Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'm embarrassed about these pics, no idea why they're so tiny, you'll have to put your specs on.

Oh dear, I don't know what possessed me to volunteer for this week, hundred and eight bloody comments, an all-time record and I have to choose to be the mug, I must be bloody daft. Alright, let's get on with it, this has been lurking at the back of my feeble brain for some time and I've come up with a list that should be interesting but that bit's up to you lot.

1. The Forks in the Road. Decisions and events where your life changes.
Some time back I had the thought of making this question a 'standalone' topic for the Spill, instead we'll slip it in here.
When I was 12 right after WW2 and was living with my granny in Sheffield, one day my recently demobbed dad sat me down for some serious chat. He and my birth mother were separated and he was starting a new family in London with the woman I'd always thought of as my stepmother; the question he posed to me was, "Would I like to come and live with them in London or would I prefer to stay in Sheffield with my granny?" It was a hard choice, I was perfectly happy with Sheffield, it was all I had known, I'd lived with her from the age of 2, but I also realised that granny was getting on in years and wouldn't last forever, I chose London.
Looking back I've wondered who I might have become had I made the other choice, little education with not much chance of getting any more, in a war devastated dirty industrial city and a granny who had little idea of counseling a young lad re. career options. I would have probably wound up getting a menial job in some industrial company which might have set a lifelong pattern. That was the first 'fork', there were many more after that, points where I can look back and see decisions and events that were in retrospect, life changing.
So the big question is 'what were the forks in your road', with details please.

2. The most unforgettable character you've ever known. This used to be a regular feature in Reader's Digest way back, I've stolen their title. I've known quite a few but my longtime friend Bruce fits for this topic. He's a machinist at the university where I worked, he makes whatever the professors in the Engineering dept. need for their experiments. He was hired as a young man with no skills and no ability to read or write through a program that existed to help train young people. He became an assistant to an English bloke who ran three machine shops. Bruce, though illiterate is very smart and very intelligent and he learned everything the English bloke taught him very easily so that when his teacher retired a few years later he was promoted into that position. He still can't read or write, part of our friendship involved me doing that for him but he can glance at a drawing and tell you instantly how to change it for the better and he'll go ahead and make it his way anyhow, no-one's ever complained. He's slightly eccentric, he owns a Greyhound bus, several military vehicles, nine motor cycles, mostly racing bikes, several everyday cars and a collection of guns sufficient to arm a small army; he has one of everything. He doesn't pay anyone to do anything, if something needs to be done, he does it whether it's putting a new roof on the house, designing and building specialty guns, rebuilding the Greyhound's engine or maintaining any and all of his fleet of vehicles. His wife is Chinese and he has two teen age kids, both musicians.
Who's your most unforgettable character?

3. I realise I'm in the midst of a bunch of sorts nuts here, not a passion I share. So here's one just for you.
If I could arrange for you to spend an evening with any sports figure in history, who would you choose and why and what specifically would you want to talk about? I'll also pick up the dinner tab. I enjoyed the Federer/Nadal Wimbledon final a few years ago and there's a few of the 80's Lakers I'd enjoy meeting. I twice got to sit under the basket as a photographer at finals games with the Celtics, what a perspective!
So who's your favorite sports personality?

4. Art, we've got to have some art. Money's no object [I'm going to talk to Blimpy about this, he's got the bankroll]
What piece of art would you want to have in your house permanently, and you can interpret 'art' in any way you choose, if your ideal is Don Bradman's bat, I'll get it for you. In the early 60's I went to a Picasso exhibition at the LA county museum of Art, I had a camera slung round my neck. There was a small very simple pencil drawing from his early period titled 'Bride and Groom', it was a realistic frontal view of a peasant couple standing and holding hands, I thought it was beautiful, I took a photo. There was a tap on my shoulder and I was read the riot act about taking pictures in art galleries by a big burly guy. A friend, a single mother, lived in a house with a large, [8ft by 12ft] empty white wall in the dining room, I asked her if she'd like a Picasso on it, 'Yes'. I put the slide in a projector and projected the image life-sized onto the wall, I traced the pencil outlines with a stick of charcoal and then sprayed over them with a matte fixative, it looked spectacular!
But that's not what I'd want for my piece of art, I've always wanted to have a Rolls Royce Merlin Engine, it's the aircraft engine that was used in Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lancasters, Mosquitos, Mustangs; in everything, it's the engine that won the war. I'd like to have one on a plinth in my living room, polished and painted to original specs. They're big, 6ft long 4ft high, V12 water cooled, 3/4 of a ton, 2000hp. If it came with a 3 blade propellor I'd mount that on the wall. And I'd like it to be a 'used' one.
What piece of art would you like to have?

5. OK, since we've just been to the museum, let's make that the last topic. What is your favorite museum anywhere in the world. In an ideal world I'd live in California and own a nice, centrally located flat in London. Whenever the urge would take me, and it would be quite often, I'd jump on the SF-Heathrow Virgin 747 and spend my days visiting all the museums and galleries in London that I've enjoyed all my life, the highlights are Science and Industry, [I lived in there as a kid, one of the benefits of my choice in #1], The British, the Imperial War, the V&A, National Maritime and all the galleries including some 'new' ones I haven't yet seen. And I love that London's museums are free to the public.
So which is your favorite museum and why?

5A. For extra credit you can if you so choose write your epitaph, something simple that'll fit on a headstone. If you need help try Google. I kinda like Here lies W.C. Fields. "I would rather be living in Philadelphia."
He hated Philadelphia.

OK, have at it and don't forget we have a huge challenge if we're to topple the mighty Toffee. Vote and vote often, cheat if you must!
Sorry about the tiny pictures, I've no idea why they've come out so small, I scanned them the same as usual.


ToffeeBoy said...

@ goneforeign - excellent questions - can't wait to get my teeth into it but probably won't have a chance until this time tomorrow - by which time there will no doubt be 109 comments!

Blimpy said...

EOTWQ goes from strength to strength!

1. Gosh, that's a hard one, most of the significant things that have happened to me have kinda just happened - a knock on from smaller, almost insignificant or moreover practical-at-the-time decisions. Dependent on how far back you go, I'd probably say that the A-Levels i chose to do had the biggest effect, although when I did pick them I wasn't thinking about anything long term, more just subjects I was interested in at the time. The knock on effect being my subsequent education and career direction (which picked up a wifey along the way, and then a teeny-weeny also, which then kinda chose where I ended up living).

2. Either Speng or the woman on the telly just now who phoned an animal psychic to see if her monkey baby had snaffled her valium or not (whilst driving).

Seriously though, real characters I have known - the first that springs to mind is Psycho Dave The Dwarf. He was a heavy metal dwarf who used to frequent a metal pub that I used to hang out in as a kid in Deptford. I went to a party of his once. It was mental. He was mental. And a dwarf. A mental heavy metal dwarf.

3. Daley Thompson. When I was a child he seemed like a proper hero.

4. I think I'll go for the Bomberg I mentioned last week. Or one of those enormous Warhol/Basquiat paintings. I'd really love to have this one though:


I have 2 Patrick Caulfield posters framed up in my house, and I wish Tate Liverpool would make a poster of that one too...

5. I loved all the museums you mentioned as a child GF, but I think I'll go for the Nat Hist museum, just cos I loved it so much as a kid. Magic stuff.

5A. "LOL"

Chris said...

Can I be first to snaffle 'So it goes' for 5A? I will make a serious response tomorrow. High Five (and a half), gf!

goneforeign said...

Chris: Good one, wish I'd thought of that, I might steal it, I'll need one before you.

TonNL said...

1. Quitting my nice & safe ICT job @ the Maastricht University Hospital in 1990, to join and invest a lot of money (I thought at that time) in a very small IT company, just started by a couple of friends, nearly ten years later (and about 400 people bigger, and at the absolute high point of the IT boom) we were taken over by American giant CSC, as a result, we, the friends who started the company, don't have to worry about any financial problems for the rest of our lives (to make a slight understatement... ;-))

2. That must be Ben Bastiaans, owner of the pub where we held our (see 1.) weekly Friday after work social for years. Apart from being one of the nicest guys in the world he was a monster on the Hammond B3 he had in his pub, as he had a basic drumkit, a standup bass and lots of other fully functional instruments hanging on the walls of the pub this resulted in a lot of spontaneous (sp?) jam sessions, where everything was possible, from German "schlagers", via Booker T. like stuff to complete free-jazz sessions...

Sadly Ben passed away completely unexpectedly a couple of years ago, and the pub soon followed....

3. Wiel Vergoossen, best football coach in Holland, more or less retired, did a kind of Guus Hiddink at PSV two years ago (made them win the Championship from a lost position after they sacked Ronald Koeman (..I believe...)). He comes from the small town where I live, and with his help (offering a lot of signed shirts from clubs he worked with & from friends of his for an auction) the local football club survived.....

4. If a Volvo P1800ES is considered a work of art, I want to own one...

5. London has so many great museums: British, Natural History, Science...., and on a slightly smaller scale: the Saaser Museum in TonNL's summer residence Saas-Fee (check the RR Google Map) is defintely worth a visit!

5A. Will start to think about this one in about 25/30 years time (i hope....)

I would like to add the Science Museum to

treefrogdemon said...

Oh, good - another chewy one...

1 When I was 18 I had a place at Birmingham University to read drama and theatre arts, but I was scared shitless of going. Various reasons: living away from home, no-one I knew had been to uni, being small frog in big pond; also, I'd just acquired my first proper boyfriend and wasn't sure if the relationship would survive, and if I'd ever get another. So we went off to the Edinburgh Festival (we had a production of Henry IV parts 1&2 - he directed and played one of the lords, I did wardrobe and played Lady Mortimer, who only speaks Welsh) and I never went home again. Well, not for a couple of years, because my father banned me from the family and didn't allow my name to be spoken till I was decently married. Oh, and I never turned up at Birmingham either.

I do regret it of course, but then again I have three splendid children and two grandsons, and I wouldn't have had those. Not those same ones, anyway.

2 I will choose Hamie MacGillivray, who lived in the same village as my paternal grandparents so we saw him every summer. He had been a childhood friend of my dad, and though outwardly respectable (he owned the garage in the village and was a local councillor) he was a famous poacher and there were many stories about him: my favourite is about the time an official set out from Inverness determined to catch Hamie with his illegal salmon nets out (the garage backed on to the firth); stopping for petrol on the way he incautiously mentioned his errand to the filling station man. Of course what he didn't know was that the filling station also belonged to Uncle Hamie, and no sooner had he pulled away than the chap was on the phone to his boss telling him to get the nets in quick...Uncle Hamie also had a boat and he used to take my sister and me out trolling for mackerel. Which was something you couldn't do in Bedfordshire.

3 I'm not much of a sport fan - I like tennis the best, but I also like snooker so I would choose Alex Higgins. I wouldn't bother to choose a topic though since, as many sports journalists have found, you can't stop Alex talking and he never answers the questions. Might be a good idea if it were a restaurant that didn't serve alcohol.

4 The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. I was in Dublin a couple of years ago for a conference and strolled into the National Art Gallery one day. Well. I had never heard of this painting before (though it's been on telly since then, in a documentary about where it had been since it went missing in the C18), but I have a wall in my house that's just right for it, and once it's there I'll be holding lots of parties so everyone can come and see it.

5 Hmm...I really like all museums. I like the Kensington ones and the British Museum a lot, and earlier this year I went to the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock, and I liked that; but since I have to choose I'll go for the Dumfries Museum which is in a former windmill. I especially like the Sanquhar Knitting, which is worth a Google even if you don't think you're interested in knitting; and also the camera obscura in the roof. You can look though people's windows. I wonder if they know?

5a I'm hoping for a woodland burial so I won't have a stone...although, as I don't intend to die for ages, I'm wondering whether there will actually be enough space left by then.

Chris said...

These quizzes are definitely requiring more effort and soul-searching. In a few weeks time we may all be blubbering wrecks, having had to re-examine our lives and present key moments to the world…. But, as I've already appropriated Vonnegut's classic motto for my epitaph, here are my other responses:
1. I'm not sure I can think of times when a fork presented itself as distinctly as in gf's poignant story. When I look back, there have been moments when I've done something that has led me in a particular direction but it never felt like a choice exactly: 'so it goes' is actually very close to my attitude to life. Two material events that fundamentally affected my life, though, were: a) joining a band in 1972, which opened a door into that world and introduced me to my (now ex-)wife; and b) responding to an ad in 1976 that got me into the developing IT world.
2. Apart from a few odd Tefal-heads and egomaniac businessmen, the IT world exposed me to few interesting characters. My favourite from the music world – and I still bump into him occasionally – was John, a bass player and speaker-cabinet builder. No-one was ever sure if John was his real name or where exactly he came from but what everyone did know was: that he only ever wore the same clothes (skinny T-shirt, skinny jeans with huge key ring attached); that could not start a day without his 'fackin' cornflakes'; that he always went commando; that he had always just run out of his own dope; and that, despite having imperfect personal hygiene, he could and did attract the most beautiful women in the area.
3. Apart from perhaps wanting to meet my current hero, David Moyes, I'm tempted to think of the phrase 'sports personality' as a bit of an oxymoron. Unfairly, of course.
4. I really don't know what would sit right in my house. We already have several excellent paintings on the walls, created by my partner so, for something different, there's a Moche pot I saw in Lima once that combines sex and death in a most striking and humorous way, and a Chapman Brothers' war tableau that does something similar for me. I'm not 100% sure what I'm saying here…
5. I babbled about touristing last quiz. I have been in many museums all over the place and enjoyed most of them, without having a particular favourite. At one end of the scale there are the Archaeology Museums in Cairo and Mexico City which contain astonishing treasures from great ages and, at the other end, odd little collections in places like Luang Prabang in Laos (Buddhism, French colonialism, Communist revolution, US indiscriminate murder and a moon rock gift from Nixon). The most affecting museum I have visited was in the back streets of Phnom Penh: the school used by the Khmer Rouge for the interrogation, torture and execution of innocent Cambodians. Only 14 of around 20,000 inmates survived and it is impossible to be in the place without hearing the ghosts. (It is also the first time I came across the use of waterboarding.) It seems possible that the only Khmer Rouge leader to be convicted of crimes against humanity, 30 years later, is the head of that vile institution.
5A. 'So it goes' is the only possible response to so much in the world. Either that or continual anger.

DarceysDad said...

1. Unlike Blimpy, I have no problems identifying the answer to this, even if it does 'out' me as being a complete wuss!
Me? I've always been bright but lazy: drove my parents nuts during my educational years. At the end of my first year at Uni, it caught up with me - I failed 6 out of my 7 exams. So I arranged to come back and do some re-sits in September, but that meant I had nowhere to stay, because I'd kinda seen it coming and didn't have any 2nd year accommodation sorted. So I arranged to crash out on the floor at the house of some classmates also coming back for re-takes. I went straight from my parents' house in Chester to the first exam in Bradford, dragging a couple of big bags with me. The exam did not go well, and none of the others taking that exam were any of my temporary hosts. I got a bus back across town, but their house was empty. I chased them all around the student haunts for the evening, finally pinning them down at a late night club. Trouble is I wasn't a member, and got thrown out & barred whilst trying to sneak in (remember I've still got the 2 big sports bags with me, so not that bright after all). You get the feeling that this wasn't a good day, right ...?
So at nearly midnight, I rang my mam'n'dad, and couldn't help myself, describing my day in all its miserable detail. My mam - bless her - hit me with this life-choice belter: "OK, Rich, do you want me to come and get you, and forget about University?"
I was running out of 10p coins, (1984, remember!) so said I'd think about it and call her back.
I mulled it over during the sodden walk ( of COURSE it was raining by now - picture Dan Akroyd in Trading Places, but without the Santa outfit or the gun!) to the nearby curry house to get some more change, back to the phonebox, rang my mam back and . . . decided to stay. If the truth be known, I still can't really articulate why my decision went that way, it just did.
Anyway, an hour or so later, I was ensconced in a warm sleeping bag at the previously empty house, the remaining exams went much better (and I was even awarded a pass for that first re-take, as my 39% was deemed to be such an improvement on my original 6%!!!). I then had to hobble round BD7 on crutches (oh, I hadn't mentioned that bit, had I?) in a hurry looking for a room for my 2nd year, and eventually found one, next door to a houseful of fun-loving reprobates including a certain gordonimmel of this parish. The rest, as they say, is another story ...

DarceysDad said...

2. Maureen McIntosh. A co-student on my University course, MM was considerably older, looked, um, a little battered by life, but was the most self-confident, irritating but can't-help-but-love-her, fascinating person. And a bit of history to her too - a brief stint as girlfriend to a Rolling Stone; bullied/cajoled some UK stores into stocking a foreign brand of relish she liked, and which became a supermarket staple; breeder and shower of fuschias, etc., etc. Not your typical 19y.o. fresher then! Co-incidentally we then both got the same job at the same company after Uni, which irked her no end as I'd failed my degree (see No.1 above!!), and she used to give me a hard time in management meetings. Memorable quote, when a point of consumer law had cropped up, and I'd attempted to answer: she interrupted with "How the hell do you know that? You never went to a single bloody tutorial", accompanied by a grin and her backing to the meeting that I was in fact correct.
Ten years later, our paths crossed when she was a senior manager at DHL, and I was Logistics Manager at a customer; I told her I was bored, two weeks later I was talking to her boss, a month after that I was on my way to DHL. But that was also over ten years ago. Now? I've got her LinkedIn profile bookmarked, and keep trying to muster up the courage to call her ...

3. Bill Shankly, ex-Liverpool FC manager. I've said the same before (including in print, when my business was profiled in the local paper in one of those 20 Qus With... type columns). I said then, and still believe, that he was almost as big an influence on my childhood as my parents. Bill was THE most charismatic man I have ever heard speak, just awe-inspiringly inspirational. In fact, I think I feel a 'Spill thread coming on, with some audio of Shanks included. At an age when the 'wrong' trousers put out by my mam would have me stropping badly, if Bill had told the 8 y.o. me to go to school naked, I'd have done it.

4. Easy again. I want all the squared-off, fairly rough-hewn stone walls in my garden replaced with the curvaceous, colourful mosaic ones from Parc Güell. Gaudi was a genius.

5. Can't answer that one with any passion. I'm a pleb, OK? But I'll go and have a think about it whilst I make my lunch, as this post is looking worryingly-long already.

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

1. The Forks in the Road. Decisions and events where your life changes.

There are three big decisions that I have made, lots of other ones, but these are the most momentous.

The first is an easy, obvious one really. It was leaving home. Although I lived in London, when I went to uni, at UCL, I made the conscious decision that I wanted to live away from my Mum and Dad.

They were getting divorced, it was shitty being around them and I wanted to widen my horizons. I never regretted it.

Secondly, coming out. I'd always know I wasn't straight. I'd tried telling myself I was bi, I even had relationships with guys to try and prove it but they were a mess. Coming out was all about being true to myself.

Unfortunately, it took most of my 20s to finally admit to myself and the world that I was a lesbian and not just bisexual.

The third one was only seven years ago. It was deciding that my previous relationship was over. I'd been with her for a very long time and I'd helped bring up her sons, I looked on them almost as mine. Unfortunately, I wasn't happy anymore.

We wanted different things and we had grown apart. It was fucking hard splitting up, we had built a home and a life together. I walked away from it. I had to go, I was being stifled and I felt awful.

If I hadn't done it, I'd have sunk deeper into depression and alcoholism. Leaving her and the boys (men really) was the hardest thing
I've ever done. Luckily, I found someone else and we've been together six years now and I am happier than I would ever have thought possible.

2. The most unforgettable character you've ever known.

My Art teacher when I was doing my O Levels. I won't name her, but she was inspirational.

I had such a massive crush on her but that wasn't the whole story. She showed me that I didn't have to conform and that to be happy I just needed to be the real me.

3. If I could arrange for you to spend an evening with any sports figure in history,
who would you choose and why and what specifically would you want to talk about?

I really wouldn't want to spend any time with a sports person. I love sport, but the people leave me cold.

I'd prefer to let their talent do the talking.

4. What piece of art would you want to have in your house permanently?

Picasso's Nanny Goat statue. It is in the Musee Picasso in Paris.

Here it is;


Not a great photo, unfortunately.

5. What is your favorite museum anywhere in the world?

The British Museum. It is where I first realised the power and beauty of the past.

My Epitaph.

She was honest to others and true to herself.

treefrogdemon said...

If you need more questions:


SatanKidneyPie said...

Good questions these:

1. I went to a fairly well regarded grammar school which I found very stiffling, but definitely got the most out of me academically. Instead of going on to the sixth form I went to a further education college to do my A-levels where I didn't do particularly well. I'm sure I'd have got much better A-levels if I'd stayed at the grammar school, meaning I'd have almost certainly gone to a different uni. Impossible to say what would have happened, but it's almost certain I wouldn't have met Mrs KidneyPie and loads of other people who I am very close to. Don't think I recognised i as such a life-changing moment at the time, but on reflection, this has probably had as big an impact on my life as any other decision I've made.

2. I'll have to pass on this. I know lots of people who are unusual, but no-one who seems to meet the levels of unforgetableness of those described above...

3. Hmm. For sports personalities they don't come much bigger than Cloughie... but he's not really a hero of mine. I'm a Crystal Palace fan, but I can't think of any Palace players past or present whom I'd like to spend an evening with. It's probably got to be Don Bradman, who although not a huge personality, is still the greatest cricketer ever. After me, that is.

4. It'd be a convential piece of art for me. A Botticelli, perhaps?

5. If we're including galleries, for me it's got to be the Uffizi in Florence.

5A. I've always loved the epitaph on Spike Milligan's headstone: "Duirt me leat go raibh me breoite", or "I told you I was ill". I hope to come up with something as witty as that before I need it.

saneshane said...

1. I'll go with the first (I don't remember much about it) My dad had spent the summer of '69 thoughally enjoying trying to get my mum pregnant (look - I've had to hear the stories a million times - you lot can too!) They found out I was arriving just as my Dad had sorted out the Farm he was managing and just after he'd signed up as the new manager of thousands of acres of Canadian farm land.
Being Hippy types they couldn't let me be born in a country that had conscription... they struggled forever staying.
I always wondered what the different life would have been.
But I also now stand up for what I believe is correct - not the Black & white of a contract that's unwavering.

2. My Little Nan
5 foot tall 5 stone bundle of niceness.. she kept Her family and her two daughters families in complete control..(there was always a least 5 men over 6 foot tall being told what to do by this tiny matriarch but without a bad word ever about anyone.
Smiles cuddles tea and cake.
Just the most inspiring character through some very bad times.
When she died a few years ago (and couldn't name or remember anything) I hugged her for the last time and she said "shane you'll be okay" very shortly after it was.

3. Bert Trautmann


Now he was interesting.

4. David Mach 'Golden oldie'

5. I spent a lot of my teenage years in what was called the Boilerhouse, under the V&A.
Also The Jewish Museum in Berlin was amazing as we've said a few times on here.

5A. I lost the plot and now it's found.

snadfrod said...

1. I'm a bit like Blimpy on this one. There's been lots of little ones, and a few big ones, but mostly things have just happened up until the point a couple of years ago where I realised what I had and what I should do about it.

That said, though, one very early fork does spring to mind. I was fortunate to go to a primary school with two fantastically talented teachers who wrote and directed original musicals for the school. I moved there when I was seven and was in the choir for the first show later that year, after which it was announced that Bugsy would be the next show.

I had no real interest in performing but could do all sorts of silly voices and so, one breaktime, my brother and some friends tried to convince me to audition. I was 8 and wasn't interested. They physically dragged me across the playground, plonked me in front of Mr Mac, the brilliant director of the shows, and made me do an American accent. I was cast as Dandy Dan and, a year later, was the lead in an original show that took the village by storm. To this day, in Poynton, I still get recognised as Red Mackintosh, Secret Agent. I never know whether to laugh or cry, but it made me the person I am today for sure.

2. I was lucky to work in a real, proper pub in Limerick for three years and still consider Tom Collins' to be a little family of oddballs all of my own. There are many characters in there, but chief of them all is Sean Heffernan. Now Sean is in his mid-fifties (although looks much older). He has a decent job. He is a clever man. And let's just say that Sean has a routine. At 5 EVERY DAY, Sean leaves work and walks to TC's. He has two pints (Guinness, plain glass, two thirds from the warm tap topped up with a third from the cold) and, at 6.30, drives home. He then gets the 7.30 bus back in and proceeds to have about another six or seven pints before leaving just before closing. The early evening pints, I should add, don't count.

At weekends Sean rocks up about four with the Irish Times and may watch the match before moving back to his chosen seat at the very corner of the wooden half of the bar (the other half is marble and is ruled by Christy Looney, former drummer, professional misanthrope and great friend of Sean, even though they never speak and sit at opposite ends of the pub). For Sean not to be in the pub is, to say the least, a big deal.

His presence is something of a given and, for anyone turning up on spec, they know that at least Sean will be there for a chat and - most likely - some sort of mild argument. The man is a legend, with a fabulously cranky temperament and a brilliant way with a curse. How he is still standing I don't know, but right now I miss hims quite a bit.

3. My favourite sports personality is probably Sean Goater, the bafflingly brilliant Bermudan striker who scored over a hundred goals for City in the early 2000s. But I would probably want to spend an evening with Geoff Boycott. Don't reckon I'd do much talking. Just ask him to tell me about the good old days...

4. This is a tough one. I'm tempted to say one of the vast John Martin canvasses in the Tate, like The Great Day of his Wrath or The Plains of Heaven. I can look at those for days, but haven't got a wall big enough. So I'll go for the woodcut self-portrait of Escher that we saw in the little museum dedicated to him in The Hague:


5. The Escher museum was a great little place, but I think you can chalk me down for South Kensington, too. The Science Museum is probably my favourite place to go with MiniFrod and, luckily, she loves it too. If the Lottery never does anything else, making all those museums free is one of the greatest achievements of recent times.

5A. Ones I like:
Keats - Here lies one whose name was writ in water.
Milligan - See, I told you I was ill.
As for me, though, I'll probably just settle for
"Shit happened."

Abahachi said...

1. Just after I arrived in Bristol for my new job, fourteen years ago, I got a letter from a woman with whom I'd become good friends during the year I'd just spent in Wales, to say that she didn't want to stay in touch because it was just too hard now I wasn't around any more. Wasn't really sure what to make of this, let alone what to do; half of me inclined to the "oh well, if that's what you want, fresh start in a new town and all that" approach, the other half was simply very confused. In the end I wrote back and invited her to Bristol so that we could talk things through, and the result was that we've been married for twelve years, troublesome stepchildren, neurotic Siamese cats and insane business ventures and all...

2. Um. Possibly one of the professors when I was a graduate student: brilliant, undoubtedly, and I still find myself engaging with his ideas and wishing that he was still alive to disagree with, but at the same time a difficult and unstable character who made parts of my life then a complete misery - and if he was still alive, I'd still be terrified of him. In seminars, he always used to remain silent for the first twenty minutes or so of discussion, smiling quietly to himself, and then weigh in with something that was usually both devastating and incisive. The most famous line, recounted by generations of graduate students, was something like this: "Your paper filled me with admiration and despair. Admiration at the amount of work that has gone into it. Despair, that you thought it worth your while doing it like that." Strange thing was that, according to his widow, he was incredibly shy and sensitive to criticism. Lots of other aspects - quite a tragic figure in some ways, and an enormous influence (positive and negative) on my life.

3. My sporting heroes have mainly been in cycling, and most of them have betrayed me by turning out to be cheats. So, I'm going to go for Magdalena Neuner the biathlete, 'cos if the conversation grinds to a halt I'll be quite happy just gazing at her...

4. Does it have to be in the house? I'd love one of Andy Goldsworthy's nature sculptures in the garden.

5. Oddly, given the day job, I'm not that into museums. Probably the Jewish Museum in Berlin, for the total experience.

5a. 'Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.'

Abahachi said...

Re Q.3: http://www.magdalena-neuner.de/

BalearicBeat said...

Will come back and answer the other questions later, but just quickly to agree with Abahachi on The Jewish Museum in Berlin. We went on a tour of it before it had properly opened and didn't have a single exhibit in it; purely to experience the building itself and to understand all the signifiers and details in the architecure. A quite incredible experience.

BalearicBeat said...

Will come back and answer the other questions later, but just quickly to agree with Abahachi on The Jewish Museum in Berlin. We went on a tour of it before it had properly opened and didn't have a single exhibit in it; purely to experience the building itself and to understand all the signifiers and details in the architecure. A quite incredible experience.

Japanther said...

Great but tough questions, I fear my answers may be a wee bit on the boring side, but here goes:

1. I suppose making the decision to come to Japan has to be the big one. I had a Finnish girlfriend who moved to Italy, I planned to take a course in teaching English as a second language so that I could join her wherever she ended up. We split up very soon after she moved to Italy, but I had already paid for the course, so I finished it, but I still had no plans for going abroad or becoming a teacher. I was working a spectacularly unfulfilling customer service job and one day I had an argument with my jumped-up "team leader" over logging in 2 minutes too late. It takes a lot to get me angry, but this was so pathetically petty that I basically told her to go and fuck herself and was so incensed that on the way home from work that day I bought a copy of the Guardian and applied for every overseas teaching job they had, in places as far flung as China, Japan, Russia and Germany. I kinda fancied Russia as I had a romanticised Dostoevskian view of strolling around St. Petersburg. Anyway, one thing led to another and before I knew it I was on the plane to Japan with plans to stay for a whole year! That was in 2002. As soon as I arrived I felt at home in Japan and the whole way that society operates seemed far more in tune with my personality than England ever had been.

2. Can't think of too many, but there was this one bloke I met on the plane coming to Japan who still haunts my thoughts despite our brief encounter. He was really young, about 22, but didn't look a day over 15. He told me that he was married and then proceeded to spend the rest of the flights making disgustingly unsavoury comments about women. He said that his dad was an arms dealer (I didn't doubt this one bit) and he had grown up in various cities around the world attending American school, where he had met his Japanese wife. He dressed kind of like a Mormon might (in my Hollywood-stereotyped brain) and towards the end of the flight, he suddenly pulled out a bodybuilding magazine and announced that he wanted to be like this. Now, i'm not a big fella, but this bloke was about 5' 5" and weedy as anything. he insisted I feel his non-existent muscles and said that he wanted to take loads of steroids and get as pumped up as possible. I wished him luck! I've always wondered what happened to him and kind of hope I bump into him one of these days.

3. It's got to be Alex "Hurricane" Higgins for me too. I absolutely love snooker and Alex is 100% pure rock'n'roll!!

4. Most of what I know about art (very little) or any kind of images, comes from album covers. It's become a bit cliched now, but Penny Smith's photo of Paul Simonon on the cover of London Calling stills packs a lot of power for me and I would love it on my wall.
Or, there is an amazing painting by a Norwegian artist called Theodor Kittelson entitled "Fattigmannen" ("The Pauper") which was appropriated by newly-released-from-prison-friend-murdering-black-metaller Burzum for his "Hvis Lyset Tar Oss" album that is beautifully desolate and macabre. I'm gazing at the LP now and would love to have the original in my living room.

5. Don't know too much about musuems, but the "Musuem of Emerging Science and Innovation" on Tokyo's man-made island Odaiba, was a lot of fun.

5a. I'd be tempted to go for something like "let me out!" or "whoops!". But may end up settling for a serious lyric from somewhere...let me think...

Japanther said...

Here's the Kittelson painting:


treefrogdemon said...

Shane, I love that Golden Oldie - haven't seen that one. I've liked David Mach ever since he filled Middleton Hall in MK with mounds of sculpted stuck-together magazines and old cars...I met him once in Glasgow, when I was admiring his vampire teddies when I noticed that a chap in the corner was manhandling one of the other pieces...luckily before raising the alarm I realised it was the artist himself. (He was moving a real (stuffed) grizzly bear, also with vampire teeth, so it could have its photo taken.) Then I was in a dilemma, as I'd been too strapped for cash that day to buy the catalogue; so I asked him whether, if I bought the catalogue, he would sign it. He said he would so I went and wrung a fiver out of the cash machine. It was worth it, I reckon.

Abahachi said...

Further on 5a, and prompted by re-reading tfd's contribution, I actually intend to be composted, or at any rate have my ashes scattered on the compost heap, so I hope my real epitaph will be some really spectacular vegetable crops. I think I'd like to be recycled as courgettes first.

tincanman said...

This is getting deeper each week. I thought you were all supposed to be my casual anonymous friends?

1. Forks in the Road
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

2. Unforgettable character
One day I was delivering newspapers and at one house an 80-year-old nun sat in a motorized wheelchair wearing a crisp clean nun habit opened the door. ''I see you'', she said, which I thought was kinda strange cause, well, duh, I was standing right there holding her paper. I guess she meant she saw God's work in everyone, even middle-aged newspaper delivery men. It haunted me a bit the rest of the round. I see her about sometimes, always natty. I admire/envy her faith.

3. Sports personality.
Who I'd like to talk to for an evening and who is my favorite are tow different questions. I'd like to talk to Lou Gehrig just before he died. Gehrig is probably the best first baseman of all times. Over 15 seasons (1925-1939) he played 2,130 consecutive games, a record which stood for 56 years. It would have been even longer, but his career was cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease) and he died within 2 years. How does such a physically accomplished man deal with his body withering away so quickly; did he handle it with grace...all those sorts of things.

4. Art.
My personal Mona Lisa - art you can look at every day and see something different each time is The Cossack. It was a large (3'X4') black and white head and shoulders painting of a furry-hatted cossack that I remember from my childhood. It hung in my grandfather's livingroom, and then in my mother's when he died, and then in mine when she died. It's long gone now, and I'd like it back.

5. What is your favorite museum anywhere in the world.
National Museum of Civilization in Hull/Ottawa Canada. Canada was settled east to west, which lends itself to this unique exhibit. As you walk east to west across the country the exhibits modernize and change geographically. I took my English wife there and now she understands me better.

5A. epitaph
I've spent 40 years (didn't think much about it the first nine years) pondering this late at night and kicking myself for not being able to come up with a great one, nor any great last words. I hate these guys who spontaneously did, or at least did in the end. I decided last night that what I'd like is:

For those who knew me, what more needs be said? For those who didn't, mind your own &%^&* business anyway.

AliMunday said...

Fascinating replies so far.

1. Forking paths - Meeting my (now) husband in Manchester which led to leaving my ex, leaving Bristol, becoming a step mother, marriage, moving to a new city, a new home, a new job, learning to drive, graduating and becoming a real mum. Not necessarily in that order, but all within a couple of years of each other.

2. Unforgettable character - Bob. Ex sub-mariner, lived on a converted lifeboat with his wife, near Gosport. They moored in Bristol for a year or so and we had many minor adventures culminating in a trip to Swansea on their boat, prior to them embarking on a trip round the UK. Long story short, Bob's wife died young, he moored up and joined the Greenpeace ships, travelled all round the world, lots more adventures. The most thoroughly all-round decent bloke I've had the pleasure to meet. Also a fine singer and guitarist, and a great drinking companion when the fancy took him. Still in touch though haven't seen him for a few years - a free spirit.

3. Sports personality - haven't a clue. Roger Black appealed to me when I was young, but for all the wrong reasons (not wholly unconnected with sport ...)

4. Art - a simple pencil drawing by Burne-Jones. It was in an exhibition I went to years ago, and was on loan from a private collection. It was a study of a woman's head in profile - very beautiful. Or Duhrer's drawing of a hare, which I have on my wall (it's a copy, of course, but I would love to have the original).

5. Museums - the London museums are great, I love the Bristol Museum too because I used to go there as a child and it holds a special atmosphere for me. there's a funny little museum in keswick, too, which has a sort of piano made out of slates. Amazing - I think it was made in honour of a visit by Queen Victoria.

5a Epitath - She got stoned and she missed it?

DarceysDad said...

Eeee - Robert Frost! What we did for O-level English Lit to avoid having to choose a Shakespeare.

goneforeign said...

Great responses, thank you all. Soon after I started with the Spill I had the idea that there was a book in here somewhere for someone dedicated enough to edit and print it, I believe that even more today than back then. Many of the comments over the year or so deserve a wider audience.

Blimp: The Liverpool site isn't working.
TonNL: I just scanned craigslist.com and there's a clean looking P1800 for less than $4000.
TFG: Bloody fathers, my next 'fork' 4 years later involved a similar banning etc, but it was a really significant fork, I wouldn't be where I am now if it hadn't happened.
Caravaggio- I'll speak with El Blimpo about it and see if we can't have it shipped.
I assumed Saquhar to be an Asian word, definitely not and most interesting, those gloves must cost a fortune! And speaking of tiny museums, one that had a very powerful effect on me was Museum of Slavery in Kingston, it's not a tourist place, it's a small 1-2 room building in a scruffy part of town, it has all the artefacts of slavery plus documents from that era, 'til then slavery had just been a word to me, after that I understood it emotionally.
Chris: The ad. in 1976 was the sort of thing I was thinking about: what might have happened had you not responded?
Glad there's a Mexico city museum of anthropology kindred spirit here, I'd rate it in my top 5. Did you know it was conceived, designed and built within 1 year! Worth a trip to Mexico just to see it, and if you go stay at the hotel Maria Theresa, fabulous.

DsD; All's well that ends well! Plus I'll join you with the Gaudi tile, I'll make a space.
Carole: Touching story and it sounds like you made the right decision.
TFG - great test, that should sort the sheep from the goats.
SKP: I love that Spike Milligan line, I'd forgotten it, I have one of his books right next to me.
Shane: I'm not a football fan but the Troutman story brought back a lot of names I'd forgotten, interesting bloke.

Aba: With you totally on the Goldsworthy sculpture in the garden, I have his book in the living room.
Panther: I've been curious how an English bloke winds up in Japan, European countries, that's pretty 'safe' , Japan's seemed to be a huge leap. How was the language? Difficult? What do you do there?
London Calling - I've got a pristine copy in my hand, there's a sticker that says 'This album includes lyric content that may be offensive to some members of the public'. A photo would be easy. Kittelson, I'm not sure I'd like to stare at that for a long time.

Last week we were discussing pop culture, I made a couple of comments re. the music scene in UK prior to rock, there's an interesting bit in today's G exactly on that topic:

debbym said...

1) Forks
Not insisting on changing schools so I could do the 'A'-level combination I wanted? (I could've grown up to be *An Intellectual*!) Dropping out of Uni and running away to Germany? Something along those lines I guess.

2) Colourful character
D'you know, I can't really think of anyone off-hand. Possibly my friend's husband, who looks quite a scruff, but can entertain whole halls at a time with his readings. He's got a very distinctive gruff voice, used to go on REAL benders (he's off the juice now, though) and has ALWAYS got an anecdote worth telling. (Might be a bit prejudiced there, though, cos he's quite famous over here)

3) Sport
My sporting hero is Abahachi! He'll be cycling through Somerset in a dangerous pink Tshirt this coming Sunday to raise money for the Heart Foundation (http://www.justgiving.com/nevillemorley1) and I'd like to take him for a refreshing cider once he's done!

4) Art
This is an easy one for me, because it's already in my possession and hanging on the wall! It's a picture my daughter painted for me for my last round birthday, could be a ginger cat, could be an orange splodge (yes, I am aware I bore you with incessant tales of my children). Her kindergarten nurses knew that I never got presents "from" my kids, so they helped her do the painting and even had it framed for me. It is the *object* I would save from a burning house (if I ever had one).

5) Museum
The museum dearest to my heart just has to be the Natural History Museum in Colchester. It's housed in a little church across from the castle and doesn't boast much more than a couple of stuffed seagulls and a surprised-looking deer ("Well, it's not exactly Balmoral I've landed up in now, is it?"). I was charmed as a schoolgirl - probably the lack of entrance fee added greatly to the charm factor - and spent many a rainy afternoon in there when I'd missed the bus home.

5a) Epitaph
Thank god for frozen pizza!

steenbeck said...

Good questions goneforeign.

1) After two years of college in USA, I decided I wanted to go to university in England, for some reason. Not a junior year abroad--the whole deal. So I applied, got in, moved to England. After a year I decided I didn't want to be there. Can't really explain why--too many reasons. So I came back and finished at the college where I'd started. I always wonder what would have happened if I stayed. I also was accepted to graduate school for cinema studies about a decade ago and decided not to go. Not sure why. It's funny, though, because if you have children it's hard to regret any decisions you've made, because the smallest change might have resulted in them not being here. Boggles my mind. Funny how many of these are education-related.
2. Maybe my piano teacher. When I knew her she was in her 90s, but she'd had the most amazing life. She studied with Bartok in Hungary and WWI broke out and she got stuck there, far away from her family. Later she taught BIll Evans in NYC. She was very strong and funny and remarkable in many ways.
3. Satchel Paige. A pitcher, started out in the negro leagues, ended up in the majors as an older man. Had some very wise rules for living, which I've posted on the Spill in the past. Just seems like a wonderful, funny, wise character, and I'd love to have a talk with him.
4. A photo by Eugene Atget? A painting by Bill Traylor? It's too hard to think of just one. I'd rather describe what's hanging on my wall (my brother and husband are painters, and I'm with DebbyM on this one, we have a painting Malcolm did of a cardinal that is phenomenal)(said his unbiased mother)
5. I've been to museums all over the world, but I might have to go with the Met in NYC. It's just magical to me. Maybe because of that children's book about the brother and sister that sneak in and live there for a while. Maybe because of memories of going there as a child and eating chocolate mousse and drinking sprite. Why do I remember that? I don't know.
5a--I almost don't want to think about it.

Blimp said...

Can I change my epitaph from LOL to BRB please?

gordonimmel said...

These are toughies and I'm not sure that I've come up with decent enough answers yet but here goes....

1. I can't really answer this one since I have a philosophy of life that says that whatever decision you make is the right one even if it appears to be the wrong one - if that makes sense! But if forced I would home-in on my A-Level choices. I was good at languages, geography & history so I chose.......sciences. I reasoned that I would rather keep what I liked doing as outside interests not compulsory subjects. 30 years later I'm still not sure about that decision. I'm an Engineer but I keep getting distracted by music, history, maps etc. and I don't feel I've ever been as good an engineer as I should have been because of it.

2. I really can't answer this one. Can't think of anybody who was more than a bit eccentric. Will continue to ponder....

3. I thought I had an original idea with this one but saneshane beat me to it- Bert Trautmann. Bremen born, Hitler Jugend, paratrooper on the Eastern Front, captured three times, escaped twice, luckily his last capturers were British leading to a POW camp in Lancashire, to goalie for St Helens then controversial signing for Man City and then his most famous moment - breaking his neck in the 1956 FA Cup Final but playing on nonetheless. I've read his autobiography, he's no saint but I'd love to chat to him about various bits of his life.

4. I'm going to be a bit predictable here and go for a Van Gogh - maybe his Hayfields one which was the first of his I saw 'live' and which made me realise with a start the 'madness' of his painting by the way he applied his paint.

5. I've been to lots of Museums and to be honest in even the best ones after I've been there for a few hours my feet are aching, my back's collapsing and I'm desperate for some freash air. But one of the most impressive would be the National Air & Space Museum in The Mall in Washington DC. It's got the Apollo 11 command module and the 'Sprit of St Louis' amongst many other exhibits. But the most disturbing museum would be the one at Auschwitz, which can't help but have a sobering effect on anyone.

5a. 'Why Look For The Living Amongst The Dead'. It's not that I have belief in an afterlife and certainly not anything like the traditional heaven, angels and harps but I do think that we do return to the vast pool of Life from which we spring and, a bit like Abahachi on his compost heap, I want to be buried with some plants planted above me so that, in the physical sense atleast if not in the spiritual, I know that my life force is being recycled and hence 'I am not dead but have come to life again'

Abahachi said...

I'm blushing. And feeling somewhat concerned about the dreadful weather forecast for Sunday.

goneforeign said...

Tin: 'I thought you were all supposed to be my casual anonymous friends?' - well that's how it started out, do you recall the email I posted that I sent to my friend trying to describe the Spill? I'm constantly reminded of it. This is such a unique thing, a fairly large number of people from totally different backgrounds living in all parts of the world , knowing very little about each other, in many cases not even real names and yet we're such a closely knit group of what you can only describe as 'friends'! It's quite amazing, it couldn't have happened in this manner prior to the internet and without the blessing of what I consider to be 'the best newspaper in the world'.
Thanks for the Lou Gehrig mention.
Ali: I also have a soft spot for Burnes-Jones and Alma Tadema et al, I even have some of their prints hanging. I missed it too.
Debby: You can't get away with 'Dropping out of Uni and running away to Germany? Something along those lines I guess." I suspect therein lies an interesting tale?
Steen: I'm tempted to ask why "I decided I didn't want to be there" but I won't. But just suppose you'd stayed, that could be a whole new world? Satchel Paige: One of the pieces I almost posted when I did the jazz piano post was S&J Blues from the album of the same name by Basie and Oscar Peterson, S is Satch, J is Josh, the nicknames that Basie and Peterson used with each other. Their heros, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, respectively two of the greatest pitchers and hitters in baseball were also best of friends
Gordon: Agreed re. Air and Space museum though it's been refurbished since last I was there, they've got one of my films, Hitler's Secret Weapon, it's the history of the evolution of the liquid propelled rockets in Germany before and during WW2.

saneshane said...

Sorry Gordon,
should really have left Bert to a Man City fan...

Bizarrely (for me anyway) David Mach has influenced my life on three occasions.
1. I won a student entry in a photography competition, by the time it was printed in the magazine I had got so disillusioned with art I'd nearly given up.
I saw a tiny bit of my work in one of the magazines he used in a sculpture and got inspire again.

2. A few years after college and doing a horrible door to door job selling 2 for one restaurant cards - don't ask- (I needed the money to get to the Phoenix festival - the first festie I ever payed for) I walked past a garage where 2 lads were soldiering a massive lightbulb made out of coat hangers.. after a few happy herbal ciggies, I took a look at the faxed instructions and was let loose on a 'David Mach'- it's outside of a library in Canada, I'm told.
I knocked on one more door that day,
the couple who answered ran a computer games magazine, next morning I was at their business being shown round. All I had to do was master the computer and a job was there waiting for me. (instead inspired by an interesting day I sold a design and did neither job)

3. 'Golden Oldie' (that link above)
It was in Dublin's Museum of modern art, when my now partner dragged me there for a wedding, after we had known each other a very short time.
I disliked loads of stuff that was being exhibited there the day we went, but tiny details intrigued me.
I explained why my love of music was deeply connected with art (even though I play no instruments) just as we walked up to this hobgoblin with records and speakers over his ears... and we are still together now, and she still lets me buy too much vinyl and indulge myself in creativity.

tincanman said...

@ Chris
Can you email me at rr@tincanland.com old chap?

TonNL said...

Is that a P1800ES on the craigslist? I can't find it...
Here is one for 25600 US$:

You are on LinkedIn as well?

Shoey said...

1. The lie told to me by the HR guy when I took a job in the US, that the girl I was living with in the UK could come with. The only way, in reality, was for her to be accepted as a full time student and get kicked out of the country upon graduation. One hasty marriage, 2 kids & 20 years later & still here, that, on reflection, was one major forking fork. Never trust anybody in Human Remains; they're worse than even the evil IT guys for reliability.

2. I forget.

3. My Grandfather & Great Uncles. The male members of the family that survived WWI, came home to no work. To support their families they became pro boxers. Fights in those days lasted 20 rounds & the gloves were not exactly well padded. To get paid they took a fight whenever they could, so some of my relatives racked up over 250 fights in their career. My Grandad was short, and had to get inside & knock the other guy out before he got outreached & outscored. A couple of my Uncles, however, were British Champion contenders. Never met any of them, but wouldn't be here without them. Makes it easier to stomach my current shitty job, compared to what they went through to keep the family afloat.

4. A Dali, one of the really big ones, but Mrs. Shoegazer wouldn't allow it in the house. Will settle for some Shane T-shirts.

5. Prefer art galleries to museums.

5a. Get off my lawn!

(Now have finger-cramp from tapping all this into the Shoephone).

Chris said...

steen: I thought about the Met in my trawl through. It was a very pleasant surprise. I expected a serious atmosphere and it seemed light and fun. There was a whole garden in one area that I wasn't expecting at all. I'd taken my 14-year old son to the US after his Mum left. We did a bit of hopping about so that he could visit music shops in LA (he was/is into hip-hop) and we ended up in NYC. I insisted on seeing the Met; he took root in the lobby and waited for me. Longer than he wanted to.

snadfrod: I remember being gobsmacked by those John Martins in the Tate when I was about 18. Truly awesome.

cauliflower said...

Good questions. This blog could take over a person's life. Should come with health warning.

1. Forks in the Road.
A. Having/not having children.
B. Walking out on a well paid job in a fur-lined rut. Never looked back! Twice.

2. Unforgettable character
There are many such people. The one that came to mind most recently was called Henry, shared a flat in Hulme 77-78. He only ate cheese on toast with which he set the kitchen on fire several times, had lank black hari, always worse a suit (even as a student), claimed to be a CIA informer and thousands of copies of a magazine (might have been National Geographic) that he told me contained coded messages from his bosses lined the walls of his room so it was at least 2 feet smaller inside than it should have been, with no windows. Apart from that he was quite normal. ALternative;y, my last boyfriend.

3. Sports figure, personality
Wouldn't mind a night out with Beckham as long as he got us on the guest list, kept his mouth shut and paid for the cocktails. Apart from that? Swimming lessons from the Thorpedo maybe. But to be honest, the only ones I can think of now that I'd actually want a conversation with are Cantona and Camus. Sport isn't my thing...

4. Art
First is James Turrell's volcano or lightworks. His work is utterly magical - Like the Rothko room at the Tate, the initial impact I felt seeing one of his things for the first time cannot be described. A close second is a child's pencil drawing of a girl skipping, about an inch high, belonging to a friend. And third is what I already have. Illegally (shhh, I didn't know it was wrong) gathered rocks from best-loved beaches in Cornwall, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Sweden.

5. Favorite museum
British Museum for the Egyptian doorways of the dead; V&A for the collection of wooden locks - some as big as the houses they were protecting; Pitt-Rivers in Oxford, for the dusty chaos and nonsensical organisation of the Victorian mind.

5A. Epitaph
"A gazelle"

cauliflower said...

Good game, this. Responding...

Blimpy and SatanKidneyPie's A levels made me think - those were forks in the road which has a HUGE impact, but weren't really recognised. Going down the alternative path would have taken me a different route, but I think I would have ended up in the same profession in the end.

Well done to you, TonNL - I know some dotcom boomers, couldn't have happened to a better bunch!

treefrogdemon had the courage that I didn't - wish I'd run away sooner. With you on the woodland burial too.

Chris - a friend of mine has always signed of with 'So it goes' - I didn't know it was Vonnegut, thanks for enlightening me.

CaroleBristol - your story about the art teacher reminded me of Rufus Wainright's song. And your fork in the road made me realise that I took quite some time to come out as straight - took years before I knew. Funny stuff, orientation.

saneshane - I love your Little Nan. And your epitaph is hilarious!

snadfrod, Chris - thanks for the reminder of the John Martins - they're amazing. Time for a trip!

Abahachi - your love story is beautiful. And your choice of Andy Goldsworthy made me want to go to see Richard Long's retrospective - seeing him making sculppture on the lawn of the Tate in 1985 or 6 took me to art school, which was a dream come true.

BalearicBeat - you lucky thing, seeing the Jewish Museum empty. I know someone else who saw it like that, said it was one of the most amazing buildings he'd ever been in. I'm so envious I can't bear the thoughtof going now it's stuffed with books and desks and people.

Japanther's homecoming in Japan is very similar to a friend now living in Osaka - he reckons he's found his place in the world. Good for him, sad for us.

tincanman - thanks for the pome. One of my faves - DarceysDad, are you cheering or lamenting?

AliMunday - donds to Duhrer's drawing of a hare. We had his hands on the wall when I was a kid, though not for religious reasons. I think it was to support my dad's belief that a real artist can draw hands. It was a test.

debbym - I agree, I think. Kids drawings are the best. Otherwise James Turrell can be found here. http://bit.ly/EYjM4

steenbeck - I wish I could say what you said: "...if you have children it's hard to regret any decisions you've made, because the smallest change might have resulted in them not being here." That's absolutely right.

gordonimmel - a performance artist tutor I once had used to say that "whatever happens is perfect, couldn't be more perfect." It's a good maxim, avoids regret, helps me to recognise what I have.

All the composters, I'm there with you, t'worms'll come and ate us up.

goneforeign - "a closely knit group of what you can only describe as 'friends'". It IS amazing!

Shoey - your choice of family for sporting heros made me think of my baby brother whose skiing, sailing and rugby exploits nearly made him famous. He's far far away, hardly visits and rarely calls - and is dyslexic, so no writing possible. If goneforeign is going to make this wish come true, then I'll have our kid flown in, ta.

goneforeign said...

TonNL: Yours is a very clean machine but pricey, here's the craigslist but it's not an ES


treefrogdemon said...

@shane: maybe those are David Mach-inations?

debbym said...

@ shoey
I'd completely forgotten, we've got a boxer in the family, too! In the very late 1800s, back in the days of bareknuckle, either my great-grandad or great-great-grandad (I was told this as a small child, and there's no-one left to ask for the correct version) used to box. Apparently he was very good, but would never box professionally because he was a religious man. He was, however, the regular sparring partner of the then world champion.
At least, that's what I remember my grandad telling me!

@ gf
I am SO sorry to disappoint, but there's really no hidden interesting story in my defection. I only got into my 5th UCCA choice (so much for academic prowess!) and hated the courses at the university and the city itself - I'd just returned from a long stay in Hamburg, much of which is gloriously green, also lots of lakes and rivers, and I recall wandering around the city centre looking for even a tree. It probably wasn't as bad as all that, but that's how I remember it. Anyway, I was (supposed to be) studying modern languages, so it seemed a good idea to get myself back to a country where I could stay with friends and learn their language and culture on a day-to-day basis... and I'm still doing that today. End of story.

Japanther said...


You know, Japan sounds exotic and like a "giant leap" but it really isn't. I've only had a limited tourist experience of the USA (California and Las Vegas - I loved both!) but from what I saw, the differences between UK and the USA are far bigger than the differences between UK and Japan.
Maybe it's the fact that they are both small islands with a long history of colonisation and monarchy and literature etc, i'm not sure, but they aren't so different.

It's the smaller differences though that really appeal to me and make me want to stay.
I can't explain too well and I don't pretend to be any kind of social anthropologist, but for example, when I lived in England it always seemed to that loudest, most obnoxious arseholes who had screwed over the most people were the ones that got anywhere in life. But over here in Japan, that kind of foot-stamping, shout-the-loudest attitude gets you absolutely nowhere. Hard work, respect for what you do and others are the only way to make your way in the world. Even spotty teenagers working in the convenience stores are impeccably polite and diligent and take their low-paid part-time job as seriously as they would a career. This fits into my previously held philosophy that whatever job/task you are doing you should respect and do to the best of your ability.

I don't know about the US, but in England wherever you go on a Friday or Saturday night there's this tension in the air, an un-nameable threat that something could kick off at any minute and it keeps us on edge. In Japan, that hateful (to a nerdy Guardian reading record collecting indie kid like myself) testosterone-fuelled swagger is completely non-existent. There may be 50,000 pissed up people in Shinjuku station all vying for the last train, but not once is there any tension or threat of personal danger. I mean, this is a country where you can have a vending machine filled with beer and bottles of whisky outside in the street and no-one would think of smashing the hell out of it and taking the goods. Ahh....I don't know, there are too many things to mention really, but as I said, it definitely suits my bearing and worldview.

As for the language, that IS a big problem. I'm far from fluent but can easily hold my own in the pub banter stakes and can read most of what I need to. Seems, learning the language is going to be a lifelong challenge though.

ejaydee said...

1. I'm with Snadfrod and Blimpy, there aren't any really big ones, or maybe they're all important but non stand out.
2. I know there's been a few, but I need to give it a bit more thought.
3. Mohammed Ali, wit, balls, and lots of other attributes I don't have. His outrageous arrogance, which only turns out to be accurate predictions, is where he gets me everytime. He's not irreproachable, he may have gone too far sometimes, but I think he's the most impressive sportsman there ever was.
4. At the risk of turning my future garden into some millionaire Russian's gaudy Versace inspired palace, Bernini's Daphne & Apollo.
5. Probably the British Museum, I like the V&A too. It would have to be a free one, because you enjoy it so much more, knowing you have the freedom to pop in and out whenever you want. When I went to the Louvre (the only time I remember going at least), the price, added to the long queues, made me feel like I had to see everything that day.
5A. I'll let my loved ones write something nice.

Chris said...

Tin: the keys to the Executive washroom? Why, thank you, kind sir. I'm just slightly worried about the little notice that says there are hours/days to go before all the files will be downloaded, as I'm using a dial-up broadband dongle... But I do need to use or lose my remaining data allowance today so I'll let it run.

cauli: there was a discussion about Vonnegut on the main blog a couple of weeks ago. There are many RR fans, which is why I felt the need to grab that phrase quickly (Tin is an ex-so-it-goes addict). I think it comes from Breakfast Of Champions or Slaughterhouse 5 originally.

sourpus said...

1) Forks? Oh so many, leading to such an episodic life as mine...some you dont control (like the death of a parent), some you blame yourself/give yourself credit for. I simply dont have one 'huge' one but many significant ones. Leaving Britain was a classic sourpus fork. 1997, Blair elected, no prospect of change, slippery slope more and more visible...that's how it felt at the time. The advantages were many though: freedom from much poisonous inhibition, a vastly bigger 'back yard' and of course, freedom (of a kind).
2) Characters? Again so many to choose from. Off the top of my head, i'll go for 'Jim' - a non-teaching assistant in the language school in London which I worked in 10 years ago. He wore a burberry baseball cap, had a permanently sweaty top lip and answered "Really?" in an exaggerated tone of voice to almost anything you asked or told him:

Ex. "Jim? I'm about to start my next lesson"
Jim: "Really?"

I liked him anyway.

3) Sports personality? Never really had a fave. Cloughy was always entertaining. Likewise Ali. Probably go for George Best - when young and suave obviously.

4) There's something about keeping art at home that smacks of decadence to me so I dont think I can go there honestly.

5) Fave museum. The Hermitage, St Petersburg. Because its so choc full of art, somehow manages to feel unpretentious and is full of the most beautiful art lovers ive ever seen.

(Epitaph? Probably)

tincanman said...

You can access dropbox via web interface too, which lets you pick and choose.

It usually amounts to a gig a week.

Please remember to COPY from your MyDropbox folder. Don't move, or next time you log in your PC will either try to delete from the server or download all over again.

treefrogdemon said...

Just found out I didn't win the Hirst painting in the Grauniad's competition. Dammit! So I'll definitely be needing the Caravaggio to fill the space on my wall, please, gf.

goneforeign said...

El Blimp: Could you drop a note to Dublin's National Gallery, tell 'em I sent you and ask 'em to ship that Caravaggio over to TFG
Cheers mate!

goneforeign said...

A quick addendum re. my mate Bruce. I the early '80's a professor in the Engineering dept was a very keen bike enthusiast and had several thoughts as to how competition bikes could be improved. He had Bruce build a bike to his specs which included all of his ideas, he then presented it to the USA Olympic cycling team, they adopted most of the ideas and went on to sweep the '84 olympics with 9 medals!

TracyK said...

1: Significant fork 1: not going for a trainee journalist position with the local(ish) Express and Star when I was 18, choosing to go to Aber Uni and avoid lectures but read voraciously for 3 years instead. I do sometimes wonder "What if I had ended up working for NME instead of Sylvia Patterson?".
Significant fork 2: Impulsively inviting my new online friend from the Spaced forum down to London for the next Social and then *BAM* Jon and the end of everything I knew and a series of happy adventures. By the way Japanther, you've summed up much of why we loved Japan and never felt homesick. I felt I 'got' my Japanese friends humour and subtlety, and I loved their appreciation for nature and the idea of wabi-sabi, their kindness, and yes, their honesty and social responsibility.

Most unforgettable character: my dear friend Andy, Doctor of Snow, as he puts it, at Leeds. When I first met him, he's shaved his hair off, was barefoot dancing to The Doors and, when he cut his foot on a piece of broken glass (typical student party), gaily painted a stripe of blood across his face and carried on. He's the best read geographer I've ever knowm, we bonded over mythology, Blake, folk and the idea of poetry as lifeblood. Once spent a day teaching at uni with not only his jumper on back-to-front, but also inside-out and with his t shirt inside-out over the top. Keeps bees, caves, once hit a six over the walls of Troy.

Sports: Pablo Counago, ITFC's consistently best player for some years, very glad he's back.

Art: I think I'd get bored with something major. We have a silkscreen of Tara McPherson's Deecmberists' 'whale' poster signed, my wedding present for Jon and the only thing on our walls. I love that. I also own a painted page of Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, just after Morpheus' death: Matthew on the throne, and Lyta as the Fury. It's signed by Danny Vozzo and I treasure it.

Not a Musuem, I'll pick the National Portrait Gallery. I like to look at faces, and the Tudor gallery is my favourite, all thos epowerful important figures from British history. In ruffs. Aceness. Runner up: the aforementioned Pergamon in Berlin. Awesome in the proper sense.

Epitaph: leave it to the hubby, he'd probably say "Thank gawd she's finally shut up"...

Blimpy said...

The Caravaggio is on its way! Should be in the dropbox in about half an hour!

ToffeeBoy said...

@ gf - much later than promised (stupidly busy and tired yesterday). I'm answering without having read the other responses so I hope there's not too much duplication. Anyway, here goes:

1. I can't think of an active decision that's made a huge change in my life but there are loads of moments where something that I did ended up having a massive effect on my future. Picking up a newspaper and seeing an advert for a job in the local bookshop led directly to meeting and befriending a fellow-employee who later turned out to be ToffeeGirl. If I hadn't picked up the paper that day ...

2. Blimey (no, not blimpy - blimey) - this is tough. I'll have to think about it and get back to you.

3. Walter Johnson - I only know about him from the Jonathan Richman song of the same name. Read all about him here.

4. Turner's Norham Castle Sunrise would keep me happy for hours on end. http://www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/turnerinfocus/rediscovered.shtm

5. The Royal Museum in Edinburgh (now part of the National Museum of Scotland) was the museum of my childhood. We still go there most years and it always brings back amazing memories of my wonderful grandma.

5a. I love graveyards and cemeteries but I always get annoyed when I see stones saying things like "Not dead, just resting". So I want mine to say - "I'm fucking dead, alright?"

FP said...

My tuppence ha'poth:
1) Deciding which Uni to go to (right decision)! Deciding NOT to take a job in Prague but to live in France - I stayed. Deciding I was NEVER going to be a female Harvey Weinstein. And living with it.
2)Arnold Mostowicz - Auschwitz survivor we did a film about. He was quite simply the nearest I'll ever get to a Jedi. A kind of palpable inner force.
3) Princess Anne. We share the same birthday and I'd love to chat horses with her. She'd have had some good tips for my delinquant mare.
4) Flat a tad too small for Guernica... Can I have one of Klimt's Wasserschlangen? Sure I'll find the space...
5) The Uffizi, the Musée d'Orsay, Edinburgh's Natural History Museum in Chambers Street, Bowes Museum near Barnard Castle.
6) Too early to consider.. I'm not through yet!!!

ToffeeBoy said...

@ blimpy - shouldn't your epitaph be gtg? Surely only Jesus would use brb ...

ToffeeBoy said...

@ carolebristol - I love Picasso's Nanny Goat - we used to have a poster with it on the dining room wall. I wonder what happened to it? (the poster, not the wall before you ask tinnie ...)

treefrogdemon said...

@Blimpy: yay!

DarceysDad said...

Belated suggestions for 5a, depending on the nature of my eventual demise:

"...so if anyone asks, you cut the RED wire first!"

"Who turned out the lights?"

"While you're stood there, would you turn that photocell towards the sun? My Walkman's gone flat again."

But seriously, I'll settle for -

"Beloved Dad, Grandad & Great-Grandad"

- but I'm going to have to clean up my act to live that long.

Blimey said...

I'm changing me epitaph to

Here Lies Blimpy
1977 - 2567
He never looked a day past 30.

goneforeign said...

Well done chaps etc. I see that I must leave it to another candidate to dislodge the mighty Toffee and I should like to thank all those who participated etc and congratulate Toffee on a well run campaign etc. and acknowledge the voice of the voters and then quietly slip out of the back door.
Or on the other hand I could express my awe at the interesting diversity that we found here, but we'd always known about that, right?
A lot of very interesting tales and choices that fill out our understanding of who we are, this group we call 'Spillers' and I'd like to raise a glass to two people who had a hand in all his, first of all to Dorian Lynskey without whom neither RR nor the 'Spill would exist and secondly to Senor El Blimp who created the 'Spill as a place where RR posters could hide and talk about stuff not acceptable on a family newspaper, so to both of them, Your good health, down the hatch!
It occurs to me that there's enough latecomers here now that it might be in order for El Blimp to scribble a short posting on the how's and why's of originally creating the 'Spill and maybe a bit about the early days, I suspect it might generate a bit of interesting chat and it'd also be good for the history file.
To wrap up this edition of TEOTWQ I'd like comment that I was surprised by the number of 'never had one really' comments re the 'fork', I thought they were universal, I've had at least 10 major ones where one choice progresses towards here and now, and the others; God only knows where, every one would have created a totally different me. I'm not in the least bit complaining, I'm very satisfied with the way things worked out and glad I made all those 'right' choices. Just think, one bad choice and I wouldn't know any of you lot.
I look forward to another next week.

tincanman said...

cheers GF

debbym said...

@ gf
I got to thinking about the forks thing, too. There are things that completely throw your life off kilter, but they *just happen* to you, it's not a conscious decision on your part - MY example there is the birth of my daughter with her extra chromosome - so couldn't possibly count as forks. That's not to say that *fate* can't play a role (eg. reading THAT particular job ad on THAT particular day), but it remains YOUR decision to go for that job (or not). Sorry if I'm rambling here...

debbym said...

P.S. You've still got at least 3 days to catch up with the Toffee count!

goneforeign said...

Debby: I included 'events' in the fork question just to cover such situations. One of my major forks was triggered by an event, the Cuban missile crisis, I chose to leave the US. Thanks for responding.

May1366 said...

I'm catastrophically late to this one but I've been looking forward to tackling these question, especially as the first one was one I had earmarked for whenever I get the EOTWQ gig. So, to no-one in particular who might still be reading:

1] My fork in the road was a South Bank Show feature on Thelonious Monk, roughly December 1987, during my final year as a History student in Liverpool. I'd written poetry and whatnot throughout my teens, and some while a student, but my 11-year-old's ambition to be a writer had evolved into what could only be considered a supreme aimlessness. I mean, after a few years studying Chile, Cuba, Spain, Malcolm X and the Russian Revolutionary Tradition, I was fully equipped with a higher purpose, to build the revolution and destroy capitalism - but what to do during the week wasn't so clear. Then Monk spoke to me. I can't remember a thing I heard him say in the footage used in the programme: it definitely wasn't career advice because that wasn't really his thing. What he articulated about his music, and why he needed to do things that way, connected with me on a level I'd not experienced even while immersing myself in jazz. I sensed that I could try to do with my writing what Monk did with jazz, and that night, lying in bed, I recognised that I suddenly had a plan for what to do after graduating: I wouldn't return to London, I'd stay in Liverpool, sign on the dole and commit myself to writing. Everything that's followed in my life has sprung from that one stoned, utopian whim.

2. Following on from above, I live in Liverpool and work in the arts so 'characters' dog my every step but the most unforgettable has to be my great friend, George McKane, a second generation Irish immigrant from Scottie Road (same area another great character named George - sonofwebcore - was born), mad Evertonian, who discovered Vincent Van Gogh at the age of 15 when he borrowed the biography Lust For Life from the library, thinking it was an erotic novel. That night, as he's said in a story I've heard a dozen times, he fell in love: in his early 20s, he went to live in Paris to be an artist, but it's in Liverpool that he's devoted half his life (following some time inside and some time as a breadwinning family man) to The Yellow House, an arts collective for young people, which he now runs with his second wife, Gosia, whom he met in Gdansk on one of his frequent visits to Europe, where he's regarded as an eminent theatre dictator while back home he struggles to raise enough funding to provide himself and Gosia with a living wage. It's a good job he has these international family connections because he can talk for England, Ireland and Poland. He also looks like a shorter version of what you'd expect John Lennon to look like now, and he once headbutted Anthony H Wilson live on television.

3. My sporting heroes are weighted towards those who've played for and managed Tottenham Hotspur as well as some impeccable Italians like Maldini and Del Piero, but Ali's in there as well, and dozens cricketers, particularly from great Surrey and Sri Lankan sides. And it's a Sri Lankan cricketer I'd choose, part of the current team that's in England for the 20/20 World Cup hoopla so, gf, you'd save on the taxi fare. Muttiah Muralitharan is the ultimate hero as the greatest bowler in Test cricket history despite overcoming a physical disability, career-long accusations of being a cheat, and the little matter of being a Tamil representing a country whose government has been at war with Tamil liberations and, arguably, the Tamil people for the entire length of his career...but to have dinner with, I'd actually go for the current skipper, Kumar Sangakkara, a superb cricketer who's funny, articulate, highly literate, politically-aware and generally scarily impressive but, I've no doubt, brilliant company even if he didn't have international cricket, civil war, and being shot at in Pakistan as a source of anecdotes. Or, failing that, Merlene Ottey and a takeaway would be fine.

there's more....

May1366 said...

4. Housing a piece of art in my shabby two-bedroom flat would be a bizarre juxtaposition but the portrait of Pope Innocent X by Velasquez (that's it here: http://www.artofeurope.com/velasquez/vel8.htm) would do for me as a reminder that popes don't have a link to the divine - they're just ordinary people who are more pissed off than the rest of us.

5. Referring to my first answer and my preoccupations as a History student, I'd have to plump for Havana's Museum de la Revolucion because it's been 50 years and it's still there.

5a. "Please use other entrance."

ejaydee said...

Ah. Merlene Ottey, always the bridesmaid...

May1366 said...

Steady, ejay - I wasn't thinking of proposing to her!

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