I’ve been tagged by my friend Jenny Vass on this web meme. This will take a while, so I’ll type a few random things as I remember them over the day, so here goes:
1. I was born in the Salvation Army Mothers’ Hospital in Clapton, north-east London.
2. I have a big head (I hope only literally), which made my birth distressing for my mother, and explains why my parents waited six years before having my sister.
3. I grew up in the same road that Bruce Forsyth did. Not at the same time.
4. On a school trip to Whipsnade Zoo, my mum gave me nineteen shillings in spending money. When the teacher announced we could only take seven shillings and sixpence with us, I kept quiet. I spent every last penny in the zoo gift shop. Mum was distraught: she had given me the balance of her housekeeping and had only intended the extra sum for an emergency.
5. I became best friends with my mate Jean when he joined my primary school at the age of seven. Nearly forty-two years later, we’re still friends and he was best man at my wedding.
6. Once, while Jean and I were boys, we were stopped by a van driver asking for directions. We made it all up and off he went.
7. Jean is an accomplished guitarist. We used to write songs together, even though I’m not musical.
8. When I was eight and my sister was two, she hit me over the head with my cricket bat.
9. I was the only child from my primary school to go to my secondary school.
10. I hated school, even though I did well academically. The reason? Bullying.
11. Glandular fever-like infections seriously disrupted my schooling at fourteen and fifteen, and a neck problem at eighteen. But for the neck problem, I would have read Computer Science at Imperial College, London.
12. I was a union rep for my office when I worked in the civil service.
13. I used to go to winter nets to practise with my Dad’s cricket team when I was a teenager. I didn’t know until adulthood that the men couldn’t read my spin bowling. I’d have given up quick bowling if I’d known.
14. Theological study: I had three wonderful years at Trinity College, Bristol and three terrible ones at Hartley Victoria Methodist College, Manchester.
15. On the surface I’m all academic, theoretical and conceptual, but underneath a creative person is trying to break out. That’s why I did a creative writing course at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity with the Association of Christian Writers in my last sabbatical, and I’m taking a photography course at Lee Abbey in this one.
16. I am left-handed, have blue eyes and have worn glasses since I was eleven.
17. My first computer was an Amstrad PCW 9512. I ditched the noisy, inflexible daisywheel printer, bought an Epson 24-pin dot matrix and installed that instead. I wrote my MPhil thesis on it. I’ve been fiddling with computers ever since. Had the neck problem not hit when I was eighteen (see 11 above), I would have done so from a younger age.
18. My first car was a hideous yellow Ford Escort with a grim gearchange. I backed it into a tree, the boot sprang open, and for a long while I held it down with a friend’s old tie (= ‘necktie’ for my north American friends).
20. Our son Mark is named after my favourite of the Four Gospels. We brainstormed four names, wrote them down, folded them up and put them into a hat for Rebekah, then a small toddler, to pick. Both of our children have middle names taken from grandparents. Mark’s is Alan after my Dad, Rebekah’s is Anita after Debbie’s late Mum. That gives both of them full initials that have something to do with flying. Rebekah is RAF; Mark is MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship). That’s a coincidence, but a nice one, since I come from an Air Force family.
21. I got into SLR photography after a mission trip to the north of Norway in 1981 when I was the only member of the party not to own a camera. Dad has been an amateur photographer as long as I can remember, and he took me to his favourite shop, City Camera Exchange by Cannon Street station in London, where I bought a Minolta XG-1.
22. I once tried to learn the guitar when a church member offered classes free of charge. As a result, I own a Fender acoustic. Unfortunately, the lessons began clashing with essential church appointments and I was unable to continue. The guitar and its electronic tuning gadget stay dormant in its case.
23. I studied Theology under George Carey. Shame he’s an Arsenal supporter.
24. I went from being a rabid teetotaller to a wine lover and now back to being teetotal. Originally, I held to a teetotal view on what I realised were legalistic grounds. Giving them up, I discovered the joys of wine. Unfortunately, medication I’m on for raised blood pressure now recommends I abstain.
Right, that’s taken far too long on and off. I’m going to tag twenty-five people on Facebook, once this has uploaded to my notes there.
Here are some of the destinations where I stopped on this week’s digital travels.
The ten worst predictions of 2008 (an American flavour, but not exclusively so).
What are they playing at? Westminster Abbey adds Hindu snowmen to Christmas displays.
In a week when we face the lousy possibility of a sickly version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ becoming the Christmas number one thanks to the X Factor, the first winner of that show, Steve Brookstein, says this:
Simon Cowell bought the rights to Christmas. From now on it’s called X-mas.
Heaven help us all.