Because I’m trying to get back into the habit of tramping the keyboards, and because I’ve spent a luxurious few hours this afternoon mulling over The Guardian’s Weekend section and fallen even more in love with Emilia Fox in her Q&A, I’ve decided to have a go myself. A quick, snappy writing prompt and a little how do you do to get us back in acquaintance.
A side note – this was much harder and took a lot longer than I’d imagined it would.
When were you happiest?
I’m constantly amazed by the way happiness can creep up on you when you least expect it. It surprises me daily. Today, I was happiest in a graveyard, of all places, with birdsong and Autumn sunshine piercing through the treetops and a happy pooch trotting ahead of me.
What is your earliest memory?
I always struggle to put my early memories into any kind of sequence but I can place one in the yard of the house I can’t remember so surely that must be the earliest? My Godfather and I hiding from each other behind white sheets on the washing line.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
All the incredible women of my family who have endured the hardest, most agonizing things that life can throw at them, and still face each day anew, who still crack jokes and make tea and give of themselves to everyone around them. But mostly my mother. Her strength and spirit and sheer mettle are heroic and I hope that I can do her justice.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
My first laptop. I illustrated a children’s book when I was 18 and used the earnings to invest in the laptop for my university years to come. It was the first time I’d earned money from my creative pursuits and actually, is still the most I’ve been paid for one freelance job.
What is your most treasured possession?
As a bit of a hoarder, I have too many, mostly gifts from loved ones and often trivial. A bear called Greedy, an empty cheese box from a Valentine’s past, a rotund Pooh (no really) and a blue woollen blanket, knit by my Grandfather.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
That it is not like the one in my head.
Which book changed your life?
Books change my life on a weekly basis but the one that started it all off was Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird. I’ve read it three or four times since and each time it hits me harder and clearer than the last.
Is it better to give or receive?
To give. Without expectation or occasion.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Dirty loaded chips. There’s no guilt in them outside a chip shop at 2am, but I have a penchant for recreating them at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon too…
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A writer, since about the age of seven. Someday I hope to be one.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
The too many friends who I have lost touch with.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Literature. And DH.
Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
Yes. Sometimes it’s kinder.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Maya Angelou. Graham Norton. Nigella Lawson. James Baldwin. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Bruce Springsteen. Nora Ephron. Dorothy Parker. Oscar Wilde. And Nigel Slater, to look through my cupboards and cook us all something delicious.
What’s your greatest disappointment?
That I am neither a lead actor in the West End run of Hamilton, a professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancing, or a weekly columnist of great wit for a respected title like the New Yorker and living in a brownstone in Manhattan.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To any of the moments in my first long-term relationship when I wondered if it was worth all the crap, to assure myself it was indeed not.
When did you last cry, and why?
Yesterday. Because I was exhausted and ill and overwhelmed by my to-do list. Thankfully I have a very understanding boss.
How often do you have sex?
As often as I like.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
I’ve had some pretty treacherous hangovers in my time but thankfully, near-death experiences have been few and far between.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
The Bright Side of the Road by Van Morrison, with full brass section.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Everyone is fighting their own battle. Be kind.