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Intervju med bumble (22. januar 2004)


What is your real name?
Phil. (Philip Confucius Otterthrower)

How many decades have you seen the start of?
Oh thanks, Whisperz! The second question and I'm depressed already! I've seen the start of 5 decades.

Where did the nickname 'Bumble' come from?
I'm not 100% sure! I think it was Helen's godmother that came up with the name (she's from Michigan so that explains a lot!). Apparently there's a character in a cartoon film (Rudolph the Red- nosed Reindeer?) called Bumble. I've never seen the film and I don't know what sort of character he is. I assume he's a bee. Anyway, Helen's godmother came to stay for a while and a few people on the island picked up on the name and it's stuck.

*anonym*
Do bumbles really bounce?
Often - and vigorously. We out-bounce tiggers - especially when dropped from a great height. I blame viagra. And laptops.

Do you have any siblings? Brothers or Sisters, and Older or Younger?
1 brother and 1 sister. They're both years older. We aren't close.

What is your employment? What kind of business are you in?
According to my passport I'm a session musician. Add to that: record producer and songwriter/composer. I mainly do sessions for pop and rock artists and bands (on record and live), although I have done folk, country, blues, jazz and classical. These days most live performances are videoed - which I detest!

I sort of fell into session work rather than chose it. I did a few sessions for a Welsh vocalist when I was in school and university. The resulting records were very successful and offers kept coming - and I kept accepting.
I'm by nature a very private person and like to melt into the background wherever possible. Being a session guy allowed me to do this quite successfully while still doing what I love - playing all types of music. It's money for nothing really. And I get to play with all the guys who were my rock and pop heroes when I was a kid! Not long ago I had the honour of doing a session with my favourite guitarist of all time.

What do you want to be if you ever grow up?
I can't grow up. I'm not allowed to. You see, each of my children has me held captive in their magical and enchanted little kingdom and refuses to release me. Thankfully.

Where & how did you and Panda meet?
I met Krista some 8 years ago. I went to Gatwick airport, London, with the intent of just getting away from it all for a couple of weeks. I hadn't booked anything and I took the first flight to a Greek island that was available. That turned out to be Zakynthos. I found a self-catering apartment, dumped my bag in my room and set off to find somewhere that served coffee. I was walking towards the beach and I passed a gorgeous Greek girl sitting on the low front wall of a taverna. The next day at the same time I went to the same place for coffee. Again the girl was there. And the following day. The day after, we actually spoke to each other. With hindsight, it might have been better if she could speak English or I could speak Greek - but we settled for a mixture of Italian, Spanish and French! Of course I was a bit concerned that this girl might be a bit of a dipso because she was always at the taverna but it turned out that she had two good excuses. She owned it - and she was waiting for me to walk past. Anyway, we saw each other every day of my stay after that and I went back to Zakynthos whenever I could.

Then one day I met Krista.(j/k!)

How long have you been married?
3 eventful years.

Do you have any children? If so, how many?
At the last count I have 5. The younger twins (boy and girl) are 8 months old and the elder twins (boy and girl) are 2 years old. Cariad (Helen - my daughter of a previous marriage) is 18. Their photos are on yahoo! HOME. There was another daughter from that marriage - (a year younger than Helen) - but she died 5 years ago.

Do you have any pets? Can you tell us what they are and their names?
Oh, blimey, yes. I love animals. I'd have a pet wombat if I could. Again, a lot of the animals can be seen at yahoo! HOME.

Dogs: Golau (Welsh for 'blonde') a Golden Retriever and Oesi an Old English Sheepdog. (Oesi because we were stuck for a name so we used the initials of his breed!). I got Oesi for two reasons. Firstly, I love Old English Sheepdogs. Secondly, I was the only living thing in the household that was English so I wanted something else that was English. After I got Oesi I found out that he originally came from a kennels in Wales and is actually Welsh. You can detect a trace of a Welsh accent when he barks. It's sort of 'Woof - innit mun?'

Cats: There are a few cats that have chosen to make the farm their home. They don't live in the house (this is the custom on the island and, I believe, throughout Greece). That's not to say the Greeks don't love cats, they do - as any of you that have been to Greece will know! Of course we've named them anyway - Gladys, Colin, Mugger, Thug, Blodwyn and Betty. They're very good. They allow me to pay their vet's bills.

Donkies: Otie and Dick. (as in Donkey Otie and Donkey...yeah well) And no, Rose, they don't live in the house! (yahoo! HOME)

Horses: Heracles, Doris, Daffodil, Myfanwy, Cofleidiau (Coffi), Hazelnut, Dafydd and Mavros.

Oh and Walter the Gecko who appears outside our bedroom window every night!

In Italy a wolf lives in the forest behind the house. I've never seen him but I've heard him at night. He's called Jeffrey.

Do you want me to list the 100 or so goats as well?

Can you tell us a little about yourself? Favorite food, color, cologne etc.
I love seafood - as long as it's not staring at me from the plate. I like most types of fish. Favourite drink would be coffee - with root beer a close second (although it's difficult to find in Greece), I don't drink tea.
My favourite colour is green. Two of my cars are green and the electric guitar I use most often on stage is green (a custom-made Fender Stratocaster).
I haven't really got a favourite aftershave. I'll chuck anything on. Aramis I like and XS, Envy and Dolce and Gabbana are okay. I've found that Obsession for Men is particularly useful for keeping the mosquitos at bay. Eternity for Men is best drunk after the main meal.

What is your favorite meal and which nations cuisine do you prefer?
Put me on the spot, why don't you sweetheart?! (panda is a chef by trade) My favourite meal would either be roast beef, Yorkshire pud, runner beans, carrots, peas, sprouts, roast and boiled potatoes and gravy OR good ole steak and onions with chips, mushrooms and peas. As for one particular nation's cuisine, I really don't know. I like certain dishes from all countries, especially England, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, India and Indonesia.

What do you collect? Do you specialise in anything collectable?
Is 'collect' another word for 'hoard'? I'm the world's biggest hoarder - to the chagrin of my wife. I hate throwing anything away. I have honestly got a drawer full of tv and hi-fi remote controls - although the tvs and hi-fis they operated broke and were thrown away long ago. I've also got a huge collection of useless keys. They'll come in handy one day, you wait and see. If anyone finds the Ark of the Covenant - I've probably got a key that'll open it.

I've got thousands of books - fiction, non-fiction and reference. I can't bear to part with any of them.

I collect different recordings of Bruckner's works. Ideally, I want to get every available recording of every symphony, Mass and Motet.

I am a serious collector of guitars - guitars owned or just used by famous persons and early Fender, Gibson and Martin guitars and other rarities.

Apart from that I collect ancient Greek pottery, netsuke, backgammon sets and also the glass designs by John Ditchfield.

Over the years I've amassed quite a collection of coffee mugs. This is not by design - I just acquire them wherever I go. I've got hundreds now - but I invariably use the same two or three for my everyday use.

Packs of playing cards are something else I acquire from whatever part of the world I'm in. I've got a pack in every guitar flightcase and travel bag I own.

I also collect towels just like those nice fluffy ones they have in hotel rooms. I've got hundreds and, as luck would have it, they all have hotel names on them. Go figure!
My bathrobe collection is increasing as well...

I would like to get into collecting really serious stuff like plastic garden gnomes and Mills and Boon books.
'Are You Being Served?' and 'Terry and June' memorabilia is something I'm also considering collecting - along with silver Victorian badger ticklers.

Where did this 'wombat' thing come from?!
Years ago the BBC used to ask me to write and play acoustic guitar music to accompany some of their wildlife documentaries. I had some great times in the BBC Wildlife Unit in Bristol. I still provide the music for the occasional programme. A TV company in Australia heard my music and wanted me to provide the music for a children's programme based on 'The Muddle-Headed Wombat' book (by Ruth Park I think). I did some research on wombats generally and found them fascinating creatures - with a wonderfully daft name.
They're also known as 'the bush bulldozer' but I'll refrain from further comment on that.
Cariad and I got to hold a wombat for the first time when we were in Australia last year. That was at the Taronga Zoo, Sydney. True to my suspicions, wombats are just like me. They stink.

*anonym*
Boxers or briefs?? And why?
Briefs because sometimes excessive bouncing for bumbles can prove hazardous to one's well-being. Ever seen a Newton's Cradle?

Why do you support such a terrible Football team?
Gee thanks, Goonerg! I'm happy that you acknowledge that Tottenham Hotspur are a football team. But they aren't terrible - they're... they're... they're... special! Actually I support a few teams - and they're all terrible. I mainly support Tottenham for the simple reason that I was born in Tottenham, North London.I was 6 when Tottenham won 'the double'. It's in my blood. I'll support them come rain or shine. I just wish there was a gap in the clouds occasionally.
But I was there when Ricky Villa scored his wonder goal in the FA Cup final replay in 1981!
When I bought a house in Wales the nearest league team was Hereford United (yes, I know Hereford's in England!) and I am a big supporter of them now as well Unfortunately, they're no longer in the league! In Greece I support AEK Athens. They're having an abyssmal season. I haven't been to see then recently, but hey, they don't come and see me when I'm bad.
Last year I bought a house in Italy, near Florence, and I'm trying to summon up the courage to support Fiorentina Viola - formerly AC Fiorentina until they were booted out of Serie B into Serie C2 for failure to pay a debt. They're now back in Serie B. I have to ask myself 'What have they done for me to support them? After all, they haven't done me any harm.' I suppose supporting a team that plays in lilac shirts is a bit, er, different.

What is your favorite airline?
Any airline that will get me from A to B with as little fuss as possible and in the maximum comfort. Qantas and Singapore Airlines immediately spring to mind. The less said about Air Canada the better. I had a bad experience with them last year.

Will you be going to watch the Olympic Games in Athens? If so, can I come with you? :-)
I forgot about the Games! They're being held the latter half of August I think. I don't intend going - it's a fair bet that I'll be working. In fact that's going to be a chaotic time on Zakynthos. It's the height of the tourist season so it'll be a case of all hands to the pumps in the tavernas (pun intended!).
If you want to go - go! Don't worry about your boss (loggerhead). Just buy him a couple of litres of ice cream and he won't even notice you're gone. You can borrow his car as well.

I will say that I think the Greek government have got in wrong by digging up an ancient site of historical importance (ironically, where the battle of Marathon was fought) to create the Olympic rowing course. That's if they haven't changed their minds and I haven't heard!
While I'm on my high horse, I believe that Britain should return the Elgin marbles (which they pinched) to Greece. So there.

Who are your favourite authors, and why?
David Gemmell, David Eddings, Phil Rickman and Will Kingdom (they're the same bloke but don't tell anyone), Bill Bryson, Terry Brooks, Stephen Lawhead, Stephen King, Graham Masterton, Tad Williams, Dick Francis, R F Delderfield, Dickens, John Grisham, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, John Wyndham, H G Wells, Conan Doyle, etc etc etc!

What genre of book do you prefer to relax with?
Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Crime/Thriller. Trust me, there's nothing quite like reading a good horror novel on your own late at night when your nearest neighbour is a mile away and a power cut could (and does) happen at any time! And then Jeffrey the wolf starts howling....

Can you list the people who play here that you know outside of BK and what relationship you have with them (wife, daughter, future son-in- law, long time friend) etc
There are lots!
panda (my wife)
cariad (my daughter)
red dragon (my concub....our nurse/nanny/housekeeper)
loggerhead (my brother-in-law)
NOT a floosie (my son Yannis's godmother and 'Auntie' to cariad) sam (my daughter's boyfriend) I'll keep you posted on the son-in-law bit! (Ahh! That's my daily 'embarrass my daughter to bits' job done! That's one of the perks of being a dad.)

There are numerous others but I won't embarrass them by giving away their IDs. There are a few musician friends of mine 'from outside' on brainking and I'm sure they'd prefer to remain anonymous. Helen has a lot of friends on BK as well. Our priest also plays here occasionally.

I have to go with Helen to the UK and the States a few times this year so hopefully we'll find time to seek out a few of our brainking friends - friends that we haven't yet met. You can run but you can't hide!

*anonym*
What sort of relative is Dot?
A relative disaster! (j/k!)

Unfortunately Dot (red dragon) isn't strictly speaking a relative but to us she's part of the family. She lives with us and she's indispensible. She's done so much for this family. The elder twins were born in Cardiff, Wales, 6 weeks premature. Dottie was the senior midwife at the hospital. We all became very good friends. At that time Dot was looking to move away from Wales for personal reasons so Krissy and I offered her the job of nurse/nanny/housekeeper with us on Zakynthos. She delivered the younger twins as well. She's suitably mad with a wicked sense of humour.
Although she works for us she also still works occassionally as a midwife so she, er...um...keeps her hand in.

*anonym*
Are you originally from Greece, or are you an import? If the latter, from where?
I'm an import. The barcode on my bum reveals that my country of origin is England. I'm a Londoner and moved to Greece a few years ago.
Actually I didn't exactly consciously move - it was more a process of osmosis. The house in Greece is certainly our main home but we have houses in Italy and Wales too. This is because a large amount of my work is done in Italy and the UK so it's nice to have a base in both countries.

What made you decide to be a farmer in Greece?
I didn't. I don't consider myself a farmer by any stretch of the imagination - it's too much like real work! I'll do what's necessary to keep the farm ticking over and organise various harvests (if I'm home), but I leave the major decisions to Kris - she was born and brought up on farms.
When I bought the house in Italy last year it came with a couple of olive groves and a herd of goats! My nearest neighbour has now got the goats and is looking after the olive groves for a share of the profits. I really don't need the hassle of another farm!
Having said that, just before I bought the house in Italy the neighbouring farm to our's on Zakynthos came up for sale so I bought that as well. I've split it 50-50 with loggerhead (he too has a farm and the new farm sort of connects our two farms now). The new farm will just be an extension of our present one - it has some wonderful olive groves. It came with 5 houses and Dot (red dragon) has got one of them for when she wants to move out of our house. I'm thinking of converting one of the others into a commercial recording studio.
Finding the time is the problem.
I didn't buy the house we live in on Zakynthos. Kris bought it just before I met her - and she only bought it for the land.

Do you get homesick for Wales?
Yes, quite often but luckily I go back to our house there reguarly. If I couldn't live in Greece I would happily spend the rest of my days in Wales (or Italy). It has everything. Don't ever think that because it's attached to England that it's like it's neighbour. It's not - except perhaps for the industrial south-east of Wales. The further west and north you travel in Wales, the better it is - the mountains, the coastline, the castles, the culture. I'm sounding like the Wales Tourist Board now.
Helen (cariad), my eldest daughter is Welsh. I'm English but her mother was Welsh and Helen was born in Wales and has Welsh as a first language. She (and red dragon - another Welsh speaker) have their bouts of 'hiraeth' which is a Welsh word that has no direct English translation. The nearest I can describe it is, an intense yearning for Wales. You can guarantee they get this hiraeth in October or November when the last direct flight of the tourist season between Zakynthos and the UK takes off.

What do you miss most about Britain?
I'm supposed to say 'fish and chips' and 'the beer' now aren't I? I don't miss the beer. I don't drink much anymore. I DO miss fish and chips from a chip shop. I've had fish and chips in many countries and it's never the same. I miss the British countryside and the wildlife. I miss the 'Daily Telegraph' and 'The Sunday Times'- especially the crosswords. I miss 'Yorkie' bars! I miss British cheeses. I miss decent bookshops. I miss the weather, sometimes!

What is your most favourite music?
My favourite styles of music depends on what mood I'm in! I go through the whole spectrum. I love classical, ragtime/blues guitar, some country, folk, pop, blues, rock and heavy rock. I've no time for rap and the like. My favourite piece of music can change as well. It would come down to being between Elgar's Cello Concerto, Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto, Beethoven's 6th Symphony, Beethoven's 3rd Symphony, Bruckner's 4th Symphony and Bruckner's 8th Symphony. Writing that I can instantly think of a few Piano and Violin Concertos I could add. Oh, and Bruckner's Mass in F, Bruckner's Te Deum and Mozart's Requiem.

*anonym*
What are some of your favorite songs?
There are honestly too many to list! Obviously, 'I Wish I Could Fly' by Orville and 'We Are the Cheeky Girls' both rate very highly, as does 'There's No-one Quite Like Grandma'. I mustn't forget 'Grandad' which was written by a fellow session musician friend of mine! He won't forget it, that's for sure. I constantly remind him of the pain he inflicted on the poor, unsuspecting, British record-buying public. He constantly reminds me of his royalties.
Pop songs aside, I love 'Au Fond du Temple Saint' from Bizet's The Pearl Fishers -preferably sung by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill. Jussi Bjorling is my favourite operatic tenor.
My favourite opera is La Bohe`me, although I like all Puccini, Verdi and Donizetti.
Another favourite song is 'Pokarekare Aria' sung by the young New Zealander, Hayley Westenra. It reminds me of a very dear player on brainking that died not long ago - GrannyOne. I have heard Hayley Westenra sing it with English words (as opposed to the Maori words) that begin 'For you we light a candle...' I crack every time I hear it.

Have you produced any songs you wrote yourself?
Some. If Helen or I record them then I'll do the production. Usually though someone will phone me to ask me to write a song especially for them or for their forthcoming album and the producer working on the album will do the business. Even if I'm playing on the album it's still up to the producer. I've been very pleased with all the results so far. Years ago I was playing on an album for a female vocalist in the USA and I was asked to write a song for the album, which I did. The arrangement and production of the song wasn't what I envisaged at all. That song was released as a single and charted in the States and in the UK. Even now it's being re-released on 'Best of ...' albums. It just goes to show how much I know!

When will the CD be released?
Oh heck - which one? There are a few CDs in the pipeline. Helen has two due for release this year, both predominantly in Welsh. I think you might be talking about the symphony I had premiered recently. That's still under negotiation. Three record companies are interested in releasing it - including Naxos. I'm insisting it's played by a Greek orchestra. If you're talking about the Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez I played at the same concert, I'll probably release that by the summer. I'm not sure what to couple it with at the moment. Maybe the Zakynthos bouzouki quintet playing Black Sabbath.

Which musical instruments do you play?
I think I covered most of the orchestral instruments (with varying degrees of success)- brass, woodwind and strings very early on before settling on guitar. I did achieve Grade 8 at 'cello and I love the instrument.
Keyboards came out of curiosity and necessity but I'm no keyboard player.
In my studio I have a keyboard linked to a computer (which never leaves the studio) which itself has a lot of music computer programs on it - the Sibelius is probably my favourite. I started writing a symphony seven years ago. It took me 5 years to write and orchestrate the first movement. Then I got the Sibelius programme and the other three movements were done in no time at all. Duh!
My main instruments now would be guitar, electric and acoustic (and the various offshoots), mandolin and bouzouki. I can play quite a convincing banjo as well - I dribble a lot.

What is your favourite musical instrument that you own, and why is it your favourite?
For sentimental reasons, I suppose my favourite is an Ibanez acoustic guitar I bought new 30 years ago. It's a copy of a Gibson Hummingbird but actually sounds better than the Gibson Hummingbird's I own. It's been everywhere with me and is battered and bruised now but has still kept it's amazing tone. I nearly lost it last year so I'm retiring it from touring this year. I'm going to use a Martin D- 50 acoustic for my 'knockabout' guitar instead. My favourite electric is a green custom-made Fender Stratocaster I've had for years. It's an exceptional instrument. I have 4 others that look exactly the same, have the same electrics and are set up the same way - but this one stands out on it's own.

The instrument that infuriates me most is the pan pipes I bought in South America. I bought them from a little old guy that made them. I think they cost me the equivalent of €1 or something ridiculously cheap like that. He tested them by playing this incredibly haunting melody on them. I got them home and tried them myself - and couldn't get a note. Not a toot. Everyone else that's tried them can. It's just me. I must have the wrong shaped mouth or something! Yeah, I know - big gob.

How many guitars do you own and which is your favourite(s).
I haven't got a clue how many I own! I can't go and count them because I'm in Italy right now and my guitars are at home in Greece but I would guess at 150. As to which I like to play most, I have fads and will play one for a week or so then change to a different one. At the moment it's a Dobro guitar I bought about two years ago. In my defence I would like to add that I don't own many amplifiers! I do have rather a large collection of FX pedals and banks though.

If you were given the choice of listening to ONE musical instrument being played by a person of your choice - which instrument would you choose, and who would you choose to play it?
Tie me down would you?!! Okay, Julian Bream playing Spanish guitar. He plays a mean honky-tonk piano as well!

What is the biggest audience you've played to?
I don't know! I've been involved with a few gigs that were televised live either nationally (ie within the country where the gig took place) or worldwide. One of these had estimated audience figures of 200 million. I can't remember all their names and addresses.

Which is your favourite out of all the venues you have played?
When I was learning to play I dreamt of playing at the Royal Albert Hall, London and the Sydney Opera House. I have been lucky enough to have played at both several times. These are my favourites purely for sentimental reasons not for their acoustic merit.
There are some great venues about. Each one has a special memory. Les Arnes - Nimes, Plaza de Toros Monumental - Barcelona, Stadion Feyenoord - Rotterdam, Kemper Arena - Kansas City, Civic Arena - Ottawa, Rosemont Horizon - Chicago, and Reunion Center - Dallas all bring back, er, interesting memories! Oh, I'd better say Cardiff Arms Park and Millennium Stadium - Cardiff as well!

If you weren't a musician, what do you think you would have been?
Probably a geologist. I have a university degree in geography/geology. I took those subjects because they fascinated me - and still do. (I collect trilobites as well!)

What are your other hobbies?
Playing with the children, playing guitar, listening to music, reading, horse-riding, water sports, sightseeing, photography and playing backgammon (both on brainking and 'live') are my main hobbies. When I play backgammon on brainking I've usually either got a baby or a guitar in my arms. I have a travel backgammon set in a few of my guitar cases. The babies don't fit.
I love browsing in junk shops, music shops, book shops and antique shops. And looking around art galleries and museums. I'm like a pig in clover in Florence. Cariad and red dragon were a bit, er, disappointed with Michelangelo's David however. Now there's a bloke who could use some viagra.

What are your dislikes?
I'm a grumpy old man - I have lots! I'm just like Waldorf and Statler from the Muppet Show (the old guys in the theatre box).

Is this where I can have a good moan about newspaper critics? I can't - they don't bother me that much. One guy did get to me last year though. I did an outdoor gig with a female vocalist. The gig went really well - everyone enjoyed it. Except this one critic. He obviously had it in for the vocalist. She was going to get a bad review whatever. In 'The Times' the following day he wrote '(such and such)...and her poodle-permed lead guitarist...' Darn cheek! I might look like a poodle but I've never had a perm in my life!

Oh that's something - hairdressers, at least, going to the hairdressers. I hate it.
Clothes shopping with women has to be high on the list! Impoliteness is another. Dentists. Heights. Waiting around airports.
Unhelpful shop assistants....you know the sort. You go into a shop and the only shop assistant is chewing gum and yakking on the phone to her friend, 'Last night he turned to me and said.... So I turned to him and said.... Then he turned around and said....'
I'm left with the mental image of two idiots trying to have a conversation while spinning around like a couple of whirling dervishes. When she eventually gets off the phone ('Ta-ra then Trace, luv, - gorra go. I think I gorra customer...yeah... yeah, he is, ha.ha,ha. Something like a poodle...yeah. Ta-ra, luv'), she hasn't the foggiest idea of what you're trying to buy.

I could go on and on and on.

What do you consider to be your worst habit?
Probably smoking. I would give up but I don't want to! I had got it down from 20 cigarettes a day to 5 a day. After the car accident last September I went up to 60-80 a day quite easily. I spent most of October, November and December scared to death. I was so frightened that three members of my family would be taken from me. To those of you on brainking that I was curt, abrupt or uncommunicative with during those few months, I humbly apologise.

I'm now down to about 10 a day. I confine my smoking to just a couple of rooms in the house - my office and my studio. It's great when I'm playing for a blues band or artist live - I get to smoke onstage! I've got a video of a gig I did with one particular blues artist and throughout the gig, if I'm not playing guitar I'm either swigging coffee or puffing away on a cigarette. Occasionally I tear myself away and emerge from a blue haze to play a few riffs. Smoke machine? Hah!

What are/were your favourite tv programmes?
Tales of the Riverbank used to be one of my favourites when I was small. It couldn't happen now though. I remember poor little Hammy the Hamster (a live hamster) being put in a remote controlled plane and being made to perform some aerial gymnastics - without a parachute. And being put in a miniature speedboat and being driven by remote control around some pond - without a life jacket. Ah, those were the days! Today they'd have the poor rodent bungee jumping and parasailing.
The Magic Roundabout I liked as well. The idea of Ermintrude the cow getting stuck up a tree sort of appealed to me.
My favourites included Fawlty Towers, The Blackadder series, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Bagpuss, The Old Grey Whistle Test, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, Frazier, Cheers, The Vicar of Dibley, Red Dwarf, The Office, Father Ted, Only Fools and Horses etc.
These days I don't watch tv much - except when there's a documentary or football (soccer) on. Watching both sets of twins is funnier than any sitcom!
At home in Greece we can switch between two satellites which brings a whole host of football from all over the world. I'll watch any match. I'll happily watch an under 8 schoolboy match from Bolivia. I'd be engrossed if there was a match between the George Bush lookalikes and the Sherlock Holmes impersonators live from Easter Island. Of course, watching the Arsenal is good for a giggle any day of the week. I just wish Thierry Henry played for Tottenham.
Apart from soccer I try to catch 'Have I Got News for You', 'QI', 'Little Britain' or reruns of 'The League of Gentlemen'. Hmm. Maybe brainking is a virtual Royston Vasey.
There's a virtual wargame-type programme I like as well (actual historic battles are recreated by computer) - but the name escapes me. I try to avoid the 'soaps' of any nationality, but it's not always possible with a house full of women!
American films dubbed into Greek are worth a look. I swear Sylvester Stallone's Rambo was dubbed into Greek by John Inman or Graham Norton. Bananas in Pyjamas is pretty mind-blowing stuff too.

Which cartoon character do you think is most like you, either in character or in looks, or both!
He-Man.
Okay, perhaps She-Ra on a bad hair day.
Hmm...maybe Shaggy from Scooby-Doo?
If I were a Simpson's character it would probably be Nelson (Ha-ha) or maybe Otto (the school bus driver).
Yeah - Otto! Of course Linda J and Rose would be Patty and Selma Bouvier. Cletus? Where do you start? Eriisa, NOT a floosie, TexasRose, MidnightMedic....
On consideration though, the cartoon character that comes closest both in looks and character, is Muttley

If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be?
I like the idea of giving Shakespeare and Chaucer a slap on behalf of all English schoolboys for all the unnecessary suffering they inflicted on them - but hey, I like Shakespeare and Chaucer now. I'd like to meet Anton Bruckner to ask him what his intended versions of his symphonies were and which of the versions today come closest to his wishes. I'd also ask him what his intentions were for the finale of Symphony No.9. Mind you, I wouldn't understand a word he said because I can't speak German.
The man fascinates me. The massive, imposing, grand, sure, cathedrals of sound that are his 9 numbered symphonies (once described as 'proof of the existence of God') are totally at odds with the nervous, shy, unsophisticated man that wrote them.

*anonym*
What was your most embarrassing moment?
I can't pick just one! There are too many to mention - and most of those I daren't relate!
Once I was caught climbing the outside of a camponile in Brugge, Belgium, just before midnight one New Year's Eve - wearing only T shirt and underpants. Well. it seemed like a good idea at the time... A couple of gendarmes didn't think so.

Another that could have been embarrassing for me was when I inflated 'Dolores' (shall we say she's a doll?) with helium and flew 'her' 50 feet above our home in Greece. I happily went off to work in London for a week and left 'her' for Kris to find. She didn't. Zakynthos Air Traffic control did. The first the family knew about it was when a policeman and two air traffic controllers came to the house and asked for 'her' removal 'because it posed a distraction for pilots'. I can't see that myself because there is no flight path over the island. All aircraft skirt the island until they fly over a small area of land between the sea and the airport. I suppose the pilots could have made a detour to go and look. It would have been fantastic if a planeload of tourists had flown over the house at that time.

How did you find BrainKing?
I didn't. Either Krissy or Helen did. One of them was playing at GoldToken and someone mentioned a new games site - brainking. They checked it out and it looked very good, even though it was going through a lot of teething troubles at the time (almost exactly a year ago). We saw the potential though and persisted. Patience was rewarded. The beauty of brainking for me is that I can keep in touch and play games with all my family and friends wherever I am, or they are, in the world.

*anonym*
Who do you have on your friends and enemies lists?
I have about 35-40 people on my friends list. These are the people who, when I log on and see that one or more of them are online, make me smile and I know I'm going to have a good laugh. I don't have anybody on my enemies list.

What kind of internet connection do you have at home? Is BrainKing slow or fast for you?
This is a computer question isn't it? Duh! The truth is, I haven't a clue. I'm the sort of person who, left to his own devices, would try plugging the computer into the kettle. Sam fixed the internet links up. I know it isn't dial-up. It could be satellite as a dish sprung up on the roof while I was working away one time. I naturally thought it was one of panda's fiendish plots to jam all communications between Kefalonia (the island a few miles away) and the outside world. Or to monitor cross-dressing penguins in the Falkland Islands. All I know is that we have 5 or 6 computers and I think they're connected to the internet through some sort of gate (I've probably got a key that'll fit that as well)- and I pay for the darn thing. Brainking is pretty fast on all of them although sometimes using a laptop away from home can get painfully slow.

How could BrainKing look, in your opinion, after 5 years?
Cariad jokingly paraphrased an old Orange advertisement recently. She announced 'I've see the future - and it's brainking!' She could be right. Look how far brainking has come in one year. I know new things are to be implemented and when they are, there'll be new things after that. With new innovations coming along all the time, who knows what brainking will be like in 5 years? I just hope that if I'm part of the first gig on the moon I can still log onto brainking during the interval and not have to book vacation days. I truly hope brainking becomes a site which is safe for youngsters to log on to - while retaining it's predominantly friendly atmosphere.

What question(s) did you hope would be asked, and what would your answer(s) have been?
I was dreading all the questions!

I thought someone would ask: 'What are your plans for 2004?'

My answer would be: I've got a lot to cram in. My priority is to get Helen walking again. For that to happen we have to go to the UK and the States. I can arrange some of the session work I'm booked for to coincide with these trips. I have a few 'mini-tours' to do and a few outdoor festival gigs in the summer. I have to go to Australia again soon, which I'm looking forward to.
I have a lot of studio work coming up which looks very interesting. Somewhere along the line I've got a few albums to finish producing and a few albums to release.
Naturally I want to spend as much time as possible with my family so I'll be working from home a lot this year and I've got a few private projects in the pipeline that I hope will benefit the people of Zakynthos.
Oh, and a duck race or two to organise - seriously! Ideally I would like to get the whole population of the island to wear bowler hats and carry black rolled umbrellas by 2005.

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