May 2nd 2009
Hey kids. Yes, I should be in bed, especially since I should be up early tomorrow to visit Coventry (yay!), Wolverhampton (yay!) and Somerset (yay!) before returning to work (er... yay?) on Tuesday. But I thought I'd show how literary I am (or, possibly, amn't) by copying something that was on Simon's blog.
1) What author do you own the most books by?
Agatha Christie - I remember saying on my UCAS form personal statement that I own 108 books by or about her.
2) What book do you own the most copies of?
And Then There Were None / Ten Little Niggers by Christie - I have made a quest of buying as many copies of this book, which was understandably retitled, as possible.
3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Still going with the preposition thing, I see. I used to be in love with Faile ni Bashere t'Aybara... I was a younger man.
5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
What's 'Goodnight Moon'? Anyway, I reread frequently, so this is a toughie... it could well be Evil Under the Sun by Christie, through Pride and Prejudice has to be up there.
6) What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?
I loved The Silver Sword by Ian Serrilier (I could spell his surname back then) and Cue for Treason by Geoffery Trease at that age.
7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
Good question... I'm struggling to think of any poor ones. Oh, actually, 'Heaven' by Randy Alchorn - didn't come close to finishing it, though.
8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
Excluding re-reads, I suppose... Hague's biography of Wilberforce was excellent. Northanger Abbey, though, probably tops it. I've still got two Austens to go - Mansfield Park and Persuasion.
9) If you could force everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?
Eye of the World by Robert Jordan - with the hope that they carry on reading the Wheel of Time series! Or Simon Barnes' The Meaning of Sport
10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
If it were possible, I'd like to see the Wheel of Time. But it's so immense, they'd mess it up. A Silver Sword film would be good, come to think of it, and very do-able.
12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
On the Road by Jack Kerouac. How dull would that be?
13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
Er... I remember dreaming something about Edmund in Narnia many years ago, that was an odd one. It was in a cave, I seem to remember.
14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
Roy Keane's 'auto'biography, probably. Though, come to think of it, I may not have been an adult at the time... I picked up a Where's Wally the other day.
15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
Frankenstein! Man, that thing is so dull, and very badly plotted. But I did persevere to the end, unlike John Irving's Cider House Rules, Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Grey...
16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
I haven't seen many Shakespeare plays, so it's probaby Julius Caesar.
17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?
As people? The Russians. As writers? Well, I once appeared in a scene from The Cherry Orchard, but then I've also read a book translated from the French. Tough call.
18) Roth or Updike?
I liked the Grapes of Roth.
19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
Who are they, then? I'm gonna pick Dave Eggers.
20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare - Chaucer looks horrendous, and I'm not an epic poetry kinda chap. That's what Milton did, right?
21) Austen or Eliot?
Austen is excellent - and I've never read any Eliot. So Austen.
22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
The biggest is the books I haven't read. Embarrassing? I guess it's faintly embarrassing that I've only ever read one book that wasn't originally written in English (If Only It Were True by... someone French), unless you count the Bible.
23) What is your favourite novel?
I don't know. Lord of the Rings, shall we say.
I love Romeo & Juliet, but The Importance of Being Earnest is very funny. Wilde knew how to write plays, even if he couldn't write novels.
I'll go with the rest of the nation and say Kipling's If. Do you like Kipling?
Er... that one Simon wrote about Virginia Woolf, or something. I got about a page and a half into it.
27) Short story?
Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time prequel, New Spring.
28) Work of nonfiction?
The Bible, obviously... also Michael J Fox's autogbiography, Lucky Man. I highly recommend that one - his account of Parkinson's is astounding.
29) Who is your favourite writer?
Whoever used to write Richard Whiteley's jokes. I've got a feeling it may have been Richard Whiteley.
30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Seamus Heaney. Awful.
31) What is your desert island book?
Why would this not be the same as my favourite book? Perhaps I'd want something as long as possible, to pass the time... or maybe 'How to Escape a Desert Island'
32) And... what are you reading right now?
Pride and Prejudice, The Music of the Primes by Marcus du Sautoy, and How Low Can You Go? by Tom Chesshyre. Although, despite searching for a while, and in the knowledge that I put it down only a few hours ago, I can't find this last one anywhere.
Han Solo: I love you.
Princess Leia: I know.
(Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)
May 11th 2009
Well, what a lot of things I have to update you with (you can move that preposition yourselves). The weekend before last I swung by Ant's place in Cov, which is always fun, and a good time was had by all. Rich was around most of the time, and we relived the good old days (I'm sure we've now relived them almost as often as we had them), before Ant and I headed off to the playground where we first realised that we'd be together always. Or, perhaps more accurately, the playground where we tried to work out how lost exactly we were when first we walked to church.
I left early on Sunday morning in order to make it over to Wolverhampton, the city of kings, for the last Wolves game of the season. Unfortunately the tickets had sold out before Powly had a chance to get one, so I went alone, but the carnival atmosphere - and last minute winner - made it an enjoyable experience nonetheless. The next league match at the Mol will be a Premiership one!
From Wolverhampton - via Reading - I arrived in Somerset to see Mum and Dad, and the tasks they'd stored up for me. Nothing more strenuous than fixing the caravan roof and lugging some carpet around, so I got off lightly - I didn't even have to crawl behind the television this time. Though, if I may embarrass my beloved parents a little, one of them admitted that she (ah - that may have given the game away) didn't know how to turn the DVD player on.
I trained back from Zummerzet in time to return to work on Tuesday, and after a few days' work it was time for the Men's Weekend Away with church, which took place in a centre near Chepstow. It was beautifully sunny, and a good time was had by all (apart from Offa, whose dyke we walked alongside with scant regard for his feelings), with manly food and manly table tennis and suchlike. I did realise, however, that of the thirty-something people present, only Olly and I weren't married. And Olly is engaged. It would be better called a Married Men's Weekend Away, and for that reason I'm not sure I'll be joining the party next year.
Anyways, that brings me up to about yesterday, and nothing much to report since then, except my own tiredness... and my wondering over which film series I own multiple parts of on DVD:
4: Indiana Jones, Rocky, Star Wars
3: Spider-man, X-Men, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Superman
2: Teen Wolf, The Whole Nine Yards, Hot Shots, Ocean's Eleven, Batman Begins
Well, that was fun. I can't think of any more without actually going downstairs and checking.
Ross: I love you.
Mona: Ohh. And I love spending time with you.
May 15th 2009
So, finally, I saw 17 Again. And, in case you're new here, it's not because I'm a big fan of Zac Efron - though he did himself credit tonight - but because I am rather excessively a fan of Matthew Perry. The storyline wasn't groundbreaking, but the film was funny in places, moving in places, and generally not bad. Perry was, of course, the highlight - though I'm not sure the viewers other than Ben and me thought the same. What with all being young girls and all. Anyhow, glad I caught it before it left the cinemas - it is now the second Perry film I've seen on the big screen - but I'll make sure to wear sunglasses when I, inevitably, buy it.
Dewey: I love you.
Edith: You're never gonna make it, OK?
May 20th 2009
I'm not, by nature, an arrogant man. That came with age and the dawning realisation of my own personal excellence. But I must tell you about my latest quizzing adventure, in which Ben and I ended our run of 9th place (out of 10 and 11 respectively) by coming in 3rd in the Jersey Lily pub quiz. We teamed up with a couple of strangers (Dad would be so proud) by the improbable names of Vics and Webbo, and were only four points away from having to contest a dance-off for first place. My personal memories of dance-offs (dances-off? Probably) are not the best, as they consist solely of Rob trying his heart out, accompanied by a chair, and losing on the clap-o-meter when only our team made any sound.
Anyhow, despite a Eurovision theme, we acquitted ourselves well, and I was particularly pleased with getting 5/5 on comic books round despite never having read a comic book. There were two questions that bugged me, both in the 'fictional addresses' round: firstly they got Harry Potter's address wrong, then there was "Pemberley [easy question, thinks I] is the country estate of Fitzwilliam Darcy [er... come on, wasnt it a bit simple already?] in which novel by Jane Austen [by goodness, if you can't get this you should be horsewhipped on the steps of your club. Or clubbed on the steps of your horsewhip, I suppose]?"
Speaking of Eurovision, I was at our kid's house last weekend (look at me staying - or indeed becoming - true to my northern roots) and while I managed to soide-step (look at me typo-ing and thus being true to my bad-Irish-accent roots) a Eurovision party, I did watch the show itself with veritable pleasure. I have to admit I'm confused as to how Norway was quite so popularly received in almost every nation, especially since the Danish guy was doing a Ronan Keating impression (honestly) and the Albanian backing group included a man in a blue superhero costume and two vampires. But that's Eurovision, I guess.
While I'm on the topic, I may as well admit that for years I thought the Eurovision Song Contest was in fact a charity event organised to raise money for Eurovision, a charity working with the blind.
Anyway, I'm very pleased to report that Simon seems to be a happy chappy in his Oxford dwelling, despite the mad next-door neighbour and the cheekiness of a local cat which labours under the monikers of Sammy, Agrippa, Puska, Cat-Cat and sundry others. I'm also pleased that I crushed him at Boggle. Take that, English boy (anywhere else, and that's xenophobic).
I forget if I mentioned it previously, but many months ago I wagered John Ewbank that Wolves would go up and Stoke City down - the loser of the bet had to buy a scarf bearing the opposition's colours. Sadly for me, Stoke managed to hang on to their Premiership status by some margin, so I am now the proud owner of a Stoke scarf. See below.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning: I love you.
Robert Browning: How do you love me?
May 22nd 2009
Well, I told him I'd do it, and I'm not sure he believed me. You may have come across Ant's video 'Me, Myself & I', since I mentioned it on this page when he made it. It is, in my opinion, the best video he's made (mumble mumble... faint praise... mumble), but I decided to produce my own pastiche. Apologies if you don't get that sync-ing feeling... I'm not sure why that's happened, but I'm too lazy to try and fix it. Anyways, here you are:
Harry: I love you.
Sally: How do you expect me to respond to this?
Harry: How about; you love me too?
Sally: How about; I'm leaving.
(When Harry Met Sally)
May 29th 2009
In all the excitement over Wolves gaining promotion to the Premiership, I haven't yet managed to tell you about Stenhousemuir, Dad's team (sort of), winning promotion to the Scottish 2nd division via the play-offs. Good for them! What with Simon's team (Manchester Utd, don't you know) winning the Premiership, it's been a good season all round in the Thomas family. Even Mum's team (Spurs - we're scraping the barrel here) have recovered excellently under 'arry Redknapp.
But enough of such footballing matters - even if it is FA Cup final day tomorrow - for today I wish to muse on twinhood. You probably know that I have a twin brother, the aforementioned Man U fan Simon (with whom, by the way, I drew at Boggle - I'm happy to correct whatever false impression I may inadvertently have created in a previous entry) who is 7 minutes older than me. And our shared surname, Thomas, means twin. Get outta town. We are dizygotic (non-identical) twins, since you ask.
The topic has arisen a couple of times this week; today, when I happened to mention Simon at AXA Christian Network breakfast, and at home group on Wednesday. I forget whether I've complained about this on here before - probably - but there are a standard set of questions that are always asked when the conversation turns to twins: "Do you have a telepathic connection?" No. Of course not. Our connection is purely brachypathic. "Have you ever pretended to be each other?" Once Simon stood in for me in a band photo, holding my flute. I can't make much of an anecdote out of that. "If you were born either side of midnight, you could be twins and have different birthdays!" Not really a question, but yes, you're right. Congratulations. Our friendship is over. "What's it like to be a twin?"
Ah, yes. This last and most ridiculous question. What's it like, my friend, not to be a twin? I have no idea, and it sounds rather odd to me... having a sibling who goes through GCSEs after you have? Or one who goes to Uni before you? That's just weird. Having a birthday all to yourself must be a rather peculiar sensation - not liking to be the centre of attention very often, it's always good for me to have someone else to share the limelight, especially as I am a horrendous gift-receiver. Even when I really like the present, I seem like someone putting on a brave face after receiving tripe.
But, despite my irritation, I am beginning to see some of the effects of being a twin. I was already planning to write on the topic before home group, when Becky asked me and Steve (my housemate, who has a twin sister) if our both being twins was the reason for us being "so weird together. Because you are". Now, Becky is pregnant, so we must forgive the rather blunt nature of the question, but I think she may have a point - growing up with a twin maybe inclines one to closed (as opposed to close) friendship with one person. Naturally I will never find anyone to take Simon's place - he's filling role perfectly adequately at the moment - but I discovered at the end of my second year of Uni, for example, that Ant and I were known commonly under the joint moniker of 'Colin & Anthony'. Despite my stunning good looks, we were mistaken for each other rather frequently.
I've known a few sets of twins in my time - I was in Twins Club, after all - and I know that our situation is not universal among twins. There are many who are not so close. Now, Simon and I are different in many ways - he doesn't like sport, I am a passionate Wolves fan (some would say this amounts to the same thing); our musical tastes are very disimilar, though each of us would prefer the other's to the nonsense that is played in nightclubs (are they still called that?); I'm a mathematician, he is passionate about books; I love Matthew Perry, he likes Judi Dench. But the more I see of the world, the more similar I realise we are, and he remains one of the very few people who I can be sure will never hurt me, intentionally or otherwise. "There are few people whom I truly love, and fewer still of whom I think well" and all that.
It's all about identity, I suppose. Normally it's not something I think about that much, other than giving a small cheer when twins crop up in film or literature, but it is part of who I am. I am principally a child of God; I am also a mathematician, an Englishman (an English gentleman on good days...), a Warwick alumnus, a member of the middle class - and a twin. Some people are fiercely loyal to a particular location - just try mocking the Bristol accent in front of Lou - whereas I do not feel I belong to Merseyside, Worcestershire, Coventry, Somerset or Bristol, though I am at heart a generic Southerner.
It seems only fair to round off today's entry by slaking your thirst for further twins knowledge, by pointing you in the direction of Tamba. Or you could just read this.
David: I love you.
Elizabeth: No one's ever said that to me before.
(Just Like Heaven)
|what was I listening to?
For Everyman - Jackson Browne
|what was I reading?
How Low Can You Go? - Tom Chesshyre
|what was I watching?
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope