RAT 80Y.

I stopped and stared and considered a small applaud.

@Ali - Mrs Frod had the emergency Caesarean experience too, at the end of officially the worst three hours of my life - 21.00-00.00, 6/6/05. She has no recollection of any of it, either...

Also, I still own and wear the coat of mine that the pregnant Mrs Frod was wearing when she rolled the van she was driving, after a side-impact collision. I had it re-stitched along the two seams where the paramedics had cut her out of it. Not a scratch on her. And relax...

ToffeeBoy said...

Here we go with the EOTWQ awards ceremony. I've chosen a top three for each category. 1 'Spill point for third place, 3 for second and 5 (yes, 5!) points for the winner in each category.

And the winners are:

Question 1: Loans I’ve regretted3. debbym – for her missing copy of Brideshead Revisited. Curse you Julie Goding!
2. cauliflower – for her Green Ford 2-door Mark 3 Cortina - scale of size counted for a lot here.
1. TatankaYotanka – for losing his heart to the delightful Jane Heath.

Honorable mentions also go to Blimpy for his distortion pedal and May1366 for the Elvis Presley double Memphis ’68 LP. The fact that both of these were to do with music counted against them.

Question 2: Your personal Rosetta Stone3. Shoey – for his close encounter with Leonardo’s sketch books.
2. May1366 – for Picasso's Guernica - my jealousy of this one knows no bounds.
1. ejaydee – wins with his Nigerian Benin heads. This is exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

Also on the shorlist were nilpferd with his Babylonian Ishtar Gate, Abahachi for the ancient burial with skeleton and grave goods and TonNL for the Lindow Man. I discounted any of the places and buildings, not because they weren't fantastic experiences but I wasn't convinced that they really counted as artefacts. My quiz - I decide. OK?

Question 3: Slightly embarrassing hobbies3. TatankaYotanka – for his brave venture into the world of Ikebane (I had to look it up - it's Japanese flower arranging apparently)
2. TonNL – for his startling confession of an interest in plane spotting. If you thought you could slip this in amongst the normal hobbies of birdwatching and train spotting, you were wrong.
1. We have three joint winners in this category: Abahchi, gordonimmel and TracyK for their collective interest in the dark world of war gaming. I've been in touch with the relevant authorities and you are all signed up for your respective local Warhammer group. You'll probably love it!

I was also impressed with the confessions of debbym (folkdancing), Darceys Dad (car number plates), snadfrod (the lonesome golfer), Steenbeck (the punk rock birdwatcher), Shoey (for his role as comic book guy), treefrogdemon (for her collection of sasha dolls) and tincanman (for his failed embarrassing hobby of refurbising PCs). Alimunday (postcards) and gremlinfc (statistics) were both disqualified as these are perfectly reasonable and acceptable hobbies that sane, reasonable people (such as my good self) are known to partake of.

Question 4: Most frequently read book3. Abahachi – Georges Perec's Life A User's Manual
2. Shoey – The Difference Engine
1. cauliflower – Echoes Of Celandine (aka The Disappearance) by Derek Marlowe

These were the three that most made me want to go out and buy the book in question.

The following struck a chord because I already know/love them (the books that is, not the nominators - although of course, in a sense ... [shut up now. Ed]: debbym - Lola Isn’t Sleepy, goneforeign – A Short History Of Nearly Everything and tincanman – A Prayer For Owen Meany

5. Near death experience3. May1366 – Sri Lankan bookshop
2. Japanther – balconies and lampposts
1. DarceysDad- Top deck/low bridge

The easiest choice (as far as the outright winner was concerned). I bow to you DarceysDad, which by the sound of it was what you did, just in time.

Another honourable mention here to sourpus for his Michael J Fox moment - which, again, was disqualified for its musical content.

ToffeeBoy said...

And the final points tally is:

cauliflower, 8
TatankaYotanka, 6
Abahachi, 6
ejaydee, 5
gordonimmel, 5
TracyK, 5
DarceysDad, 5
shoey, 4
May1366, 4
TonNL, 3
japanther, 3
debbym, 1

Congratulations to cauliflower (I do hope someone's keeping count of all this) and thanks to everyone for taking part - I haven't had so much fun with my clothes on for ages. And don't feel too upset if you didn't win any prizes - remember, it's not about winning, it's about taking part. Yeah, right. Try telling that to an Everton fan ...

cauliflower said...

I feel truly honoured, especially as it's my first time in this esteemed company for an EOTWQ. Thank you so much ToffeeBoy, you know who you are.

I'm so sorry. TracyK, DebbyM. Oh God, who's the other one? Oh, FrogPrincess wasn't here [where IS she?]. OK, gather. Gather. This is really happening ...

I'd like to thank the RRers who've been with me along the way, especially the goddesses. [Wrap it up. Ed] You have no idea how much I'm not wrapping up.

This is absolutely extraordinary, I've had an incredible couple of years. Thank you so much.


[I will start planning a set of questions for when I'm called upon to serve]

tincanman said...

I see I am as good at this as fantasy football. RR contests are like golf right? Low score wins?

tincanman said...

oh and you have set a new standard for Question of the Week ToffeeBean. Well done and thanks

steenbeck said...

Tincanman--I used to get invited to parties, but then I went on and on about Skip James and Lentils and Jim Jarmusch, and...It's been a while.

Ali/Snadfrod--I had an emergency C section with the first. So different from hopes and expectations, the doctor said "In the past they didn't do c sections--mama died, baby died" Miserable few hours. It's hard to explain, but you've been there. I had a "normal" birth with the second though, so...(that hurt too!)

cauliflower said...

I just tried my speech on a housemate who didn't get it, so maybe you guys didn't either. I was channelling Kate Winslet, badly, Will try to be more original another time - if I ever manage to bribe the jury again.

TatankaYotanka said...

Jings ... talk about coming up on the outside there! :)

I was on the verge of changing my number 5 after I remembered the 'try to cut your head off with a chainsaw incident' .... as a reckless younger man; missed my jugular by 5mm after getting nasty kickback from a 24" Stihl whilst logging on a slope; clawed it's way up my woolly jumper and went bouncy, bouncy up my neck and ear ... not quite a duelling scar, but still causes comment ...

Chris said...

Thank you for rubbing that in so well, TB.

AliMunday said...

Cauliflower, just stop now. You're weeping all over the blog!!

ToffeeBoy said...

@ TatankaYotanka - jeez - that's a good 'un. But too late, my friend. Too late ...

@ cauliflower - we still respect you. Honest, we do ...

tincanman said...

Oh yeah, Totanka, well I was opening the morning mail a couple years ago and got a whopper of a paper cut.

Scar's mostly gone now, but it coulda got infected you know? I mean it didn't and so, I guess nothing really to complain about. But it coulda. And it was one of my two typing fingers too!

TatankaYotanka said...

Ahhh tincanman, you can feel my pain ..... , cheers buddy; another tale from the days when men were men and health and safety hadn't been invented. If your typing finger had been lost in action, you'd have had to have retrained your nose-picking finger ... and we all know what a hassle that is ...

TatankaYotanka said...

Oh ... and I meant to say, if someone can think of something else to say ...... then TB will have the consolation of breaking the 100 barrier ... have we got a cup for that? The Spill Saucer maybe?

TatankaYotanka said...

Hey, it happened anyway :) Thought I was teeing it up for annticman ...

tincanman said...

no, thats why i told my paper cut story. It wasn't just a pathetic bid for attention.

TracyK said...

And just to make Cauli well up even more, Echoes of Celandine turned up today and I'm already engrossed. Fabulous, dense yet also playful prose. Am having trouble imagining Donald Sutherland playing someone so allegedly ordinary though. Hmm.

And Toffee, it was the leather bustier, wasn't it? I am really Dobby from Peep Show, which is fine, cos Jon is Mark. He even said when I approached him on the beach to wed himm "I think you might be The One". He got hit with some orchids.

cauliflower said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cauliflower said...

TracyK - glad your [sp] first impressions were favourable. The first two pages always knock me out... I'm almost envious of you reading it for the first time!
I can't see Sutherland as the hero either, btw. I have him much grimmer, shorter and stubblier.

tincanman said...

Sounds like me

TatankaYotanka said...

Grimier, shirtier and lovelier ...

yeah sounds like you ...


TatankaYotanka said...

By the way ... what is the record for Spill post comments, anyone been counting?

ToffeeBoy said...

@ TracyK - 'Leather bustiers? Who, me? The seventh earl of Toffee? At 2 o'clock in the morning? With my reputation? Surely not ...'