"PROCRASTINATING SINCE 1958!" themajor's Profile
It was James Agee who rightly commented that "The English instinctively admire any man who has no talent and is modest about it." Personally speaking, when summing up my achievements, I have much to be modest about.
As a dyed in the wool Englishman I have to admit that we don't do 'awards' terribly well. Under normal circumstances this is all well and good because we don't normally win any. We are awfully good at trying, indeed we can be very trying, but ultimately we lack the determination and single-mindedness needed to go for the kill and push for the win. We are jolly good at inventing sports (eg cricket, football, conkers) but sadly better still at losing whenever we play them. With this in mind our successful bid to stage the 2012 Olympic Games is little more than an enthusiastically elegant sporting suicide note. But as long as there are some fluttering Union Jacks and a smattering of tea and crumpets we shall be quite happy thank-you. For we do ceremonies very well - just not award ceremonies.
I must say that I was more than a little flabbergasted to be nominated for a Barney award. When I saw that it was for the 'funniest page' I laughed - which to be honest is more than my dear readers do. Imagine my surprise when I received a message telling me I had won! I have yet to check whether this involves sending my bank details to a 'down on his luck' prince but for the time being I am delighted.
To quote the late lamented Mr Jack Benny...
"I don't deserve this, but then, I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either".
To be honest, I am mildly eccentric. It is not an accolade I have sought to achieve but one that has been randomly thrust upon me throughout the years of my existence. Those who are born 'plain' but desperately want to be eccentric make the mistake of trying too hard and simply can't pull it off. They have to 'buy in' their eccentric traits and end up with a dressing up box. I liken it to the pages of wedding photos you often in local newspapers. Many are top hat and tailed but you can spot immediately those who have never worn a tie from choice. They have an uncomfortable air about them, a mildly strangulated look and a knot which would suggest that they'd have been better off having their mothers tie it for them.
I have been shaped by experience. Educated in a private school up to the age of 11 by a 6 foot 6 inch ex Indian Raj headmistress by the name of Daphne, who would send me to the local butchers to buy beef dripping and would rapped me with a ruler for 'brushing against the Grandfather Clock'. Somewhat harsh I thought! From there to a traditional Grammar school where the schoolmasters wore gowns, cream and iced buns were served at breaktimes and where I got my first and only thee hour Saturday detention for getting 4 out of 10 in my first ever theorem test. God, I hate Pythagoras to this day but I still loved the school!
Pepper this with an entire decade in the 60s in which I was endlessly gazing at John Steed on television in The Avengers, the splendid Ealing comedies and the redoubtable Terry-Thomas in all his films and you can understand why I have a slightly eccentric air about me. I do not go around parading in a solatopi - even though I have had one for many years - but that is only because a)it is not hot enough to do so and b) my wife would divorce me. But I am at home in my watch chain and waistcoat, I do regularly wax my moustache and I can be seen sporting my Inverness cape. The ultimate test is whether you are still regarded as a tad eccentric when all of the above are not on show. Apparently I am. Tsk!
When I first arrived on VT I was overwhelmed by the number of hours one could spend delving into the travels of complete and utter strangers. However, I soon became aware that although there were many witty, interesting and well written pages to read there were many which were - how can I put it? - not. There was a tendency to create tips that were fashioned out of 'cut and paste' shortcust rather than original thought. A curious desire to outdo one another for the most anodyne crackerbarrel motto, the best of which never quite make sense. I did for a while consider using some of my own inventions...
'Your next experience will probably be the one after this one'
'Tread softly upon the world because I have a headache thank-you very much'
'Travel light and you will no longer have to wear elasticated waistbands'
I am not trying to be cynical but a bit of originality would not go amiss. I mean let's face it, if you were all so genuinely cuddly and fluffy minded you wouldn't be using all this aviation fuel which is destroying the ozone layer! Eventually I chose a boring one...in stark contrast to my dear wife who is, needless to say, a perpetually fascinating one!
Of course, I had to come up with a list of likes and dislikes. Not normal VT ones of course. Ones like this....Washing my face in the morning dew. The smell of a new born baby. Walking in moonlight. etc etc Well frankly this is not on! As the father of two boys I can tell you from sorry experience that casual baby smelling is likely to result in some very unpleasant odorous encounters. Furthermore, one chap I know who loved walking in moonlight promptly fell of a cliff. So there!
With this in mind I came up with a list:
The erotic scent of Battered Haddock.
Having an umbrella in the pouring rain when nobody else has one.
Eating custard tarts until I collapse.
You see, it doesn't quite work, does it? Now if I'd have posted up a photo of a fluffy bunny rabbit/cat/puppy/baby ('er, perhaps not a fluffy baby) with a 'Love is...' slogan by the side then things would have been a lot jollier.
One thing I always enjoy is looking at the photographs. There are some superb snaps on VT and the best can really bring a destination to life but there are others also worthy of close inspection! And here I am talking about the portrait photograph that adorns most homepages. It is quite amazing to see how far different peoples portraits of themselves can be from current reality. I would like to think of it as carelessness on their part but when you see a snap of (and let me make this one up!) mrtwisterfrister looking tanned, slim and healthy on page 1 but wizen and worryingly seedy in 'Marbella 2008' one has to wonder whether a kidnapping and rather poor substitution hasn't taken place. Personally I started life from a fairly low base so I feel I have lost little - well, possibly hair - along the way. On The Major's pages, WYSIWYG!
I suppose if were to have a motto it would have to be 'Quality rather than quantity'. I gaze at the pages of fellow VTers and am amazed at the amount of travelling they do. But notice I say amazed rather than impressed. As a rather avid 'green' who ditched his car over 20 years ago for purely environmental reasons, the amount of fuel spent crossing the skies is obviously something to be concerned about. Global warming is I believe an important issue and travel for travels sake has to be approached thoughtfully. Not that I'm saying people shouldn't. Far from it. But continually eating up cheap flights irrespective of the damage they cause cannot be a good thing. One cannot be a world citizen if one's actions undermine the world you're claiming to be a citizen of. So, the watchword is moderation! Be 'well travelled' but just don't go bonkers. How many flights have I taken in my entire life. No more than 10 return flights. Honestly. I think I might be due for one in November then...
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