Look how lovely I am! (or Guardian Q&A’s)

Fellow comper, blogger and Twitter pal Kay Wilkinson has cyber-collared me to complete this little meme, chain blog survey thingumybobby. It’s a bit like those (fascinating? annoying?) ‘100 things about me’ questionnaires that used to do the rounds on Facebook. Well, the boy is at the pub (I like to let him off the leash once every half term) and I haven’t had a better offer so here are my answers.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?

I’m not into hero-worship or idols – no-one’s perfect, we’re all just muddling along trying not to die. I like individuals who do things that don’t automatically benefit themselves, people who try to make the world a better place, fight the good fight and stick it to the man. I also like clever people and people who make me laugh. Mark Thomas fits the bill nicely.

When were you happiest?

From being 18 or 19 onwards (the time N and me started ‘courting’). But if you were to put a portion of deep-fried shredded crispy beef in front of me right now, I’d probably have to say – right now and pass the chopsticks!

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Blimey – how long have you got? I fall down a lot – it’s a combination of a dodgy hip and a habit of not looking where I’m going. But, hey, (so far) I’ve always managed to get back up again.

I suppose the most memorable incident was when I was at the height of my ‘gothic powers’ (how I laugh!). It happened during the first few months of Uni – about half the people in the block I was living in (biggup C Block Nicholson Hall at The Lawns) decided to go to the flicks to see ‘Stigmata’. I’m a BIG horror fan and have never considered myself particularly squeamish when it comes to fake gore, in fact I’ve always actively sought it out. The movie stars Patricia Arquette and centres around a woman suffering the wounds of Christ. At a certain part in the movie, she’s in hospital and they remove bandages from the wounds on her wrists – which literally gush with blood. I remember thinking “Ooooh, that’s a bit gross.”, then the next thing I knew, the girl sitting beside me was shaking me by the shoulder, my vision was blurry and I’d missed about two minutes of the movie. Not for the first time in my life (I’m needle phobic) I’d fainted. Pretty shameful under normal circumstances, doubly so in front of new friends but as the block goth with a room covered in Marilyn Manson and Evil Dead posters – well, you can imagine how my image was, shall we say, somewhat tarnished. Luckily the nickname ‘Plastic Goth’ (‘PG’ for short) never really stuck but I never fully lived it down either.

All this said, I don’t really suffer from embarrassment, life’s too short and there’s too much fun to be had to waste time worrying about making a fool of yourself. Which is a blooming good job really.

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?

I’m a bit of a bargain hunter, this combined with my typical Yorkshire frugality and the fact that if I want something worth a few bob I will try to win it (a semi-sucessful tactic), means I don’t often ‘splash out’. I recently treated myself to a pair of £100 boots, but I intend to make them earn their price-tag. If they give up the ghost before I do, I’ll be very disappointed. I don’t think something is ‘expensive’ if it’s worth it.

What is your most treasured possession?

My Gran’s silver charm bracelet that she gave me for my 18th birthday. It’s got about 30 charms on it, marking lots of the places she travelled to with my late Grandad, as well as other moments in her life. Most of the charms ‘do’ something – I used to play with it when I was a child and it brings back lots of memories.

Where would you like to live?

I would love my own farm/smallholding. Just me, my man, lots of cats and farm animals (and a broadband connection!) and I think I’d be pretty much in heaven. Though if I’m allowed to be greedy, I’d probably like a flat in London for when I get the occasional urge to be cosmopolitan.

What’s your favourite smell?

That’s a pretty mean question for someone who is olfactorily impaired. My sense of smell is rubbish and most smells don’t even register with me (a Godsend if you happen to be in a queue/on a bus next to a particularly ‘ripe’ individual). I do love the smell of rubber though – I remember spending many happy hours (well, probably minutes as my Mum would shoo me off) sniffing the inside of the washing machine (the rubber seal was rich pickings for a rubber-sniffer).

Who would play you in the film of your life?

I’d pick someone like Maggie Gyllenhaal (she’s amazing in ‘Secretary’) or Zooey Deschanel because I admire their spirit but if I were choosing based on similarity of appearance I think it would have to be either Samantha Morton (after a few pies) or Rebecca Callard.

What is your favourite book?

I’m really not good at favourites and I love books too much to choose just one. I worry if I pick one, I’ll offend the others and I won’t be allowed to read them again. The Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, The Zombie Survival Guide, Cloud Atlas and The Gone-Away World are in my top 10 though. That’s the best I can do I’m afraid.

What is your most unappealing habit?

I swear quite a bit (unless I’m in company where my manners prohibit it) – is that unappealing? I suppose it depends who you ask.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

Princess Mononoke.

What is your earliest memory?

Eating a Milky Bar at the Laxey Wheel.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I’m not particularly big on guilt either – if it feels good and you’re not hurting anyone else, do it. I do watch the odd bit of trash TV though. I don’t do IACGMOOH or Big Brother but, against my own better judgement, I will occasionally dip into ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’ or ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’. The intellectual part of me tells me it’s wrong, but the bit that likes people-watching and gawking at freakery tells it to shut up and we all watch it together anyway.

What do you owe your parents?

Neurosis and a hot temper.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

Maybe my Mum, for the odd sleepless night I caused her in my youth. But then, she made the decision to breed and it’s not like teenagers are meant to be plain sailing, so I can’t afford her that much sympathy. At least I never got pulled over by the cops for having a beer mat in place of a tax disc when I was a teen, eh Mum, eh?!

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

My partner – goes without saying, but coming in at a very close second is food.

What does love feel like?

Jumping off a cliff knowing there’s someone there to catch you. A rush with a nice soft landing.

What was the best kiss of your life?

My first kiss with N – in a graveyard. Worth the (12 month) wait.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I saw this thing on Twitter/Loquax/teletext/The Guardian website…..”

“Bag of bast*rds!”

“Ah feck it, it’ll do.”

“It be reet!”

“I’m hungry!”
What is the worst job you’ve done?

Factory jobs when I was saving for Uni. In the salad factory I had to chop cucumbers for hours on end and actually got a blister on my hand as a result. I did learn a lot about cucumbers though – such as M&S and Netto have the same quality cucumbers, only the M&S ones are straighter and are packed with more care in fancier crates. It also taught me never to eat pre-packaged salad lunches – sometimes the tomatoes have dead flies on and sometimes the conveyor belt is going too fast to pick them off and sometimes they get sealed in the tub. *nods wisely*

The chocolate factory put me off Mini Heros for life – it was the height of summer and the sickly smell of warm chocolate was overpowering (even for me), particularly up top where we had to feed the sweets into a giant hopper which spat them out into the tins. We were allowed to eat the odd ‘sample’ but that novelty wore off very quickly. It was hard, monotonous work. I also shredded my hands with paper cuts every day breaking and making up boxes. Oh and the vast majority of the workforce were the scary sort of women you see brawling in town centres of a Friday/Saturday night, they HATED students with a passion and I feared for my life on a daily basis. But I made a lot of beer money and had fun with my friends, so it wasn’t all bad.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

I’d be more sporty, I think if I’d developed a passion for fitness early on I wouldn’t have such a problem shifting weight now. That’s the theory anyway. *eats a cupcake*

What is the closest you’ve come to death?

Amsterdam. Twice in the same week. Once at the hands of Feyenoord football hooligans who wanted to kill (but only managed to maim) the visiting Sheffield United fans and/or the home Sparta Rotterdam ones – we got caught up in some nastiness and had to get an armed escort back to the train station. And the other time……. well, it was Amsterdam, I’ll leave your imagination to fill in the blanks.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Completing my dissertation and getting my degree. Not bad considering a few months previous Mum had a massive brain haemorrhage (on Christmas Day of all days!) and nearly died. I was a bit distracted to say the least but managed to pull off a 1st.

When did you last cry, and why?

Yesterday. I cry when I’m frustrated – it’s like a safety valve. I open it up, have a wee sniffle, then I can carry on and face the world in all it’s madness once again.

How do you relax?

Walking and swimming. Fresh air and laughing with friends. Sitting in the sun watching the world go by. Music.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

Moving house – I genuinely love Hull so we’re staying in the city but I want to move somewhere less main-roady, with a garden. Also I’d like neighbours who can grasp the concept that rubbish goes in the dustbin not the front garden.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Pick your battles, don’t sweat the small stuff and never turn down the opportunity to have an adventure.