6 Questions

I'm still on a roll from No Dependencies/No Logo's latest post on self-disclosure. I couldn't possibly answer 105 questions about myself, but looking over the list in the above post (and it's most entertaining), I've picked out 6 that I think cover my life in any case.

Have you kissed in the rain? No, certainly not. I can't imagine feeling any emotion so exclusively that it would blank out the recognition of being cold, wet, uncomfortable, etc. Not to mention horribly anxious that when the kissing stopped, the man of one's dreams would be confronted with a small, drowned rat. Of course if this didn't matter because you were being kissed by someone you didn't want to be kissed by, then its happening in the rain would just add insult to injury. If the question is asking whether or not you can be passionately romantic, and be taken by surprise by love and lust, well the answer is yes of course, but I would like to argue that it's not mutually incompatible with being indoors.

Have you lied to a friend? Tricky, as I am honour bound to be strictly honest at all times (fear of that awful feeling of being caught out, plus conviction that inevitably I would be caught out) but equally crippled by politeness and the need to be diplomatic in all situations. This is further complicated by the fact that the day job is all about seeking out the fundamental truths of the human condition whilst recognising that truth is itself only a product of language. How can we establish the veracity of anything without arguing the case with words? I could go on for a long time now about the distinctions and complementarities between scientific fact and literary truth but it's best not to get me started. Let's just say the whole concept of truth and lies (and who says the terms are simplistically opposed?) is a highly complex one, that I spend far too much of my time picking over.

Have you had a dream that you married someone? I dream every night and remember the vast majority of them. Inevitably I've had marriage dreams. One of my favourite dreams was that I had to marry Alan Titchmarsh in a hasty secret ceremony to protect him from the mafia. He was quite charming and offered to compose a poem for me. And I dreamt that I bumped into Tim Henman on the street and suddenly remembered that we had once been briefly and disastrously married. I was thinking it odd that I'd never mentioned the fact to my two best girl friends before, and imagining the laugh we would have when I told them about it. There's obviously a theme going on here, but I don't want to know what it is.

Have you been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on? No, I avoid pools because I can't swim. I thought it was due to the fact that I was obliged to learn as a small child in an chilly outdoor pool whose surface was scummy with dead bugs and more mysterious and worrying floating debris. Anyone with an atom of insight into my character ought to know that in such a situation I would be incapable of doing anything other than wait to be allowed out. But now I think it's because swimming, like kangaroos and mayonnaise, is one of life's mysterious wonders that can only be accepted on trust. You have to let go and believe the water will carry you. Uh-huh, no way. I do vivdly remember, however, as a child on a beach holiday, standing on a rock looking out at the sea and being pushed in in an act of unprovoked and random violence by an unknown child. It's remained a paradigm of life for me.

Have you choked on something you're not supposed to eat? No, because I am extremely careful what I allow in my mouth. I'm one of life's porous people – I feel what other people feel, and know what they are thinking; atmospheres seep into my blood stream. If I have a controllable opening onto the world, I police it. However, my son, who is also a very fussy eater, went through a phase in babyhood of eating toothpaste and low quality woodchip paper. Not exclusively, but with enthusiasm if he could get his hands on them. I had to take him with me to my supervisions at that time, and on one memorable occasion he coughed and returned, not a hairball, but a mashed paper ball on which fragments of maps were still visible. 'Is he all right?' asked my supervisor with more amusement than concern. 'Oh yes', I replied, 'it's just my London A-Z'.

Have you thought about running away? I tried to pack my bags about age 6, but realised I was doomed because there was no way I could carry all my books. And I ran away from school at 13. I only got as far as the end of the road and then I thought what a futile exercise it was and went back. Unfortunately not before the school had noticed my absence, but that's another story. I have a sneaking suspicion that my entire life has been structured around failed attempts at escape, and its just that these two were the most noticeable.

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