Killing Time with Jonathan Begg

When asked, “What brought you to” a typical response is, “I was searching for something on Google.” This week’s Featured Contributor, however, claims that “Just doodling” is what landed him smack dab in the middle of the wonderful world known as Seems killing time was a good way to discover the world’s bestest Q&A site. Let’s find out more about Jonathan Begg and his journey to our community.

What is your user name and the history behind it?

Jonathan Begg – just my own name

What is your first name?


What is your age?

Just turned 64. Now who died at that age? Al Jolson…

Would you like to tell us about your family?

Scots-Welsh. My great-grandfather just missed having the first car in Glasgow (G1). But he was a fine broth of a boy, so they gave him a special ‘G0’. That looked like GO! – a much better sign for the front of your classic Daimler!

Do you have any pets?

Not allowed in this block, thank goodness. But in our childhood in the country, we grew up with a female cat who was no less than a goddess. Forty-three years after her death, she is still very much around.

Where do you live, how long have you lived there and why do you like the area?

Queensway, London. That’s between Paddington and Notting Hill, on the North-west corner of the park. Lived here since 1972. Can’t quite pin-down why I like it, except it’s an easy walk from Marble Arch. Good mix of gracious and Bohemian, maybe. Not as good as it used to be, of course… (Roll over, grandpa)

Where did you grow up and do you have any special memories of your childhood?

English boarding-school is the real answer. And a Kentish village, half-genteel with modernised farmhouses, but some mighty odd families down the lane, still living the medieval life.

What educational information would you like to share?

Seriously old-style prep school which had to fold, hopefully not just because I was the last Head Boy! The headmaster had been a pupil there himself, way back, and wanted to keep it unchanged. Curiously, his own headmaster had insisted on keeping it mid-Victorian, so that was the culture we absorbed. For some reason, I fit in well and moved up faster than any boy since 1925.

Next was a well-known Public School, which I won’t name. One day, my father and another old-boy of the school visited the place, bringing their wives, who had never been there before. The wives both said it was like entering Dracula’s village – cold shudder, evil spirits. I can confirm all that. It should have been good. But it wasn’t.

What are some of your past or present occupations?

Freelance advertising copywriter and travel journalist. A lot of other jobs, too, starting with the Army, where I just got in on the last Imperial war – the capture of Aden Crater (now in South Yemen) as a rifleman in Mad Mitch’s battalion, the 1st Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. It was the last time a Scottish unit went into action to the sound of the pipes (with real pipers, that is, not the audio version they used in the armoured personnel carriers in Iraq, though I’m sure that was just as stirring.) There was a bonfire of uniforms on the last night, and I was allowed to rescue a set of khaki drill, very comfortable, which I wore for years, working on building sites.

What are your key areas of knowledge, interest or expertise?

American Civil War. I don’t know why it continues to fascinate me. Probably ‘so near and so far’. I can remember meeting my great-grandmother, who was born in the year of Sherman’s March to the Sea. Anyway, Wiki questioners are regularly treated to my dubious brand of expertise on this topic.

Do you have any collections or hobbies?

Once collected a lot of stamps, but they were stolen. Not much room in this little studio-flat anyway. Not sure I trust collectors too much. I think they’re looking for a perfect, well-ordered world with fixed points. You can take escapism too far.

What do you like to do for recreation?

Ironically, the freelance career ties you down as much as it liberates you. Never get that Monday or Friday feeling.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

Rank Screen Awards 1976, a perfume commercial, runner-up in its class (Second out of two!).n And I once had a girlfriend who was the last wig-maker in Reykjavik.

What are your special goals or dreams?

Let’s get through Wednesday.

How would you describe yourself or personality?

That’s for others to judge. Remember Rabbie Burns?

“O, wid some God the giftie gie us
To see ourselves as others see us”

What keeps you coming back to

Therapeutic. While I’m waiting for the coffee to percolate, it gives me time to unflag a few questions or edit a few categories.

What is your favorite activity?

Giving the most complete answer I can – perhaps definitive – to a sensible question.

Your comments are welcome!

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