22 March 2010


That Welsh rare bit - Jennyta of "Demob Happy Teacher" discovered a piece in "The Independent" newspaper which she has turned into a meme challenge for we inhabitants of Blogworld. Like a relay runner, I also pass the baton to you dear reader. For insomniacs, here are my responses...
My parents were ... the best of friends and had great respect for one another. They were - like me - both Yorkshire born and bred.
The house I grew up in ... was a Victorian schoolhouse that Dad rented from the local council. He was the headmaster of the village school and we lived next door. There was a coalhouse, a wash-house and an outside toilet. In the garden there were three tall sycamores and a craggy apple tree. The school playground and field were our exclusive play territory when school was not in session.
When I was a child I wanted to be ... a man. Perhaps a poet or a teacher and later I thought I might like to be a famous rock star.
If I could change one thing about myself ... I would like to always remember to zip up my flies before going out and maybe also lose a few ounces of flab around the middle.
You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... drawing cartoons.
You may not know it but I'm no good at ... remembering numbers. I can remember my date of birth and home phone number, our house number and the fact that the Battle of Hastings was in 1066 but that is just about it. Numbers don't much interest me.
At night I dream of ... mostly rude things which I wouldn't wish to share with you.
What I see when I look in the mirror ... I see the vessel in which I have voyaged thus far through life. It has been a dependable ship but I guess it has seen better days.
My favourite outfit ... well clothes and fashion mean very little to me. I despise the western cult of fashion and "looking good" in a world where the vast majority of people are still very much focussed on simply surviving. Let's say a cowboy suit with a sheriff's badge and stirrups on my boots. I would look a right prat but who cares?
My house is ... comfortable and it's on a hill. Similar to so many pre-war semis in the suburbs of northern cities except we have a very big garden
My favourite work of art is ... "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymous Bosch
A book that changed me ... "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. I read it when I was fourteen and suddenly realised that a work of fiction could do far more than simply tell a story. There were layers and veils and half-hidden psychological and historical truths to discover.
Your idea of movie heaven ... a film that holds my attention so that I forget about time and become thoroughly absorbed - like "Once Upon a Time in America", "The Road" , "Schindler's List" or even "Titanic".
The last album I downloaded ... I have never downloaded an album in my life and have no intention of ever doing so. As years pass, music means less to me than it used to do.
My greatest regret ... that I never got to see my paternal grandparents. They were both dead before I was born which was, I think, one of the unspoken legacies of World War II.
My real-life villain ... Margaret Hilda Thatcher. Butcher of the trade union movement, warmonger and milk snatcher. She who said, "There is no such thing as society"
The person who really makes me laugh is ... Sergeant Bilko.
The last time I cried ... was earlier on today when I was watching a programme about missing people and it told the tale of a Down's syndrome man who wandered off into some woods. He was missing for thirty six hours. It was heart rending how his local community missed him, searched for him, found him and welcomed him back. He was much loved.
My five-year plan ... I have never believed in five year plans. You never know what life might throw at you. I would love to see both of our children happily married and one day I would love to cuddle my grandchildren. I am also keen to visit New Zealand. Are these plans?
What's the point? There is no point. You just get on and make the most of things, avoid unhappiness and seek out happiness and do unto others as you would have done to yourself because there IS such a thing as society.
My life in six words ... Came. Saw. Didn't Conquer. But Lived.


  1. Very enlightening. you have quite a way with words

  2. I had to visit, seeing your blog title. My Grandmother was born in Yorkshire, and emigrated to New Zealand with her family, when she was 18. They moved because her mother had severe arthritis and the family GP advised NZ would be a better climate. Not true!
    My grandmother made the most wonderful Yorkshire Pudding and was a wonderful cook.
    I really enjoyed reading your post and your great answers.

  3. I enjoyed reading that, YP anfd I'm pleased that you took up the challenge after all. As Helsie says, you have a great way with words.

  4. My parents were not as bad as I used to remember- nobody gets it right as far as I can tell...

    The house I grew up in ... was purpose built for my family in the 1970s, it was big detached one and my dad, although unresigned to having a family, made this opportunity through pure entrepreneurism and hard-graft- I guess that would make nouveau-riche... until my parents were separated and I ended up in a tower block and living with my gran- I guess that would make me the underclass...

    When I was a child I wanted to be ... on Grange Hill without a shadow of a doubt...

    If I could change one thing about myself ... I would try and be a bit less selfish...

    You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... managing girls football teams!

    You may not know it but I'm no good at ... drinking- complete waste of time in my opinion- especially drinking to excess.

    At night I dream of ... nothing... As Morrissey sang '...haven't had a dream in a long time...'

    What I see when I look in the mirror ... is a pretty fine example of a 36 year old, really...

    My favourite outfit ... is my wedding suit- Ted Baker that was right old bargain. Love suits, have 5 over here but it's too hot to wear 'em...

    My house is ... being rented by two young girls in the catering industry. One is moving out though- the Russian I think...my apartment in Bangkok makes me feel like James Bond or summat... The only thing I have to do is was the pots- everything else is done for us. I still complain about the pot washing though...

    My favourite work of art is ... embarassingly 'The Haywain' by John Constable- i know it's seen as laughingly cliched to have a copy- but I do get lost in the picture and it reminds me of a golden age of England that doesn't exist- of middle England and rolling hills and Elgar and I bloody love the bloke/fisherman in the reeds at the far side of the river that looks like a gorilla in cheap copies like we had... I also love the McKee original in my flat in Bangers of the Booths- see profile picture.

    A book that changed me ... 'The Machine Gunners' by Robert Westall. A character that made me realise there were other people like me and that reading books was a good thing that was just as important and worthy as being good at football or watching telly.

    Your idea of movie heaven ... The Godfather- unsurpassed...

    The last album I downloaded ... was a selection of Billy Bragg songs that were left in the loft in Blighty...

    My greatest regret ... not staying teaching in England and seeing it through as a vocation. Helping unfortunate children have a start in life and a solid role model to learn from.

    My real-life villain ... an opposing coach from another nearby international school

    The person who really makes me laugh is ... a bloke called Gary at work...

    The last time I cried ... was at the sweet lilting voice of the young girl who sang the Thai national anthem acapella at school last Friday. (well eyes welled up)

    My five-year plan ... could change tomorrow. Will still be abroad, might have a child/might not. Might be in Bangkok, might be in South America, might be in Africa, might be in the Caribbean, might be in mailand Europe.

    What's the point? Make yourself proud. Have integrity. Be honest. Say what you think and feel. Don't intentionally be cruel, but don't worry if you do and were honest.

    My life in six words ... had a better crack than others

  5. I thought about doing Jennyta's/Daphne's meme and then didn't follow through. Now that you have done it to, I think I just may after all. Stay tuned to my blog!

    (Note for YP's eyes only; the rest of you can skip over the rest of this comment: Shouldn't you have said "turned into a meme challenge for us inhabitants of blogworld"? "We inhabitants" is nominative and this cries out for the objective because it is the object of a preposition, "for us" with inhabitants being an appositive (unless inhabitants is the object and us is a prepositional adjective. At least that's how I see it over here in the colonies. Unfortunately, I'm one of the very few any more.)

  6. I am the pot calling the kettle black, I see, as I said "to" when I should have said "too"...my brain knew this but my fingers didn't cooperate.

  7. RHYMES WITH PEDANT Which of these is correct: 'We teachers have voted to strike' Or...'Us teachers have voted to strike'?

    Here's the answer:
    The correct version is: 'We teachers have voted to strike.'

    Why? I'll tell you.

    If you take out the word, 'teachers', which is perfectly feasible in this example, you would not then say: 'Us have voted to strike.'

    The difference is 'we' is a subjective pronoun, acting as the subject of a sentence (like 'I', 'she' and 'they') whereas 'us' is an objective pronoun, which acts as the object of a sentence (just like 'her', 'him' and 'them').

    This is why 'We teachers have voted to strike' is correct. However, you could argue that 'Us teachers have voted to strike' does actually make sense. It does, yes, to a certain extent: someone would probably know what you meant if you said or wrote that.

    But it is not correct, and could lead to your reader or listener focusing on how you are conveying your message rather than focusing on the message itself, which is something you should try to avoid.

    The confusion surrounding the correct use of 'I' and 'me' is similar. Which of these would you go with: 'Jamie played with Bobby and I' or 'Jamie played with Bobby and me'? Just as in the example above, remove from this sentence the words 'Bobby' and 'and'. You are left with 'Jamie played with I' or 'Jamie played with me'. Of course, in this case, you would always say 'Jamie played with me'.

    But consider this: 'Peter and I would help' and 'Peter and me would help'. Follow the established pattern: remove 'Peter' and 'and'. Would you say 'I would help' or 'Me would help'? Of course, you would say 'I would help'.

    There. I'm glad that's cleared up.

  8. loved reading this post..loved the life in 6 words..feel quite tearful now..

  9. YP, I agree with your answer completely, but you proved my point, not yours. I would never say "Us teachers have voted to strike" because the subject of the sentence requires the nominative case, as you said. And I would never say "Jamie played with Bobby and I" because the preposition with requires the objective case for the pronoun. These all-too-common errors are heard daily in my country, even by newscasters on television, and it drives me crazy.

    But with and for are both prepositions. You would never say "for we" but "for us" -- the exact example I was making against "for we inhabitants"....

    Now it is cleared up, I hope.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I'll try one last time. In the dependent clause in the original sentence in question (...which she turned into a meme challence for we inhabitants of blogland), "she" is the subject, "turned" is the verb, and "which" is the object (referring to "a piece in The Independent newspaper" in the main clause), and "into a meme challenge" and "for we inhabitants of blogland" are prepositional phrases. Therefore "for us inhabitants of blogland" is correct because a pronoun used as the object of a preposition must be in the objective case, unless the prepositional object itself is a new clause.

  12. Interesting post.
    Interesting debate on pronouns etc, but, YP, you seem to have missed out the ending of the sentence "We/Us teachers have voted to strike".

    To strike who?

    Being an English teacher myself "but" with Yorkshire roots and 20 years of Catalan-ization, I'll leave the grammatical questions to the rest of yous - or you ....

  13. BRIAN We/Us teachers have voted to strike... Rhymes With Plague because he is of course right and I now humbly bow to his superior grammatical expertise! (Through gritted teeth) Thank you for the correction Robert!

  14. Enough, enough!!
    We'll all be too intimidated to communicate with you two at all.

    Chill out folks


  15. Elizabeth1:43 am

    My parents were...I don't remember my father, but my mam was a hardworking Yorkshire woman, of few words, who struggled to bring her family up on a meagre widow's pension amidst much adversity.

    The house I grew up in...Several, all of equal squallor and dampness.

    When I was a child I wanted to be ...an audiologist...but that kind of nonsense was for 'fancy folk as what could afford it'.

    If I could change one thing about myself...I can't think of anything - I'm a reasonably connected human being, I think.

    You wouldn't know it...but when the need calls for it, I do have the ability to suck both my big toes,but prefer not to.

    You may not know it... but images of slugs, worms and eyelash bugs make me wretch.

    What I see when I look in the mirror...a beautiful,middle-aged, smiling, woman who's confidence and radiace is a far cry from the pretty, but dirty and neglected, little girl with such sadness and fear in her eyes,that looks out from the one childhood photograph of me.

    At night I dream of...they say that everybody dreams, but I don't recall any. I could sleep on the back of a galloping hedgehog, be sold into slavery and wake on a different continent and not know anything about it.

    My favourite outfit...I'm not a great fashion follower.My only rule is never wear black on the outside. For years, I had an emerald green, jersey dress that was just so simple to slip on and I felt a million dollars every time I wore it. The washing machine ate it. Otherwise, the only other comment I would make about clothing is when I return home, removing the uncomfortable undergirding is one of the best feelings in the world!!!

    My house is 1910, cluttered but comfortable, full of books, junk models, art creations, photographs, smells of baking and children...infact,it's not a house, it's a home.

    My favourite work of art is a piece entitled 'noerr's ak' by master N,one of my sons. A studied piece in vibrant, tempura paint, featuring Mr Noah's bright blue boat and his rare breed of green- with-pink-stripes tiger.

    A book that changed me... was 'The Silver Sword', by Ian Serraillier, given to me by a teacher when she was clearing out a school cupboard. I was eight years old and it was the first book I had ever owned.

    The first album I have ever downloaded...I don't know what that means or how to do it. It doesn't interest me.

    Your idea of movie heaven...Don't watch many, but dvd's tend to be ones about humanitarian issues...'Schindler's List','Rabbit Proof Fence', etc, but also some Shakespeare's and the odd off-beat thrown in for good measure - loved, 'How to make an American Quilt', bawled my way through, 'Up' and enjoyed discussing, 'The boy in the striped pyjamas' with my children.

    My greatest regret...yes,like you, YP, there are familial connections that I wish I'd been able to make and I wish I could remember the last thing I said to my daughters before they died, but I don't really regard those as regrets as such. I've lived my life as well as I could according to the prevaiing circumstances of the time. Looking back and regretting, from a totally different standpoint is an irrelevancy.

    My real life villain...I don't think I'm in a position to judge anyone. What's that saying, "When you've walked a thousand miles in my moccasins, THEN you can judge me"?

    The last time I cried...I'm easily moved to tears, both of sorrow and of joy, and I think there's a great strength in that ability for both men and women.

    My five year plan...no plan as such. I tend to go with the flow, 'though there aspirations known only to me and I have the flexibility to allow for other eventualiies.

    What's the point...the point is one very small dot on the surface of the whole, a mere punctuation mark.

    My life in six words...'A thrilling adventure, not finished yet'.

  16. MR BOOTH & MS ELIZABETH - Thanks for sharing your meme responses. You were both very thoughtful and honest and you each taught me things about yourselves which I didn't know and which will no doubt flicker somewhere in the back of my mind when next I "speak" with you.
    HELSIE Ever thought of a new career as a wrestling referee? "In the red corner, all the way from Georgia USA Bobby "The Grammar Master" Brague and in the blue corner, all the way from Sunnyville, England Mr Yorkshire "Pearl Harbor Revisited" Pudding! Now let's have a clean fight boys and watch your subjunctives!"

  17. Brian should have said "to strike whom?"....

  18. yep, thought so, I realised as soon as I re-read my published comment (too many late nights and not enough drink I'm afraid), but decided to leave it for posterity - if that were the only mistake I'd made ....

  19. Oooh a row about grammar! Splendid. I'm coming to the party late but on this occasion I agree with Rhymes with Plague. The post was really interesting, and is in danger of getting lost in the debate. Ah Mrs Thatcher as Chief Villain, great! BOOOOOOOOO! HISSSSSSSSS!

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