The first is the middle name one. The object is to form a kind of acrostic with the letters of your middle name, each one being the initial letter of an adjective (or perhaps adjectival phrase) you think describes you. If you don't have a middle name, use the middle name you would like to have. Mine is a short one: Anne.
A - Ambivalent. I am, about most things, most of the time.
N - Nit-picking. Ask Tom.
N - Nice. Sometimes, or in the old sense, nit-picking.
E - Earnest. I can be a little over-. But sometimes it's important to be.
The next stage is to tag as many people as there are letters in said middle name. I don't mind doing memes but I don't much like tagging people in them, feeling like I'm being a nuisance, though of course no-one has to pick up the tag. Anyway, four isn't too many, so I'll do so when I've done the next one, which is a set of questions.
1. If you could have superpowers, what would they be? There is no obligation to be unselfish, save the world etc.
I would have the power to levitate and position large and heavy objects such as sheets of plasterboard, barrowloads of gravel, furniture up stairs etc, and to levtate and manipulate smal ones such as screws to screw them in. In fact this would have been more use still ten years ago when we started the house renovation, but could still be handy. I would also like to be able to eradicate weeds, sorting them from the benign plants, and destroy slugs and snails with a thought. I realise this is a little ecologically unfriendly, so perhaps I would just teleport them to another place.
2. Stranded on a desert island with a CD player and 10 CDs, what would they be?
I seem to recall that the original idea devised by dear old Roy Plomley was that these would be 'gramaphone records', and that each individual piece would only be as long as would fit on an old 78 rpm recording. This necessarily limited you to perhaps one pop, rock or jazz number, and perhaps one movement from a classical piece. However, CDs allow for more freedom. I always find these music choices difficult; my current favourites are not necessarily the only ones I would want or need if separated from my world. Some music belongs so strongly to a certain period of my life that I choose not to listen to it any more, think perhaps I would find it quite difficult to do so, and often don't even own it any longer, yet if I found myself in the hypothetical desert island limbo, I might well have to have it along. So here goes -
1. Bob Dylan, second period, perhaps, early to mid 70s, 'Blonde on Blonde', 'Blood on the Tracks', I might even dare to face up to 'Planet Waves' or 'Desire'. This most certainly belongs to the category I described above; I currently own none of them, haven't done since CDs came in; one of these days I'll replace them, but not just now.
2. Some Van Morrison, no sentimental problems there, as perennial as the grass. The 'Greatest Hits' album would be fine, though it has got one or two awful ones from when he was with 'Them', and the Christmas one with Cliff Richard.
3. Paul Simon's 'Graceland', age shall not weary her, and lively enough to jump around to.
4. Some Beatles, for old times' sake. Probably the Blue compilation would do, or why not the red, if they still exist, or perhaps the white album. despite all the Yoko inspired weirdness and nasty associations, it still has 'While my Guitar Gently Weeps' on it and more besides.
5. Lots to remind me of Tom, Sibelius 5th, though it wouldn't be the same without the coda of weepy nose-blowing, or Shostakovich 5th, or some Handel, 'Did you not see my lady', a Beethoven symphony or two, and many many more.
6. A good Vaughan Williams pastoral compilation which must have the Tallis theme and 5 variants on Dives and Lazarus, and probably Greensleeves Variations, and some more I don't know as well.
7. The Tallis Scholars 'Renaissance Giants' album which has got so much on it, Spem in Alium, Western Wind Mass... Josquin, Palestrina, and also some really tasty photographs of Michelangelo's David in the artwork.
8. Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble's 'Officium'. Though 'Mnenosyme' is probably better value this is the original and best for me, with very precious associations.
9. A Loreena Mckennitt, probably 'The Mask and the Mirror' for the setting of St John of the Cross, but I like 'The Visit' too; 'The Lady of Shalott' reminds me of my lovely sister.
10. Hmm, too many possibilities for a last choice. Perhaps some more challenging classical stuff I always mean to apply myself to but don't get round to, like Beethoven String Quartets, or maybe just something else from back when, some Joan Armatrading perhaps... or the music from 'Amelie'...
(Sorry, no time to do links for all those)
3. If you were a smell, what would you be?
Box hedges and philadelphus.
4. If you were a bird, what kind would you like to be?
The bird I think I most resemble is probably a dunnock or hedge sparrow. They are commonplace, small and unremarkable, lack any distinguishing features of noticeable beauty or virtuoso musical talent, but on the other hand they have a very pretty and quite bold song when they put their minds to it, which always surprises and pleases, and though they are retiring, they are cheerful, adaptable and confiding creatures, who don't pick fights with anyone. At least I hope I'm a bit like that, most of the time. However, the question is, what bird would you like to be, so I think I would choose to be a heron. They are so larger than life and primeval looking, also slightly menacing, their flight is majestic. I like the way they stand there by water, quiet pools, riversides, even on the seashore, looking ancient and contemplative and monumental, occasionally spearing something with those amazing great beaks. Wonderful birds.
In view also of the next question, also, size is important.
5. If you were a bird, whose head would you poo on?
Well, by this time I should imagine George W. is so oversubscribed as a candidate for this honour that he must have more bird poo on his head than Nelson in Trafalgar Square, so I'll leave him and his cohorts to one side, and anyway, when it comes to politicians, where do you start, or rather where do you stop? The next person that came to mind was Peter Mayle, author of 'A Year in Provence'.
I have sometimes considered having a category label here entitled 'I hate Peter Mayle', but thought perhaps that might come across as somewhat gratuitously offensive, though surely we're all allowed to have our moments? I would label my posts with this as a kind of disclaimer when I thought I might be construed as becoming too glib and hackneyed in writing rosily about French rural life and my living here. By the psychological principle of projection, as I understand it, one dislikes in others the negative qualities one knows on some level one is guilty of oneself. By this token I suppose I must see Peter Mayle as a caution. Smug, facile and self-satisfied writing, patronising, unfunny accounts of quaint locals, with scant real knowledge or penetration, a dismal lack of evocation of atmosphere writing about a place that should be redolent of it, from someone who seems to think he has done something clever by securing enough private income through no particular application of talent or hard work to be able to decamp to a pleasant part of France... remind me of anyone? There but for the grace... or don't I? Nuff said. ( Sorry if it's anyone's favourite book.)
6. Are there any foods your body craves?
Garlic, anyhow: roasted with potatoes, in butter, on clams, in chicken, in garlic bread, on steak... good thing I depend so much on my virtual acquaintance for friendship and support.
Chocolate, of course, milk rather than dark, unfashionable and immature though that may be. There is a particular Ritter Sport bar which has a yogurt filling which seems very hard to find.
All forms of complex carbohydrate.
7. Favourite time of year?
Most of them when I'm there, though not so keen on late summer and late winter.
8. Favourite time of day?
About 6 pm, when the wine is poured. Sometimes first light on a beautiful morning when I'm not dreading or even apprehensive of anything in the day ahead.
9. If a change is as good as a rest, which would you choose?
A change, obviously, if it's as good.
10. If you could invite five people living or dead, past or present to a dinner party, who would they be?
I'm not so good on this kind of thing, probably because I am nul at any kind of fantasy life really. I'm not very starstruck, fearing that anyone I really admire as artist, writer, musician etc would be either intimidating or a disappointment in the flesh, and the thought of bringing back long gone near and dear ones is quite literally the stuff of nightmare. Anyway, I'd be worrying too much about the food to benefit from the occasion. I thought about dear old Geoff Hamilton the TV gardener who died too soon for Tom, then I started thinking about Dinner Parties from Hell scenarios, beginning with St Bernard of Clairvaulx and Richard Dawkins. But St B. would be a real drag, tiresome God-botherer that he was, and wouldn't enjoy the food one bit, but would only throw it up afterwards if he ate it at all, and conflict is only funny in the abstract, in reality I don't care for it.
So, reasoning that he'd have to be there too, to lay the table, which is his forte on these occasions, I threw it open to Tom. He came up with Jesus and Judas, Albert Einstein, Roger Penrose and Meister Eckhart. I said wouldn't the two Js be a bit fraught, but he said he wanted to know what really happened there. I said what about Geoff Hamilton, so he said OK he'd forego Judas since he could get the story from Jesus anyway. I wondered if Geoff might be a bit out of his depth in such rarefied company, but Tom assured me otherwise, saying that they were all mystics in their own way.
Then we realised there were no ladies present, so we thought we'd double up to get a balance, which would make twelve altogether with us, which is quite a good number. To keep the mystical end up Tom wanted Evelyn Underhill, and we decided we'd both really like Beatrix Potter, who wasn't Rene Zellwegger but was no slouch as artist, conservationist and scientist, and also the wonderful watercolourist Hazel Soan. I've been a bit torn between George Eliot and Jan Struther but concluded I'd steer clear of the predictable Great Women of History and Letters and go for the latter. She wrote 'Mrs Miniver', and she wasn't Greer Garson, but really clever and sharp and observant and human. I suggested we invite any one of the poor bloody women who stood behind the Great Men so she could have a good moan and get it off her chest, but then decided on Heloise, so she could tell me whether she wrote all, any or none of the letters, how old she really was, and whether it was the most satisfying relationship intellectually, emotionally,physically and spiritually ever or whether Abelard was really just a total git. Meeting Meister Eckhart she might decide she could have done better... meeting Geoff Hamilton she might have decided she could have done better...meeting Tom...We then developed the Anti-Dinner Party theme a bit, which I feel could perhaps be the subject of another set of meme questions. To Dawkins and St Bernard we added our Dismal Dutch Bulb-growing Neighbour, a man of singularly little charm and grace, a recent acquaintance who for reasons of harmony and tact shall remain nameless, and Anne Widdecombe.
Or alternatively I would be really happy to have to dinner any of innumerable combinations of blogging friends who I may never actually meet, together at any rate, but who I'm sure would be marvellous company, without the problem of whether they spoke mediaeval German or Latin or Aramaic or whatever.
So now it's time to tag four more. Rest assured you do not have to blather on at the lengths I have, I just don't know when to stop, that's my trouble. I think I'll tag:
My old friend Tall Girl - I'm not sure if she still has a middle name, she certainly used to, which could be revealed without compromising her understandably necessary anonymity.. The issue of naming is a somewhat complex one altogether with her, wasn't there a story about a stroppy grandfather, or someone, or was it the vicar?
Jzr - because the 'z' sounds potentially interesting, and I've only lately discovered her lovely blog which takes me off to dreamy, fascinating, remote landscapes of the Far North, and makes a cri de coeur for their preservation.
Isabelle - who's wise and witty and fun, and I seem to recall that is her middle name, and she's so faithful and conscientious about getting round lots of other people's blogs that she shouldn't have any trouble finding eight other to tag.
Bee - who I don't think has ever been meme'd before, so needs to be blooded, and I have the impression the blogging world still seems a bit like a mass of spaghetti to her, so hopefully this might help her to twizzle a few strands. Her middle name is very familiar to me, though I doubt it was after me, charmless nine-year old that I was at the time of her birth, it was in the family before.
You don't have to do all or any of it.