Sunday, November 01, 2009

Cleaning and other considerations

This week I have been mostly sulking. I am still in Antigua – waiting for the swelling (from the ousted wisdom tooth) to subside sufficiently for the dentist to oust the other wisdom tooth. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to.

I have spent a lot of time in-putting books into Library Thing. That “Words” blog opened up a whole can of worms! But it’s kept me occupied – so for that, I am grateful. Digging out my Book Lists also inspired me to do a little spring clean of my ‘Personal Organiser’. (Remember them? The thing you used to have before your Blackberry – they do much the same job, don’t need batteries, but do require a biro.)

So I emptied out all of the various pockets and spaces.

I threw away:
  • Several business cards belonging to people I am sure I’ve never met.
  • Several email addresses from people I am certain I will never contact.
  • Some passport photos, which should never have seen the light of day.
  • Numerous scraps of paper with “To Do” Lists on them – nearly all of which were undone.
I kept:
  • A membership card for “Perama Travel – All Over Indonesia!” Which expired in 1998.
  • A bus ticket from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng (Laos) dated my birthday, 1999.
  • A Donor Card.
  • An “I do something amazing, I give blood” Card (although I haven’t, for a long time – but perhaps this will inspire me.)
  • A London Underground map
  • Business Cards for a Photographer in Sussex, an Italian Hair Stylist in Mexico and a handsome man in the Philippines (you never know).
  • A photograph of my parents
  • A newspaper clipping from November 2000 – which made me very happy and looks like this:

  • The Proust Questionnaire

I cut this out from a magazine several years ago, with the intention is doing something with it... filling it in I suppose. These days there are so many imitators knocking around on Facebook and the like, that I have got truly sick and tired of Questionnaires. Most of them are so banal – “what time did you get up this morning? Who is most likely to reply to this questionnaire?” Yawn! But this one is actually quite interesting. It supposedly gets to the very heart of an individual. Maybe it does. Kate Winslet apparently uses it when developing a new role.

Here are the questions:
  • Your favourite virtue;
  • Your favourite qualities in a man;
  • Your favourite qualities in a woman;
  • Your biggest flaw;
  • Your favourite occupation;
  • Your chief characteristic;
  • Your idea of happiness;
  • Your idea of misery;
  • Your favourite colour and flower;
  • If not yourself, who would you be?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • Your favourite prose authors;
  • Your favourite poets;
  • Your favourite painters and composers;
  • Your favourite heroes in real life;
  • Your favourite heroines in real life;
  • Your favourite heroes in fiction;
  • Your favourite heroines in fiction;
  • Your favourite food and drink;
  • Your favourite names;
  • Your Pet Aversion;
  • What characters in history do you most dislike?
  • What is your present state of mind?
  • For what fault do you have the most toleration?
  • Your favourite motto;
  • How would you like to die?
So I did finally complete it. It concerned me how many flaws I could think of and how few characteristics – none in fact. I don’t know what my characteristics are – I don’t think I have any. Maybe glibness. Is that a characteristic? Facetiousness? My flaws, on the other hand, had to be both long and short-listed.

It saddened me that my favourite novelists, poets, composers and painters were all men. Especially having recently read ‘Unless’ in which she blames her daughters descent into depression on the marginalisation of women in the Media. Has this been truly ingrained in me? Or are there (dare I say it) simply less creative women than men? Mind you, all my most hated characters from history were also men (book burners, all).

Even sadder, I realised that I have absolutely no heroes or heroines in real life – but many from fiction. Naming my fictional hero/ines was easy! (Frodo Baggins, Ford Prefect, Levin, Eowyn, Beatrice and Lessa – in case you were wondering). But people in real life are so tainted – how can anyone be so above reproach that is possible to feel nothing but admiration for them? Even after much consideration, I can think of no one. I did, in the end, come up with three names, but I am not completely happy to pronounce them ‘heroes’. (Alexander the Great, Elizabeth I and Emmiline Pankhurst). Does this reflect on me? Am I being realistic or too cynical?

And how would I like to die? Healthy, of course.

I’ve posted my full answers as a comment. Feel free to leave your own – yes, I am interested! Mr Botogol recently mused that every blog gets the readers it deserves... so I have no doubt that you are a sensitive, noble and discerning bunch!


outside-jane said...

Your favourite virtue:

Your favourite qualities in a man:
Honesty, loyalty, wit & sanity.

Your favourite qualities in a woman:
Honesty, loyalty & wit.

Your biggest flaw:
Self-importance, inconstancy, laziness, apathy.

Your favourite occupation:
Reading, diving, yoga, idleness.

Your chief characteristic:

Your idea of happiness:
Reading, diving, relaxing, dreaming, talking, thinking, reminiscing.

Your idea of misery:
Imprisonment, poverty & lonliness.

Your favourite colour and flower:
Blue, green & white.
Snowdrops, bluebells & orchids.

If not yourself, who would you be?
An impossible question.

Where would you like to live?
If I knew that, I’d be there, but somewhere with a beautiful view.

Your favourite prose authors:
Joseph Conrad, Umberto Eco, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jerome K Jerome, Douglas Adams.

Your favourite poets:
E E Cummings, Allen Ginsburg, Rumi.

Your favourite painters and composers:
Degas, Van Gogh, Turner.
Beethoven, Bach, Mozart.

Your favourite heroes in real life:
Alexander the Great - because he thought that having dominion over the whole world was a realistic ambition. You’ve got to love that kind of arrogance! But he was also a muredring despot...

Your favourite heroines in real life:
Elizabeth I , Emmiline Pankhurst

Your favourite heroes in fiction:
Frodo Baggins, Ford Prefect, Levin.

Your favourite heroines in fiction:
Eowyn, Beatrice, Lessa.

Your favourite food and drink:
Cheese, dark chocolate, freshly squeezed orange juice & dessert wine

Your favourite names:
Montmorency, Aloyisious, Thorin Oakenshield

Your Pet Aversion:
People who talk too loudly.

What characters in history do you most dislike?
Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, Hitler, Himmler, Lenin & Stalin.

What is your present state of mind?

For what fault do you have the most toleration?

Your favourite motto:
“As you think, so shall you become”

How would you like to die?

Botogol said...

Vanity Fair have been running the Proust Questionnaire for some years - here's some background and some previous answers