This week’s fabulous guest dipping their sticky fingers into my biscuit tin of randomness is Fergus McNeill. As well as writing crime novels, Fergus has been creating computer games since the early eighties, writing his first interactive fiction titles while still at school. Over the years he has designed all sorts of games, spoken at the Cannes Film Festival, and failed to excel at any sport whatsoever. He likes cats.
What’ve you got for us, Fergus?
What was your first gig?
Communards at Royal Festival Hall, and it was brilliant. Also, I may have stolen a poster from the foyer and waited at the stage door so Jimmy Somerville could sign it for me.
Why are coconuts so difficult to open?
I know, right? I mean, their main uses are for filling Bounty bars and imitating the sound of horses’ hooves, so I really don’t see why they need to be so bothersome.
What are you having for lunch tomorrow?
Probably a couple of those giant fish fingers you get from Waitrose, in a roll, possibly with a slice of burger cheese melted over them. It’s kind of like a Filet-O’-Fish from McDonalds, except it’s bigger.
What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?
I was walking down Main St in Santa Monica one afternoon, browsing in shop windows, when a guy ran out of a side street and came sprinting down the middle of the road, waving a gun. As I stood there watching, he turned and fired several shots at some other men who were chasing him. Everyone around me kind of sighed and melted into shop doorways, several of them turning away from the action so they could hear to continue their phone conversations. More shots were fired, the guy ran past and disappeared down an alley, pursued by the men. All around me, people moved on, like nothing had happened, while I stood there wondering why the hell nobody else seemed to be freaked out by it all.
What would you cook on Come Dine With Me?
Our next door neighbours were on the show (and actually won it!) so I doubt the producers would have anyone else from our street. But if you need a really good fish finger roll with melted cheese, I’m your man.
What was your favourite toy?
Any of the Star Wars lightsabers I had during childhood, but especially the red one because I secretly wanted to be Darth Vader when I grew up.
Have you ever heard voices in your head?
All the time, especially when I’m working from home. My desk is just a few yards from the kitchen cupboard, and I can hear pastries calling me, chocolate biscuits rustling in their packets, ice cream whispering from the freezer… it’s deafening.
Which actor do you fancy the most?
Ziyi Zhang, from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and House Of Flying Daggers.
Have you ever written a fan letter?
No, but many years ago I stood next to Douglas Adams in a bar for about ten minutes trying to work up the courage to speak to him. In the end, he left before I could think of anything to say and I really regretted it. Years later, I was walking through Highgate Cemetery and paused at his grave in silent contemplation of missed opportunities and risks not taken. I’d like to think that he was looking down on me thinking, ‘There’s that guy from the bar again. And he’s STILL not figured out what he wants to say!’
Do you have any weird habits?
I’m slightly obsessive about the way I eat. No, really! For example, if I’m having chicken and rice, I need to ensure that I always have enough rice for all the chicken, and vice versa. I mean, I absolutely HAVE to make sure I don’t end up with just rice, or just chicken, at the end. Consequently, I always encourage my wife to steal any chips from my plate right at the beginning of the meal, so I can adjust how I eat to make everything balance out at the end. Also, I’m physically incapable of enjoying a desert before a main course. Honest, it’s true!