The Proust Questionnaire Part 2
At the beginning of November, I started to answer the various questions set out in The Proust Questionnaire, mainly because at some level I do like the occasional insight that “internet questions” can provide. Although most of my answers are frequently tinged with a degree of levity and at times even scorn, every now and then the right question can provoke a sincere response. So here are my measured replies to the remaining interrogative enquiries, for your consideration and edification. If you do not agree with them or find yourself at odds with my mindset, please address any complaints care of the late Marcel Proust (10th July 1871 - 18th November 1922).
18). If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? This is an odd question because if implies that changing one thing about yourself is impossible and can only be discussed in the abstract. This is of course nonsense. We can change ourselves physically via exercise, or surgery, make up or even by bathing regularly. As for making emotional, philosophical or psychological change to oneself, there are equally just as many options. I have always embraced the concept of continuous self-improvement. My life is a work in progress.
19). What do you consider your greatest achievement? I raised a son who now has a family of his own. He’s a thoroughly decent human being. Far more so than I. I helped contribute to this.
20). If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? If I was a seventies comedian from the North of England, I’d probably say “a woman’s bicycle saddle”. But I’m not, so I’ll go with an incurable plague virus.
21). Where would you most like to live? Robertsbridge in East Sussex. Or Horsham in West Sussex.
22). What is your most treasured possession? Walter.
23). What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? I assume this question is supposed to be drawn from your own experience. If so, the most emotionally challenging period of my life and when I was “the most miserable” would be when I got divorced and the accompanying emotional trauma that comes with such a situation.
24). What is your favourite occupation? Interesting. Does this question mean occupation as in job or in the sense of an activity or pursuit? Either way, for me it’s writing. I’m content whenever I am sitting at my desk, typing away on my PC, expressing my thoughts. I like the clarity that writing can bring as well as constructing a measured and logical argument. I also like the banter that can be found on Twitter (if you follow the right people).
25). What is your most marked characteristic? I suspect it may be my sense of humour and my somewhat sardonic manner. The world is a very odd, incongruous and at times illogical place. The current intellectual blackout that is spreading throughout western democracies, scares the hell out of me along with the general decline of politics. Therefore, I use humour and an irreverent attitude as a coping mechanism and prism through which to view life, without being directly broken by its crushing futility and inherent unfairness. I consider humour to be an important human characteristic, as long as one has the ability to focus that humour at oneself, as well as the rest of the world. Beware those individuals who lack any sense of mirth. I believe it betrays more about their nature.
26). What do you most value in your friends? The fact that they know me and yet still stick around.
27). Who are your favourite writers? JRR Tolkien, MR James, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, Arthur C Clarke, Saki, HP Lovecraft, Roger Hargreaves, Richard Dawkins, Shirley Jackson, Nigel Kneale, Alan Moore, Arthur Conan-Doyle, HG Wells, Isaac Asimov, William Hope Hodgson, Rod Serling, Marcus Aurelius and many more.
28). Who is your hero of fiction? The Hungry Caterpillar. Also, Mr Tickle and Sam Gamgee.
29). Which historical figure do you most identify with? Robin Hood. I had to wear a stylised Robin Hood outfit in a school play when I was very young. The experience left me traumatised. I bet the real Robin Hood’s outfits were made by his mum.
30). Who are your heroes in real life? Everyday people that do “good” things without the benefit of media scrutiny or praise.
31). What are your favourite names? Xavier, Telemachus, St John (pronounced Sinjun) and Throatwobblermangrove.
32). What is it that you most dislike? A lack of critical thinking. Emotive beliefs and the politics of “feelings”. And people with poor personal hygiene. Wash your clothes and bathe regularly.
33). What is your greatest regret? Leaving my finger prints at the crime scene.
34). How would you like to die? What a stupid question. In my sleep of course and not being torn to pieces by a pack of rabid animals or having my nuts bitten of by a Laplander.
35). What is your motto? Pecuniam vertemus which translates as “Take the money and run”.