Seymour nominated me for the Leibster award, a thing which draws attention to, you know, blogs. WIN. The rules are that I post eleven facts about me (chosen by me); I answer eleven questions (chosen by Seymour); and finally, I pose eleven questions for eleven other bloggers I nominate to do the same exercise. So here goes:
Eleven facts about me
- I don’t own (and have never owned) a mobile ‘phone, a microwave, a toaster or a freezer. I have never read a Harry Potter book (because I’m thirty-three, for God’s sake). I will also shortly be without a television, as per the instructions of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I have never watched an episode of Big Brother or any episode of any soap opera. I don’t watch news on the television and I don’t read newspapers, so all of my current affairs-related information comes from Radio 4. I only have the TV at all for films, box sets and televised sport (athletics; gymnastics; figure skating; rugby; snooker if I am ironing; and, in the days when I could still drink, darts, so that I could really enjoy shouting at the TV).
- I don’t drink. Sometimes when people ask me why this is, I tell them I’m Amish.
- I have a stress-related bowel disorder, caused by working in higher education for ten years. It’s painful and humiliating and is the real reason I can’t drink anymore. Dostoyevsky said the following, which I think describes the bulk of that hellish decade very neatly: ‘If one wanted to crush and destroy [literacystrumpet] entirely, to mete out to [her] the most terrible punishment, all one would have to do would be to make [her] do work that was completely and utterly devoid of usefulness and meaning.’ Now I work for myself, and can’t imagine doing anything else.
- I’m scared of daddy-long-legses (or craneflies, if you prefer). They are so much worse than spiders. I don’t much like spiders (except garden spiders – they’re awesome), but at least spiders are sensible creatures with a purpose and a bunch of skills. Plus, when disturbed they tend to scuttle away and are usually amenable to (nay, grateful for) being caught in a suitable receptacle and returned to the outside world. Craneflies, however, are utterly pointless and seem to delight in zooming about rooms that they shouldn’t be in, legs spread and quivering and making a noise that haunts my nightmares.
- Bees don’t sting me, even when I pick them up or plunge my hands into their hives. I did this once at the bee place in Portreath. According to the guy there, ‘some people smell like bees to bees’ and don’t need netting or smoke or whatever, a group of freaks that apparently includes me. There was a time when a swarm of bees settled in a garden belonging to friends of mine, where we were peacefully playing croquet, and I was able to pick up whichever ones I thought most interesting (and rescue several from concealed spider-webs) without so much as a suggestion of a sting. I am the Bee Whisperer. The only time I have been stung by a bee was when I found a queen bee in some grass and was so excited to see one up close that I picked her up to have a good look. She was freaking huge, not best pleased to be manhandled, and stung me viciously on the finger. I wonder if some people smell like queen bees to bees?
- Where other children might accidentally call their teacher ‘Mum’ or ‘Dad’ at school and then be mortified, I called my father ‘Sir’ at regular intervals throughout my childhood (and once or twice in adult life), which we both thought was just fine.
- I think almost everyone looks better in glasses, including Superman.
- I don’t like mushrooms. I don’t allow them into my kitchen: they linger outside in the hall on top of the boiler to dry out. Then I put the horrid things into jars and give them away to understanding friends.
- I was once asked in an interview what my ideal job was. I can’t remember what my actual reply was, because I was putting so much energy into *not* saying ‘I want to be Colin Sell’ (it wasn’t a job that would have involved playing the piano).
- I am a tenor, and have been for about ten years. My range is tiny: C3 (C below middle C) on a good day, but most days barely-audible D3, up to C5 (C above middle C). C5 is sometimes called the ‘tenor C’, because it is the upper limit of what tenors are required to sing in standard repertoire, although I must say I’m only rarely asked to sing as high as that. I have sung with the same church choir for fourteen years, and the acceptance and joy I have found from doing so means everything to me.
- Some can sing; some can dance. I can make marmalade.
Answer eleven questions from Seymour
- Tattoo? Yes. I used to have one around my ankle, which read ‘Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven’ (a quotation from the hymn ‘Praise My Soul The King of Heaven’) during a period of religious enthusiasm. If only I had channelled this energy into something more meaningful than a tattoo. I had it removed when the black ink went green, which hurt like hell but fortunately did not leave much of a scar.
- Have you ever collected anything a bit odd? Thimbles.
- If you had the time and money to further your education, what would you study? Theatrical costume design.
- In the Hollywood feature film of your life, who would you like to play the title role? Jennifer Grey, with her hair as per Dirty Dancing.
- What was the last song or piece of music you listened to? ‘Ascendens Christus in altum’, by Tomás Luis de Victoria (I was learning it for Ascension Day). For pleasure, the last song I listened to was ‘Love Has Come For You’ (Steven Martin and Edie Brickell, from their new banjotastic album of the same name).
- If you were stuck in a lift for an hour, which historical figure would you most like to have for company? Maurice Sendak.
- What is the next book you hope to read? Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I’ve read it five or six times, but it’s an infinitely rewarding book that deserves to be read in times of crisis (and at other times, too).
- In a house fire, which of your possessions would you most like to save (apart from the house)? My laptop (which contains my novel and all my work) and as much of my fabric stash as I could carry.
- What would be your ultimate comfort food? Homemade meatballs with tomato sauce, spaghetti and lots of cheese.
- Where do you stand on politicians, from “I don’t vote” to “they are our only hope”? Women died so that I could have the vote. So I vote. But politicians continue to disappoint me, over and over.
- Could you summarise how you see your mission in life in a single sentence? (What would it be?) I am deeply suspicious of people who can summarise their mission in life in a single sentence (who has such an uncomplicated purpose?). Maybe it’s my mission in life to teach people the following thing: sometimes using more words is absolutely fine. More words can be clarifying, specific and elegant, while fewer words can mean that a message becomes smeared into something so vague and homogenised that it ceases to mean anything at all.
Pose eleven questions of my own for other bloggers to respond to
- Is making music purely for yourself and those you make it with and/or for, or should it be (at least a little) for the people that can hear you?
- Does a gift that has been made for you rather than purchased still mean more if you really, really hate it?
- Wings or a tail?
- Stripes or spots (or, most excitingly, both together)?
- Night owl or morning lark? Do you ever wish you were the other one?
- Name some things that you wash but don’t iron (my list: sheets, duvet covers, underwear, towels, bath mats, flannels, tights, tea towels).
- Name some words that you love (my list: frangipani; anaglypta; cocoa; cruciform; crackerjack; anacrusis; circumflex; archaeopteryx; nostril; macaroon; thurible; tangerine; toad).
- Name some words that you hate (my list: moist; nasal; douche; boil; pouch; slick, esp. when used as a verb e.g. ‘slick on some lipstick’ argh argh).
- I once took four of my young nephews to Bristol Zoo, shuffling them to the front of the crowd around the lion enclosure just in time to see that the lions had decided this was an excellent moment to reaffirm their bond through the physical act of love. As an introduction to sex, what it lacked in intimacy and tenderness it made up for in snarling and clawing at the ground. However, when I thought about it afterwards I was at a loss as to what *would* constitute an appropriate introduction to sex for children under the age of ten. Discuss.
- I love textiles and I love music. However, I have a passionate hatred of textiles printed with musical notation. Musicians are always having this nonsense forced on them (‘look! It’s got music on it! And you like music, right?’ Good Lord). Do you have any similar beloved x + beloved y = hated z situations?
- Really, what is the point of Just For Men? I would really like to know.
Nominate eleven other bloggers
I just don’t read that many blogs, and several of those that I do read (Brainpickings, for example) don’t really need attention drawing to them. So I’ve nominated some that I think deserve to be better known.
- Seymour at Seymour Writes (yes, I know he’s already written a Leibster post, and this is my way of making it easy for you to read it);
- Emily at Through the Lattice (Seymour has already nominated her, but see above);
- Lilian at Bookmouse;
- Garden Naturalist, who really ought to blog more often. It’s been years;
- Alex at closetphysicist;
- Robin at Robin Coyle;
- Alice at Alice Laird;
- Andie at andiesplace;
- Catt at DECIPHer, although she’s probably not allowed to come out and play; and finally
- Mark at many headed monster (ditto, although he could always do this exercise from an early modern perspective).
 That’s what she said.
 He’s a teacher, not a knight of the realm. Maybe one day he’ll be both and *everyone* will have to call him Sir.
 I think of this as killing them. I know.
 I am a splashy pianist at best, so this would not end well.
 They also scare me, because (as I said) I get my news from the radio and am therefore prone to starting back in horror when confronted with photographs of public figures I am familiar with, but have never seen (‘GAH! Michael Gove! MY EYES!’).
 I’m writing this at fourteen minutes past midnight. Hoot.