Meet Mr Inquisitor
Hello everyone, and welcome to the first edition of Meet Mr
Inquisitor, a new Post feature where I, Mr Inquisitor, will be
chatting to H2G2 personalities both great and small, learning about their lives, teasing out the very substance of their personalities, and - fingers crossed - getting some really good blackmail material too.
First into the rather plush Inquisitorial chair is the lovely Swiv, a regular contributor to the Post, a student of history at the University of St Andrew's, and a fan of comic opera and J R Hartley's Gary Porter novels. I kicked off by asking Swiv about her upcoming trip to Africa...
So, Swiv, as anyone who's seen your username lately will be aware, you're off to Uganda soon. What's all that about then?
We-ell, three years ago - yowch, time flies - I spent six months of my Gap year in Africa - I went to visit family in Cape Town, and did two months work in central Tanzania before going on a safari (I'll let you find the relevant Post articles - there's a couple from Tanzania, some from the Fish River Canyon, and a couple of others).
Anyway - I always wanted to go back, and a friend of mine at university spent part of her Gap year working in Uganda and also wanted to go back. So the last couple of summers we've worked, and I travelled in Europe a bit, but we decided last summer that selling pasties/nursing was just too dull and we had to go back to Africa. So we decided we'd do that this summer. Because we 'only' have two months and want to do a little travelling we thought we'd try and sort out our own thing. We wanted to do a little bit of voluntary work as well, and a friend of my mother is a doctor in Eastern Uganda - she often has Gap year people and similar working with her, so we asked if we could go and work with her for 4-6 weeks. She said yes. My friend (Clare - if you've been reading the idea of a University pieces) is a medic, and I want to work with children and the local church if possible. So we're going to Uganda, to work for a few weeks and then I'm going to whitewater raft on the Nile, we're going to visit the village my friend worked in for eight months and then we're going to Rwanda, where we're going to visit the jungle and, if I still have money, hopefully gorillas.
So that's what that's about...
Sounds intense. Is that going to be a package trip or self-catering?
Sorted it all out the old fashioned way - decided to go, and then
booked tickets. I'm going to live with this doctor-friend of my mum's for about six weeks, and then go backpacking around.
No package tours for me! I'm not fond of them except in cases of
skiing and the make-your-own variety are too expensive in Africa.
But not strictly self-catering, as I think eating-out very cheaply
(easily possible in east Africa) is the order of the day.
Cool. Behind that deceptively youthful exterior there lies a rather low U-number. You must have been a researcher since quite near the birth of the community?
Deceptively youthful - whaddya mean deceptive - I'm not *that* old - I only just turned 22!
But yes - I think the first couple of weeks, I read about the site
somewhere and thought I'd sign up. This was pre-editors, when the very
first researchers, like Peta and Ginger the Feisty were waiting
impatiently for their signed books.
So, if you had to pick the single biggest way in which the site has changed over the last four years - other than the switch to being Beeb - what would it be?
Other than the switch to Beeb (which I didn't find too big of a hop
apart from the new address)...?
I think it's a lot more organised now - especially for Guide Entries, with Peer Review, the Scouts, the Sub-Eds and the Editorial Team. I can barely remember the days of the old submissions queue...
And an improvement in the quality of the entries - though that came
quite quickly, I think.
You are on record as a bit of a Gilbert and Sullivan fan. Will you sing us a bit of your favourite song?
Ummm - it's probably the Lord Chancellor's nightmare song from
Iolanthe, and I can't remember the words to it - I'll let you search for it...
But it starts 'when you're lying awake/with a dismal headache' and has a bit about finding yourself 'on Salisbury Plain on a bicycle' - anyway - it's utterly daft, and hilarious, and I love it.
Alternatively there's the Mikado's song 'Make the punishment fit the crime, the punishment fit the crime'.
My favourite G&S' are The Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe and The Mikado.
Nicely done. We went to see Topsy Turvey a while back, a bit too
much singing for my taste but Jim Broadbent was good.
My local martial arts academy has started offering a bed re-tubing service in addition to kickboxing lessons. Do you think the conceptual link between household furniture and unarmed combat really holds up to serious consideration?
What's bed re-tubing when it's at home? And shouldn't other furniture get broken first - like coffee tables, and panes of glass in things - when fighting?
But really - no, not unless you're Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or Faith I s'pose).
Oh, and Jim Broadbent's always good.
I'm trying to think of a bad Jim Broadbent performance but I can't. Hmm. As a history student, would you say there's any objectivity to the study of it as a subject? Or is it totally subjective?
I think everyone comes at a topic from their own point-of-view and
understands it in terms of their own character and experiences - but I
think it is possible to see where other people might come from in their
opinions on things...
You can of course ask the question - how much of the history we study is real? The events happen and are recorded - both at the time and since, by people recording their own perspective, so can we ever really know what happened?
You could argue that there are a core of 'facts' - things we know
happened - like the assassination of Caesar, the Battle of Hastings, the Magna Carta, World Wars and so on - if you like the 'Dates' bit of
history, but that our knowledge of the why and wherefore is dependent on subjective records.
Hmm. And just to demonstrate subjectivity in action, who's going to win Wimbledon this year? I should point out that Swiv is Xavier Malisse's cocktail bunny over at the All H2G2 Patrick Rafter and Tennis Appreciation Society.
Ahhh yes, Xavier Malisse - watched him play at Queens last week - he
got demolished, but still nice to watch.
I have honestly no idea... depending on who goes out when anyone could win it - Agassi I think is a clear fave, Hewitt I think hasn't got what it takes this year (NB -Clearly prescient of the gal, as we were speaking before the Aussie crashed out on Day One of the tournament - Mr I).
Maybe Roddick, Rusedski and Henman - hell, he always has a chance, it's
just a question of whether he can capitalise on it this year. Personally I'd like to see Malisse and James Blake do well - they play great all-round tennis - and Mario Ancic - see if he's as fun to watch as Goran.
For the women, I sincerely hope Serena Williams doesn't win as she
drives me up the wall - but she's probably still the main contender - I'd rather see Venus win than Serena, and even better would be Henin-Hardenne and Clijsters.
And finally, what's the most important thing you've learned from
The most important thing?
Probably - that not all people on the internet are nutters.
(Oh wait, that'd be what my mother's learnt from H2G2...)
So there you have it - Swiv, the 22-year-old, package-tour-hating,
historically subjectivist fan of Belgian tennis. Whose mother has learnt that we are not all nutters. I feel we all know her much better now. Perhaps too well.
Big thanks to Swiv for agreeing to help launch this feature. If you'd like to try out the lavishly upholstered Inquisitorial Chair for yourself and answer some equally eclectic questions in a future installment, feel free to volunteer at the bottom of the page (need I point out what a wonderful opportunity this would be for plugging your own societies or projects?). Nominations for other people you'd like to see lightly grilled would also be welcome.
I've been Mr Inquisitor, and until next time, ta-ta.