Thursday, December 30, 2010

I was a pain, really.

My god, I was an argumentative git in my late teens. As I was devouring up to half a dozen books a day, on everything from astrophysics to mediaeval constitutional law, then I had as much knowledge as I had opinion. Which is a lot!

And so I argued. Endlessly. And I argued to win. It was an amazing intellectual exercise. And, in fairness, it could make me 'hard work'.

I recall a game of Trivial Pursuit in which the winning question was connected to the damage done by a particular size of nuclear weapon. I made my answer, only for the cards to declare me Wrong. Surely not?? So I made everyone sit whilst I went off to grab my calculator and copy of Glastone and Dolan's Effects of Nuclear Weapons, and they gnashed their teeth as I worked out the correct answer by hand from the physics. I was right. But I wasn't popular!

This argumentativeness led to one man standing in front of me and declaring that "you would argue the toss over the time of day!" With a straight face, I asked him, "do you meant GMT, solar time, sidereal time, Universal Time...?" I could see both his jaw and his fist clench as he struggled. Then stormed off.

My reputation in this period was salvaged by an astonishing stroke of luck. Sitting in a classroom in the early evening, we heard a gaggle of military jets pass overhead. I declared that these were F-lllF's on their way to bomb Libya. I could tell the make of jet by the engine noise. All utter tripe, a throwaway remark.

Turning on the radio the next morning...American F-lllF's from RAF Fairford had led an attack on Libya. For quite a while after that, I was afforded some reverence. Which I accepted without a blush!


  1. That'll be the mid 80's then, about the time I went for my first job interview as a commercial diver in Libya. Got the job and you can guess what happened next...

    For some reason the phrase "big fish, little pond comes to mind". LOL

  2. I have to say I find your argumentative nature very funny! Teenagers know everything, though for the most part they are nothing like as well read.

  3. This made me smile as it reminds me so much of someone I know. Book worm, opinionated, hard work, has to be right; but that's part of what makes him who he is. And the intellect, insight and humour you display in this blog shows us a part of who you are. I think we've all been 'a pain' in our time, in some way or another! It's a rite of passage. :)

  4. So familiar....You are not alone in that!!

  5. That reminds me a great deal of me. Fortunately I am surrounded by people of similar temperaments, which is probably the only reason no one has decked me yet.

  6. Agree again Jules, its a 'rite of passage' although possibly similar to Ben I have not made it to the other side just yet, and am still an argumentative watnot.

    In my teens, my friends used to say that in arguments I was like one of those dogs that had something between their teeth and would not let go no matter what.

    Most people I encountered throughout my life as I carried on in this manner either showed affection or concern toward me. So its never been a huge problem.

    The only time anything ever resorted to violence was once while drunk at a party when I was about sixteen or seventeen, I was arguing with a friend who was physically holding me back when a young man walked by and said 'oh leave her alone she's only a girl!'. To which I wrestled my arm free and duly gave him a superb right hook which landed right on his nose! Oh no! I *was* drunk and I did *try* to apologise to him!

  7. I am fascinated by your intellect and wit...let alone you being argumentative....You are an extremely intelligent guy...and dispite the trauma in young life, you have sustainted an ability to retain so much information, when you must have also had so much inner turmoil going on at that time in your life...dealing with what had happened then going through the teenage years as well...Just don't know how you coped to be honest, maybe your argumentativeness was part of your coping mcechanisuim?...I wish you all the best Ben....Tigerlily

  8. *Sustained* from Tigerlily


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