25 Things You Might Not Know About Me.

A Friday listicle. Inspired by a Facebook invite from the lovely and talented Rachel Dove. An exercise in narcissism and navel gazing, and displacement activity while I edit the latest Speakeasy.

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  1. I spent my childhood in Cambridge and I now live in Reading, but at heart I am as I was born: a Walthamstow boy.
  2. I married my college sweetheart. Yes, really.
  3. It took me six goes to pass my driving test. Two weeks after I passed, we were on honeymoon: a driving holiday in Scotland. It’s amazing how you can focus when you need to.
  4. Funnily enough, I hardly ever drive these days. I cycle instead. I wear neither lycra nor a helmet, choosing instead to watch where I’m going and to travel at an appropriate speed for the prevailing conditions, dismounting where necessary. It’s a policy that’s seen me right for the last 8 years.
  5. My first trip to the cinema was to see a rerelease of Bambi. I was five. I screamed the place down, apparently.
  6. My favourite cinema remains the one where I ruined that screening of Bambi; the Walthamstow EMD. It’s Grade 2-listed, with a beautifully elaborate Moroccan-style interior. My mum saw The Beatles there, back when it was the Granada, a variety theatre. It’s been closed for ten years, embroiled in a property wrangle with a dodgy church. That story is coming to a close. Hopefully soon Walthamstow will have a cinema again. I’ll make the trip back to home turf to visit it.
  7. I am one of the few people in the country to still handle 16mm motion picture film on a daily basis as part of my job.
  8. I am covered in nicks and tiny cuts from the edges and broken corners of 16mm film. Imagine a paper cut, twice as wide, that bleeds a lot more.
  9. Other scars include an oval dimple on my right shin when I bashed it against the corner of a low wall when I was 10, a missing corner of my left thumb due to a squash-peeling incident, and a biopsy scar on my lower right back.
  10. Regarding the biopsy. I suffer from a chronic (life-long) immune-system disorder called psoriasis. It causes over-production of skin cells, leading to unsightly “plaques”. It’s not pretty, but it’s also non-infectious. Famous people with the disease include writer Dennis Potter and director Eli Roth, both of whom have used their disease to inspire their work. Psoriasis has snuck into some of my writing too. Well, you should write what you know.
  11. Regarding the thumb. I’m a great cook, although I’m famously clumsy in the kitchen. Show me a cook without scars, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t a cook. My signature dish: fish pie.
  12. I grow my own potatoes, salads and herbs. It’s easy, and you get an extraordinary buzz from cooking with something you caused to come up from the ground.
  13. To quote Saturday Kitchen: my food heaven would be a burger, preferably from Atomic Burger in Oxford. Food hell would be eggs. The very smell of an egg frying makes me feel ill. There are times when I have had to leave the room if someone starts eating eggs in front of me.
  14. I was vegetarian for ten years. The turning point was a holiday in France, where all that was on offer was wet, sloppy omelettes or bread and cheese. I finally caved in on the last night, and had salmon with lentils in a seafood restaurant in Le Havre. I can still taste it now. A Proustian moment.
  15. I spent two summers working in a beachside bar in Bournemouth, where I was at college. I ended up running the short-order kitchen. I fried a lot of eggs. It’s amazing how you can focus when you have to.
  16. I was the voice of Lenin at a theatrical production in my first year at college.
  17. I met Oliver Postgate, the creator of Bagpuss and Ivor the Engine, once at work. He was a delight, and kept doing the voices of the characters on screen. I got chills.
  18. I met Ian Brown of The Stone Roses once at work. He was lovely. Humble, focussed and friendly. He even made his own tea, which really freaked out the runner on duty in the kitchen at the time.
  19. It took me 44 years to pluck up the nerve to put any of my fiction writing up for public approval. In 18 months, I have a novel and a collection of short stories out there, as well as appearances in several anthologies, and a gig as a contributing editor at a small press. It’s amazing how you can focus when you want to.
  20. My film work has been screened on the biggest screen in the UK and in film festivals across Europe. I am the proud owner of the award for Best UK Film at the 2008 Cambridge Super 8 Festival. I have not made a film in three years. That is likely to change soon.
  21. I write for an ethical fashion blog. If you saw the way I dressed, you’d understand how funny this is.
  22. Musically, I’m the kid with headphones on, recording bits of the John Peel show on a cassette deck in 1985. Cinematically, I’m in the back row of a sleazy horror/sf all-nighter at the Scala in King’s Cross, also in 1985. Bibliographically, I’m in Forbidden Planet on Denmark Street, or perhaps Dark They Were And Golden-Eyed on St. Anne’s Court. Your tastes get fixed at a certain age.
  23. I’m a member of CAMRA, The National Trust and the Phoenix Picturehouse. I’m a member of the television and theatrical union BECTU. I have a library card, and I use it.
  24. Alright, the nitty-gritty. I’m proudly and unapologetically left-wing, atheist, an Apple-user, pro free-speech, pro-choice. I believe you should marry the person you love if you want, whether the contents of their trousers matches yours or not. I don’t want the government up in my hard drives. Privacy is a right that I don’t want to see eroded. Hell yes, I have things I don’t want to reveal in public. Anyone that says they have nothing to hide is a fool and a liar. I believe that austerity politics is un-necessary, ideologically-driven and focussed on destroying everything that makes me most proud about this country. I think that focussing on the weak, vulnerable and easily-bullied instead of the banking bastards that got us into this financial hole in the first place is beyond despicable.
  25. There’s a lot I’ve missed out of this list. That’s entirely deliberate.
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Rob

Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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