I’ve never been one for this idea of tagging friends to complete lists, it seemed all a bit too like a chain letter for me. Then Martin goes and tags me with the 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me and I got interested.
His list is pretty cool, comprising as it does of bodily quirks he has – Martin I can do eyebrow contortions, I can do the same weird neck thing, and I can most definitely do the one eye moving independently trick. That’s a personal favourite.
First apologies it has taken so long Martin, and now the final push to do this is that Ian has tagged me with this one too. So here are five things you (probably) didn’t know about me.
Oh, and Lee, no I won’t be telling that one…or that one…
I have written over 160 poems in my life.
Now I’m not talking about the mathematically precise and rule following poetry that Abi and most real poets would write, I’m talking from the heart free form poetry.
Yes some is about love, but more of it is about lesser popular subjects such as murderers, animal hunting, midnight trains in Morocco, childhood fears in adults, many, many topics that don’t rank in that adolescent poetry category.
I’m still not sure about publishing any here. We’ll see how I feel at the end of this.
I have been held at knife point and robbed in Morocco.
While my friend Derek (where are you Mr Rothnie?) and I were Inter Railing around Europe, we decided to head south into Africa. It was wondrous and I hope to return there one day, but Tangiers was something else.
While we waited for the Marrakech overnight train we accepted the offer of a tour of the medina from a local guide.
I know you are probably already groaning at that thought, but let me just say as the man was touting for business the Police were standing just feet away, watching us arrive. So we thought it might just be okay.
It wasn’t. At the start of the tour we were asked to put our bags in with a local store. Cool we thought it all looked official, and carrying the full size backpacking kit around was a bit tiring in the heat.
I have to say at this point I was starting to get concerned that we were getting ourselves into a situation where we were too reliant on complete strangers. Still, we did it anyway. Foolish Scottish kids in the middle of Africa!
When we finished the tour and returned to the store to collect our bags we were backed against the wall and a bunch of locals crowded round. The tour guide whipped out a knife and demanded cash for our safe return, yes ours, not just the bags.
Anyway it all turned our okay, we gave them a fair more than the tour was worth and were on our way with all our gear, and body parts, intact, and the trip to Marrakech was the most amazing of my life and a truly life defining moment.
I’ve slept overnight in the Israeli desert.
Yeah, this is the second time I’ve been in a real desert, and this time instead of sleeping in a moving train overnight we slept out in the middle of nowhere in the Israeli desert.
That wasn’t the half of it. The guys we were with were all superb guys, but the surprising thing for us was that they were armed. Indeed one was the commander of a tank regiment. It all seemed like another life while I was there, but the guys were great fun and really nice blokes.
I had travelled to Israel for business for a few days, and while we were there the people we were working with took us for a couple of days driving jeeps in the desert, and that meant sleeping out there, underneath the stars.
It was amazing, just sleeping on mats and rugs underneath the stars filled with beer and fire barbequed burgers. Then awaking in the morning to the rising desert sun, oh lord it was amazing.
I once was a King.
I played Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) a lot of the time when I was younger, I loved them. I started off with Shades on Prestel, where I became quite a well known character and even wrote some stories for the offline site, so I was pretty serious about it.
When I was older I happened across them again and joined a MUD called Realms of Discordia. I played there for years from the early days of testing right through. Again I really took to it and became a well known character and a strong role player, so I eventually was brought into a major storyline and became the King of the land.
It proved more work than you would believe. I had to set up a virtual Court with all sorts of positions, and then of course you had the problems of politics and corruption. Of course no one really wanted to be a good character (apart from me it seems) so everything became a hassle with me having to intervene in every decision.
Then real politics and power struggles were happening behind the scenes and so I decided to get out and spend more time in reality. There was enough of this rubbish to deal with at work, never mind online.
I was once responsible for helping protect the British people from nuclear attack.
I used to belong to an organisation called the Royal Observer Corps. Famous for monitoring and identifying aircraft during the World Wars (you can see them in many war films), the ROC had a slightly different role in modern day.
We worked with a group called the UKWMO, the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation. This group would be fed details of incoming nuclear missiles and would plot their details to ascertain where they were set to fall. Using weather charts and details of the missile the direction of fallout would be plotted and the ROC would then warn all their posts in the area to sound their public sirens and prepare for an attack.
Thus we would warn the public of incoming missiles and where the fallout was headed. However we were not always safe as many thought we would be, in fact some of the bunkers and their locations meant that they wouldn’t survive.
You can see a couple of the tasks that I used to do over at ringbell.co.uk, writing backwards on a clear map, and manning radio stations and adding figures to large charts for the UKWMO people to make their calculations. Ringbell.co.uk actually carries a lot of interesting information on the UKWMO and ROC.
Neither of these organisations exist anymore, however that was our role, and every month we would practice our roles, learn what to do, and enjoy some tea and biscuits. Thankfully we never had to put into practice what we trained for before the UK Government disbanded the organisations.
So there are my five, actually when I started work on this I had loads more, but I limited myself. Hope they’ve been interesting and insightful, and here’s to the tagging of five friends who have to carry out the same thing and tell us all five things we never knew about them. Hop to it!