"So, who do you think should play you if they ever made a film of your life?"
The question was so unexpected, coming, as it did, at the end of a short interview for a national paper (about the nature of Romano British burials for a short piece on, strangely enough, Romano British burials), that I was left, mouth gaping open and shut like a fish on dry land.
There was a long pause at the end of the phone line. Had the reporter actually asked me question about who should play me in a film about my life? What relevance did this have to anything? Were they making a movie about my life (and why wasn't I aware of this)? My mind started racing through a series of unlikely movie titles: Archaeology Can Be Dull: the reminiscences of a desk-based field archaeologist perhaps, or maybe Indiana Jones and the missing context sheet (in the otherwise complete context recording file) of doom?
Was this interview real or was I, in actual fact, asleep face down on my computer keyboard (again).
"Not to worry" came the voice of the journalist again, "it's just I ask that question at the end of every interview". He laughed and we said our goodbyes.
Putting the receiver down, I realised that I hadn't actually given him an answer. Who would play me in a film and, more importantly, why would anyone want to make a movie about my (or any other person's) life? Evidently this was all part of a bizarre psychological game that the reporter played out at the end of every interview (probably in order to test just how arrogant / egotistical / self-centred / boastful / modest / retiring etc an interviewee was).
My head hurt.
Anyway, mentioning this in passing during a seminar later on that day (I don't know why - I was supposed to be talking about Neolithic monumental architecture), a student pointed out that someone HAS already played me, although admittedly NOT in a movie about my life (at least I hope not). Googling (other search engines are available) 'Miles Russell' (I didn't ask why he had been doing this - best not to) he had found only images of Macaulay Culkin.
This, it transpired, was all due to the character (Miles Russell) that he had played in the 1989 film Uncle Buck:
and not for any other reason....
Still, if I ever speak to that journalist again (or ever get asked that particular question in a job interview), I will, at least now, be able to supply an answer.
Not for me the likes of Antonio Banderas, Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Daniel Craig, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Mel Gibson, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford in a film about my life....no, for me it can (apparently) only ever be Macaulay Culkin.