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(for the British School in Colombo yearbook 2010/11)

1. So, what’s with the beard?

After I graduated from the War Studies Faculty at KCL I rather fancied myself as a war correspondent, so I grew the beard. Then I just rather fancied myself.

2. We somehow get the impression that you are always very sarcastic and cynical about most things. Is this truly the real you or is it an image that you are projecting?

Yeah, I’m just one of those really nice, cuddly people who just longs to be disliked for who they really aren’t.

3. How can you, in a few words, describe the real you?

I’m the sort of person who can’t help noticing you’ve left out Question 4. Sorry – I was born with a red pen in my hand. (True story: it was a Chooty.)

5. What can you tell us about the many talents you possess, for instance singing and playing the piano?

Two isn’t ‘many’ – unless you’re an Amazonian tribesman. Or a bigamist.

6. Are you as passionately interested in sports, or is it just PE instructors?

It’s true. When I was a schoolboy I had a terrible – and unrequited – crush on our Head of Sports. But something told me a 20-stone former rugby international might not appreciate me ‘being honest about my feelings’.

7. You’re always with a book in hand. Who are your favourite authors, and how has reading influenced your life?

Reading has been the bane of my existence. I blame my parents. As for favourite authors, see (parts of) Question 13.

8. What made you come to Sri Lanka and what keeps you here?

First time, unemployment. Second time, unemployment. What keeps me here? The threat of continued unemployment.

9. Do you enjoy teaching? Why did you take up this profession?

I do. Some people are just born with the instinct to bully kids and bend folks’ ears.

10. What are some of the worst moments in your teaching career? 

(Other than this one? Boom boom!) I hate every moment in which pupils seem unwilling to learn. The fault could be mine, or it might be theirs. Either way, it’s unbelievably depressing.

11. We are sure you are aware of your popularity among mainly the female student population of the school. What, in your opinion, about you appeals to the opposite sex?

You mean it’s not the beard?!

12. Did you have wild crazy days in college or were you the “good” student? Tell us of your college life. 

Tragically, all record of my undergraduate ‘career’ was destroyed in a freak blaze…

13. Who are your idols, if any?

Many. Jacques Kallis; Roald Dahl; Bruce Chatwin; the 2nd Earl of Rochester; Jeffrey Barnard/Peter O’Toole; Philip Seymour Hoffman; Alexander (‘the Great’); Dr Gregory House; Dr Hannibal Lecter; Geoff Dyer; Maurice Bowra; John Forbes Nash, Jr.; Christopher Hitchens; Toby Ziegler; Jim Morrison; Sir Ranulph Fiennes; Radiohead (all of, but mostly Thom); Arthur Rimbaud; Russell Crowe; GF Handel; L v Beethoven; WG Sebald; TE Lawrence; JM Coetzee; Margaret Atwood; Lydia Davis; Yasmina Reza; Helen DeWitt and Wendy Cope. (Google ’em.)

14. Well, now, for the famous last words…share with us a phrase/line/quote you live by? 

‘ho me on met emou kat emou estin’ – George W Bush. (And Jesus.)

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