Andrew Stickland is a fulltime father and occasional writer who really dislikes referring to himself in the third person. I have a law degree and a very long and varied list of previous jobs – none of which actually required a law degree. Right now I’m living in Brazil, learning how to write screenplays and occasionally producing poetry – mostly as a way to avoid working on the science fiction novel I promised my eldest son.
Andrew’s website: meanwhilebackinsaopaulo.blogspot.com
• One thing that’s always worth getting out of bed for
Woke up on a good day
And the world was wonderful
A midnight summer dream had me in its spell.
(from ‘Midnight Summer Dream’ by The Stranglers)
For me, this is what some days are like. If it’s sunny, the sun is wonderful and warm and comforting. If it’s raining, the rain is cleansing and exciting. If I have tea for breakfast, it’s perfectly refreshing. If I have coffee it’s rich and smooth. And this is how the day continues. The children are charming not annoying, the day’s tasks are pleasures not impositions. Every song I listen to is wonderfully evocative, and everything I read is fascinating. And although I haven’t actually gone as far as saying hello to a lamppost, I can certainly understand the urge. By now I’ve experienced enough of these days to know that it’s probably more to do with some internal chemical imbalance than any external magic, but this doesn’t stop the days from being completely wonderful in their own way. And the older I get the more of them there seem to be. Premature dotage? Possibly. But if this is what I have to look forward to, then I’m certainly looking forward to it. Who wouldn’t get out of bed for the chance of such a day?
• One thing about myself that often obstructs me
My first answer to this was going to be that I’m too much of a perfectionist, but on reflection I don’t think this is the case. What I actually am is a pedant. Sometimes the two can be confused, but I see the difference as being between end and means. If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well – perfectionist. If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing properly – pedant. And I have to accept that the second better describes me. It’s why I obey rules, why I follow instructions, why I would rather lose than cheat, why I prefer planning to spontaneity, why I measure twice and cut once. It’s why I try to say only what I know, not what I feel. And, sadly, it’s also why I will always make a better bean counter than poet.
• One thing I’ve learned the hard way
To keep my opinions to myself. Because I am absolutely hopeless at arguing and do my point of view no favours by half-heartedly offering it up and then putting up no defence when it’s subsequently shot down. I used to try. I used to think it was important to have my say, to get my message across, to point out when people were wrong about something. And I would generally be fine up until the point where logic and reason ended and emotion took over. Emotion is not one of my strong points. I find it hard to get worked up about anything – at least externally – and this is obviously not ideal if you want to win many arguments. What goes on on the inside is a different matter however, but then I’ve never had any problem winning arguments in my own head anyway.
• One thing that gets under my skin
The thoughtless stupidity and rudeness of those people who believe that replacing their real name with a username gives them the right to say whatever opinionated and bigoted pile of garbage they want without any consideration for the effect it may be having. Anonymity is all well and good when you’re fighting against censorship and are maybe fearful of repercussions, but freedom of speech does not require you to be rude, stupid or overly extreme simply because you won’t ever have to defend your views to anyone face-to-face.
• One thing I’d love to change
Shortly after ten o’clock on the morning of August 7, 1998, a hidden crevasse opened up on the side of Hochstetter Dome, halfway up the Tasman Glacier in New Zealand. My brother, Mark, was walking across it at the time and he fell to his death, suffocated by the weight of snow which fell on top of him. He was 35 years old.
For me there is no doubt about what I would change, given the opportunity. I want my brother back. For my sake, because I still miss him every single day. For his sake, because he has missed out on half a lifetime’s experience. But mostly for the sake of my parents who had their first-born child taken away from them. As a parent myself, I can’t imagine anything more terrible.
• One thing I hope for
I hope I live long enough to see people walk on Mars. It would make an old man extremely happy.