Drama King: Michael Kruse Answers Our Version Of The Proust Questionnaire

Michael Kruse comes from a village near Hampton Court in the UK. He has lived in Nagoya now for 27 years. He came to Japan partly to learn about ZaZen and Tea-Ceremony. His other interests include the copious consumption of gourmand food and liquor, and READING (does anyone still remember that?)…  And of course, DRAMA. In his next role he will play Winston Churchill in “Churchill in Love”, an original production from KPB Productions showing in Osu this September.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I have no idea, but I’m sure I won’t know it when it finds me.

What is your greatest fear?

Being left a human vegetable after a stroke. Alzheimer’s, losing my marbles, that kind of thing.

What historical figure do you most identify with?

“Most”, doesn’t really work – there are too many. Certainly, I admire Winston Churchill. We have similar girths, we both drink too much, and we both love cigars. Christopher Hitchens said of him, that he was wrong about everything except the things that really mattered. I haven’t figured out if I’ve ever been right about anything at all, much less what really matters, but I live in hope. He was an optimist against ridiculous odds, too.

Which living person do you most admire?

“Most” again (sigh), but currently, perhaps Pope Francis. I’m reminded of an old spoof newspaper report with the headline, “Shock Admission by Church: No Reason Pope Cannot Be a Christian”.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Lack of imagination. Many times in my life I have seen a train wreck coming, but have not been able to avoid it because I couldn’t  really feel how awful it would be until it actually happened. I only EVER learn by experience – generally painful. Room for an excerpt from a favourite poem here? William Blake: “What is the price of experience? Do men buy it for a song? / …No, it is bought with the price / Of all that a man hath.”

What trait do you most deplore in gaijin?

A persistent tendency to agonise over motes in Japanese eyes.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Books; although now of the Kindle variety.

On what occasion do you lie?

I’m with the Ancient Greeks on lying: Lie when you feel you must, but never lie to yourself.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I’m fat, of course, but that is, in a sense, a choice. I have a very tall brother. I’d give a lot for some of his height.

What is your favorite journey?

It’s an imaginary one in a book by Lord Dunsany. You get on the train at one of the big London Stations, and you travel past the downs and through the milky shires, until you begin to see unicorns and basilisks rather than cows and sheep, and you realise that you’ve gone “beyond the fields we know”.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Kindness – I’m all in favour of the genuine article, but too often it is self-serving.

Which living person do you most despise?

Tony Blair

Which Japanese words or phrases do you most overuse?

Itsumo no chodai.

What is your greatest regret?

I am shockingly free of regret (for one who’s made so many colossal mistakes and hurt so many people) – it strikes me as a false emotion. Everything I have done, I did because it seemed the best idea at the time. The fact that I know it was a train wreck NOW is not something I can travel back into the past with so that I might try again.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

What? Myself. Who? A young lady who very sensibly married someone else.

When and where were you happiest?

Hard to say. I’m generally happy most of the time.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I can act, I’m musical, I can dance when I’m a sensible weight, I have a good memory (for the useless things – but they are the most fun), I’m not bad at learning languages, I can do maths, as long as it’s abstract enough (useless at arithmetic)… The one thing I am absolutely hopeless at is fine art. My nerves end at my wrists. I am deeply envious of people who can perform the miracles of drawing and painting.

What is your current state of mind?

How many more bloody questions are there???!!!

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Well, nothing, really. I should lose weight – but that’s up to me. I’d like to be taller, but I’m not desperate. I envy those who can paint and draw – but not THAT much. I’m actually quite comfortable with myself. Ah – yes: my complacency.

If you could change one thing about Nagoya, what would it be?

More trees.

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

Probably a cockroach. That would not be by choice, obviously.

If you could choose what or who to come back as, what would it be?

I’ve always felt that one of the greatest arguments against intelligent design is the fact the young are complete idiots, and once you actually acquire a bit of wisdom you begin to fall apart physically. Youth is wasted on the young. I’d love to come back as a child with an adult’s maturity and understanding.

What do your consider your greatest achievement?

To have survived more or less intact even thus far. Although, to be fair, that is probably one of God’s minor achievements rather than any of my doing.

What is your most treasured possession?

A profound realization that one possesses only that which one could not lose in a shipwreck.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A hangover when you really had not drunk enough to merit one. Obviously, I am being facetious. When I lived in Africa, I witnessed the most extraordinary poverty combined with endlessly smiling faces. Someone as spoilt as I have been really cannot imagine what true misery must be.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Roundness.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Humour.

What is the quality you most admire in a woman?

Humour.

What do you most value in your friends?

Tolerance. Especially of ME.

Who are your favorite writers?

“Favourite” – it’s like “most”… I’ll mention a very few: Tolkien, Chandler, Fowles, Dostoyevsky, Conrad; in Japan, Kawabata, Inoue,  Murakami H…  Until I was 16 I read almost nothing written after the 15th Century, so I like a lot of anonymous things too.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

“Favourite” again… I’ll go with Phillip Marlowe & Odysseus.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Mandela was undoubtedly a hero… My God, there are too many, if you think about it.

What are your favorite names?

“Favourite” again… Ruaraidh, Camilla, Fiach, Wolf, Max, Miyuki, Luke, Carcassonne, Isfahan, Samarkhand… there are too many. I was supposed to be Ruaraidh, actually, but my mother decided it was too flagrantly Irish and I might get bullied, so she settled on Michael.

What is it that you most dislike?

Women (they always are) who say, “No, none for me!” And then say, “I’ll have half of yours!”

How would you like to die?

Ask me afterwards.

What is your motto?

True intelligence is a willingness to engage the enemy.

Can you write a Haiku for us?

Nope, but I’ll try a senryu:

Questions for a mag…
Even fun has deadlines, thus,
Carter stays solvent!

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