Tuesday, August 18, 2009

EOTWQ's - a little early!




I know it's a little early and last week was a late starter, but i'm off to Sweden first thing on Thursday and wanted a chance to read the replies. It's more difficult than it looks to come up with 5 questions!

1. Despite my non-religious tendencies, i'm a bit of a romantic believer in fate. So what is the biggest co-incidence you have ever experienced? or what event has caused you think that something or someone can only have been attributed to fate's fickle charms?

2. Instead of "what's your best/most/favourite....?" type questions, which give us hindsight and can allow a veil of cool, I prefer the honesty of the random. As we can't mention music, what book(s) are you reading RIGHT NOW (or at least what was the last book you read)? And why did you buy/borrow/pick up the book in the first place?

3. Despite a less than charming social awkwardness, i've never been afraid to have an off-kilter hairstyle or to sport an unusual trouser, but I do have fairly modest limits , imposed by fear of ridicule more than anything (i've settled into a semi-comfortable mod-casual wardrobe of done-up-too-tight Fred Perrys and V-necks over the years). What sartorial item have you always fancied wearing (and secretly think would actually look really really cool) but have never had the courage to actually wear?


4. What ONE thing (it can be political/cultural/educational/silly whatever) would you like to change about your country (or adopted country for us migrants)? You have unlimited (and not necessarily realistic!) power.

5. It's easy to be self-deprecating, but more difficult to do the opposite. So, what is your greatest virtue?

46 comments:

Japanther said...

i'll go first shall I..?

1. I've got a few. From a simple co-incidence point of view: outside of school trips, i've only been to the theatre once or twice in my life, the last time was to see a stage production of A Clockwork Orange, performed in the theatre-I-can't-remember-the-name-of-by-Sussex University. The day after i'd seen the play, the phone rang at the house and a voice said "Hello, i'm phoning to get information on start times for the performance of A Clockwork Orange tonight" . I told him that he had the wrong number, but that I had seen it last night and that it started at 7 etc etc, he asked if it was any good, I said it was great and he wouldn't be disappointed!
The bloke had tried to call the theatre and got the wrong number, I don't think our numbers were similar and this "accident" hadn't happened before and never happened again after. Spoooky!

In a more romantic vein; after our initial date, myself and Mrs J were still far far from being a couple. I decided to take the initiative and sent her a text message saying that i'd like to meet her again. A few minutes later she responded with a phone call and we set up the next date. The thing was, her phone wasn't set up to receive texts at that time and she hadn't got the message at all, she had just decided to phone me herself! It felt like it was meant to be......(not quite so sure now, mind you!!!)

2. A collection by Jorge Luis Borges called "Labyrinths" that is seriously twisting my melon, man. I got it from a pile left at work by a returning home co-worker.
And "The Rough Guide to Reggae" is by my bed for a pre-sleep dipping into.

3. I've always had a hankering for a Pork Pie hat. I imagine myself looking cool as ice like I just stepped out of the sleeve of a Specials album, but i'm sure I would just look like a knob!

4. As illustrated exceedingly eloquently by TracyK a while back, institutional racism is an everyday reality in Japan. I don't want to take anything away from Japanese culture I just want official protection of basic rights for foreigners and a change in mindset of the entire population that doesn't divide people into "Japanese" and "foreign". Wherever your parents are from, if you are born in England, you are British, simple as that, same goes for the US (maybe even more so). But in Japan, it's about race. Even if your family has lived in Japan for generations if you are not racially Japanese, you can never be Japanese, which means you suffer all the racist implications mentioned before. Not that I want to change identity, nationality or citizenship, I just want to be normal!!
I want to see non-Japanese in NORMAL but prominent public jobs like a train driver or a police officer (i've never seen a white/black or even Asian-but-not-Japanese person in any of these positions) . Imagine a London where there are no non-white taxi drivers! That's Tokyo!

5. Punctuality. I'm never late (except for last week when I overslept and was late for work for the first time in my entire life, but I did have a cold and took too much medicine ....and.....and....!)

tincanman said...

1. biggest co-incidence
When Mrs Tin and I were courting long distance about a dozen times in two weeks I was in the midst of typing a thinking of you text to her when one from her came in. I'm not the world's fastest typer, but I'm fast enough to make it a pretty small window.

2. book
Breaking Smith's Quarterhorse by Paul St. Pierre. It's one I go back to when I'm feeling nostalgic.

3. sartorial item
Leather liederhosen with iPod controls built into the pockets. Mrs Tin won't let have them.

4. change about your adopted country
I think we need to get the drinking under control, so no more happy hours, cut-rate pricing in gocoery stores, etc. Responsible drinkers can afford it.

5. Greatest virtue?
Modesty

tincanman said...

wow Japanther, our co-incidence stories are so similar. What a co.. nah, I won't say it.

nilpferd said...

Fine set of Q's, JP.
1. When I first arrived here in '95 I started knocking on doors to find a job, having picked some offices at random out of the yellow pages. There are about as many architects in Stuttgart as there are Sushi bars in Tokyo, so on about the tenth attempt I got lucky. 5 yrs later and having met Sandra along the way, we were each looking for new positions and put an anonymous ad in an Architecture magazine. The first person to reply was the architect whose office had been first on my list five years ago- he had been out then, though, so I hadn't met him then. He hired Sandra and she still freelances for him today.
2. Ha- my book is very similar to Labyrinths- it's a compilation called Fantastic Tales, a set of 19th century short stories selected by Italo Calvino. Right now I'm on The enchanted hand, by Gerard Nerval, elements of which may have inspired Borges to write his famous story The South; both involve naive duellists whose knife hand suddenly becomes mesmerised to kill. I highly recommend Borges- The collected Fictions, by Andrew Hurley, if you like Labyrinths- the translations are also better. I once translated The Aleph for a friend, as it was only available in German, and it is an extremely difficult task.
Rambling here.

Makinavaja said...

1. I hadn't seen or heard from the future Mrs Maki for over eight years. We had lost touch completely. Early 1991 I made my mind up to leave the UK and come back to Spain. The VERY day (and hour) that I was having the job interview for the post that brought me back to Madrid Mrs Maki rang my parents' home out of curiosity - whatever happened to Maki? that sort of thing -(she came across the number 'cos she'd just moved house and was going through old letters and stuff). 18 years later, we're still together and celebrating the birth of her (our) first grandchild!
2. Right now I'm reading an unpublished novel by Maki jr. Too much free time, I think.
3. I've always wanted some of those black and white shoes the Jam used to wear.
4. I would just love it if politicians here in Spain just stopped shouting at each other and tried to do something positive for the country. I won't be holding my breath!
5.My greatest virtue? Does three pints of Strongarm in 22 seconds (without throwing up) count?

nilpferd said...

Continued..
3. I've always had a hankering for sleeveless clothes, but I am just too much of a runty skinny git to get taken for anything other than an underfed schoolkid if I dare to wear a muscle T-shirt. Besides that, I would wear hats more often if my ears didn't make my head look like an amphora.
4. Since they actually banned smoking here a couple of years ago, I suppose my one remaining goal is to have the "after you! No, after you!" method of forming a queue enshrined in law and approved by the constitutional courts in Karlsruhe, with non-observance being instantly penalised by being made to cool off for ten minutes and then being sent to the back of the line;
Ditto for anyone bringing the "my flatmate is just getting some cheese" or "but I only have 15 items and I'm parked on a double yellow" argument.
5. I'm just so damned reasonable..

Chris said...

I can keep these questions well away from my fragile ego, I think, so here goes:
1. When looking for a house near the beginning of this relationship, we were making offers on one that was suitable but a little overpriced and old-fashioned. On the same day that the estate agent told us the vendors had changed their minds, another house came on the market. We went to see it, both loved it instantly and got on very well with the current owners. We now live there.
2. In theory, I'm reading A Suitable Boy. I thought I needed a big book to read during my exile so decided I ought to get it out of the way. I have given up after about 50 pages. My last successful read was Roth's Exit Ghost.
3. I've alwys had an uneasy relationship with clothes and fashion, so I'd like someone who understands these things to tell me what it is I'd look really cool in. I've no idea.
4. I remember reading a short story where someone had the power to make a universal change just by willing it to happen. He decided to make all the evil people shrink to 2 feet tall (and you can guess what happened).
I'd like to invoke a mechanism whereby any published item of news, which is actually only someone's opinion, disappears from the page/screen as soon as anyone tries to read it.
5. I'm an excellent

Abahachi said...

1. By a strange coincidence, the most remarkable coincidence I've encountered in years happened just on Sunday. Mrs Abahachi and I were returning from a 40-mile bike ride; we had to descend a long steep hill, which put me way ahead because she tends to jam on the brakes and descend at snail's pace, wasting all that hard-earned momentum... Anyway, I waited at the bottom of the hill, just outside a house. Woman comes into the garden, wearing a rugby shirt in the colours of my old college, and says to her husband: "You know what we've forgotten? The visit to Charles Dowding." Cryptic? Not to me; one thing that I wasn't doing that afternoon, because of the bike ride, was visiting the farm of one Charles Dowding, who grows organic salad leaves, on a visit organised by the old members' association of my old college. If I'd actually known the woman - she must have been ten years older, so we can't have over-lapped - this really would have been too much, but still a striking coincidence.

2. Oh God, this is going to make me seem even more pretentious; strongly tempted to lie... Weltrisikogesellschaft, by the German sociologist Ulrich Beck. Because it was mentioned in another sociology book, Liquid Modernity by Zygmunt Bauman - well, at least that one was in English.

Abahachi said...

3. Lederhosen for me too - but not the shorts (that's the Allgau) but the leather knickerbockers worn with long socks that is the traditional costume in the part of Lower Bavaria we visit regularly. What I really want is one of those collarless Loden coats, but it's money rather than cowardice that prevents me from wearing that.

4. Only one? Okay, the voting system, in the hope that it will then be easier to introduce all the other changes that are needed.

5. Um.

debbym said...

1) Turned the computer on for the first time this week and japanther had just posted this.
2) Just finished a disappointing Ben Elton (don't ask me what it was called, they had it at the library and it was in English!) and about to embark on my first ever Dorothy Dunnett, thanks to tfd's recommendation thereof.

Chris, don't give up on A Suitable Boy! Carry it around with you for reading on trains or while you're waiting for friends to arrive at the pub - it's a great conversation starter

3) A sari. Unfortunately no idea how to drape (or tie?) correctly
4) Germany is a *third world country* when it comes to disability (no disrespect to any thirld world countries reading this blog) and I'd like that to change, preferably overnight.
5) I'm just so thankful for everything (is being appreciative a virtue?)

TracyK said...

Great questions Japanther!

1: I think I've mentioned this before: I smiled at Jon at the bar of a Carter USM concert at the Brum Hummingbird in 1991. Neither of us knew each other or lived in Brum. He had a broken leg and I smiled because I was sad that he couldn't dance at a Carter gig. 3 years later, Jon, myself and Lydia (good friend) would all be dancing in the same area at the Cure's Great Xpectations gig at Finsbury Park. Lydia's friend wrote a poem about her being 'The Only Girl In The Sugar Mosh Pit', when I was convinced that actually I had been the only girl in the Sugar mosh pit that day. Another bizarre one: when Jon and I first met, he was looking through one of my photo albums and he suddenly stopped at New Year 1995. I said "That's Andrew..." "Llinares" he finished off. Jon went to Leicester Poly with Andrew, who was the brother of my best friend Kirsten's friend Maria. Andrew is now director of Pop Idol etc and very, very comfortably off. Sod.

2: Right now I'm reading a biography of Bess of Hardwick, picked up on my visit a fortnight ago and Rue Britannia, a graphic novel based on the idea od Britpop giving people magical powers. I love it!

3: I don't have sartorial fear, I'll wear anything. I wore black and white Jam shoes to school, a 1950s lace prom dress to my Sixth Form prize giving (this was in 1989, before retro was cool) and I've dressed as Death from the Sandman at school when it was World Book Day. I've been Princess Leia, a semi-Goth, The Grim Reaper, full on indie chick a la Candida from Pulp...

4: The excessive pride some people feel in being British. By which they mean white and ignorant. I'd like to bring back some manners too.

5: I'm extremely sorted: not neurotic, whiny, attention seeking (despite those clothes). I'm very happy and content with who I am and where I am. As I get older, I appreciate it more and it's down to having such stable, loving and accepting parents, I think.

steenbeck said...

Good questions, Japanther!

1. My first feature was a triumph of serendipity over careful planning. When scouting for locations I was looking for a diner, and I called realtors, etc, but at on point I just decided to go out for a drive. I ended up in a divey part of Bon Jovi's home town. I was trying to turn around so I could go home, but I ended up on a one way street, and at the end of it was a perfect, quintissential (I have no idea how to spell that) diner--metal siding, everythin. And it was vacant, and I found the name of the owner and they gave me the key and let me use everything in it (It was fully stocked with every non-perishable item a diner should have) for as long as I wanted for $500. And I auditioned a lot of actresses looking for the lead. Well, I had no luck, but there was a woman I saw around town I thought would be perfect. I had an ulcer at the time, I went to pick up my medicine, and she asked why I had an ulcer at such a young age (she worked at the drug store), I explained about the stress of making a feature, she said, oh, I'm an actress, I just got my MFA from this extremely well-known college, and I'm out of work at the moment.

Sorry, that turned into a very loooooong answer.

2. I'm reading a book (I think) called My First Time. It's by directors talking about the experience of making their first feature (coincidentally enough, since that's how I answered question #1). But I'm glad you asked this question because I desperately need a book to read, preferably fiction, and I was going to ask if all y'all 'spillers could recommend one.

3. I've never worn heels, except on halloween. I don't really want to, but part of me would like to be the kind of woman that always wears heels and is intimidatingly sophisticated at all times.

4. Oh the frustrating, depressing ignorance that verges on insanity. The people that let themselves be persuaded that we needed to go to war in Iraq. The people that are convinced that Obama has a giant wooden horse full of socialist foreigners without birth certificates who want to kill their grandparents and take their guns away. The people who are scared of socialism and want to have guns in the first place. The people that don't trust rational, intellectual thought.

5. In a bad mood, can't think of any.

FP said...

Nice one Japanther!
1) Wracking my brains at that one. My life has been disappointingly calculated so far: Too much of a control freak to leave a lot to Lady Luck, I'm afraid....
2) Trying to blag back the new Ishiguro off my parents currently visiting.
3) I have an entire geisha outfit and would love to walk up the red carpet in Cannes wearing it. Haven't dared yet. Possibly never will.
4) It hasn't happened yet but this wonderful country will get round to Sunday shop opening. And BANG goes a whole way of life (Sunday strolls in the park, family lunches). I would change them right back.
5) Humour. Even in the blackest situations. Even in the face of possible death (being wheeled into a life threatening operation :"Just keep away that fekkin' Jimmy Saville, will you...?')

goneforeign said...

Japanther: I'll just answer one right now and come back later.
Amazing coincidence you ask about reading, I was on the verge of doing a post on that topic. A few weeks ago you mentioned that you were reading 'Second Chorus' by Humphrey Lyttleton, I was delighted to hear that since I've had that book since the 50's and you're the first person I've ever 'met' who's also heard of it. So I pulled it down and started reading it, it was wonderful, it brought back so many memories of that period in my life. Then I grabbed the other book that I have by him, 'I play as I please' and read that one also, I finished it yesterday. I'd read it in the 50's but it was amazing to read it now, Humph and I seemed to have shared everything, except he saw it from his student/jazz performer point of view and I saw the identical situations from my student/jazz fan point of view; we were often at the same events with similar memories of what happened. We both lived through the same era under similar conditions.
Both books were very valuable in that they clarified many specific details and dates of events that I've been thinking about quite a lot recently, so thanks for being the catalyst and I hope you also enjoyed the book.

GarethI said...

1. On my way through Oxford Circus tube station (possibly the busiest station on the network) one Saturday, I bumped into my best friend from junior school, who I didn't know was in town, with his then girlfriend. Which was nice, but then veered into what-are-the-chances-of-that territory when around the corner off the platform walked his back-from-Hong-Kong brother…
2. City of Quartz by Mike Davis. Marxist professor takes a penetrating look at how Los Angeles ended up the way it has. It's fascinating, opinionated and scary.
3. I'd like to dress like Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep. The whole thing – suit, raincoat and the hat (fedora?).
4. The return of the orderly bus queue.
5. I'm trustworthy.

treefrogdemon said...

debbym: is it Game of Kings? If not, stop RIGHT NOW!

1 I've talked about this before...while on holiday in North Wales, I took my family to a very hard-to-find little cove that I'd discovered when I'd been there on holiday as a child. We'd settled into our picnic when a frisbee came flying through the air and hit Ab on the head. The apologetic man who ran up to see if she was OK was our GP.

2 The White Lioness by Henning Mankell. I've just discovered that I hadn't got round to buying two of his Wallander books, so I bought them and now I'm reading the whole lot in chronological order. TWL is one I've read before, but I have a magical ability (very useful for fans of detective stories) never to remember whodunnit, no matter how many times I've read one.

3 Black leather trousers. And I never will, so don't worry.

4 The way Scots always put themselves down. Other Brits do too but the Scots are the worst.

5 As I'm only half Scots I'm able to say that I'm always cheerful and optimistic. Well, nearly always.

snadfrod said...

'Panth, those are some nice queries.

1. I told this story at my wedding, and it just came back to me. Almost eleven years ago (crikey) me and the future Mrs Frod went on our first date. It was in a frozen and Christmassy Manchester. We wanted to go to the fair but it was closed so we went to the Old Bank on Moseley Street for a pint. Tentatively holding hands we walked past a tramp who shouted out 'Aah, look at the young newlyweds.' We walked on by hastily, but neither of us ever forgot it. Maybe its not fate, or predestination or anything, but that tramp was right about us.

2. Summerland by Michael Chabon. I'm reading it cos we're having a Chabon-fest in our house and it is a really quite fun kid's book about a fantasy world where giants and dwarves and sasquatches and coyotes all play baseball.

Also worth a mention in the teen-lit category is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Mrs Frod has just read the first two books (both 500 plus pages) in less than 72 hours and hasn't done that sort of thing since a certain Potter first appeared. Shame the last book isn't even written yet...

3. I tend to try most of the affectations that I get a yen for - the spat, the checked trouser, the panama, the pocket watch. The one I'd most like to go for now is proper braces and sleeve clips, a la Citizen Kane. Maybe. Just maybe...

4. I would make the English really really super good at cricket for the next six days.

5. I think it is probably punctuality too. I tend to get physically sick if I'm going to be late for anything, so maybe I should get help. Does that mean its not a virtue?

Abahachi said...

@Japanther: "It felt like it was meant to be......(not quite so sure now, mind you!!!)" You okay? Maybe I'm just getting paranoid about this sort of thing.

@Steen re 5: you're fishing for compliments... On the basis of your contributions here and on RR, how about 'ability to cheer people up'? Or is that a superpower rather than a virtue?

gordonimmel said...

1. I can't think of any big coincidences but then I'm a believer that such things are a normal part of the set up of the universe so I'm rarely suprised on the many occasions when little coincidences happen- things like thinking of somebody just before they ring you or (as happened to me when I was aged 12) wondering whatever happened to that Chairman Mao just minutes before the news came on that he'd died.

2. Strangely for me I'm reading some fiction (it's left-over holiday reading)-'Bonaparte's Sons' and 'Bonaparte's Invaders' by Richard Howard, a sort of poorer Sharpe about a French cavalry unit in Napoleon's army. I keep spotting factual clangers.
Before that tho' I was reading the (true, historical) book 'White Mughals' by Dalrymple about love and politics in the British Raj and India around 1800.

3. I don't as a rule dress up very much atall. My only sartorial dare would be to wear really flashy, loud waistcoats.

4. Change the whole UK constitution - voting system, seperation of executive and legislature, Prime Ministerial patronage, elected second house - the whole works.

5. I'll claim punctuality as a virtue aswell. Like snadfrod, I feel mortified if I'm late for anything. Ofcourse it does have a flip side in that I expect others to be on time aswell and can get quite upset if they're not.

tincanman said...

I sympathize with your colourful waistcoats fetish Gordon.
I was down on the Oregon coast some years ago taking in the kiting culture, and loved the flashy beachwear so much I returned home in flourescent pink shorts and a Crayola box shirt.
Mrs Tin likes me in less colorful garb (doesn't want me turning other women's heads, I suppose) or I'd that'd still be my summer wear. I look totally ridiculous at my age, but who cares. To me it makes sense because as older age memory losses kick in, it's helpful to be able to find yourself in the parking lot.

Japanther said...

great great answers one and all!

@Abahachi - well picked up! Well, this week did contain a mini marriage crisis with a couple of nights on the sofa, so I couldn't resist a little aside, let's just say it's down to cultural expectations of the marriage role, they seem to be rather different......oh well, the path of true love always was a complete bastard as old Bill Wagglestick almost said!

glasshalfempty said...

I don't usually do these quizzes as I never seem to have the time, but just this once...

1. My biggest coincidence is music related in a way. I was wandering down Kings Road in Sept 1970 (as you did) with my girl when we bumped into Jimi Hendrix and had a little chat of an inconsequential nature, as you do when you're trying desperately to stay cool, and not fawn or bug him for an autograph. The next morning I went into St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, because my kid sister had just been admitted poorly. Lo and behold, the hospital is abuzz that Jimi had just died in the hospital. (The truth was he'd died earlier, but that wasn't the rumour in the corridors). It sort of spooked me...

But much weirder was a mate of mine who worked in a fishmonger. He and his co-worker in the shop were plotting to set up on their own. Talking about it on the phone one night, they suddenly heard their boss say "You're both fired" - he'd got a crossed line with them. All worked out in the end though, because that forced them to set up their own shop - which they might never have actually done - and it prospered.

2. Chris Albertson - "Bessie", as recommended by none other than Mnemonic!

3. Funny, but I've always fancied a pork pie hat too (see one above). As that's taken, I'll mention my fascination with jump suits. They always seem so supremely practical, but never actually acquired one. Overalls come close, and I've worn those for gardening, but not in t'street...

4. Don't get me started, or it'll be a whole episode of Grumpy Old Men. Call me old fashioned, but I'd settle for the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The more global capitalism becomes, the more thermo-nuclear its implications. (George Alagiah's current series on food being a case in point, as is the topical disaster known as health care in the US). I still have my copy of the special issue of the Ecologist on the Limits to Growth, and yet even the now certain onset of serious human catastrophe is not causing a serious debate about the underlying system that got us to that point.

5. Virtues? I'm supposed to have virtues?

barbryn said...

1. I'm not much of a believer in fate or anything supernatural, but there've been a couple of occasions when I've known, with complete certainty, what a person's name was the first time I saw them. It's not something I make a habit of trying to guess - but with these two strangers, it just came into my head, and I turned out to be right. Paul and Josie, since you ask.

2. I'm reading a back issue of Granta right now, but have just finished "The Quickening Maze" by Adam Foulds, about the madness of John Clare, the 19th century peasant poet. Highly recommended. The author is a close friend of my brother, which is why I read it in the first place.

3. I very rarely stray outside my jeans and T-shirt comfort zone. Anything else seems like an attempt to create an image that isn't really me, and I don't feel comfortable with it. But I do really envy people who can carry off something different with style. Especially hats. I'd love to look good in a hat.

4. I'll go for an efficient, comprehensive, integrated national public transport system that's cheap and convenient to use.

5. I'm nice. Teachers at school said never to use that word 'cause it doesn't really mean anything, but I think it describes me pretty well.

AliMunday said...

1. Can't think of any except meeting my best mate in 1970 when we started secondary school together. Her initials were JAD and mine were AJD so we ended up sitting together (alphabetical order). Her second name is the same as my first. She was born 9 days later then me. We looked similar, with long dark wild hair. We were the only two in the class who didn't know what religion we were. She was an only child, I had two very much older brothers so was brought up almost as an only child. We're still best mates. We have similar interests. She has two sons and I have a son and a step-son ... it goes on.
2. Have just re-read the Green Knowe books by L M Boston. My shelves are full of children's books so to justify keeping them I re-read them from time to time. If they don't work for me any more I pass them on.
3. A feather boa. And nothing else. (Don't worry, it ain't gonna happen).
4. The lack of quality public places were you can take children to eat/drink etc.
5. People tell me I'm very organised. Now where the hell are my glasses ...?

goneforeign said...

1. I only experienced this second hand and I may have mentioned it before, but it fits.
My stepmother had a childhood friend from nursery school 'til they were both in their late 20's and married with kids right after WW2; they even lived next door to each other in SE London. In about 1947 they somehow parted and lost track of each other, my stepmother and father moved to East Anglia which is where she still lives, age 94. One day about 5-6 years ago she was sorting through some old photos and she had some of her friend Grace, there was a knock on the door and another friend had stopped by to see her, they sat chatting at the dining room table. He glanced down and saw Grace's picture and said 'I know that woman, she lives in Brighton, I see her quite often'. My stepmother didn't believe him or at least she thought he was mistaken but he phoned 'the other woman' explained the situation and it turned out to be Grace. So they made immediate plans to meet and have been doing so ever since, lots of catching up to do since there was a 55 year 'hole' to be filled!

3. A crown.

4. Don't get me started. Well right off there's the bloody gun maniacs who are showing up at Obama events carrying automatic rifles; because they can! Then there's the rabid right wing that's spreading lies and disinformation about the National Health Service to discredit Obama's efforts to pass healthcare legislation. Plus the all powerful military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about that are now so powerful that no one will even criticise them. Then we have the multinationals who finance the politicians and therefore have them to do their bidding. Plus a media that's forgotten or chooses to ignore what their role in society is, they believe it's to accept and distribute corporate and political press releases, not to mention the dismal state of the citizenry's education levels and involvement; that's just off the top of my head, if I thought about it I could write a book!

5. Well there's not much apart from my striking good looks, my impeccable taste, my superior intelligence and my all consuming modesty.

Comments:
I was born in St Mary's hospital Paddington.
Japanther: Rough guide to Reggae - good choice.
Bess of Hardwick; My granny worked as a skivvy at Hardwick Hall when she was a young woman, I went there once and it was very weird to be in the kitchens where she had scrubbed pots and pans.
Must get City of Quartz

cauliflower said...

As always, good reading, some to respond to tomorrow...

1. Coincidence
There are so many. I could tell you about meeting a naked Somali woman in an East End steam room who turned out to be the niece of my aya, who looked after me when I was four. Or how I bought my house. But today I was thinking about the night, about 15 years back, that I decided, as the tube doors closed at Hammersmith, to squeeze out and buy what turned out to be the last available standing room ticket for the (then) Hammersmith Odeon to see Dwight Yoakam. I'd had a GOOD DAY, feeling great after many difficult months. Having escaped from the angry man who'd queued behind me, I spraunced all the way home, catching smiles and comments from friends and aquaintances - all was well with the world. In the gig, dancing at the back, I was chatted up by the sound man... he took my number, went on tour then called about 6 weeks later - became the love of my life ;-)

2. Book
Elective Affinities by Goethe, in English. £1 in charity shop, thought I'd give it a go... easy to read and entertaining so far.

3. Sartorial
If I was shorter I'd be a shoe freak. At 6'2", elegant heels are hazardous, not only because of the very long drop - at this height, head injuries are not uncommon in sandals so I'd probably decapitate myself in stilettos. But if I could be magically small and elfin-like - with a huge bank balance - I'd be down Bond Street like a shot.

4. What would I change?
I'd go for a child-friendly culture. If people recognised how essentially important the experience of our first few days, months and years are, and the impact on the rest of life, relationships etc, life could be more about fulfilment, less about punishment.

5. Greatest virtue?
Curiosity. Keeps me going...

ShariVari said...

1. I'd known my girlfriend for about six years, prior to us being a couple, but only vaguely, through friends of friends. She was in Ireland and i was here so we'd never actually met but might send the occasional e-mail. We fell out of touch for a long time before both turning up in the same fashion-related Facebook group. One thing led to another and she's been living with me for the last eight months. Having emigrated, she found her perfect job - which just so happened to be in the same department as me.

2. I'm currently waiting for my copy of Fernando Pessoa's The Book Of Disquiet to wend its way through the company's internal post system (staff discount ftw!), partly because i'm going to Portugal for the first time shortly. The last thing i read was Fred Vargas' Have Mercy On Us All as i'm a sucker for silly detective stories and she came highly recommended.

3. I once had to take to the streets in a bedsheet, having locked myself out of my flat, and nobody batted an eyelid, so i have no trouble popping down to Green Lanes for cereal in a neon-pink hooded top from Elio Fiorucci's dayglo Love Therapy boutique. I'll wear anything without a great deal of fear. Like George Costanza, i'd like someone to bring back the cape though.

4. More investment in education and a real attempt to tackle the inequality of opportunity rife in the British system.

5. Ignoring, for the moment, my beauty, brains and gentle, loving soul, i think my greatest virtue, inherited from my father, is probably a fairly laid-back, West Indian, approach to life.

B-Mac said...

Top Qs Japanther!

1. Nope

2. I'm re-reading jPod by Douglas Coupland - i think i picked it up again because of 2 things. a. I just moved all my bookcases from the study to the landing thus making me very aware of all my books. b. I started following Coupland on Twitter, thusly making me aware of him.

3. Hahaha, I have loads of stuff in my wardrobe that I would be ridiculed if i went out in!!

4. "maybe it's scotland that i hate. i know i hate so many things about it. i hate the way punishment's at the heart of everything. i hate the way parents speak to their children. i hate the way everything always has to be someone's fault even though some things just happen.

some things just happen...

i hate the way people bring up their children to be exactly the same as they are just so they can justify the way they've lived their lives. i hate the way that we expect to fail. and then we fail. and then we get bitter because we've failed.

maybe it's scotland that i hate..."

sprung into my head! that's a ballboy song by the way.

5. Patience. or a Humour. Or both.

tincanman said...

I like that concept of combining patience and sense of humour. You can still laugh off life's foibles like you are supposed to, but not until you feel like it. That way you can appear mentally well but not have to go cold turkey on the unparalleled enjoyment wallowing in self pity.

goneforeign said...

Japanther; Before you pop off to Scandinavia take a look at this website, it's amazing and courtesy of the science section over at the Mail; it's relevant to our recent chat re. moon landings et al.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1206382/NASA-captures-vivid-shot-sand-dune-Martian-crater.html

nilpferd said...

Sharivari, you might enjoy Antonio Tabucchi's Pereira Declares, if you don't know it already- an Italian author whose stories are set in Lisbon, and who was heavily influenced by Pessoa.
Jose Saramago's works are also brilliant, All the names struck me in particular. We were in Lisbon the day Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were admitted to the EU, and it was very instructive and touching, in a restaurant we were at, to see how genuine the locals were in formally welcoming some Polish tourists to the Union- I doubt very much you'd have seen that in Germany.

treefrogdemon said...

Crikey, gf, I wouldn't believe anything I read in the Mail...

cauliflower said...

Steenbeck, let's go shoe shopping with Mnemonic - she has really good taste in sandals.

An email today reminded me of a REAL coincidence. A few years ago, working in a government department in a technical job, my (non-technical) line manager had to give me an annual review. We agreed that I'd spend an hour telling me what my job was, what I was supposed to be doing etc, then have a break, after which she could assess me on whether I'd achieved anything. We worked in different cities and rarely saw each other so, in our 10 minute break, had a coffee and a chat to break up the dullness of the formal interview. I asked about her accent - East Coast Scotland. I said, Oh, I thought so, seemed familiar. She asked how I would know, so I told her about primary school in XXX in the 60s. She asked which school, which year. Suddenly it seemed inevitable that we had met. Turned out she'd done teaching practice in my class - we did a cocoa project which I remember really well - and the class had bought her a powder compact when she left, which I remember helping to choose in Woollies. Thirty years apart, and we might never have known if the coffee bar had been shut.

Which only goes to confirm my theory that we only really meet a few thousand people in life, and that the famous 6 degrees of separation are the distant relations - many people met randomly are much close that that. All the rest are backdrop... which might sound superior, but I mean that we're all walk on parts for everyone else too.

Abahachi said...

@tfd: more than that, if the Mail said 2+2=4 - I'm sure that by the law of averages they can't be wrong 100% of the time - I would at once conclude that 2+2=5.

@japanther: you think this is culturally specific, rather than common to all marriages? Even the male newts in my pond have a faintly hunted air, as they're clearly being frozen out for having failed to live up to some unstated and arbitrary expectation.

Makinavaja said...

Sharivari, I second Nilpferd's recommendation of Pereira Declares. I read it while on holiday in Lisbon a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Being in the place he was writing about made it special of course and the book helped me see the city differently and the city helped me enjoy the book more, or something...

steenbeck said...

Cauliflower--I'm sure she does! I would love that. I could be in London by tomorrow morning...

Abahachi--thanks. I realized it might have seemed fishy, but it is genuinely a hard question, as Japanther said. Ability to cheer people up is a good one, though. Thank you.

GHE (and Mnemonic) I'm waiting for Bessie from inter-library loan! What a coincidence!

ejaydee said...

1. I can't think any good ones, but I am trying to engineer one. My friend Leslie and I believe that a girl she was quite good friends with in school, and who desperately fancied my brother, is now the wife of William Gallas, a footballer for Arsenal. I'm trying to get Leslie to get back in touch with her, so that by association I can be invited to every game.

2. There's two. One is about gifted adults and their difficulty to find happiness. It's quite technical sometimes so to break it up I've got David Sedaris' When You Are engulfed in flames.

3. Hats, but they distract me because I'm not used to them, and I'd like to be a bit more adventurous in my coat jacket wearing. If I lost some weight there's a lot more I could get away with.

4. Public transport is a good one, the drinking too, I would add the endless mortgage ads, and home improvement and other real estate TV shows. Also, the rampant americanisation, and the prevalence of tabloid newspapers.

5. You're right, it is much easier to be self-deprecating. I would say I do my best to work on being a better Human Being. I make great efforts to be conscientious, "don't do unto others...", and fair as much as I can. That's probably quite generic, but I really mean it.

Shoegazer said...

1. Fate? Nah! Would like to believe in Karma.
2. Stalin's Ghost
3. A kilt.
4. As a visitor, it doesn't seem right to suggest how to fix things somehow (or know where to start). As for the UK, this "hotdesking", mentioned in these pages, needs to be cut right out. Only the English could invent something as petty & passive-agressive as that.
5. Of the 7 trad. virtues, only "steadfastness" seems to fit (see stubborn).

TonNL said...

1. A couple of years I ago I was walking the Dales Way with a couple of friends, and we had one of those terrible rainy days,which made walking through a vast wide open moorland quite unattractive, so we decided to walk down to the small village we saw to get something warm to eat & something cold to drink. When we opened the pub door and entered we were greeted in perfect Dutch: "Hi Ton, wat doe jij hier?' (Hi Tony, what are you doing here?), turned out that a couple of ex-colleagues who I hadn't seen in years (...and they had got married in the meantime....) had had the same idea as us, only about half an hour earlier. The Station Inn in Ribblehead had a very good day that day....

2. Philip Kerr - A quiet flame
Part 5 of the Berlin Noir trilogy

3. ....one of those personalized footballshirts, Fortuna Düsseldorf, when they were sponsored by Die Toten Hosen, name "BUCK", number "59"......

4. The information system of our national railways. As a daily user I enjoy my trainride to and from work, but, when there are problems (luckily not too often) no one knows anything, no information (apart from "there are no trains running from A to B") is given on the informtion displays etc. etc.
Strange thing: I've got an app on my iPhone that somehow (illegally, the State Railways claim...) makes use of the database of the railways, and that app gives accurate information about the cause of the problem, and knows exactly which trains are and are not running, with the exact delays as well...

5. Reliability. People know what they can expect from me, when I say I can do it, they get it, when I say that I can't they accept that as well.....

tincanman said...

@ TonNL
A couple years back BC Hydro (British Columbia) ran TV ads for a web site you could go to during power outages for an estimate on how long repairs would likely take.

Of course you'd have to write the web address down before the power outage; it's so hard to find the TV remote in the dark. Not to mention the keyboard keys if you are unfortunate not to be a touch typist.

TonNL said...

@tincanman:
...even if you're a touch typist, what's the use of typing when your computer has no power as well?
You might say, "well I've got a laptop, and wireless internet....", now, that might have been a good idea, except for the fact that the router for the wireless internet is also without power.....

TonNL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tincanman said...

@ TonNL
Good thing I didn't try it then :)

goneforeign said...

Well re. the Mail etc. The pictures mentioned were obviously doubly suspect since they originated with NASA and were reproduced by the Mail and were just a part of the ongoing scheme to dupe us all into believing that there actually were 'robots' on Mars, the fact that the Guardian didn't publish 'em proves that!
Did anyone look at them by the way?

ShariVari said...

Thanks Nilpferd / Makinavaja, i shall investigate.

sourpus said...

Unauthodox thinking warning:

1)I used to believe in coincidence (the popular and growing consensus is probably that the universe is just one more coincidence in the great randomness of things). However, I recently discovered a new way of looking at things which is not in any way religious, is only forward looking (even anti-historisist) and makes more sense to me than any single other of the many ways of interpreting the world which have been offered so far in history. Popularly known right now as 'The Law of Attraction', it has become the basis for my understanding of all life on Earth, and just about singlehandedly makes the word coincidence sound as old hat as words like 'charabang' and 'communist' do now.

Which is a long way of saying, I dont believe in coincidences anymore.

2) I'm re-reading Joe Klein's great 'Woody Guthrie - A life', which I first read in 1988. Took it down from the shelf a couple of days ago when planning to head for the pool and got really into reading it again. Thoroughly recommended.

3) A small sized leather jacket. They can make you look either gay or fat if you dont watch out.

4) I would give the whole world (Hungary too) a better understanding of the aforementioned Law of Attraction so that they could lose their out of control historicism and concern with hanging on to the past. Plus I would ban all popular cultural innovation prior to about 1975. Hungarians are natural hippies and look MUCH better when they let their natural hairiness and bucolicism shince through.

5) In my opinion, there are no virtues and vices - only better or worse feelings when you do something. I have recently rather enjoyed eating whatever I want while continuing to actually lose weight (some of you are now probably thinking that my greatest 'vice' is actually boasting) and staying up late.