Saturday, June 02, 2007

8 (More) Things You Didn't Know About Me

Well, I've just been 'tagged' to come up with a list of 8 things about me that are "interesting, unique, or unknown". I receive this cyber-baton (brick through the window?) from the intermittently prolific Jeremiah over at The Granite Studio. (J is a Ph.D candidate, over here doing research for his thesis on Qing Dynasty history. I have been meaning to write a puff for his rather fine blog – mostly on Chinese history, but with occasional more contemporary stories and personal quirks as well - for some time, but.... Well, I don’t want to appear to be too much of a blog-slut, so I am trying to limit myself to one blog recommendation per month. It's a new month, I suppose...)

Now, I don't really approve of this 'tagging' practice. It is a potentially onerous imposition on a poor blogger's time. Even more alarmingly, it is a form of 'virus', and could - if it continued to spread as exponentially as it aspires to - eventually quite overwhelm the Internet.

I don't like the use of the word 'meme' to describe these potentially destructive fripperies either. It seems to be attempting to confer an importance (cultural? sociological?) on them that they don't really deserve. And I just don't think it is an accurate use of Richard Dawkins' fairly narrowly conceived term (a 'meme' replicates content, automatically, as a result of the perceived usefulness or attractiveness of that content; these Internet 'tag' games replicate only a format, not the specific content, and they do so only through compliance with the explicit request or instruction to replicate, not because of any innate 'evolutionary advantage' in so doing).

However, laying such qualifications and objections aside, I don't wish to appear to be a curmudgeon. And I've nothing better to do this morning. So, here goes....

1) Despite never having had a driving licence, I have driven an armoured car and a Land Rover (ah, the joys of army reserve training!).

2) I have a tendency to fall in love with the sound of a woman's voice - particularly a fine singing voice. I have for many years had a raging crush on Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies (undiminished by the discovery that she was rather older than I had thought, and married).

3) The weirdest job (and there have been some weird ones) I have turned down in China was being an MC for a Spring Festival gala for foreign diplomats at the Great Hall of the People. It was to be unpaid (although we were promised an engraved glass trophy to commemorate our participation). It was also to be completely unscripted and unrehearsed (this is China!). When they threw a chaotic-sounding game show segment into the mix at the last minute, I politely backed out. As did all of my friends who had been in discussion with the Ministry of Culture about it.

4) The film I have most enjoyed showing to Chinese students (in the Beijing Normal University a few years ago) was 2001: A Space Odyssey. They sat through it in fascinated incomprehension - slack-jawed, wide-eyed, completely silent from start to finish. It so far transcended the bounds of their imagination that they had no terms of reference with which to try to interpret or discuss it. In the deep hush of the lecture theatre I fancied I could actually hear the sound of minds boggling.

5) I once went to an AC/DC concert wearing a suit (and ear-plugs). I was en route between two job interviews at the end of my University days, and was travelling very light.

6) I once went to an Arthur Andersen careers presentation wearing fishnet stockings (underneath my pinstripe suit trousers). I was going to a performance of The Rocky Horror Show at Oxford's Apollo Theatre immediately afterwards. And I wasn't that concerned about getting the job!

7) I was hopelessly spoiled as a sports fan in my early life. I was born in (and grew up around) the tiny 'city' of Hereford, on the Welsh border, and so became a supporter of the local football team there as a toddler. At that time, they were enjoying a period of astonishing success. They were dominating their semi-pro league, had a couple of dazzling, 'giant-killing' runs in the FA Cup (famously beating top clubs, West Ham and Newcastle, and only narrowly losing to Leeds Utd - then the best side in the country); and when they finally won election to the main professional league, they achieved an unprecedented, meteoric rise through the divisions, winning promotion from the 4th to the 2nd in only 4 years.

Of course, it was too good to last. They had risen too far, too fast - and promptly dropped again just as quickly. They then spent 15 years or so propping up the bottom of the lowest division in the league.... and are now 'non-league' again. Heady times, for a while, though. I think the first game I ever went to see live was the celebrated FA Cup Third Round Replay clash at home against Newcastle - in which we got a late equaliser with The Greatest Goal Ever Scored By Anyone In Any Competition Ever..... and went on to scramble a last-gasp win in extra time.

It's not right. It's not good for you. It doesn't prepare you for the lifelong frustration and disappointment that is the inevitable lot of sports fans everywhere (unless you cheat by supporting Man U or the Yankees). It was rather too painful a contrast with the pitiful under-performance of the national team (England contrived to fail even to qualify for the World Cup finals during the 1970s).

The last game I saw live was China v. Japan in the final of the Asian Cup at the Workers' Stadium three years ago. The bad juju I have brought to following England over 4 decades has obviously carried over to the Chinese team now that I have started supporting them. China were undone by a goal that was an outrageously obvious handball. It was the Maradona "hand of God" all over again. Everybody could see clearly that the Japanese forward hit the ball into the goal with his forearm. Everybody in the entire stadium. Except the referee and his linesman. Ggrrrrr.......

8) The "most irritating thing about me" - according to a friend at University - was (and possibly still is) that I "always monopolise the prettiest girl at the party.... and then don't sleep with her."

And there you have it.

Ah, but the insidious thing about this 'tag' malarkey is that you are supposed to 'pass on the challenge' to a bunch of other bloggers of your acquaintance.

Yes, well, I don't really like to consider myself a 'blogger' (not in the classic sense!), and I don't really read blogs very much - so, I'm not really "acquainted" with many other bloggers (apart from Jeremiah himself – and I assume that the rules of these things prohibit 'returns').

I will pass on a very humble, apologetic, take-it-or-leave-it-and-please-don't-feel-obliged-to-bug-any-of-your-friends-with-it request to participate to those bloggers who have been kind enough to leave me comments here on Froogville (and/or over at the Barstool): moonrat, earthling, and, of course, Leah (though she is probably far too busy with making preparations to join us in China to be bothered with such nonsense). I'd also like to extend the invitation to two rather interesting bloggers I've recently been introduced to as friends of my ├╝ber-commenter, Tulsa - AKA:omg and Home in Kabul.

Tulsa, of course, doesn't have a blog of her own, but shares mine, inhabiting my comment pages as a kind of benign - or symbiotic - parasite. She will no doubt contribute her own list of '8 Unusual Things About Me' in the comment thread here.

And now.... ho, hum: back to work.


Anonymous said...


you obviously haven't read the sms I just sent you.

Anonymous said...

#1... sounds like you're the perfect candidate for a China DL.

#8... So you were always that way... hmmmm.

re: the prediction that I'll share my own list... thanks, for the shout out. I'll pass for now.

Anonymous said...

I accept the meme baton.

I only have 4 interesting things about myself. I will think about this for a bit and perhaps I'll have to modify this meme.

Anonymous said...


4? you think you have 4???

olivia said...

i've been trying but i can't think of anything interesting!!!!

Anonymous said...



It's like we're having a Party Now.

and don't try and make it "interesting"... just write.

Anonymous said...

D'oh! Tagged!
Why thank you, Mr. Froog. I have been thinking about my list of eight since this morning. I think perhaps I am too boring to compete in any category calling for "interesting, unique, or unknown" items, but I will try my darndest to do so (without revealing my true identity).

As for your list, I particulary like #1 and #5.

And Tulsa, I agree-- HiK definitely has more than four things.


I love the part about tulsa sharing Froog's blog. I was thinking when Froog was going to comment on this or complain even. However, Froog is a gentleman. And tulsa is so much fun to have around.

I love #6 and #5 respectively. The point about falling in love with people's singing voice is one that I've heard before from a very special friend of mine. I guess there are many details about people that play on our senses.

Now to the challenge; well as no one really knows me or much about me, I don't know how entertaining it would be for everyone to read 8 strange/interesting points about myself. But if Froog can announce to the world of blog-munchers that he has had fishnets on, I guess I could spice up blog world with a few points of my own.

argonox said...

So kind of you to think of me :) And I am awfully busy, but I hope your italics are not suggesting that I am snootily *busier than thou*!

It's hard to tell at this point whether and to what degree the procrastination impulse will kick in, so I won't make any promises about my own list. And I appreciate your giving me an out, should I choose to decline.

I'll be in Beijing on the 20th. Until then, finishing a paper and 2 proposals, delivering a presentation, grading 75 final exams, transferring all of my belongings from my house to a storage unit, stopping by NYC... Well, shoot, I guess I *am* busier than thou, aren't I? I'll get your digits from Jeremiah for sure.

Also, I'm having a birthday a mere 7 days after my arrival. Perhaps I'll organize a dinner or drinks out or something.

Anonymous said...

OMG --- so happy you stopped by. we're just sitting down to discuss the chicken in a hay bar cartoon on the sister blog. care to sit for a bit?

Earthling --- ah, Froog, the constant (?) gentleman... I feel I should point out my commenting itch on this blog certainly did not start without some encouragement. but, yes, I'm totally flattered that he is "sharing" it with me. I kinda like Froog's stories and writing style. So, that's an honor.

and the fact we know so little about you makes you the perfect candidate for accepting the brick through the window!

I, myself, am reconsidering accepting after last night's chat with Froog wherein I remembered that he, in fact, may not know 8 interesting things about me. (and I got tagged by HiK - who probably knows every interesting thing about me!)

The British Cowboy said...

It's simply not true that England failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals in the 1970's. Unless you are on some planet where 1970 is not in the 1970's.

Froog said...

England qualified for the 1970 finals by winning in 1966. They did not actually qualify during the 1970s.

You're going to have to get up pretty early in the morning to out-pedant me, sonny boy.

Anonymous said...

As I sat down to contemplate what my 8 interesting, unusual, and unknown things might be, I decided that I've probably already mentioned quite a few in response to your posts over the last several months -- such as, not drinking alcohol (but frequenting a blog called the Bar Prop), growing up on a ranch, spending my childhood summers in asia, having a hobby in construction, lacking a pop culture upbringing that might clue me into many musical references made by my contemporaries, my short-lived(?) plans to become a teacher (instead of a lawyer) in my early twenties, having Native American interests and sensibilities, and loving solitary long drives in the countryside.

so maybe you do know me, froog, if you've been reading my comments. nevertheless, I'll continue to contemplate my list and consider publishing, soon. ;) afterall, who's to say any of the above are actually interesting, unusual, or unknown?

Anonymous said...

It's a good think TBC drops by every once in a while to throw in some male angst... otherwise, froog must be simply overwhelmed by all the women...

Anonymous said...

Here at last is my promised contribution to the "Tell Us Eight Things About Yourself" game. I'm sorry it took me so long. I've only just got back from a fortnight's holiday.

I can't now remember where it was that Ms Tulsa asked me to join in, but I thought this would be the most appropriate place to leave my offering. I don't suppose anyone will see it here, but never mind.

Eight Things About Me

1) I killed a man once. It was during my National Service, in Malaya during The Emergency. It is disturbing and shaming memory for me. It was also a turning-point in my life because up until then I had been seriously considering a career in the Army.

2) In my later years, I have become quite proficient in the game of bowls, and it is now my major hobby.

3) I am distantly related to one of the founders of, a popular American website which debunks 'urban legends'. She and her husband claim that they took the name from a family of characters in the works of William Faulkner, but I suspect she was also secretly paying tribute to her own family tree.

4) Master Froog won me in a raffle. It is a strange story but quite true.

5) I can wiggle my left ear but not my right.

6) I am fond of a pint of bitter, but I have never touched strong spirits.

7) Inspired by Master Froog's recommendations on his blog, I have just read 'The Third Policeman', and it is indeed extremely entertaining.

8) For nearly 20 years now I have spent a good portion of every summer in a villa just outside of Porto. I am ashamed to admit that my progress with the language has been very limited.