There’s a meme going round Facebook at the moment– I write a bunch of things about myself, you comment, I give you a number, you right that many facts about yourself, people comment you give them a number. In the interest of flooding the available worldly attention span with uninteresting snippets of forgotten whatevers about myself like everybody else, I hereby present 10 things you might not know about me that you’ve been able to live happily without knowing up until now but that will change the way you view the world and contribute to world peace and feeding the starving to the poor…..

1. I was the Dux of my Primary School.

Unlike normal schools, who wait until all the marks are in and then just give the gong to the kid who topped the lists, Coolongup Primary school decided they wanted to up the ante way back in 1982 and do things differently. They corralled the top ten students and forced us to perform for their entertainment, sitting tests, interacting with the teachers at a morning tea, and most importantly, writing and delivering a spoken presentation on a subject of our choice with the use of palm cards. Thanks to previously undiscovered talents for speaking off the top of my head and remembering notes without needing to refer to my painstakingly prepared bits o’ card in my sweaty palm, I came out on top. Which must have pissed off the 9 kids who had better marks than me, but there it is. Who’s laughing now, I say!

2. If my parents were greedy, I’d sound much more exotic.

According to my late mother, when she was pregnant an acquaintance of the family offered her and my father a fairly stonking sum of money (memory says 1000 pounds, in 1970 working class Midlands money) to name me Carlos.

She’s dead now, so I can’t confirm the finer details, but for the sake of a grand, I could have work silk shirts and seduced women by crooning in a warbly Julio Iglesias kind of way.

3. I’m a genetic freak with the extremities of a swamp monster.

Both my feet have webbed toes, and I’m the only person I’ve ever met with a webbed earlobe.

One of ussss… one of usss… one of usss…..

4. I see your jump, and triple it.

When I was a much smaller person than I am now, I represented the town of Narrogin at the state Little Athletics championships of 1979, finishing 6th in both the 200 metres and triple jump. I received two certificates and a shiny vinyl competitors patch for my efforts. Not to mention a trip to Perth to compete at the Perry Lakes stadium, and a brand new tracksuit. Now I don’t even get out of bed for less than $10 000…..

5. Instead of being fat, middle aged, and hating an administrative job, I could be fat, middle aged, and hating a job where I kill little foreign people.

When I was 17 I applied for, and was accepted into, the Australian Defence Force Academy. two days from stepping on to the plane to fly to Canberra I had a major crisis of confidence and scrapped the whole thing, choosing instead to go to Curtin University and study creative writing. I still have a letter my mother wrote me from her death bed, wherein she lies through her teeth and tells em I was never a disappointment to her. Waaaaaaaaaaay not what she said at the time. So when I make that joke about running away from my highly-paid job to become a poet, I speak from experience.

6. I once persuaded WWE wrestlers to prank-call my brother at 4am.

In 2002 I flew to LA to attend the Writers of the Future workshops, with a brief early morning stop at Melbourne airport. By coincidence, I was flying out on the same plane as a troupe of WWE wrestlers who had put on a show the night before. Apart from the rather hilarious experience of being pulled over for a hand-luggage check next to Kurt Angle, I found myself walking through the departure lounge amidst these walking mountains, at which point I was overcome with a giggling fit. the two nearest guys– Rakichi and Ken Shamrock– heard me: they looked tired, and grumpy, and must have thought I was laughing at them because they turned around and growled “What’s your problem?” at me. I pointed at a bunch of nearby fans: “Do you reckon they’re going ‘There’s Rakichi! And Shamrock!…. Who’s the fat guy?'”

At which point they glanced over, broke up laughing, and we were temporary besties for the rest of the walk to the plane.

I’m no wrestling fan, but my brother, who was tucked up in bed back in Perth, was. Huge-time. I’m hanging with two guys he would give his left nut to hang with. There’s a pay phone coming up. What else was I going to do?

Turns out, he didn’t react well to two loud American voices shouting at him to wake the fuck up at 4 in the morning. I did explain who they were. Eventually. When I got back from the States. Don’t know why he wasn’t happy then, either…. 🙂

7. I collect comedy LPs in the original vinyl.

Some things just sound better with that surface hiss: blues, rockabilly, and radio comedy, for example. I haven’t had an LP player in years– Lyn bought me one that was supposed to connect to your computer but we could never get it to work and in the end, I gave it to my bonus son Blake who has a similar passion for vinyl records. But I still have a pretty extensive collection of Goon Shows, Frost Report, Lenny Bruce, Round the Horne, Beachcomber, George Carlin and the like.

8. I’m Lance Private Eccles, but most people call me by my nickname….

Some years back, I co-wrote a Goon Show fan production with the brilliantly funny author and fellow Goon fan Dave Luckett, which we performed with fellow fans at the Swancon SF convention. Called The Goon, Goon Hills of Earth, it was recorded, and contains a brilliant Luckett performance as Ned Seagoon. If I work out how to upload sound-only files onto Blogger, I’ll share it.

Your nickname? What is it?
(The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler of Bexhill-on Sea)

9. I’ve seen Curly Sue 42 times and still don’t want to kill myself.

It’s true. Curly Sue is a Jim Belushi movie. That’s all you need to know about its general level of quality. I spent a year working as an usher at the first cinema to open in Rockingham, the town where I grew up, and part of my job was to stand at the back of each session to make sure the attendees weren’t slashing the seats, setting fire to each other, or shagging the armrests. I saw Point Break before it was released, but I also saw Star Trek V nineteen times. And Curly Sue 42 times. That’s not even 42 separate Jim Belushi movies, which is the fifth sign of the apocalypse. That’s the same unfunny, cringingly awful, painful Jim Belushi experience, again and again and again. And people wonder why I hate humanity and all you stand for.

10. I can’t stomach the taste of jelly beans.

And it’s a self-inflicted injury: I ate a kilogram of jelly beans in one sitting while watching a late night Creature Feature, back when i was a teenager, and it made me so sick I couldn’t even smell a jelly bean for the next 25 years without it making me ill. I’m happy for others to eat them, now, but still can’t bring myself to actually place one in my mouth. Even the thought of feeling that slithery sugar crunch between my teeth brings me out in shivers.