Saturday, April 14, 2007

Joe Blog's Interview #103 Diary Of A Humourist

Name : Robert Wringham
Age : 24
Location : Glasgow, Scotland
Vocation : Humourist
Philosophy : Yes.

Sum up what your blog is about.
It’s made up of the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life, especially the stuff that takes place on subways, on trains, in elevators and in doctors’ waiting rooms – the transitional spaces that most people try not to engage with too seriously. Life happens in the gaps. And it’s usually blackly funny.

Why are you doing your blog?
Vanity mainly. People say lots of nice things to me just in case I say anything nasty about them on the Internet. They know I can destroy them. But also habit. I’ve always kept a diary in one form or another. My earliest memory of keeping a record of daily events involves writing in pencil the words orated by my mother at the kitchen table. My grandma had bought me the diary itself, the cover of which depicted a cold-eyed Mickey Mouse brandishing an oversized fountain pen in one sinister white-gloved hand. As with the designs of so many ice cream vans, I do not believe that the diary was a product entirely endorsed by the Walt Disney Corporation.

In 2003 I started to make my diary a public affair simply for the sake of experimentation. The blog was on a stand-alone platform back then (it’s on Livejournal now) and had a different name. But I liked all the feedback and email I used to get from it – blogging is increasingly becoming a two-way process – so I carried on.

What’s the funniest entry on your site?
I’m quite fond of the one about a bank manager.

What is your writing style?
I don’t try to have one but I like to keep it pretty austere and to-the-point. I hate blogs where everything is abbreviated or written in code or shorthand or are just an unedited stream of consciousness. Those guys say they’re writing for themselves and that quality doesn’t matter. So why put it on the Internet? Write it on a potato and bury it.

What do people commonly say about your site?
My friend Steph who has been reading fairly consistently since the beginning says “It’s all too clever now. I liked it better when you were a moron”. But I don’t know what she’s on about. I think these days its pretty well received by the handful of people who actually read it.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your blog?
Living a fuller, richer, more fulfilling life.

Why should someone visit your site?
Because they have no self respect.

What did you learn from your first love?
That “Fido” is not what they mean by “pet name”.

How long have you kept a diary?
Since I was a child. My mother would dictate what I should write in those tightly lined yet bog-roll thin pages, the entries were not exactly written straight from the heart. I think the object of these sessions was that they might improve my handwriting - the perfect preparation for a lifetime spent entirely in an age of laptop computers. It is also plausible that these sessions were punishments in some capacity: I distinctly remember being forced to record that I had “acted like a monkey” while visiting Jack and Ethel (two elderly neighbours) and that I must go and apologise first thing in the morning. It was like an enforced confession in which I had to seriously engage with my wrongdoings and consider how I might go about correcting them. I found it particularly uncomfortable having to engage with something so unpleasant by a means which would otherwise be leisurely: like being force-fed a delicious chocolate cake while being prodded with a taser.

Throughout my adolescence I kept diaries too. Obviously these were more personal affairs safe from my mother's disciplinary orations, padlocked within a leather briefcase along with the pornographic magazines I had found in a bin. I recently dug out these diaries in the hopes that they would contain hidden gems and Adrian Mole-style tales of teenage angst but the best thing I found was a biro sketch of myself masturbating, the penis marginally exaggerated. Now that my diary is popular on the Internet, it is my fondest hope that these older documents might be displayed in cases in the British Museum.

What’s the idea behind your blog design?
My blog doesn’t really have one. My homepage, however, depicts a dissected haddock with all the guts labeled incorrectly. The idea behind it? Sex. Isn’t that the idea behind everything?

Are there any blogs, you enjoy reading?
Millions. I love ‘Click Opera’ by Momus; ’The Affected Provincial’s Handbook’ by Lord Whimsy; and ‘Warming Up’ by Richard Herring. Those guys are blog superstars though and liking them is no smarter than liking the music of Madonna or supporting Manchester United. Everyone’s at it now. Simon Munnery has one at the New Statesman. Not even I saw that coming.

How was it, moving from Birmingham to Glasgow?
When Samuel Johnson went to the Hebrides he expected to rough it with naked blue-arsed savages but there were none. Similarly, I’ve not seen a single see-you-jimmy hat since I got here.

Tell us about a good deed you have done recently.
Well, this was intended as a good deed of sorts but as with many such things it ended up insulted a bind man.

Tell us a random funny story that comes to mind.
I’m working in an office at the moment. It’s horrible. Every morning when I reach, bleary-eyed, for a coffee cup from the kitchen cupboard inadvertently pick up this very peculiar one with no handle. I never realise until I’m pouring coffee into it. Turns out it’s a sugar bowl.

What advice would you have given yourself 5 years ago?
Do you mean what would I tell myself if I could travel back in time five years? “Invest in bonds”. He’ll get the joke, he’s a clever kid.

Any interesting travel stories?
I visited Prague last year shortly after all that Terrorist stuff went down in London. The way we were treated by airport security was horrible (I wrote about it here). I was asked to remove my hat by a customs officer. It was terribly embarrassing to reveal my marmalade sandwiches.

What’s the most incredible thing that ever happened to you?
Meeting my exact double. He was as surprised as I was.

Now it’s your turn! Ask me one question, anything you like.

Ever been to Wigan?

Joe Blogs : Never. But never say never.

Your Site Address : Robert Wringham's Diary