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Secret Agent Dog

Comment to this post, and I will list seven things I want you to talk about. They might make sense or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.

Questions from the_gneech on scooters, travel, Biggles, airshows, pound coins, James Thurber and spies, here.


It's always been scooters. Traditional motorbikes, with their equestrian riding position and scary gear-changes, just never appealed. Scooters are easy and comfortable to ride, have loads of storage space, and look incredibly cute.

My first scooter was an 80cc two-stroke. My current scooter is 800cc and can do 120mph (NB just because it can doesn't mean I can). If the me who nervously scraped through Compulsory Basic Training could see the way I ride now, and hear about the things I've done and the places I've been, I think she'd be pretty excited about what was to come.


When I first met my friend Myk, on holiday in Lapland, we got to listing other places we'd visited. I reeled off France - lots of France - Italy, the Netherlands..."Oh, mostly Europe, then?" he said.

Compared with someone like Myk, who has visited Tibet and that temple from the Tomb Raider movie, I'm not very well-travelled. I've never been to South America, or much of North America for that matter; to Africa or Oceania. But since getting into motorcycle holidays I've seen a hell of a lot of Western Europe. Eastern Europe not so much, and I hope to rectify that in the future.

I like everything about travelling: the getting there, the destination, the homecoming, and all the sights, food and postcard-writing in between.


An airborne James Bond without all the tedious romance and dubious BDSM. I prefer his early adventures flying Sopwith Camels to the Special Air Police stuff that came later.

SOme of the stories are forgettable, but there are some memorable titles. I'm not sure whether to award the top prize to Biggles Takes It Rough or Biggles Defies The Swastika.

Less well-known than her brother-in-arms, Worrals of the WAAF is an aviatrix created by W. E. Johns in order to publicise the fledgling Women's Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War. I suspect Worrals got to do far more exciting things than any girls who were suckered into service by reading her adventures.

Worrals is, naturally, very dear to my heart. My favourite line of hers goes something like this:

"If we've to fight male chauvinism as well as the Nazis, we are in for a tough time!"


The smell of hot grass and aviation fuel. The lovely, nostalgic burble of a Merlin engine, or the ground-vibrating roar of an F-16 climbing vertically on full afterburner. The sight of aircraft disporting themselves in the summer sky for my personal enjoyment. There is simply nowhere I'd rather be on a hot summer's day than at some airfield, breathing in jet fumes. Well, maybe at the beach. (Some airshows actually take place at the beach, which is brilliant!)

My father started taking me to airshows when I was a pre-teen. Until we both got motorbikes, it was our main father/daughter activity and the time we got on best with each other. Since his death in 2007, I can't attend a show without imagining him beside me in his leather bike trousers and ridiculous sunhat, giving the Vulcan a standing ovation.

Pound Coins

When I was at primary school, our lovely headmaster, Mr Tucker, began a talk in Assembly by showing us one of the shiny new pound coins and announcing that the next time we received our pocket money, perhaps there would be one of these in it. (Fat chance - I got 30p a week.) The English pound note began to disappear, though Scotland kept theirs.

It was around this time that the halfpenny went out of circulation. I and some of my friends began collecting them frantically, and my family continued to pass me odd ones they found for the next decade or so. I still have them. They're totally worthless. The coins, not my family.

James Thurber

Draws dogs and other things, appealingly badly. Writes, wonderfully well.

It's been a Thurber sort of week. On the very day I snapped up a copy of The Thurber Album from the £1 rack outside one of the Charing Cross Road bookshops (pound coins again! Behold the fundamental interconnectedness of all things!), I went home and listened to the most recent episode of the Short Story Geeks podcast, in which the_gneech named Thurber and Wodehouse as pinnacles of humorous writing. Not many days later, JT popped up again as an inspirational writerly Quote of the Day from @AdviceToWriters on Twitter.

The universe is trying to tell me something. Possibly that I should acquire a lugubrious, middle-sized, floppy-eared dog.


It started with Get Smart, which was repeated on Channel 4 when I was 11. I fell in love with the show and with Max, and my interest spiralled outwards to encompass The Man from U.N.C.L.E, James Bond and anything else spy-related I could get my paws on. If it was cheesy 1960s espionage, so much the better. The day I clapped eyes on the first teaser poster for Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was a happy day indeed.

Part of the appeal is the dress code: trenchcoats and big-brimmed hats (which of course all spies wear), part is the wacky gadgets and the fine line between spoof and what actually existed, part is the battle between Good and Evil. But mostly, spies are cool.

I have another set of seven from yagfox, but I'm spent for now.


And well done indeed! :) Thanks for the insights.

Ha, you commented, you get questions back atcha!

Best accidental literary discovery
Bertie Wooster's sexuality
Am I allowed to have 7 things and respond in the comments?
Go on then.

Favourite part of the UK
First computer
A secret
A levels
Scooby Doo
Bedtime reading
Oh, go on then! I'll have seven things to talk about now that I'm journalling fairly regularly again!

Also: did you know that you're still the only person, outside my family, that I know that remembers Get Smart?
I know a handful of people in the UK who watch Get Smart. One is you, one is American, and all the rest had it forced on them by me.

Here am your questionabobs!

If you were a wereanimal, werewhat would you be?
The internet is for _______?
What turns you into a fan of something rather than just liking it?
First story you remember writing
The perfect hat
I love your piece on airshows. Takes me back myself, the smell and sunburn :)
A time you were scared in a plane
Your ideal pet
Best T-shirt slogan ever
Favourite book
The South Coast
Tea and biccies
And: airshows!
The burble of a Merlin engine does naughty things to me that we shan't speak of here =^.^=
It's the jets for me - when you can feel them in your chest. Ooh.

1980s cartoons
War: what is it good for?
Favourite roads
Front paws, back paws or all four?
Furry media you've enjoyed (writing, art, comics, whatever)
Prop or jet?
What do you want for Christmas?
My Dad and Uncle Jim's Biggles and Gimlet collection was sadly lacking in Worrals.

Please could I have seven things?
I was thinking of you and that I still owe you an age from a meme before Christmas!

Radio sitcoms
Favourite aircraft
Is writing still enjoyable when it's both day job and hobby?
Swimming in central London
Cartoons from your childhood
Spy fiction: realistic v. ridiculous

ETA: I tried Gimlet, King of the Commandos and Johns's science fiction, but I really wasn't interested without the magic ingredient of aviation and ended up giving all those books away when I needed more book space (or, as I like to call it, lesensraum).

Edited at 2012-03-17 06:21 pm (UTC)
Hey-ho! Let's go!

North & South
Captain Haddock
Dream destination
Live music
Your feminine side
Turning 30
Chuck Yeager
This one looks like fun -- I'd like seven things, please! =:)
Hooray, there IS a cartoon called 'My Little Bunny'! List some of the characters and their attributes.
Hot air balloons
Peter Rabbit or Little Grey Rabbit?
On pain of death, you have to write Watership Down slash. Who do you pair?
Sitcom character you'd most like to be
Favourite breed of dog (NB if you answer 'husky' I will regard this as blatant toadying)
Which bit of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy makes you laugh most?
Drunk Mog seek questions to answer when sober, better comment later.
Ooo-er. Scrindle my scriddlebrits, why don't ya?


No, no questions for you!


Nor you neither!
And there was I thinking it was 99's fault ;)

Oh go on then.
If Agent 99 and Cathy Gale had a fight, who would win (apart from the audience)?
Fictional character you'd most like to go down the pub with
Are you Napoleon or Illya?
Who would you most like to see in concert? Time travel allowed
If you were a furry, what species would you be?
You're making a Scooby-style sandwich. What's in it?
Am I too late to the party?
Not at all!

Hard rock
Soft rock
Things in jars
What's so awesome about Walthamstow anyway?
Yiff Y/N
The amazing thing your Thunderbolt Black character is going to do next