Eight things to know about me

Michael Barton, FCD over at The Dispersal of Darwin has tagged me with the eight things to know about me blog-meme.

Will you just listen to yourself, Richard… Tagged with a blog-meme indeed! When did I start spouting this sort of gibberish? What I meant to say is that I have been sent a chain-letter, the rules of which are as follows:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Now, the thing is, I haven't passed on a chain-letter since I first had the maths explained to me. By the time this particular chain-letter reaches its 11th generation, assuming we don't duplicate any recipients, it should have reached 8,589,934,592 (811) people, which is considerably more than the current population of the planet. The chain has to break somewhere, and, as ever, it is going to break with me.

But just to prove that I'm not a total spoil-sport, he is a list of eight random facts/habits about myself, many of which are true:

  1. I live with my partner Jen in a former farmhouse in the Yorkshire Pennines on one of the hillsides above the milltown of Hebden Bridge—or Hippy Central, as I affectionately refer to it. Hebden Bridge is a magnet for those in search of alternative lifestyles, be they aging hippies, tree-huggers, homeopathic voodoo merchants, crystal healers, or vegetarians. The town is rumoured to be on the same ley line as Glastonbury, Stonehenge, the Great Pyramid of Giza, Marrakesh, and San Francisco. It is also the per capita lesbian capital of Europe.

    Heptonstall near Sunset
    The view from my garden.
  2. I was born and raised on the Wirral peninsula, just across the River Mersey from Liverpool. My primary school music teacher told us that she had also taught John Lennon and Cilla Black. My primary school music teacher was a liar.
  3. I went to a posh public school, which I greatly enjoyed—apart from the chapel, which pupils (all boys) were compelled to attend six days a week. The headmaster was a former double-grand-slam-winning Welsh rugby captain, famous for his disciplinary standards and religious views. He took my class for Divinity one year, when I earned myself a reputation as a philosophical trouble-maker. To get his own back, the headmaster made me into a monitor—a lesser prefect—which meant I had to usher people into chapel. On one such occasion, I was collared by the school chaplain in the vestry: "What's your name, boy?" he asked. "Carter, sir." "Carter, I need you to shake hands with the Bishop of Chester… Bishop of Chester, this is Carter." "How do you do, Carter?" "Carter, this is the Bishop of Chester." "Hi, Bish!"
  4. In 1983, I went to Durham University to study Physics. But Physics at university proved to be a totally different kettle of fish to physics at school, so I concentrated on my beer drinking instead. I proved to be very good at this, once winning a bet by drinking three pints of real ale in 51 seconds. After the first year, I changed my subject to Natural Sciences—a strange mixture of Physics, Archaeology and the History & Philosophy of Science. If I had my time over again, I would without doubt study the History & Philosophy of Science full-time. In 1985, I went on an archaeological dig to Shetland. After three weeks' digging in rain and blizzards, during which time my colleagues unearthed all manner of Viking and Iron Age artefacts all around me, the sum total of my finds came to 136 snail shells—all of which I dug up on my final day.
  5. My first job was working in a torpedo factory. Only we didn't call them torpedoes; we called them underwater vehicles. Underwater vehicles that happened to be programmed to bump into ships very fast. But they didn't officially become torpedoes until the military bolted warheads on the front.
  6. I have stood on the Great Wall of China and can confirm that it is possible to see space from there. I have also visited the so-called 'Forbidden' City - I walked straight in! In the year 2000, I visited Australia, where I bumped into a placard-wielding ex-faith baptist named Harry, who was extremely pissed off about the non-second-coming of Jesus at the end of the previous year.
  7. The Friends of Charles Darwin were originally going to be called The Friends of Mary Anne Lee. Mary Anne Lee was fined by a local magistrate for dancing lasciviously with navvies at The Old Hill Inn during the construction of the Ribblehead Viaduct in the 1860s. My Friends of Charles Darwin co-founder, Fitz, and I approve of lascious dancing—especially when beer is involved.
  8. Down House
    Down House (beech tree on left).

    In Charles Darwin's garden at Down House, there is a magnificent beech tree, underneath which sits the worm stone. When I visited Down House some years ago, I gathered a dozen or so beech seeds from around the worm stone and gave them to my dad, a keen gardener, to grow me a scion of one of Darwin's trees to plant in my own garden. Not one of them germinated. A classic example of Natural Selection in action. Pesky Natural Selection!

  9. Following a freak accident in August 2005, I have 13 clones. I am still awaiting the call from the Nobel Committee.
  10. I'm not really innumerate; I just like to break the rules occasionally.
Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
Buy my book: On the Moor: Science, History and Nature on a Country Walk
…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.”—PZ Myers
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