Anyway, the point of this is that Lexie had selected me and several others (although I know for a fact that she only mentioned them to be polite and to allow them to bask in the glow of my magnificence through being mentioned alongside my name*) as being recipients of this award, with the obligation being for me to list seven facts about me and then nominate blogger friends who are likewise contractually obliged to do the same.
[*Not actually true]
So, without further ado...
1. I took to reading so eagerly that, in Primary 1, I was in a reading group all of my own, several books ahead of the rest of the class. I cling to this as my greatest competitive achievement, despite the fact that reading is not generally considered to be an area of competition. However, as the rest of my sporting life has been characterised by abject failure and, at best, complete mediocrity, born of relentless concentration on flair without the technique to make it possible and regardless of the boundless enthusiasm I have put into it, you will understand my clinging to the reading-group thing. And my determined blindness to the fact that reading is not a sport.
2. I am passionate about football (the real type – you know, the one with the round ball and no armour) and, specifically, Motherwell FC, a club that had my dad as chairman twice (once to guide it and once to rescue it), while one of my sons is currently in the final stages of trying to become a full-time player with the club. Due to the fact that I am not skilled at rescuing football clubs and that my sporting ability is at the level described above, I have restricted myself to being a supporter. My two sons also support Motherwell thanks to the effects of brainwashing since birth, as does my wife thanks to having been worn down by a husband and two sons. As part of this passion, tattooed somewhere on my body is the Motherwell FC crest, unlike my wife and sons. I mean they have no crest tattooed on them, not that the Motherwell crest is unlike them. Although it is unlike them. Oh, sod it, you know what I mean. I hope.
3. I will eat just about anything, hence the waistline, but could blissfully survive every single day on nothing but strawberries and steak, though not on the same plate. There is a large list of other foodstuffs that I really like (hence the waistline), but these two are way out on their own. Fortunately for the sake of variety in my diet, neither my bank balance nor my lifestyle will allow a pure steak-strawberry diet, much to the chagrin of the beef and fruit farmer of Lanarkshire who would otherwise be millionaires.
4. I am a dedicated believer in the totally-true fact, which I first brought to the world a couple of years ago, that calories don’t count on a Friday. Hence the waistline.
5. As a young journalist, I once had to take part in a circus performance, playing football (the real type – you know, the one with the round ball and no armour) with the clowns (no change in my playing style there, then) and then had to lie down while an elephant walked over the top of me. A bit reminiscent of a date I had in my late teens where I also acted like a clown and then had to lie down while... Yes. You are indeed guessing the rest. Anyway in the circus scenario, it was an experience that is still vivid in my head to this day. Not so much for the paralysing terror I felt, but more for the fact that I was left feeling there was one really intelligent participant involved, and it wasn't the one with the two legs. The elephant looked right into my eyes as it approached, and it couldn't have been more like a kindly knowing look if it had been given by Mike's grandmother in Suits. She (the elephant, not Mike's grandmother) knew exactly what she was doing and stepped over me quite deliberately and carefully with all four legs (let's face it, three out of four wouldn't have really been an acceptable pass rate in this test). She even started to brush against me with the third leg, instantly froze (at which point I was so relieved that my bladder was as paralysed as the rest of me) and slowly lifted that leg high enough to clear me perfectly. It left an indelible impression on me (maybe not the best expression given the consequences of Nelly getting it wrong, but never mind), and particularly so since I can walk across the kitchen and trip over a biscuit crumb. I don't think the elephant would have come out of it so well if she had been the one lying down. Which could also be said for that date in my late teens.
6. I adore films, and have done so since I was a small child (which maybe isn’t the greatest indicator of time as my wife says that I am still a small child). However, there are only eight films that I have watched several times: The Princess Bride, The 13th Warrior, The Dirty Dozen, The Graduate and, despite the fact that they don’t begin with “The”, Ronin, Mad Max, Love, Actually and Kelly's Heroes. I have varied tastes.
7. I died when I was seven. Bad asthma attack, turned blue, stopped breathing, heart stopped in the doc’s car on the way to the hospital (he couldn’t wait for the ambulance), followed by several weeks in the hospital with oxygen tubes up my nose. They did re-start my heart and get me breathing again, which, looking back over the 40 years since then, proved to be a helpful move. I have no knowledge of seeing my life flash before my eyes or of approaching a bright light – this was possibly because I was unconscious or could have been because seven years flashed too quickly and I had my eyes shut. Sorry, I can’t therefore comment from any personal experience on the validity of the films Ghost and Flatliners. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if this experience qualifies scientifically as ‘dying’, but it the dramatic effect is helped when you begin a paragraph with those six words. And my teenage sons are willing to testify that I have truly been brain dead ever since. Or maybe I am actually a ghost, which would explain a lot.
So there you have it, my seven facts. You'll notice that I didn't say "seven interesting facts" - if that's what you want, you'd better take yourself off to these fascinating gems of writers, not that I am hereby nominating them:
Laura Liddell Nolen