Realistically speaking, I'm a pessimist

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The Independent Online
Yesterday I brought you a test which was designed to let readers find out if they were optimists, pessimists or realists. Reaction to the test was mixed, which was exactly what I had hoped - a third felt more hopeful afterwards, a third felt even gloomier and the other third felt their lives were completely unchanged. Excellent!

However, all scientific tests need verifying and repeating from time to time, so I am bringing you a new series today. All you have to do is tick the reaction you think is nearest to your own. In each case, the optimist's option is first, the pessimist's is second and the realist's is third.

1. As you pass an empty telephone box, the phone starts ringing. Your instinctive reaction is to:

a) Answer it and say helpfully, "I suppose you know you have just telephoned an empty phone box which I happened to be passing?"

b) Answer it and say, unhelpfully, "Samaritans here, could you hold on a moment, I'm talking on the other line to a man with a mobile phone who is standing on the parapet of Tower Bridge ..." and put the phone down again.

c) Assume it is the Duke of Edinburgh trying to get through to someone, and decide not to get involved.

2. On a freezing cold morning, you say:

a) "Mmm - nice and fresh today!"

b) "Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, it's cold."

c) Nothing at all, for fear of letting the air enter your mouth.

3. When you are served a meal on an aircraft, you hope the main dish will be:

a) That really nice chicken you had last time on a flight because, despite everything they say, aircraft food has got better over the years and sometimes it is surprisingly tasty.

b) At least hot.

c) Mercifully unidentifiable.

4. When you get to the end of a chequebook, you are not surprised to find written inside the back cover:

a) That vital telephone number you jotted down one day and which you thought you would never find again.

b) An apparently vital telephone number which unfortunately has no name attached to it.

c) Somebody's name and telephone number, neither of which do you recognise.

5. When you take your seat in an aircraft and glance at the person in the adjoining seat who will be your neighbour for the next few hours, you:

a) Know from experience that someone with so unprepossessing an exterior appearance often turns out to be a fascinating, well-travelled person with a fund of interesting anecdotes.

b) Know from experience that someone so young, attractive and, let's face it, sexually appealing is usually as thick as two short planks and boring with it.

c) Feign sleep immediately.

6. When you feel a hand on your shoulder in the street, you automatically assume it is:

a) An old friend you have not seen for years.

b) An old friend you have been avoiding for years.

c) The police.

7. When you light a match to set fire to the rolled-up newspaper at the bottom of a bonfire in your garden, you know in your heart of hearts that:

a) The newspaper will burn beautifully, even if it does not actually ignite any of the rest of the bonfire.

b) The match will blow out before it even reaches the newspaper.

c) Just as the newspaper catches fire nicely, you realise it was a cutting you had carefully laid aside containing vital information for your work.

8. When someone asks for a light, you put your hand in the pocket which contains something the same shape and size as a box of matches and when you pull it out you find it is:

a) A box of matches.

b) An empty box of matches.

c) A small container of dental floss.

9. When you open a newspaper at random to find something of interest, you always find yourself reading:

a) A piece on space science which at last explains anti-matter in terms which even you can understand.

b) Another dreary pseudo-scientific piece on anti-matter.

c) An interview with Michael Portillo which lays the blame for anti-matter fairly and squarely at Labour's door.

10. When you are waiting for a bus, the first thing that comes along is:

a) A friend in a car who kindly stops to give you a lift.

b) A friend in a car who would stop to give you a lift if he noticed you standing there, but he does not.

c) A bus with a number quite like, but not exactly like, the number of the bus you need.