November 28th, 2007

Wanaka tree

Questions meme

Stolen from naurwen and nurdhegilwen

1-Elaborate on your default icon.
It’s a picture of Stonehenge which is about an hour’s drive from where I live. It’s part of an ancient human landscape and I’m really proud of the fact that my people were building things like this when the Egyptian were building pyramids.

2-What's your current relationship status?

3-Ever have a near-death experience?
I was stupid enough to take some magic mushrooms many years ago and I keeled over. The next thing I knew was a friend beating on my chest because they couldn’t find a pulse. I felt fina after but have never touched anything like that again.

4-Name an obvious quality you have.
I think I’m pretty creative, which pleases me a lot. I write, take photos, write songs and used to sing in a band (badly)

5-What's the name of the song that's stuck in your head right now?
Right now there isn’t one.

6-Any celeb you would marry?
I wouldn’t contemplate marrying someone I didn’t know really well, but Jennifer Connelly could have me if she wanted!

7-Who will cut and paste this first?
Just have to wait and see.

8-Has anyone ever said you look like a celebrity?
No, but it would probably be Gollum!

9-Do you wear a watch? What kind?
Yes, a Swatch (Swiss ingenuity at its best.) I’ve had several Swatch watches over the years and I especially like ones that don’t look in any way conventional. The one I have right now is like a set of bathroom scales and was given to me by my friend Rebekka.

10-Do you have anything pierced?
No. Owwwwww.

11-Do you have any tattoos?
No, but I did come close to getting a small Maori tattoo when I was in New Zealand.

12-Do you like pain?

13-Do you like to shop?
It depends what for, but in general, yes.

14-What was the last thing you paid for with cash?
My lunch.

15-What was the last thing you paid for with your credit card?
Some books.

16-Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone?
It was to do with work, I don’t remember who the person was.

17-What is on your desktop background?
One of my Avebury photos on my home laptop and one of my New Zealand photos on my computer at work.

18-What is the background on your cell phone?
I am proud to say that I don’t have one.

19-Do you like redheads?
Yes, why not?

20-Do you know any twins?

21-Do you have any weird relatives?
There isn’t enough space here!

22-What was the last movie you watched?
Bridge to Terrabithia

23-What was the last book you read?
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (again)

24-Is there such a thing as love at first sight, or it is more likely
to be "lust at first sight"?
I think both are possible.

25-What's your favourite book?
My desert island book would be The Lord of the Rings, but I have lots of favourites. I can read Terry Pratchett’s books over and over and still find new things to laugh at.

26-When was the last time you visited the street where you first lived?
I actually still live in the same house.

27-When was the last time you googled your own name?
This morning – I’m so vain. One of the entries was even the right me!

28-What was/is your favourite subject at school?
I enjoyed French, mainly because my continued interest in the subject meant that I got to spend a lot of time in France when I was growing up!

29-What was/is your least favourite subject at school?
Maths. I think I was reasonably good at it but, being a words person, I never quite saw the need for numbers! That is borne out by the fact that I have never used any of the maths I learnt at school after about the age of six!

30-Do you like having your photograph taken?
Not really. I know that cameras can be expensive and I wouldn’t want anyone’s camera to break because they are pointing it at me. I am much happier behind the lens rather than in front of it.

31-What time were you born?
I don’t know but I think it was around seven o’clock in the morning.

32-Ever seriously questioned your sanity?
No. I look at other people and wonder, though, sometimes!

33-How many phone numbers do you have remembered and can say off the
top of your head?
I don’t know, probably about ten.

34-Can you Limbo?
It’s never going to happen.

35-Have you ever killed your own dinner?
No. As a vegetarian I don’t need to or want to.

36-How long have you been living at your current residence?
On and off, all my life. It’s my family home. I moved away for about fifteen years but moved back a while ago.

37-What phobias do you have?

38-What's your ideal breakfast?
Toast and vegemite or beans on toast. Both with loads of good coffee.

39-Where are you right now?
Shhh (at work!)

40-Why do you blog?
Because I really enjoy it. It allows me to stay in close touch with a few people who are very special to me and has also given me lots of new and great friends. I get to interact with people all over the world, and that’s brilliant. It also means that I can showcase my photos.

41-What would you call your autobiography?
The travel book I have written is autobiographical and that’s called ‘Southern Crossroads’. But my autobiography would have to be called, ‘The Journey’

42-What's the longest time you've stayed out of the country/where?
Four and a half months travelling around New Zealand. It was the best thing I’ve ever done.

43-Do you use ICQ, AOL Buddy list etc..?
I sometimes talk to my favourite cousin and a couple of other people on AOL Buddy list.

44-Do you have nightmares frequently?
I hardly ever remember my dreams and have never knowingly had a nightmare.

45-If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
It would be nice to think so.

46-Which TV character could you be friends with?
Manny (played by Bill Bailey) from Black Books

47- What's on your mouse pad?
Swiss cheese.

48- What is your ring tone?
As I said, I don’t have a mobile phone.

49. What did you watch on TV last night?
Flight of the Conchords

50. Scary movies or happy endings?
Happy Endings every time. I’m just an old softie!
Wanaka tree

Come gather all and listen to what I've got to say, you may learn something!

So, it was the first of my plain English talks today. I have spent the last week working on my script and finding all the right examples, both on how to do things and how not to. I seem to have become the council's expert on writing in plain language and it's quite flattering when people much more senior come to me and ask how I would put a particular phrase or idea across.  

I'd had a few trial runs and fine-tuned what I was going to say over the past couple of days, so I felt ready. My talk was the first in a series of events over two weeks on various topics around the subject of Equalities Good Practice. Invitations and notices were sent out to all county council employees and officers and all were welcome to come along.

At about a quarter to twelve I went down to the committee room to make last minute preparations and make sure everything was ready. There was a meeting going on in the room so I couldn't just barge in. The two guys from the equalities team who had invited me to do the talk turned up just after I got there and we waited for the meeting to wind up. Eventually it did. By now it was five past twelve and we had to get the room ready. When we had done that it was ten past twelve and I should have been in full swing by then. Still, it didn't matter because no-one had turned up. We waited until a quarter past twelve and still no-one had appeared, so we decided to knock it on the head and go back to our offices.

It seems that I am not a very popular draw. It seems that everyone is so well-versed in plain English that they don't need me to tell them about it. I read some of the things they write and I know that's not the case. It seems that apathy is the main driving force in local government. I was going to talk about Terry Pratchett's book, 'Truckers' and how the nomes take the signs they see at face value, how they think that fire buckets are buckets of fire. I was going to make it funny and give examples of management speak that no-one could ever possibly understand. I was going to give good advice about how to write and the sort of language you should use if you want people to understand what you mean. I was going to quote Einstein and George Eliot, and even L'Oreal. I was going to be good, dammit!

I'm down to do the same talk next Wednesday. Wish me luck and a crowd that doesn't interrupt, perhaps a crowd just like today's. I want to do my best but I can only do that if people are prepared to listen.