Monday, February 27, 2006

Twelve Easy Pieces

I was invited on to a radio show last week and, to add some novelty to the interview format, I had twelve questions thrown at me. As I have the memory of a sieve, I may not be able to recall all of them, but as a break from the usual book related stuff I thought I might reprint here the ones I can remember, along with my answers. So . . .

Favorite Scent
Easy one, this. Cinnamon, and the smell of turf fires. My grandparents’ farm in Kerry had a small turf bog, and I always associate the smell of burning turf with my childhood. Now that so many people have central heating and gas fires, you don’t get that wonderful smell so much anymore. As for cinnamon, well, it’s just my spice of choice. I have a mild addiction to cinnamon buns. Sad, really.

Worst Dating Experience
Oh dear. I once dated someone who told me that she liked me so much she’d come off her medication. Although flattering for a second or two, this does beg the question of a) what medication are you on?; and b) is it really a good idea to come off it? She was very sweet though, so perhaps that wasn’t so much the worst experience as the most memorable line from my dating adventures.

Most Overrated Activity
Strangely, I nominated getting a haircut, if only because I once dated someone who had an orgasm while having her hair washed in a salon. Now, I’ve had some good haircuts in my time but nothing to could compare to that. You could rub my head until Doomsday and it wouldn’t even cause a tremble downstairs, although if it did you’d never get me out of the hairdresser’s chair. I guess it just goes to show how differently men and women are wired.

Favorite Thing About Ireland
Kerry again, or north Kerry in particular. Less touristy that south Kerry, and a bit less scenic, but lovely people and Ballylongford, the village in which my mother grew up, is still one of the most welcoming places I know.

Favorite City
Probably Portland, Maine. It’s certainly one of the few places other than Dublin in which I could imagine living. For flying visits, though, it has to be New York.

Who would you invite to your last supper?
Well, I could figure out who I wouldn’t invite. I can never understand people who nominate Jesus as a guest at their last supper. After all, He probably wouldn’t be keen on coming after the first one, and also it would be hard to trump Jesus at dinner table conversation.
“So, I went to the Bahamas for my holidays.”
“Well, I came back from the dead.”
See? It’s a no-win situation.

Most respected politician?
I think politicians are increasingly pragmatists rather than idealists, so I found it hard to choose a living one. Instead I nominated a deceased Irish Labour politician named Frank Cluskey, who used to come to our house when I was a child. He was the first politician that I ever met, and committed to those old style ideas of socialism and equality that are anathema to the modern British Labour party, at least.

Literary villain(s) and literary hero
Well, in common with at least one fellow author, I have a problem with adults who are obsessed with Harry Potter books. You know, it’s like Kerplunk and hula hoops. It’s for kids. Read it if you want, and by all means enjoy it, but don’t dress up as Dumbledore and queue for hours outside a bookshop, or tell me that the books represent some level of profundity for adults. If you’re an adult learning stuff from Harry Potter books then you’ve missed something along the path of life. Equally, if you think that they’re the best books ever written then you just haven’t read enough. I’m sorry, but there it is. I wish J.K. Rowling only the best, and I absolutely the support the right of adults to read whatever they choose, but even Rowling must sometimes shake her head at the excesses of her older fans.
The hero would probably be Ross Macdonald, for reasons explained in an earlier edition of this column.

Beatles or the Stones?
Beatles, every time.

Biggest Fashion Disaster
Spoiled for choice here, really. The one my friends refuse to let me forget is a jacket with writing on the back that I wore only once. I think it advertised some fictitious flying company.
“Are you really employed by the Caribbean Flying Corps?”
“Er, no.”
End of story.

Trait that I Most Dislike in Other People
Meanness. I really despise it. I think people who are tight with money tend to be miserly in other ways too. It’s a symptom of a deeper malaise. One of my favorite insults relates to meanness. As the great Brendan Behan once said of a particularly stingy acquaintance: “If he was a ghost, he wouldn’t give you a fright.”

Song that Most Irritates Me
Gosh, there are so many, but if I had to pick one it would be an Irish ballad called The Fields of Athenry, which is just a dirge and now appears to be everywhere in the way that cockroaches and flies are. I’m a huge Liverpool fan and they even sing a version of it on the terraces at Anfield. I’d ask them to stop, but I’d probably get beaten to a pulp.

This week John read:

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

and listened to:

Witching Hour by Ladytron


Tom Hyland said...

I was just on and spotted "Twelve Easy Pieces".

I'm still laughing about the hairdresser's chair!

I first discovered Brendan Behan when I was fifteen years old and reading Borstal Boy. I think it took me the better part of a half-day's reading to realize what a 'gaol' really was.


I've also read No Country for Old Men. The only shame of that book is that the last third of it seems 'stepped on' and rushed. And for no apparent reason.

Wes said...

I was in a little shop in mauritius on honeymoon and picked up a copy of "Black Angel". I couldn't put it down and finished it in two days. It was a thoroughly enjoyable book. I'll be looking out for the rest of your books at my local bookstore. Thanks for giving me a new source of decent reading material.

Jayne said...

John, I can't believe you don't like "The Fields of Anfield Road"! Even I sing that one when The Reds are playing and, as you know, I'm a Leeds-till-I-die girl.

I don't know which one of us is the bigger sinner - you for not liking it or me for admitting that I do like it.

Of course, it's nowhere near as good as "Marching on Together"...

Noeni said...

Well, John - the Totally Trivial Show is sometimes worth listening to. The poor guy who hosts it makes me cringe on average once every five minutes, but I know his heart's in the right place.

I was delighted to hear you on the show last week because I'd no idea this site existed until then.

Your ex must go to a different hairdresser to me - did she give you the name of the salon?

Anonymous said...

You crack me up John! Not enough to come off my meds though...

Jeff said...

Beatles or the Stones?
Beatles, every time.

Absolutely, John. :)

Beverly said...

I am an avid reader. I hate bad writers. I have run out of books to read by my favorite authors.
Then I found Black Angel. I could not put it down. Yea, I have found another favorite author. Thank You! Thank You!

Henry Barth said...

Actually, all of Co Kerry is pretty much tourist these days, for the few Americans who can afford it, that is. The tour buses clog the boreens there. Ballylongford is pretty, though.

For least touristed Ireland, there is nothing to beat Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. And those counties have all the scenery and charm of Kerry.

“Favorite Thing About Ireland
Kerry again, or north Kerry in particular. Less touristy that south Kerry, and a bit less scenic, but lovely people and Ballylongford, the village in which my mother grew up, is still one of the most welcoming places I know.”

Sarah said...

WOW! I can't stop laughing about the hairdresser's chair and the date who considered quitting her medication. You are too funny! Oh, and I can't blame you for the cinnamon buns...they're a guilty pleasure and I'll be shocked the day I meet someone who doesn't love them, haha.