who writes the blog, The Gravel Farm
Thank you for the interview, Jules
A very warm welcome to you and your followers
My name is The Jules (in order to show the difference between me and all the other Jules’s out there), and I am a paramedic working in the West of England. I am approaching 40 years on the planet and have made literally some progress during that time. My blog is called The Gravel Farm and I feel it encapsulates every nuance of human experience in a neat, easily accessible format available to everybody and might just possibly herald a new dawn of understanding and empathy between the peoples of the world. It’s also quite optimistic. Having just had my second child, I may be lax on the old postings for a bit, but once you get into blogging, it’s a bit hard to stop. In fact, it’s as addictive as deep fried cocaine in an Easter egg.
(You have a nice way of putting things, Jules. Yes, blogging is very addictive)
Here's the first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?
Because it’s not there, if you’re looking at a blank page. I like writing stuff. I did a ten week creative writing course once, and the class ended up continuing for three or four years, turning into a writing club. Strangely, there were quite a few men in the group which is unusual apparently. So unusual in fact that we had a visit from a psychologist who wanted to quiz us on our motivations as men in a club more popular with the less-penised half of the population. We described our yearnings to express ourselves, to be creative and to explore the inner realms of our humanity through the medium of writing, and to bond with other people from all aspects of the social spectrum. She left after a few weeks because of the strippers.
What's the story behind your blog name?
It was just a test name whilst setting up my blog, having never done one before, and I thought it up on the spot as an example of a pointless exercise. Farming gravel seemed like a daft enterprise, and if I ever decided to start a proper blog, I thought, I could always change the name. It’ll be the Gravel Farm till the end of time now, I suppose.
What is the best thing about being a blogger?
Well, obviously I like the ID card the government give you (from the Dept. Of Blogging) with a license to go anywhere in the country, talk to anyone, take photos of even the most sensitive and secret of situations, and everyone has to comply with your wishes lest they face a negative comment on your blog. You know the ID card right? You get it after your 5th post. Delivered by a man in a tuxedo and a balaclava, who arrives with it in a briefcase chained to his neck. It’s gold and black, with a picture of an unblinking eye in the middle, and cobalt-blue LEDs that spell out Blogger, although they turn red in the presence of Nazis. And sharks. Secondarily, and I’m not going to apologise for the lack of originality, it’s the people in the blogosphere. People take the time to read, and then follow, and this is rather humbling. The comments are empowering and can cheer you on the most melancholy of days. When folk have made the effort to interact with your blog, you don’t want to let them down. When you lose a follower, it’s painful. If I were to describe it, I would say that it’s exactly like someone has stuck a rusty ice-cream scoop between your ribs and taken a chunk out of your heart whilst whispering “No more” into your ear. Exactly like that.
(Agreed, but it's strange why followers go, sometimes they leave for no apparent reason)
What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?
It’s the same advice authors give to wannabe writers. Write something. Just a sentence. A quip. An observation. You don’t have to worry about word counts or, to tell the truth, even quality, because it will improve. Just because your first post was a 3000 word treatise on the history of nietzschean philosophy doesn’t mean your next one can’t be an amusing photo of a dog dragging its arse along a beige carpet. Often you’ll write that first bit and it will unlock the next sentence, which will inspire the third, and before you know it you’ve dominoed an entire paragraph. Which could be crap so you delete it and start again, but still, you’re writing . . .
What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?
There’s a blog called Any Way I Have To by a sterling chap in the States called UnderOvr, also known as The U. Reading about his history, it was like that of a man not just from another country, but from another time. Yet this guy is only in his fifties. His blog is currently on hiatus, sadly, yet I urge anyone, of any ethnic group, to read his back catalogue for an insight into some steady wisdom, and a gentle intellect with an obvious core of inner strength you could shore up the moon with. The most significant post I recall involved a comparison between him and the tribulations of a close family member, and you get an idea of how different his life could have been without his own ability to take control of his destiny. It’s called The Cycle of Life and I didn’t comment on it because . . . well, perhaps I was worried about being too flippant, or patronisingly sympathetic, or absurdly apologetic without really understanding why. I don’t know. I am a little ashamed of this now. I wish I’d just written something like “nice post” and left it at that. Maybe I’ll go and do that now.
What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?
I don’t really do significant. I do ephemeral daftness and the occasional rant, which is essentially how I live most of my life. For me, the most personally significant post was obviously the one (very recently) announcing the arrival of my sprog. I know, I know, if I was any cheesier I’d be a Dairy Lea Triangle.
If you were to suggest two blogs for roasting who would you pick, and why?
I’m thinking of keeping my selection to this island, as a sort of self-imposed section procedure because so many of the blogs I read are amazing. There is a Scotch theme to my choices: Madame De Farge’s blog at Bateau De Banane – her titles are wonders on their own. Jimmy Bastard’s eponymous blog – The man is a poet, and no mistake. Thinking about it, these two could actually be the same person. I’ve never seen them in the same room at the same time.
Honourable mentions must include Pearl, Vic and Steamy. They make me go “Mweh!” On a regular basis.
That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit. So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.
Pick three things you can't live without (no you cannot have ice cubes to cool you down)
I take it they have to be things rather than people, because I’m not particularly materialistic. I expect oxygen and water come fairly high on that list but I’m guessing that is also not the point of the question so, if I had to choose three things, the first would be my ukulele because it may be daft but it’s soooo much fun and keeps your fingers nimble. Second, I love my Gerber multi tool, which I feel naked and incapable without. Thirdly, I would hate to lose my motorbike. Having now got a couple of kids and only one car, I’m hoping that the bike isn’t on a sticky wicket. Loads of my friends who got rid of theirs when they became responsible parents - all regretted it, so I shall endeavour to keep it.
If we were to make a movie about blogland, what would it be and who would you cast in the leading roles?
A fill um about the blogosphere would have a hell of a lot of leading characters, but it would be a simple premise. I’m thinking every actor in the world, filmed from above, shouting their opinions for the first half of the film, and then everyone shouting their opinions on everybody else’s opinions for the second half. I think I’d call it “The Gravel Farm And Some Other Blogs.”
If you could live your life again who would you be, and why?
Ooh tricky. Superman maybe? Only I’d have a krypton-resistant suit for health and safety reasons. No wait, that’s silly. He’s fictional I think. Right, it would have to be He-Man, only I’d spend more time round at She-Ra’s gaff showing her my powerful sword and asking why no-one recognises me when I look exactly the same as my alter ego. I’ve just looked up She-Ra and discovered that she’s He-Man’s sister. So now I feel bad. Also, curious.
You have been given a wonderful talent from above. This causes you to make your mark on humanity and be world famous. In which area would prefer: a best selling novelist, a brilliant artist, a gifted musician, a fantastic singer, a charismatic leader, anything you choose, and why?
I like the idea of being a novelist, only without putting all that effort in, so I would like the talent of having a great ghost writer, who is agoraphobic and hates publicity. Who also eschews material things and gets paid in spuds.
If you were an ice cream cone, which flavour would you prefer and who would you most want to lick you?
Bhut jolokia chilli peppers and lidocaine flavour might be good. The licker (and may they be legion) would get a blast from the hottest chillies in the world before they went pleasantly numb afterwards.
(Spoken like a true Ambulance Man. The uniform helps of course!)
Describe in one sentence your perfect day.
Quite mundane really. Maybe a lie in, followed by a pleasant breakfast with the family, before going out and refereeing at the International Naked Ladies Wrestling in Honey Championships (INLWHC), a quick uke rehearsal with The Levellers in the afternoon, a snorkel in a warm sea before a dinner party with various heads of state and some selected comedians for my entertainment, finished off by the impromptu discovery of immortality before bed. As I said, mundane.
(You do lead an extremely boring life, Jules! What do you do for excitement?)
If you were a fictional writer which one would you be and why?
I like the idea of being a fictional writer rather than a fiction writer. The former would be Ford Prefect, from Hitch Hikers Guide To the Galaxy, because he writes for a guide book for hitch hikers. In the galaxy. If it was the latter (and I suspect it is), then Iain Banks (with or without the middle ‘M’) would be high on my list for the sheer imagination he shows, or maybe Terry Pratchett because he looks like he has so much fun doing what he does.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
And finally if you have answered all these questions I invite you to ask me one in return - it's the least I can do, so OK fire away!
Thanks for the roast Eddie. Made me think, so only fair I return the favour. As a fellow ambulance person, I’d like you tell us, if you could do any job in the world, astronaut or lumberjack, chemist or mastic ashphalter, what would you do?
I would be a professional sun bather in the South of France - definitely! Someone please lasso the UK and tow it further south - my genes are screaming that I should be in a much warmer country!
My honest answer to your question is that had I been a lot younger when entering the Ambulance Service I would have studied to be a Paramedic, just like you. It is great to be able to help sick and injured people and readers know I would like also to lay hands on sick people and make them well. If all of these options were deemed not possible for me I would wish for one of two things: to be a great batsman in the England cricket team or to be a great concert pianist. I have retired now so it is a little late for me to announce , "I want to be a brain surgeon."
Thank you Jules for this informative and humorous interview.
Today's Sunday Roast with The Jules is the 116th in a weekly
series of interviews with bloggers from around the world. _________________________________________________
This interview will feature in The Roll of Honour
for all published Roasts. To view press HERE
Next roast is Ethel Mae Potter - a lovely lass and her roast is not be missed!