Friday, June 15, 2007

Drat you Neil, I feel obliged to respond!

Neil (Ninlgun) challenged me to tell the world ten little known or obscure facts about myself. This in turn came from a challenge to Neil from Kanani. About the only positive that I can see in all this is that I had not visited Kanani's blog before.

Now I feel that I talk far too much about myself as it is on this blog. Yes, it is a personal blog, but even so. Still, I have not in fact responded to Neil's last two challenges and so feel obliged to do so this time.

What can I say? The facts are meant to be obscure, but they also should have at least some interest. Desirably, they should probably be strange or even bizarre. But then, they should also not be admissions to crimes or other things that might come back to haunt me. Or just embarrass me!

Still, I have been lucky in the opportunities that I have been given. So here goes in no particular order with some of the strangest things about me that I can find.

One: most terrifying experience. The first time as a monitor that I had to read the school lesson in chapel. My legs knocked together in a most visible fashion and my voice quaked. Seems strange looking back given the public speaking that I have done. But even now if I fall into the wrong mood I can lose it.

Two: the best prophesy. Uncle Jim, Aunt Margaret's husband, came from an Australian-Indian family and spent much of his early years in India. He was there as a young man at the time of partition and saw the bodies piled in the river beds.

Jim loved India and read as much as he could about it.

Running for Liberal Party pre-selection, he tried to explain to the blue rinsed ladies (that, in case you did not get it, is a reflection of my personal prejudice) that the greatest challenge Australia and the world would face in the future was Muslim fundamentalism. They did not understand, but that's not surprising. It was, after all, over thirty years ago.

Three: strangest family story. The introduction of poker machines to India. I will leave you hanging on this one.

Four: my greatest gift to the nation, giving up flying. Soon after I arrived in Canberra I decided to learn to fly. Seemed a good thing at the time. I remember sitting in the plane carefully doing my checks. Very carefully. The whole plane was shaking.

Suddenly a voice came over the radio. Would some one please get this bloody student pilot of the runway! My instructor took over, and we lifted off. Behind us was a scheduled liner revving its engines as it waited.

A little later I was doing circuits and bumps. This involved taking off, doing a circuit, touching down, then taking off again. I suddenly realised, my shirt was sticking to my back because of the sweat, that I would soon have to do this on my own. Given my poor hand-eye coordination, I decided to quit.

Five: embarrassing experience one. We, the students, drank at Tatt's Tavern. In those distant days, if you were cuddling a girl on your lap you could be thrown out. I was and I was. The only problem is that I was marched out between the mayor of Armidale and the president of Dumaresq Shire who were standing at the pub's front door.

The next day was the unveiling of a memorial in honour of my grandfather. There was I sitting in the front row looking at the gentlemen in question. I did not say anything, nor did they. But I have always wondered what they thought.

Six: notorious colleagues. I worked with and knew quite well David Eastman, who was later convicted of the murder of Colin Winchester.

Seven: greatest helicopter flight. Flying in an Indonesian military helicopter low over the countryside between Djakarta and Bandung. Other flights that stand out were another low level flight from Yoevil in the West Country to the centre of London and travel all over Fort Worth between Bell Helicopter plants.

Eight: oddest experience. Being primary child carer of daughters in a world dominated by and geared to mothers. Any male who has picked up children, especially primary age girls, from school will know what I mean. I think that the growing concern with child sex offences has made this worse.

Nine: special skill. While my reading speed has slowed somewhat from a page (full read) in 30 seconds, I am still a very fast reader. Concentrating, I can skim read a 100 page document in 20-30 minutes to get the main points. I much prefer the printed page to the screen because screen reading is so much slower.

Ten: greatest fear. That I am running out of time to do the things that I still want to do.


Anonymous said...

Well done, Jim. I look forward to learning more about poker machines in India some time...

Did you note, too, the effect of your words on Thomas? Mind you, I'm keeping the dark blog at Journalspace, bit at least the text isn't white...

WordPress has one really attractive white on black template, which is in fact very clear. Yes, I did try it for a minute or two -- but it had other problems deeper in the blog.

Thomas said...

I hope you noticed, lest my efforts be in vain! It was strange that you mentioned it so recent to me thinking about changing it for the novelty value. At least *I* can quote a reason for the redesign, eh Neil?

Jim Belshaw said...

I have indeed noticed, Thomas, and my thanks. But we seem to have given Neil another excuse!

Kanani said...

Clarify number three, please!

Jim Belshaw said...

K, I am not sure how best to do that. A movie synopsis perhaps?

That way I do not have to worry absolutely about accuracy,and can change a few facts to protect the innocent, or even guilty. But no one would believe the story anyway! But did you know that I knew how the international informal money exchange worked long before this became an issue in the context of terrorism?!