Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Clare's questions: the "me-me"

The lovely Clare at Boob Pencil recently engaged in a 'me-me': personal questions tailored to the recipients. You should definitely read hers (especially the one about the contents of her 'purse': as the 'bag-lady' of Nottingham I can identify with such 'bursting at the seams'-ness) and to track it on at least read the how .Ophelia has responded.

Clare asked of me...
1. I've not known you long, but you seem a very giving person. Do you find you're able to receive, too?

Well its true that I get a lot of pleasure out of giving stuff to people - to see their reactions mostly, to provide them with pleasure. Do I receive graciously? Depends. Low self-esteem means that I tend to giggle or brush off compliments or become enthused about those complimenting me (And being an only child from a small family unit I relish friendships, shared interests, discussion etc). For a variety of reasons, I don't get many surprises even though I exhort Cloud and my friends to do so - I think it's because they can't keep up with what I'm interested in or are scared that others will predict their 'original' gift. But I do love pressies: my friend Chrissie is amazing at finding stuff for me! And who doesn't like to receive from those they love and care about?

2. You're clearly a bit of a culture junkie. Do you distinguish between "low" and "high"?

Yep, culture junkie, that's me. And no, I don't distinguish. Defining what is 'cultural' in social activities is perhaps one of the most pointless exercises possible. Of course, that isn't to say there ain't stuff I like and dislike, stuff that I have more interest in than other stuff, but like or dislike doesn't make for very good definitions of 'high' or 'low'. 'Fun' and 'worthy' instead?

3. Do you want, or have you ever wanted, to be in the "in crowd"?

I would say never, but that might be untrue insomuch as I have spent several periods in my life ostracised and isolated at the whim of petty bullies. Since these largely occurred due to my inability and unwillingness to be part of an 'in-crowd' I clearly didn't long to be part of them when they shut me out, but that didn't stop me wanting to be less alone. I tend to find that my tastes and interests are fringe rather than mainstream, contradictory rather than coherently consistent with a 'crowds' defined interests, and not obsessive enough to sit comfortably with 'true' fans of even the most fringe topics.

4. You've had a very active comments box lately, with arguments raging on the subject of education. Do you relish the debate, or fear the conflict?

Interesting question this! And perhaps the hardest for me to answer. I don't want to feel there are topics I can't write about. When I started this blog, pretty much everything was culture comments. Gradually, partly due to my inability to keep my opinions to myself and Cloud's encouragement to fly a little wider, I found myself commenting more and more on social and political subjects close to my heart. I am still astonished that people read this blog and can actually get that worked up about what I say; like my opinions amount to a hill of beans about any of this (or their remarks back). I know I am opinionated, but ultimately I hate conflict for the way it reduces all of us: I've been too hurt in the past by other people's lashing out, gossip, and weird sense of what they believe is acceptable. I think debate is good: personal attacks are unhelpful. I often aim for conciliation to my own detriment. I don't want to have such a hard heart that I don't feel pain, but it can be difficult when avoiding pain stops you expressing your ideas.

5. How did you and Cloud meet?

The great romance story! A102 Open University Summer School 1990, Westfield College, Finchley London. By a jukebox. He selected "The Boy with the Thorn in his Side" from the Smiths album Rank. I had selected Squeeze "Labelled with Love", Happy Mondays "Wrote for Luck" and the Smiths (also from Rank) "Ask". Bizarrely, his track from Rank came on before mine, so I challenged how that could have happened. We chatted briefly and I was smitten. Tall dark and handsome. And with OU name badges, no inconvenient need to clumsily ask for a name or make introductions. Barn dance, eye contact over meals and finally frantic dancing at the disco to The Pogues "Sally MacLennane". Discussions about the forthcoming Iraq war and St Etienne's cover of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart". Read me poetry from The New Masses anthology. Haven't stopped loving him since.
The New Masses:
From the ashes of the Masses//Liberator arose The New Masses in 1926. When the Great Depression struck in 1929 and America became more receptive to ideas from the Left, the magazine was poised to become one of the most influential publications of the 1930s.

It continued the original Masses tradition of fusing art, reportage and revolution together into a highly readable package. Most of the important writers of the period - Ernest Hemingway, Richard Wright, Thomas Wolfe, Dorothy Parker, Erskine Caldwell, Mike Gold, Theodore Dreiser, James Agee, Langston Hughes and Josephine Herbst - appeared on its pages.

Now, here's what happens next - and my apologies to the original me-me creator for any boundary changes.

If you'd like to have a go, and you want to be interviewed by me, follow the instructions below.

1. Leave me a comment on this post saying "Interview me." No, "if you dare" additional remarks are necessary. I think I'm entitled to take a bit of time choosing who I want to interview, though it is likely to be the first five (if there are that many respondents).

2. I'll respond by asking you five questions, by email. I'll spend some time reading your blog first, and then try and make the questions interesting for you and your readers. So the questions are unlikely to be like any of those found on others joining in the me-me.

3. Update your blog with the answers to the questions and leave the answers as comments on this post.

4. Include this explanation, and an offer to interview other people, in the same post as your interview.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you ask them five questions in the same way.


Neil said...

That's sweet. A tear came to my eye. That's the boy with the thorn in his side.

Clare said...

Nice answers!

I agree about the low/high thing. And I think fun and worthy are much better descriptors.

As for the in-crowd thing, I've always had an ambivalent attitude meself. Like you, I couldn't be arsed with it all as a child and have always preferred it on the fringes, but as a child there was also this little nugget of feeling that maybe I was missing out on something... and it still surfaces occasionally.

What a sweet story about meeting Cloud - sounds like a great match!

And for heaven's sake don't be cowed by reaction - it's your blog, say what you like! :o)