After a misspent youth and increasingly disenchanted adulthood working as graphic designer and copywriter in the advertising industry, Allan Lloyd is now repenting at leisure while hiding out on Lamb Island in Moreton Bay near Brisbane, capital of the Australia state of Queensland. In a pathetic attempt to repay his moral debt to the consuming society for his cynical but well-crafted deceits over the years, he now maintains a blog committed to highlighting the absurdities of what passes for contemporary culture these days. He will fail spectacularly in this endeavour, of course, but he's having fun. Allan's blog is called FigMince
What made you decide to start blogging?
Primarily, the boredom of living in semi-retirement in idyllic surroundings – although I've always had a sense of frustration about the way so much 'information' goes unquestioned by people, and how so many absurdities are accepted without analysis by them. The trouble is, those same people are probably the least likely to read blogs, so I guess it's possibly just self-indulgence on my part. But hey, at least I haven't taken up lawn bowls.
What is your best blogging experience?
Occasionally finding my blog added to someone else's blogroll. Maybe that's an ego thing, but it works just fine for me.
And your worst?
Posting one particularly cruel and offensive item in booze-fuelled anger (don't ask), then later desperately deleting it and hoping nobody saw it.
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
Hopefully, the next one. But I think a recent post comparing the financial meltdown and Africa's problems was a relevant comment about the scheme of things. It came out of my partner's observation that world leaders can get together and take action about economic issues, but not about dying kids.
Wilson's Blogmanac, for its eclectic diversity and sheer volume. And Gullible's Travels, which, while not overtly political, invariably makes me feel like a valued friend of its author.
Since you started your blog, do you think the World is more crazy than you at first feared?
I've always figured everyone's 'crazy' to some degree, because sanity's just a theoretical construct. But yes, I think there's a weird paradigm increasingly coming into play, whereby as things get less stable, people become more fearful and willing to accept even the most preposterous contradictions rather than allow stuff to rock their personal boats. Rather than deal with reality, they'll gratefully embrace lies they can believe in. The irony is that until they acknowledge a reality, they can't address it (nor do leaders need to) in order to change things for the better. (See 'Iraq')
How would you define the Australian blogosphere?
I'm not sure I've seen enough to be qualified to comment on this, beyond observing that those blogs expressing opinions that I agree with are great, and all the rest are clearly crap.
What is the best thing about Lamb Island?
It's got a relatively small population and there's water between us and the rest of the world – and yet we're only an hour from a CBD if we're unfortunate enough to need to go there. The island's quiet and peaceful, and people live here because they want to rather than because it's the next suburb on from where they started out. That said, there are a few not-so-best things about the place: the island's original 'pioneering' characters are gradually being supplanted by more-conservative newcomers; more new houses mean less open space and wildlife habitat; and there's nowhere on the island to sit with like-minded know-it-alls and solve the problems of the world over great coffee and tiramisu.
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
I've never actually left Australia, but I've got a possibly masochistic ambition to visit France, intrigued by my partner's admiration of the French people's arrogance and contempt for the kind of person I'd be regarded as if I ever got there.
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
Obviously, given the above, not applicable.
Do you have a favourite political figure in history?
I have a problem with political aspiration, in that I suspect that those who seek power are the worst kind of people to be allowed to wield it. But a few exceptions spring to mind: the USA's Founding Fathers, for their revolutionary concept of democracy at a time in history when there was really no template for them to copy-and-paste from; Gandhi, for a teeming multitude of reasons; and closer to home, Don Dunstan, who was Premier of South Australia during the 1970s and introduced enlightened reforms that led the rest of the world at that time.
Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?
I'm not sure about the word 'inspiration', but Henry Thoreau really turned my head around when I first read 'Walden' in my teens. And these days my bleeding-heart socialist feminist partner Eileen constantly challenges me, whether I'm ready or not.
Favourite Bond movie?
No such thing.
Favourite Doctor Who?
I'm vaguely aware of the one with the scarf.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Coffee, please. Oh, alright, chocolate – but not too sweet.
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
The Gerry Mulligan Quartet that included Chet Baker. Mind you, I'd wanna be nineteen again during the show.
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Adelaide, Melbourne, or Canberra?
Sorry, none of the above. I don't get off on cities, especially since they've largely lost their regional differences and become like huge malls full of sameness. Our weekend visits are to a small country town six hours drive from home, where there are still enough counter-culture survivors to ensure local colour, good coffee shops, great restaurants, and fantastic pub vibes. Oh, and the surrounding country just happens to be stunningly beautiful too, but it won't stay that way if I tell you where it is.
Favourite national newspaper?
Hah! Australia has only one national newspaper, The Australian, and it's owned by Rupert Murdoch. I read the Sydney Morning Herald online, but I fear for the future of the print media unless someone can teach editors how to assess relative importance and journalists how to write grammatically sound sentences.
What would you say your hobbies were?
I write and arrange incredibly derivative music on my computer, then listen back to it later and promise myself I'll eventually get around to fixing all the less-than-fantastic glitches I hadn't noticed during the mixdown. Another favourite pastime is complaining about the crap available on TV on any given night.
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
What if I restructure the phrasing of this question to read 'three of your favourite' songs/books? It all depends on where my head is at any given time. Three definite songs: 'Surf's Up', by Brian Wilson, not the least for Van Dyke Parks' lyrics; Dion DiMucci's version of Mort Shuman's adaptation of Jacques Brel's 'If We Only Have Love'; Howe Gelb and Giant Sand's 'Shiver' (or virtually anything else Howe performs).
Same qualification goes for books: I've read John Steinbeck's 'Cannery Row' more times than I can count, and enjoy it more every time; I consider Russell Hoban's 'Riddley Walker' to be a masterpiece; and I never get tired of the brilliant wordplay of George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat' strips (which, in anthology form, rate here as a book, okay?).