Interview questions for PJ
PJ put his name forward.
Stumbling across PJ's blog via the link on Gay Banker, I immediately liked it even though it's a totally personal blog that refers to personal issues in an almost oblique manner. You are given hints about his interests and anxieties but they're often not expanded upon in a way that gives you a true insight into what he's writing about. Consisting of small snippets of information about daily life, interesting, almost poetic, snippets of 'stream of consciousness' writing and beautiful pictures that he takes, its very unlike the 'typical gay blog' one so often comes across. It's the sort of blog that may not immediately grab your attention but if you persist it draws you in.
For someone who reveals himself slowly and subtly, it appears that PJ is a bit of an interview-me whore as this will be his third go as an interviewee. You have to wonder why he would want to put himself forward three times. Is he a closet attention-seeker? Or, having admitted that he gives away very little of himself, he wants to be a bit more open? Actually, he probably just likes putting the spotlight on the interviewer by getting an idea of how the interviewer thinks.
Before I get on to the questions, I'll give you a short summary of what I know about him:
PJ is in his early thirties and lives with his boyfriend of four years and their 'house guest', Purdey, a cat that supplies them with various offerings from the garden and surrounding countryside. They live in a rural part of the East Midlands (Matlock, I think) and PJ works for and environmental NGO. His big interests are travel (they do a lot of it), books, films and cooking and has very little interest or contact with 'typical gay life'. Although he wasn't particularly fond of children, relatively recent contact with the offspring of family and friends has opened his mind to the potential joys of having his own.
In many ways, apart from the lack of contact with 'typical gay life', he sounds like the ideal man for me. Pity about that boyfriend he loves so much! :-)
And now for the questions...
Here are two excerpts from his blog:
Excerpt 1: I remember playing in the piles of empty boxes at the supermarket while mum worked her way through the checkout, back before they renovated the supermarket and put electric conveyorbelts on the checkout and before the tomatoes all became the same size and the same bland tasteless taste and before the pile of boxes were gotten rid of to prevent accidents, before the world had heard of health and safety, when the boxes were still fun. when we were allowed to have fun without worrying about sueing anyone for not having fun.
Excerpt 2 - Overheard on the bus:
Old Man: "Kids these days, they've all got guns and knives. When I was a kid, in 1954, you could leave the back door open all day. Leave it open for 2 minutes now and you've got yourself a robbery"
Old Woman: "You'd be lucky if you managed to get to two minutes. I blame all them illegals."
My favourite thing was how exact the old git was about when he was a kid! They then went on to moan about weapons of mass destruction ("they didn't find any, but the intention was there"), and how the Christmas lights in town "aren't what they used to be". And these two didn't know each other, they were talking (very loudly) across the bus to each other. Gotta love public transport. Can't wait 'til my train journey back to the parents' on Christmas Eve...
Question 1: Like the old git but in a much milder form, you could be said to be guilty of sprouting the age-old mantra of the aging, ‘Things are getting worse, they were better when I was young.’ As a gay man, however, or, for that matter, any group that suffered discrimination in the past, things are becoming better. But, with the improved rights and freedoms being granted to all citizens there has been a corresponding increase in the powers of the ‘nanny state’ that curtails some freedoms. Societal conventions that kept unhappily married people together, stigmatised single mothers and kept gays in the closet have largely gone but social cohesion has unravelled with the increasing disrespect for all forms of authority and fellow citizens. Have we gone beyond the point at which society was improving or are we still evolving to something better? How do we balance the improvements with the accompanying lack of restraint that has seen many lives blighted? Yes, I know that the government would pay you millions if you had the right answers, assuming they exist, but let’s hear some of your opinions on the matter.
Snatches from what PJ wrote after the London tube bombings last year:
For some reason, when it was nameless, faceless 'foreigners', medieval 'others' who were bringing their fight from their desert caves to our streets by leaving rucksacks full of explosives in tube doorways to blow limbs and life from London commuters, it was something that made me sad and weary.
But for reasons that, for now are beyond me, the fact that it would appear that it was angry young men from Leeds and Luton who got on the GNER on Thursday morning with the single and simple intent of tearing peoples bodies apart with hot metal, that makes me angry. Beyond angry, it fills me fury. .... But to know that that community of tacit approval is closer to home, is sharing the same shopping centres, bus stations, towns and cities as 'us'. See, how easily it has become 'them' and 'us', and the questions that previously wouldn't have even sprung to my mind and right there at the forefront.
When it's young men from Palestine, young men who've seen the hopes of their families crushed... Then, when you have nothing left to lose, I can see how people could think that the only way to be heard is through hurting other people. But Leeds is not Palestine. Luton is not Palestine.
.... What value is there in interviewing 'community leaders' if they have lost contact with a section of their community in such a way that their 'lost' are out there deciding that this is a good way of moving forwards? Instead of 'it wasn't us, it's nothing to do with us, it's just evil people, don't blame us all', wouldn't it be more constructive to say 'yes, there is clearly a problem, we have failed somehow and somewhere, we are inordinately ashamed of these people and we will be the first people to hunt them down and bring them to you'. I find it difficult to know what I think anymore. My liberal sensibilities aren't happy, but the thoughts that come to my head aren't overly liberal, it has to be said.
Your thoughts at the time are a very accurate depiction of how many liberals must feel about the onslaught on cherished liberties being waged by religious fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism in particular. Recently, we’ve had the world-wide chaos provoked by the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed where many Western governments were seen to curtail freedom of expression to preserve social order. However the intervention by Westerners to preserve the life/rights of an Afghani who converted to Christianity was rejected as interference in matters that were none of their business. A clash is developing between those who believe in universal rights and multiculturalism (not necessarily easy bed-fellows) and those who are fundamentalist in their beliefs and deeds.
In the test to determine which political party upholds your beliefs the most, you are classified as a Liberal Democrat, a party that is a strong believer in universal rights while promoting multiculturalism. I suspect that while you believe in both, were particular aspects of multicularlism to threaten universal rights, you’d be tempted to curtail certain rights to preserve liberal values. Pim Fortuyn, the assasinated Dutch politician, was commonly believed to be right wing (which he was in many regards) but I believe that he was very much a liberal who felt threatened by the changing political landscape and wanted to bring about changes that would help preserve most of the traditional Dutch liberal values.
Question 2: Without wanting you to put yourself up for crucifixion, I was wondering at what point you, as a liberal, would start on insisting on illiberal solutions to the threats being faced by society today? New Labour, one of the most authoritarian governments the UK has ever had (my opinion, of course!), has removed or curtailed many long-held freedoms, explaining their actions as being necessary to preserve larger freedoms. Perhaps their methods are preferable to some of the methods being proposed by Fortuyn. Perhaps not?
While you may not provide too many concrete facts about yourself, you do give away your birth date: 13th September 1974. You’re a bit more reticent about revealing where you live but my ‘research’ indicates Derbyshire. Assuming that you were born in Derbyshire, a completely illogical assumption, I know, I have the two most important details needed to work out your birth chart. With the help of Astrolabe, I did exactly that. The analysis of the results (click on the picture) makes for interesting reading when I compare them to the the ‘personality profile’, sketchy as it is, that I’ve built up from reading your blog.
Question 3: Do you think it’s a good reflection of you? How much of it do you agree with? How much of it don’t you? There’s a lot of information there so you may just want to score it out of 10 and comment on a few things you feel are definitely you and things that definitely aren’t.
How did you meet your boyfriend? On your blog you answer as follows: 'We met on the internet. Emailed back and forth, chatted online for a while, chatted on the phone for a while. He lived in the same city as one of my friends, so I went up to visit her, and arranged to meet him in a bar the same weekend. Turned out he'd used a fake photo. Turned out I liked the real him better than the fake photo.'
Since there's no point to me asking you that question let me rather ask you to expand upon it:
Question 4: People who are cynical about online-dating are prone to ask, ‘How do you know you’re not chatting to an old man in nappies who walks with a zimmer frame?’ I always tell them that I insist on a picture and rely on the person providing a reasonable facsimile if their intention is to meet people.
Since you preferred the look of your boyfriend to the fake photo, the scenario I describe isn’t exactly appropriate but I’m interested to know how you reacted to him using a fake photo. He probably sent you the fake photo early on in getting to know each other but why didn’t he warn you about it before you actually met up? Did it make you feel wary of him at all? If so, how did you overcome that?
If you've managed to pay attention until now your head probably hurts or you're yawning your head off. If you've actually attempted to formulate answers to those rather heavy questions your head must definitely hurt. So, in the interests of balance, the last question will be a lot lighter.
Question 5: Travel seems to be one of your greatest passions and you have an artistic eye and a flair for writing. Have you ever thought about 'proper' travel writing as a hobby/career? Perhaps we have another Bruce Chatwin in the making? And, sticking to the theme of travel writing, I assume you've visited Daunt Books before? Perhaps you don't particularly like travel writing? I don't see any travel books on your Amazon wishlist.
PJ, it took a long time to eventually get round to preparing my interview questions for you but now that they are here I hope that you aren’t regretting putting yourself forward. Some of the questions are quite ‘meaty’ (and long-winded!) so it may take some time for you to get round to answering them. There’s no rush – I made you wait so I can wait in return. And, even though the questions are long-winded, feel free to answer them as pithily or as expansively as you want.
I look forward to your replies.
(*) The Official Interview Games Rules:
- If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying, "interview me".
- I will respond by asking you five questions - each persons will be different.
- You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
- You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
- When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.