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Andy Richardson: Survey answers reveal a life well lived. . . or too many risks

A survey skipped across my timeline. It was the archetypal 20 Questions, though the parlour game has evidently evolved since its popularity in the last century.

Had I fired a gun? I had...
Had I fired a gun? I had...

The list on my Twitter feed didn’t ask such questions as: ‘Is it alive?’ or ‘Is it bigger than a breadbox?’ Instead, it asked whether you’d gotten a piercing, been on TV, gone zip-lining, gotten a tattoo, skinny-dipped or been drunk. Though not necessarily at the same time.

Perhaps if you’d gone skinny dipping while being drunk, you’d have earned an extra point.

And if you’d gone skinny dipping while being drunk having just gotten a tattoo on a zip line, I imagine the Twitter feed would have exploded in joy. Probably.

I’m a sucker for a survey, providing they don’t lead to a never-ending stream of emailed spam from the makers of them.

And engaging with a passive Twitter graphic over whether or not I’ve ever fired a gun – answer, yes, and an AK47 at that – presented a brief diversion.

Most of the respondents scored about 10-12 out of 20 on the list of ‘have you ever been arrested, met a celeb or been skydiving?’ That was indicative, I suppose, of a life well-lived that had been fringed with excitement rather than being plugged into a power station full of it.

I started the survey. Had I ever skipped school? Well, yes, I guess, though my record had been pretty good. Just as I’ve not missed a day’s work for about 18 years – true story – even pneumonia didn’t stop me – I’d had a pretty clean attendance record at school. There’d been no hanging out over ASDA car park or in some dark and dingy shopping centre. There had, however, been an occasion or two at sixth form, probably, where I’d found myself somewhere other than lessons – that’s right, the pub – or where a shopping trip to buy the school Christmas tree had led to a cheeky diversion to someplace else – yes, the pub.

Had I ever broken a bone? I had, after an incident that modesty prevents disclosure of.

I’d been to see my friend in hospital the same day, she’d just had a baby, though I’d decided not to visit A&E.

My friend had reasoned with me: ‘But you’re literally 500m away from A&E.’ But there’ll be a five-hour wait and they’ll tell me they can’t do anything anyway.

Had I fired a gun? I had. During a trip with friends to Ethiopia, a friend’s dad had revealed a tennis racket holder with something inside that bulged in a way rackets aren’t supposed to. It was an AK47. He also produced an empty two-litre bottle of Cola and asked if anyone would like to take pot shots.

We did, though the gun was too fierce and unwieldy to allow me to hit anything other than a random tree. Some minutes later, a group of camel-herders appeared, wondering what the commotion was.

Had I been in a limo? Yup.

Gotten a tattoo? Are there extra points if I’ve still not overcome my fascination for ink?

Ridden a horse? Frequently, and on occasions when the damn thing had bolted. Riding through the woods of a posh hotel somewhere in the Cotswolds where a branch had slapped my face and I thought I’d been blinded, only to realise a leaf had got stuck behind my glasses was probably the most memorable.

There were more: Gotten a ticket? Yes. Last week. When a joyless and officious council inspector decided to slap them on a dozen cars in Ludlow in an act of jobsworthiness deserving of some form of award.

Had I been on TV? Yes. I think. A KLF documentary. Though I was supposed to appear on BBC Breakfast talking about someone for whom I’d written a book, only to decide to fly to Canada instead.

On it went. At the end of the quiz, I totted up my scores: full house. Well done. Or, in the case of some of the answers, not well done at all.

Flushed with success, I noticed another survey. Fifty questions this time. 42 out of 50 either indicates a life well lived – or the need to take fewer risks.

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