The PP Member Interview: Robert


World Star
Jan 8, 2006
Post of the Week
Today I bring to you a fascinating insight into the mind of Robert, certainly one of the most consistently pleasant, humble and knowledgeable people that we have been lucky enough to interact with on PP! Robert, always good for a debate, has been kind enough to give up his time and prepare this piece in the background. I am now delighted to share it with the forum. Among other things, it's a cultural and theological treat. I am sure the reading of it will lead to the answering of many questions as well as the accumulation of many more questions regarding this most cracking of fellows!

NB Going forward I'll be running member interviews, so feel free to PM me if you'd like to be the next individual to be grilled in the hot seat :p But never mind that for now. Without further ado, Robert ladies and gentlemen... :D


Robert - why PakPassion? And why Pakistani cricket?
Pakistani cricket has a compelling element. You think you have beaten them and then they suddenly all click and run over you. And there is usually entertaining controversy when they play England!

As for Pakpassion: I was at another cricket forum – Salman was there as I recall - but all my mates left and some people joined whom I didn’t get on with, so I found my way over here.

What are you favorite, and least favorite things about PP?
Favourite: the chance to engage with some of the wiser and calmer heads and learn from a different cultural / historical perspective.

Least favourite: victim mentality and blaming the West for everything bad.

Your general view about Pakistanis and Pakistan as a nation?
I have known some excellent British Pakistanis. There were some in my class at school, all of whom went to Oxbridge. A Brit-Pak surgeon just saved my Dad’s life.

I would not presume to judge the Pakistan nation because I have not been there and don’t know enough about it.

Your most memorable moment in cricket?
Bob Willis blowing out Ray Bright’s mid-pole to finish Headingley ’81. I was doing an A-level Chemistry lesson which our teacher stopped so that we could all go and watch the match!

Your Favorite Player from Pakistan?
Imran Khan. Or Qadir. Or Mudasser, who was always smiling.

Captain Shahid Afridi or Captain Misbah-ul-Haq? Why?
Beastie in ODIs where explosive skill is important. Misbah in tests because he is so calm and controlled and seems to be a good planner and tactician.

As someone who was supporting the opposition during the spot-fixing saga in 2010, what is your opinion of how the trio has been dealt with? Should they be allowed to return to international cricket after their bans?
I wasn’t ”supporting the opposition”, I supported justice. I’m glad that the ICC made their stand against corruption in the game, and I’m glad that meaningful jail terms were dealt out to show that corruption is not tolerated in British society. I feel a bit sorry for Amir, who seems to have been led astray by someone he trusted, but he broke UK law too. I think he’s easily young enough to play for Pakistan again when his ICC ban elapses.

How would you feel about Amir running into bowl at Lords in 5 years time?
Nervous! I think Captain Cook will be equal to the challenge, though.

What is a typical day in the life of Robert?
This is going to sound so boring...... get up at 6 a.m. to catch 6.45 train to work. Snooze. Arrive at desk by 7.45. Drink coffee to wake up. I have a varied and challenging role in accident and fire investigation and training, but I won’t say where and for whom. Lunch around 12 noon, and I try to get in the gym three times a week. Leave at 5 p.m., home by 6, eat dinner with the wife, drink a glass of wine, watch Mad Men or The Walking Dead or a documentary, practice my instrument, trying not to forum too much. Sleep by 11 p.m. Wake up and repeat.

What is your most treasured childhood memory?
When I was a little lad in the New Forest, I built a ‘dam’ of branches and stones across a shallow stream with my Dad. The summer Sun dappled the leaves and the water, and my Dad seemed so big and strong, and so very kind to my efforts, and we laughed together. I felt safe and happy.

Your favourite food?
My wife’s corned beef hash.

Do you drink?
I like a pint of real ale. I get through about ten units a week on average, more on holiday. When younger I made a bit of a fool of myself, but I’m much more controlled now. My wife says I’m a more fun person when I have a drink or two – more relaxed and sociable. I’d warn you that alcohol is like fire – a good servant and a bad master.

What is the reason you turned away from the Abrahamic faiths?
At Sunday school I was taught that Jesus died to save me from sin, and rose again. And there is a place called Heaven and a place called Hell. And a guy called Satan who makes bad things happen. At the aged of 15 I remember thinking that the story sounded really unlikely. I didn’t believe in sin, or the Resurrection, or an afterlife, or Satan, so Christianity was kaput for me.

Islam strikes me as a reiteration of the same stories, though admittedly more internally logical and coherent, so I can’t see myself accepting it.

Becoming a Jew would be going even further backwards.

I learned about evolution, geology and astrophysics which strike me as more economical models for explaining that we term ‘reality’ so I accept those models as probably correct instead.

Then the age of 30 I had an experience which shook me to the core – something happened and I burst into tears in the street, thinking that I had got everything totally wrong after all. But that is another story. Since then I have tried to find a way to wed science with spirituality.

Were your parents disappointed that you gave up on Christianity?

They were deeply saddened.

What are some positives, according to you, about organized religion (if any)?
Positive aspects of organised religion: teaching of moral values; community spirit; emphasis on the family unit. My value system is still basically Christian – do unto others as I would have them do unto me, don’t lie, don’t steal, cross over the road to help the other guy, forgive your enemies because that takes away their power to hurt you.

Are people inclined to wage wars? If so, why is that?
Most people are peaceful and want to get on with others. A few have alpha male programming and want to dominate, and they are clever at getting the rest of us to cooperate with them by using symbols and icons such as history and flags. They emphasise the minor differences between us to divide us. But Thor Heyerdahl pointed out that he put a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and an atheist on a log raft on the ocean for months and they all got on with each other! We are far more alike than differing.

Since you are quite mature as compared to most posters on here, and have a lot of life experience as a result, I would assume, what would your advice be about, well, life in general? (I take the award for presenting the most vague question of the day)
Hello Niece Violet! I have to be careful here because I have a desperate need to be seen to be a wise elder, but maybe I’m not so wise after all.

I’ll say...... always tell the truth, which may get you into trouble in the short term but will get you trust and respect in the longer term. Don’t get stuck in the injustices and failures of the past, but instead look for the positive outcome in all situations. Put your best into everything you do. Don’t just follow your heart – I made many mistakes by doing that. Follow your head and your heart. Be kind to people. Don’t compromise your morals, ever.

If you died and found out that, 'There really is a God', then what would your next move be in the afterlife?
A lengthy swim in the lake of fire!

Do you think God would still punish you, if you explained your side of the story about why 'Robert, when still alive' never believed in a Supreme Being (just based on your perception and the answer does not necessarily have to be on the basis of religious scripture, if you don't want to go down that route)?
Maybe God(s) would see that I have tried to be a good man, and decide to cut me some slack.

Something in life you would do differently, if given another chance?
I would have gone to RADA and become a professional actor. I use to love acting in amateur theatre, back when I was single and had more free time. I played Richard Lionheart in The Lion in Winter and Henry VIII in A Man for all Seasons.

What is your professional occupation? Have you always been doing this job or have changed career paths over the years (i.e going into completely different sectors)?
I used to be a programmer but I wasn’t very good at it and kept getting the sack. Now I’m a safety manager, which I am much more successful at.

Your favorite musical instrument?
The electric bass has a lovely sonorous sound. I have an affinity with the deeper notes. I also love church organs, which are so large that they are actually part of the church. The French horn has a beautiful tone too.

Why did you stop playing the piano (I think you said this a while back, not sure)?!
Didn’t like my piano teacher.

Bet you regret it now, eh?
Yes. Knowing more about chords would have helped my bass playing a lot.

Can you read music with ease?
I don’t sight-read the bass clef, though I can follow the treble clef fairly easily.

Have your ever met any PPer in real life? Would you like to meet any of them?

Not so far, though Namak_Halal is practically my neighbour and we have exchanged emails. Jadz is very calm and wise. Whippy could almost be my kid brother, though he is much wiser than I was at his age.

Why do British people have bad teeth?
Cheeky young Violet! NHS school dentistry was pretty bad up until the 1980s. It has got a lot better since, so most Britons will have good teeth after us oldies die off.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

The ability to predict the future.

The craziest thing you have done in life?
Broke my leg skydiving in South Afridi. I misjudged my landing manoeuvre, the canopy deflated and I fell the last ten feet like a rock. Crack! went my leg. Fortunately for me, South Afridian Nurses are all beautiful and they thought I was heroic.

What do you do in your free time other than posting on PP ?
I like to listen to jazz and classical music and play electric bass. My goal is to get up to open-mic jazz standard this year, where you just turn up to a pub gig and play.

Otherwise I pass the time with my wife of six months, my aged Dad and my beloved four-year-old granddaughter.

Your 3 favorite novels?
Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings
Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath
Jeff Shaara’s The Killer Angels, about the Battle of Gettysburg.

Favourite films?
Shane. True Grit. Zulu. The Right Stuff. The Silence of the Lambs. The Matrix. And in a different vein, Happy Feet.

Favorite Comedian?

Omid Djalili, who is funny and subversive at the same time.

Do you enjoy Doctor Who? And if so, which Doctor was the best?
Tremendously! ‘My’ Doctor was Jon Pertwee: “Now listen to me, Brigadier!” Of the three since the reboot I like them all, but I have a soft spot for Ecclestone, who had some of Jon’s authority and some of Tom Baker’s grinning madness, but you could tell that he was hurting inside. The shouting match that he had with the Dalek in the basement was terrific writing and acting.

Favorite comedy show?

Family Guy and The Cleveland Show make me cry with laughter.

Do you enjoy English cricket as much as in 80's and 90's? Is it better at the moment?

Yes, because we didn’t have much in the way of bowling in the eighties after Willis retired and Botham succumbed to various injuries, and for most of the nineties. Gough, Fraser, Cork and Caddick were good but they were all broken down half the time. Our bowling is much stronger now, both pace and spin.

One way we were better in the eighties was that we could play spin bowling. I think that if you could stick Gooch, Gower and Gatting in the current mob, they would have beaten Pakistan 3-0 instead of losing 3-0. They could attack the spinners without playing premeditated sweeps.

Who was your favourite English batter and bowler to watch?

All-time: Gower and Darren Gough. Of the current crew: KP and Monty.

Of the Aussies, which ones did you fear the most?

Border. He was the epitome of the Aussie battler. However bad things got for Australia, there he was with his jaw jutting, grinding out yet another century.

Alderman always seemed to run through us – eighty wickets in two series! Australia desperately missed him when they toured England in 1985.

McGrath, because there seemed an inevitability that he was going to blow our top order off and let Warne skittle the middle order.

How much joy did you get out of 2010 - as opposed to 2006?

Getting whitewashed hurts. I don’t think that the 2006 Aussies were five tests better than us but they were very well organised, while we picked the wrong skipper, the wrong keeper, the wrong spinner, we lost poor Tres to illness and before anyone could blink we were 2-0 down with no way back.

I was amazed by the 3-1 win in 2010. I thought we might edge it 2-1, but three innings victories in Australia is extraordinary.

Have you seen a worse captain than Flintoff?

He couldn’t stand back from the lads and crack the whip. Bob Willis was pretty bad but at least we had one good fast bowler with him in the side. Who was that Kiwi – Lee Germon? He was diabolical!

I am quite familiar about your views about other two formats compared to Test cricket, but do you bother to watch ODIs and T20Is? If yes, do you get excited watching it?

Sometimes, if it boils up to a good finish.

My favourite ODI was the 3rd Anglo-Pakistan match in 1987. It started with a double-wicket maiden and swung one way and then the other throughout the 110 overs. Miandad and Imran put a rally together but then the Pakistan tail disintegrated. Imran hit a towering straight six out of the park, off the last ball of the innings. England batted and would get into a good position more than once but Pakistan kept pegging them back. I thought England were finally dead and buried, but Phil DeFreitas smashed Imran and Wasim about at the death and levelled the scores before Imran bowled him. I remember Daffy walking off, tears streaming down his face shouting “Win it Fozzy, win it!” Imran brought everyone in close for the last ball, which Foster edged for four to bring up the win. What wonderful theatre!
Here it is:

Who is the greatest batsman and bowler you have seen play in your life time?
Sir Viv Richards and Malcolm Marshall.

Sir Viv was so good that it is hard to describe. Botham was bowling big outswingers at him, but he stepped across his stumps and blasted them through midwicket. Maco swung and cut it both ways with great accuracy at 90-odd mph, and he broke a lot of bones too.

Are you really comfortable with all these Saffers in your team?

England has picked players born in other countries in all the time I have watched them, and for about ninety years before that. I think Flower has a bias toward Saffers because they tend to be a bit more individualistic and self-reliant than Englishmen. I’m more concerned about Morgan, to be honest.

How uncomfortable are you with Brit Asians not supporting England?
Interesting presupposition that I am uncomfortable with it! Clever use of language there, making me out to be a bigot.... but in truth all that Pakster horn-blowing in the nineties was a bit much for me, and I wondered if they knew which country they belonged to. With age, and time to talk to more people , I have learned that identity is a complex thing, particularly for second-generation immigrants. My Dad still shouts for Ireland despite living in England for seventy years.

Favourite Indian Cricketers and Indian food? 

Azhar for his elegance and sheer range of shots. Sunny and Dravid for their resilience.

And, chicken tikka masala. Britain’s national dish!

Have you ever felt annoyed seeing lots of Indian Immigrants in UK post 90's? Do you think immigration policy is fine? Does it help the country?
I hadn’t noticed any more to be honest, having lived in Hounslow and Bradford! There are a lot of Africans now, and Eastern Europeans. If they work hard, obey the law and learn to speak and write English then good on ‘em. Plenty of indigenous English think that the world owes them a living and it doesn’t. Indians put a lot of emphasis on self-sacrifice and education and that helps them get the good jobs. Overall though, I think we should be allowing people in who have a useful skill set, rather than low-skilled uneducated types.

What do you think Britain will look like when you are old(er)? Say in 15 years time. Are you happy with this view of what the future holds?
I’ll be retired and living in the country if it all goes to plan. King Charles III will be on the throne. We will be even more multicultural and I hope that the equality agenda will have taken root. Perhaps we will become more Islamicised.

I can see trouble brewing from the white and black underclass who don’t have the education or the work ethic, and will become increasingly disassociated from society. My solicitor friend says that she sees youngsters coming through who have no concept or right or wrong, which scares me when I consider what their kids will be like. That’s another reason why I want to get out to the country. Right now my height and physical bearing still deter street predators but that won’t last.

Did this forum change your personality?

I don’t think so.

Does the Monarchy have a future?

Yes. The alternative is an elected President and the Britons have no will for that to happen. More and more people have disengaged from the political process because they are widely regarded as mendacious, and there is no real difference between Tories and Labour now anyway. The Monarchy is a cultural constant – a link to our long history.

If I want to visit the UK, which places do you recommend?
Central London and Edinburgh, for the history and the architecture. Cornwall has a desolate beauty. The Lake District and Peak District too. I would warn you that the countryside is more racist than the big towns.

When you engage in a debate, what do you hope to accomplish?
To try to get the other person to see things from a different perspective or thought-model, and maybe even learn something myself.

One word to describe yourself?

And one final question…

Are you this cool in real life?

Nice presupposition! My stepdaughters would say I’m totally uncool though!

Ha! Cheers Robert, it's been a pleasure :)

The craziest thing you have done in life?
Broke my leg skydiving in South Afridi. I misjudged my landing manoeuvre, the canopy deflated and I fell the last ten feet like a rock. Crack! went my leg. Fortunately for me, South Afridian Nurses are all beautiful and they thought I was heroic.

:))) :))) the effect of Afridi on people..
Really nice interview, it was a bit long so I had to skim through the end, I'd definitely like to know more about his life-changing experience at 30 years; you seem like a top guy Robert :)
Excellent interview with one of my fav non-pakistani posters :)
a good read -

some of those questions were a little bonkers and off the wall for a cricketing forum but an interesting insight nonetheless into Robert, and the kind of topics that interest people here
Great read:14:!

Thanks for answering my questions:).
Robert is a top poster and this interview has given us more of an insight of him as a person. Seems like a humble guy.
I love this Interview!

Robert is like the grandad to all English fans on this forum. Except maybe Harvey, dunno how old, so maybe a brother?
Robert bhai ....nice interview....:)

beyond my imagination.....If you allow me I wanna know a bit more about this thought ...

Robert, perhaps you'll be in the 4th circle of Hell was it? Chilling with Aristotle and the like who were "virtuous" despite being pagans and non-Christians.

Been a long while since I've read Dante's Inferno.
nice to see some appreciation for Pertwee- one of my fav time lords .... and scarecrow!
Loved the interview.
Robert keep posting. You are one of my favorites posters. :)
Excellent Interview. My favourite film of all time is "A Lion in Winter" with Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins. The greatest dialogue ever to be written for a film.

What's up with all the religious questions though. It's like the Spanish Inquisition. Cue Michael Palin. :))

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All those questions were mine :p

Great answers Uncle Rob and some I will bug you more about in Time Pass section perhaps, top poster too! :D
Nice interview. Liked this part of one of the answers:

Don’t get stuck in the injustices and failures of the past, but instead look for the positive outcome in all situations. Put your best into everything you do. Don’t just follow your heart – I made many mistakes by doing that. Follow your head and your heart. Be kind to people.
nice interview , but nobody asked him about his favorite premiership team and his views about englsih football team :)).
Also IMHO Robert is a massive Jimmysta and he might have said few good things about Jimmy :D
Thanks Mr. Robert for answering my questions. You are my favorite Pom Pper. :D
nice to see some appreciation for Pertwee- one of my fav time lords .... and scarecrow!

He was my total hero - the authority, the dandy clothes, and that he was a scientist.

Yet he could be vulnerable too - when Jo Grant left him, you saw the tiniest look in his face just that he was hurt, then he closed the chapter in his life and walked on.

Then in his last story, when you saw, for the first time, the Doctor properly scared, and yet still compassionate for that which scared him.

And his regeneration sequence, where he said "Don't cry, Sarah Jane. Where there's life there's......." Chokes me up every time.

Great answers Uncle Rob and some I will bug you more about in Time Pass section perhaps, top poster too! :D

As are you.

nice interview , but nobody asked him about his favorite premiership team and his views about englsih football team :)).

Chelsea when I was a kid. Probably Spurs these days.
One of my favourite PP member interviews so far, really informal and informative :)

Just a reminder PM me if you would like to take the hot seat, we will see what can be done!