Thursday, 9 July 2009


I was kind-of 'tagged' by Sibley-blog-regular, SCB (alias Where there are Meadowlarks), with a meme based on the Alphabet.

So, here's my ABC - which stands, in case you wondered, for Autobiographically Blogged Confessional...

A Age: 59 --- for five more days only!

I will be, as the mathematicians amongst you will by now have deduced, 60 on 14 July.

In fact I've already received my application for my winter fuel allowance. Am I at all
depressed? Well, what do you think?

B Bed Size: Super King Size - and, even with all that room (as David will unhappily testify) I still take up more than my half!

C – Chore you hate: All chores! That's why they're called 'chores'! The clue's in the word!

D – Dog’s name: I've never owned a dog, probably because when I was a small boy, some friends of my parents had a poodle who mistook me for a tree (or, possibly, a lamppost) and peed up my leg!

Favourite fictional dogs (mostly - but not entirely - with Disney connections): Lady and the Tramp (and their canine companions), the One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Old Yeller, Greyfriars Bobby, Rin Tin Tin, Pluto,
Toto and, obviously, Snoopy...

E – Essential start your day: Tea, toast and marmalade.

F – Favourite color: The fact that I can't instantly name a favourite colour means I probably don't have one - other than black, of course, which is what I wear most of the time under the misbegotten belief that it makes me look slimmer.

G – Gold or Silver: I don't have much of either and rarely wear what I have. I occasionally wear the gold signet ring with a blood stone that my parents gave me when I was 21, a gold bracelet that I bought with birthday money when I was forty and a silver cross given to me, a few years ago, by our friends on Kalymnos.

Every now and again I wear my mother's wedding ring on a gold chain which was a birthday present from my friend Dave, twenty years ago.

And, of course, I constantly wear my
white and yellow gold partnership ring - which matches David's and came from Athens...

H – Height: 5′10.5″ I fervently believe I used to be taller but have, in keeping with my advancing years, now started to shrink - except, needless to say, around the waist!

I – Instruments you play(ed): The recorder, tambourine and triangle - at school and badly!

If the human voice counts, I sang as a Policeman (in a papier mache helmet and with a rubber truncheon) in a school production of Gilbert and Sullivan's
The Pirates of Penzance ("Tarantara, tarantara!") and almost sang the role of Captain Corcoran in G&S's H M S Pinafore - until the music mistress had a breakdown and never came back!

Many years later - I sang and (sort-of) danced in To Sea in a Sieve, a musical play based on the life and verses of Edward Lear (right) written with my composer friend, Dave Hewson, and performed with Polly March (playing everyone except Edward Lear, including Queen Victoria and a parrot!) at the Edinburgh Festival and then at the Westminster Theatre, London.

I also sang a bit - in a Rex Harrisonesque fashion - in a show entitled, England, Our England, compiled and presented with my friends Ms March and Tony Miall which opened the St James's Arts Centre in Malta. The description 'international singer', would, therefore, not be entirely unjustified!

J – Job title: 'Writer'. It used to 'Writer and Broadcaster', but since I hardly ever get to do the latter nowadays, it seems a bit presumptuous.

K – Kid(s): None. Though, happily, quite a few of my grown-up friends fall into this category!

L – Living arrangements: Flat but the word 'arrangement' really does not apply to the constant muddle in which we live!

M – Mom’s name: Doris. As a young woman she was very handsome and my first memories are of her looking very much like this...

My Mum

She died 10 years ago, but I still wish I could pick up the phone and talk with her...

N – Nicknames: At school I was 'Sibbers' (which I never liked but had to get used to) and, to a few people, 'Bri' (which I've always hated). More cruelly, I was 'Frog's-eyes' (because of their prominence) and, when I started wearing specs, inevitably, 'Four-eyes'.

Occasionally, people have jokingly called me 'Brain'! I
n fact, when I was born, my Mum misspelled my name thus in announcing my arrival to my paternal grandparents. Nowadays, it's only my magician friend, Fay Presto, who uses that moniker.

My mate, Dave (collaborator on the aforementioned Lear musical) used to call me 'Brisy' which was a bit camp - even for me - and, thankfully, never really caught on!

O – Overnight hospital stay other than birth: Major internal operation, aged 3 or 4, performed in the early hours of morning. Being in the days before parents were allowed to stay with their children in hospital, I was alone except for my white polar (teddy) bear, Brumas (see later under 'Z' for 'Zoo'), and was utterly terrified! I carry the physical and psychological scars to this day.

I had a duodenal ulcer, aged 21 (cured with several weeks of bed rest and a liquid diet - yuck!); and, rather more recently, a few heart-scares. Undoubtedly (and unfortunately) there's more to come...

P – Pet Peeve: Waiters (and other people in the so-called 'service industries') who tell me that something I've requested is "No problem!" Also most other debasements of the English Language!

Q – Quote from a movie: "Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

Advice from an Angel

Said by Clarence Oddbody the Angel (Henry Travers) to George Bailey (James Stewart) in Frank Capra's 1946 film, It's a Wonderful Life.


"If you can't say nuffin' nice, don't say nuffin' at all!"

"If you can't say nuffin' nice..."

Spoken by Thumper (quoting his father's advice) in Disney's 1941 animated feature,

– Right or left handed:
Right. Always thought it would be cool (and occasionally useful) to be ambidextrous but have never seriously tried and am terrified of breaking my right arm!

S – Sports: Er... No!!

T – Time you wake up: Depends how bad a night I've had. Usually around 7:00-7:30 am, but I'm frequently having a cuppa and doing correspondence, writing blogs and playing Bejewelled at 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning.

U Underwear: Have you read my blog?!

One thing I know: underwear advertising has certainly changed during my lifetime...

Er... Just a little...

Unloadin' it

V – Vegetable you dislike: Aubergine, which is a pity, because, uncooked, they look so beautiful.

That said, Irene Glinatsi at Artistico (in Emporios) serves them thinly sliced, battered and drizzled in Kalymnian honey. Sensational!

W – Ways you run late: Believing that David is really ready to go when he says he's ready to go! Believing I'm ready to go, when I've yet to locate my keys, watch, phone, credit card or brain...

X – X-rays you’ve had: Chest, hips, feet, knees and (using a long tube with a camera on the end) boomp-sa-daisy.

Y – Yummy food you make: Never cook these days, but I used to make a mean cottage pie and a rather good strawberry fool-type desert with semi-frozen Muller Light.

Z – Zoo favorite: I vividly remember my first visit to the London Zoo as a child (age 2 or 3) having a ride on an elephant and seeing the polar bear, Ivy and her cub, Brumas, who had been born four months after me in November 1949.

Ivy and Brumas

I was re-introduced to the zoo by a zoology-mad school chum and, a few years later, became a member of the Zoological Society of London going there at least two or three times a month.

I still love all zoos (if they're well run) and most of their inhabitants - except reptiles and insects. Particular favourites: bears and elephants (of which - quite rightly - there are now fewer or none in zoos),
giraffes, hippos (the one below lives in Amsterdam zoo), red pandas, otters, penguins and pelicans.

Bath time

So, that's it: ME from A to Zee!

Now, let's see...

I'll tag... Sharon M, Bitter Animator, Good Dog, Susan D-L, Diva of Deception, the blog-less Roger and/or Sheila (send your entry as a comment) and anyone else who fancies a challenge!

Quite a few of the images were uploaded via flickr.


David Weeks said...

The lengths you will go to in order to find an excuse to put up images of pants is astounding!
I'm only surprised that you didn't manage, U for underwear, P for Pants, K for knickers, B for briefs and U for unmentionables, but then you mention them at the drop of a trouser!

scb said...

Wonderful, wonderful answers! No wonder we get along so well! Thanks so much for doing this meme. It was delightful to watch Snoopy cursing the Red Baron yet again -- love him!

Your rings are lovely.

And... I'm going to be chuckling about "Hanes anti-squirm shorts" for quite some time!

I do wish I could do something with this word verification, but I seem to have misplaced my brain...

Brian Sibley said...

DAVID - I don't, of course, feel the need to justify the contents of my blog to you (especially when it comes to the subject matter on which you have chosen to attack me!!), but I would point out to anyone who didn't realise the fact, that the topic for each letter was chosen NOT by me, but by the person who began the meme...

Of course, had it not included 'U' for 'Underwear', then obviously, I'd never have bothered with it in the first place - but that's entirely beside the point!! ;-)

SCB - Thank you for tagging me. I really enjoyed the excuse to talking about myself!

As to your other point, maybe Ginch Gonch ought to abandon their currently outrageous advertisements and revisit the old 'anti-squirm' theme --- there again, perhaps they thought that's what they were doing!

SharonM said...

Very illuminating - though I think I'd have preferred a David Beckham or Freddie Ljunberg pic for the modern pants pic (you forgot 'Y for Yfronts', David)

Was about to launch into my own ABC, when I - fortunately - remembered that I've got a newspaper deadline to meet this morning. Will do it later though.

Oh, and I think I was in the middle of a rather important EMail correspondence with you last night, Mr S.

Brian Sibley said...

Oh, honestly, SHARON M: you and David Beckham! Get over it!! ;-)

I look forward to your ABC when you are free from trivial things like WORK!!

Bitter Animator said...

That's a lot of underwear. There's far less underwear in my A-Z.

That's not to say I don't like underwear. I do. But, to me, it's really just something to put between me and my pants.

A middleman of sorts.

Brian Sibley said...

Yes, BA, there is less underwear on your ABC meme but then you do have Jeremy Beagle, who is, I guess, a British cousin of good ol' Snoppy!

Eudora said...

Ha, ha, ha, bravo!!, very funny your ABC... and illuminating too.

Brian Sibley said...

Oh, dear... illuminating...

SharonM said...

Cheers, Brian - that's me done my tagging task

I expect I'll recover from the task... eventually.

Brian Sibley said...

EUDORA - Meant to say, I really miss your blog. Start a new one again soon. Meanwhile thanks for still being around the blogosphere...

SHARON M - Thanks for your revelations - do you make plum sponge puddings to go...?

SharonM said...

Brian, see my response.

Sheila said...

Age: 1 year, 1 month older than Brian
Bed size: Standard
Chore you hate: Cleaning the oven
Dog’s name: No dog now, family dog was Barney
Essential start to your day: Cup of tea and the Guardian in bed
Favourite colour: Turquoise
Gold or silver: Will happily accept either
Height: 5’4”
Instruments you play(ed): Piano (badly) – we now have the family pianola, at which I’m more successful
Job title: Retired! Licensed Lay Minister (Trainee)
Kid(s): No
Living arrangements: Very middle-class – 4-bedroom house in Berkshire with Roger and about 100 hippos
Mom’s name: Margaret
Nicknames: None that I’ve been told about
Overnight hospital stay: Never
Pet peeve: Misplaced apostrophe’s + people who say “Can I get …” when asked for their order in a restaurant/bar
Quote from a movie: “Nobody’s perfect” (Some Like it Hot)
Right- or left-handed: Right
Sports: At school - Lacrosse, Tennis; Now - Badminton, Croquet (which brings out a previously unseen strong competitive and rather vicious streak, taking competitors by surprise). I was in school photo of the hockey team as they couldn’t find enough people to make up the numbers when the photographer arrived.
Time you wake up: Usually around 6:30
Underwear: Yes
Vegetable you dislike: Ginger (is that a vegetable?)
Ways you run late: Procrastination + I’m easily distracted. Now I’m older, I’ve also noticed a tendency to double check when I go out: “Did I lock the front door/ back door/car…?”
X-rays you’ve had: Hands for arthritis. Doctor, examining X rays of each hand: “It’s more advanced on your left hand”. Patient: “That’s my right hand – the left hand’s the one with the wedding ring on”. Patient: (Thinks): “I’m never coming here for surgery”.
Yummy food you make: Banana caramel – A pre-banoffee pie family favourite: basically bananas in a caramel sauce with a smidgeon of rum stirred in – about 1M calories per spoonful; Sticky toffee pudding
Zoo favourite: Sorry, Brian, I hate zoos. Went to the Kruger National Park a few years ago and favourites were hippo (I have to say that as Buttons Hippo is reading this over my shoulder) and elephant. I was also given the opportunity to stroke a fairly tame rhino which was in “hospital”. Wonderful, warm, soft-leather feel + lovely row of bristles round the tips of the ears, which are a favourite place for rhinos who are being stroked.

David Weeks said...

PERBOUTP is of course an acronym.


No, publishers are not my favourite animal because they make lots of money from the creativity of others without always recompensing the originator in a fair and just way.

David Weeks said...

"the topic for each letter was chosen NOT by me, but by the person who began the meme... "

A fine excuse indeed!

Brian Sibley said...

SHEILA - Thanks for playing and whilst I laughed out loud at your X-ray story, it was with a kind of shiver of recognition that will, I'm sure, be shared by everyone who has had entanglements with some (but, of course, not all) of those working in the NHS...

For those who don't know you, the vision of your living in Berkshire with 100 hippos (and Roger) must be the stuff of a Reginald Perrin nightmare!

DAVID - I liked your publishing acronym, though I fear that your view of their ways and means has been unduly poisoned by too-close an association with a not-too-successful writer! ;-)

DAVID - You doubting Thomas, you...

SharonM said...

I agree with you David - and I'm sure you'd be happy to add Broadcasters to the list.

I can't agree with the 'not too successful' bit, Brian. You ARE a successful writer - you are just vastly underpaid for what you do.

Brian Sibley said...

Oh, darlings, what can I say?

Throw money! Throw money!

scb said...

Sheila: Great answers. The x-ray one did rather make me shudder... And it must be quite an adventure to live with 100 hippos. (sings "there were one hundred hippos a-sitting on the wall...") Good for you for becoming a Licensed Lay Minister (I speak as one who almost, but not quite, got her Master of Divinity) And finally, I'll have the ginger you're discarding. I love it!

David: Excellent acronym. Yes indeed. (crosses fingers that the publisher I have a manuscript out to will turn out NOT to fit the acronym...)

Susan D-L said...

I'm late to the party! (For reasons, see list under Running Late).

What a wonderful list, and I'm still enjoying the Underwear portion. Some things shouldn't be rushed.

Have finally posted mine, but it is not as visually stunning. Mea culpa.

Thanks for the lovely tag.

Brian Sibley said...

You can read SUSAN D-L's meme, here. A taster for you: Slow-cooked spaghetti sauce, Marinara-style... a mean chili con carne (it's all in the cumin). Also catfish, ginger cookies, and frittata...

Brian Sibley said...

If anyone is trawling back though these old posts, good ol' Good Dog has, after being delayed by pressing health matters (happily he's on the mend now), just submitted his Good Dog Alphabet. Enjoy!