P&F: Hi Alfie! 🙂
For our readers:
Due to Covid 19’s travel restrictions, Alfie’s Interview was conducted by his girlfriend Ilyana Benjelloun for Pater et Filius. Alfie Dundas is a 20-year old FILIUS: a British economics and philosophy student at Bristol University. He is passionate about startups, the Arsenal, and the ‘architecture of jokes.’
And he is wearing our Mr Chang leisure trousers.
Ilyana: If you had to be shipwrecked on a desert island, but all your human needs were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?
I feel like your human needs are pretty high maintenance, so that’s a lot already there…
Alfie: Yeah… I’d want an old school computer or an old school monitor where I could just plug in one DVD.
Ilyana: OK, so one item you’d bring would be the monitor, the other item would be the DVD. Which DVD would it be?
Alfie: It would have to be a long movie… I’d take Forrest Gump.
Ilyana: This is the movie you’re going to watch for the rest of your life. Are you sure?
Alfie: Yeah, I could do it. I feel like I’d be watching a few different movies with Forrest Gump. I’d need to be stimulated by a life other than my own, otherwise, it’d get pretty dull.
Ilyana: Are you a hunter or a gatherer?
Alfie: Probably a gatherer. I’m not aggressive enough to be a hunter…
Ilyana: What do wood and alcohol have in common?
Alfie: You can apply the expression ‘hammered’ to either of them.
Ilyana: What would you name your boat if you had one?
Alfie: ‘Jenny.’ That’s what the boat is named in Forrest Gump.
Ilyana: What do you do for the environment on a daily basis?
Alfie: Recycle. And I turn off the shower to apply shampoo or soap before turning it back on again, so when I’m in the shower I turn it off, like, three times so I don’t waste any water. I do the same thing when I’m brushing my teeth.
Ilyana: I respect that.
Alfie: Small changes make a big difference.
Ilyana: What about food?
Alfie: I don’t eat meat anymore. That’s a good point.
Ilyana: Who would you credit for that lifestyle change?
Alfie: I saw a documentary.
Ilyana: Who recommended the documentary to you?
Alfie: Lots of people, hundreds of people. (Ilyana did.) I don’t drive either, I cycle a lot in summer.
Ilyana: Party! Shirt or T-shirt?
Alfie: T-shirt. I don’t understand people who wear shirts to parties.
Ilyana: You wear shirts to parties.
Alfie: I wear shirts to parties because I feel like I have to wear shirts to parties. If I’m going to a party where I’m going to be talking to people and there’s going to be music and I’m going to be dancing, it’s going to get hot and it’s going to get sweaty and I do not want to be wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and I definitely do not want to be wearing a short-sleeve shirt. I’d wear trousers and a t-shirt. I don’t think you can wear shorts to a party, maybe that’s controversial.
Ilyana: What is your favorite daily wear attire?
Alfie: The thing I wear most but have only recently begun paying attention to is just having really well fitted and thin T-shirts. I think it’s common to spend lots of time focusing on large expensive items, or suits you’re going to wear to fancy events in the evenings, but I spend 90% of my time in a t-shirt and jeans, so I’m increasingly spending more money and more effort on finding the right ones.
Ilyana: What is the best gift you’ve ever given someone?
Alfie: There was a year or a few years where every birthday or Christmas or Mother’s Day I gave my mum a phone case that had pictures of me and my brother and my dad on it, like a little mosaic of family photos. If my mum wants something, she usually buys it for herself, so getting her something is quite hard, but she loved those phone cases more than most gifts I’ve given people.
Editor’s note: Alfie lost his younger brother when he was 8 years old.
Ilyana: What’s the best purchase you’ve ever made?
Alfie: My Nutribullet is a game-changer!
Ilyana: If you could compare yourself to any animal, which would it be and why?
Alfie: Probably a penguin. I like the way penguins just waddle about with their chests out, they always look like they’re trying to start something. I can imagine if a penguin went to a party it would kind of be swaggering about a lot.
Ilyana: So, you identify with its swagger?
Alfie: No just its… I don’t know, its confidence when it looks so stupid. I feel like I still feel confident looking stupid.
Ilyana: A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
Alfie: I mean if he says anything I would freak out. I imagine none of the staff in London Zoo are working, so it’s probably quite an easy time to escape. He probably says hola if he’s in a sombrero. That’s logical.
Ilyana: What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
Alfie: I think about turning things I’ve heard into comedy routines a lot. If I’m with people and something funny happens, or someone says something funny that I think I can repeat in a comedy show, I think about how I’d adapt it so that it’d be suitable for an audience that doesn’t know me.
Ilyana: What or who inspires you most, and why?
Alfie: Probably my mum. I take a lot of inspiration from my parents, not specifically from anything they do, but mostly in their ability to stick together for so long.
Ilyana: How long have they been together?
Alfie: They’ve been together for 25 years this year, and they were dating for 5 years before I was born. I think together they’ve just had a lot of tough times over the last 20 years, but they’re always very keen to make sure the family eventually comes together. Especially, my dad – he’s always keen that my half-brother and sisters and I see each other all the time. And my mum has always encouraged me not to dwell on negatives, which I find inspiring. She doesn’t let me get pessimistic for too long.
Ilyana: How does she do that? Does she have any techniques?
Alfie: Well, if something happens and you’re a little depressed over it for a while, she allows that, of course, she’s not heartless. But after that, as she says all the time, if you smile, the world smiles with you. She’ll just try to get you to focus on the positives and bounce back, which I think can be hard to do over and over again. But she’s very good at doing that.
Ilyana: What song describes you best and what would be a good theme song for your life?
Alfie: I always want the soundtrack of my life to be ‘Mr. Bojangles’ by Nina Simone, ‘cause I want to eventually be, like, 80 years old, and sitting in a pub or a bar or wherever Mr Bojangles is in the song, and I kind of want to be described the way Nina describes him.
Ilyana: How is he described?
Alfie: Mr. Bojangles is a joy bringer. I mean, some parts of the song are a little depressing because he’s old and his dog dies and stuff, but even though he’s super old he’s always going to the bar and dancing and I think Nina Simone takes a lot of happiness from his presence. So, if I can make people laugh and be happy and dance for 80 years, then I want to be remembered by that song.
Ilyana: What is your favorite travel destination and why?
Alfie: I really like the south of France, but probably not for the same reasons other people like it. One of the main reasons I like it is because it’s super easy to get to and I hate flying. I like it because it feels like I can get there really quickly, yet it feels completely different from being in London. When you’re somewhere like Nice, you just feel like you’re in a completely different climate.
Ilyana: What is your favorite thing to do at the beach?
Alfie: Lounge. I mean, if I’m on holiday, I’m resting. I’m not looking for any kind of activity. I’ll cool off in the sea but I’m not the kind of guy that swims a mile as soon as he reaches the sea. I mean, swimming itself is hard enough, but swimming against waves I don’t understand. I also like that game that you play with bats and balls on the beach. I like to do something whilst I’m tanning, just not tough exercise.
Ilyana: What’s your favorite kind of holiday?
Alfie: My favorite kind of holiday is très très relaxé. I like to wake up late, I like to not have any time commitments, I like to not know the time. I love days that aren’t defined by what time it is but kind of defined very loosely around when you eat, or when you go into town, or when you play tennis, or when you go to the beach. I like to relax by the pool, exercise, play some tennis, go to the beach, eat, drink, sleep, nap.
Ilyana: How would someone get your special attention?
Alfie: People get my attention when they’re really passionate about something. If someone’s really passionate about something then I really want to speak to them, because even if I know nothing about what they’re passionate about, I just like to hear the way they speak about it, because I feel like I can pick up on it. And then if I meet someone later that’s interested in the same thing, I can sort of pass off that knowledge as my own and engage in that conversation. People also get my attention if they really make me laugh a lot. I like that. I spend so much time trying to make other people laugh, so if someone really makes me laugh – like, cackle – then we’re going to be friends.
Ilyana: What’s your annoying habit?
Alfie: I don’t know, what is my annoying habit? Be careful.
Ilyana: The restless leg thing. Also, when you eat hummus you don’t scrape the surface smoothly, you just dig into it and make these holes everywhere.
Alfie: I don’t think that’s an annoying habit.
Ilyana: Yeah it is, it’s super annoying. You’re not very organized.
Alfie: They’re only asking for one annoying habit.
Ilyana: Oh yeah, sorry.
Alfie: Also, I hate wearing loads of clothes. If I’m in jeans and a top, I am unhappy. I want to be in trunks as soon as possible.
Ilyana: What would you like to be remembered about you?
Alfie: I would like to be remembered as the person that could make anyone smile or laugh. Preferably both. At the same time. Uncontrollably.
Ilyana: What is your biggest fear?
Alfie: Death. No, I probably have to say something lighter, don’t I?
Ilyana: Well, is it death? Most people are scared of death.
Alfie: My biggest fear is disappointing people.
Ilyana: More than death?
Alfie: No, nothing more than death, but that isn’t very interview friendly.
Ilyana: Does it matter which people you disappoint?
Alfie: Yeah, people whose opinion I care about. There are very few people who fit that description, but I care about their opinion very, very much.
Ilyana: Who are they?
Alfie: People I admire.
Ilyana: What would be your superpower?
Alfie: Flying. I think we’ve spoken about this.
Alfie: I think flying and reading people’s minds are the best superpowers.
Ilyana: Agreed. There are two kinds of people in this world.
Alfie: I think reading people’s minds would drive you insane, though. You wouldn’t be able to switch it off.
Ilyana: What if you had the power to switch it on and off?
Alfie: You would always keep it switched on. You’d become possessed by it if you gave humans that choice. No one would have the self-control to turn it off.
Ilyana: OK, but if you could fly, you’d be famous. It’d be a whole thing. Reading people’s minds could be kept secret.
Alfie: OK, but for the first five years I’d only show my close family and friends. I wouldn’t fly across the ocean.
Ilyana: So, you’d use your superpower to just levitate in your living room. That’s fun.
Alfie: No, I would spread my wings if I had some more space, and then I’d build it up and test the public’s opinion. If they thought I was a freak or a weapon or something then I’d tone it down. If they lauded me as king or as a prophet, I’d accept it.
Ilyana: Which fictional character would be the most exciting to meet in real life?
Alfie: Someone you’d actually want to hold a conversation with, probably. Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker would be an interesting one to meet but would also scare you shitless. I would quite like to meet…
Ilyana: Tyrion Lannister?
Alfie: Yeah! The imp from Game of Thrones, or Daenerys, or Jon Snow. Basically, I’d like to meet the Game of Thrones boys.
Ilyana: If you were given a one-minute ad slot during the FIFA World Cup what would you fill it with?
Alfie: I would probably take the four biggest, most pressing issues and do loads of research and then just give them 25 seconds each. Just me, in a room, with a white background, sitting on a chair. And people would just have to listen. I could also get a celebrity to do it. Or film a 24-hour day in the life, condense it to a minute, and force everyone to watch it. Or just record a minute of really cringy dad jokes. Or sell my slot to someone else at a higher price.
Alfie: OK, wait, no. I would get four celebrities who knew about the issues, then four experts to write them the key facts they’d need to know, in a script. We’d probably do 25 seconds on climate change, 25 seconds on humanitarian crises – probably Yemen at the moment – 25 seconds on Black Lives Matter, and the last 25 to remind people to VOTE.
Ilyana: What’s the most useless talent you have?
Alfie: I remember actors’ faces really well. So, we’ll be watching a show and I’ll be able to tell you which minor character was also in this other thing you haven’t seen. And it’ll be completely useless to you because I won’t know her name or her character’s name but I’ll know she was an extra or a minor character in another show you’ve never watched, or will never watch.
Ilyana: What do you love most about studying?
Alfie: I like being able to collaborate and build new things. The thing I really don’t like about university or school is how you have to do the bulk of the work on your own. You spend most of your time reading what someone else thinks or what someone else is telling you you need to know. But there’s rarely enough opportunity to discuss it or come up with ideas of your own.
Ilyana: What do you love most about your life?
Alfie: I’ve got a brilliant support system of family and friends and other loved ones that I’ve been lucky enough to amass over the years and call my people.