What kind of careers advice did you get as a young woman?
I don’t remember a huge amount of it. At school we had the Kudos computer system which was a survey that was supposed to tell you what jobs we were most suited to. I don’t really remember what it told me I should do, but the range of it was ridiculous and not helpful at all. It was something like “jockey” and “dentist” in the same list. There were careers advisers available at school but I think they were voluntary and I don’t recall ever going to one. They organised work experience for us (I worked in a supermarket for three weeks), and we were supposed to get a practice interview but I never handed my CV in to the teacher due to an oversight and I never got one!
What did you want to be when you left education?
I didn’t particularly have any strong proclivities towards anything, but I did at various points want to be a vet, a palaeontologist and a writer.
Did your mother work?
Yes, she worked full time and Dad left work when I was born to stay at home and bring me up, because Mum had a better job. She was the head of the salaries department for De Beers.
Love and Relationships:
Do you think getting married is important?
In terms of the strength of the relationship I don’t think it is important at all. However, when my partner died two years ago, I had a lot of difficulty with things like organising the funeral and proving my eligibility for his life insurance because we weren’t married. It really shouldn’t be like that in this day and age, but as it still is, I would advise people to get married on that basis.
What did you dream your future partner would be like when you were a little girl?
I don’t have any strong recollections that I particularly even thought about that at all. I guess I just thought that I would have a boyfriend when I was in my teens, but it turned out I didn’t get one until my early 20s.
Is your relationship with your partner the same as your parents’ relationship?
I’m currently single, but my previous proper relationship wasn’t really anything like theirs. There was far more love, communication and trust, and a desire to be with each other. My first relationship was probably more similar.
How like your mother are you?
I suppose their are some similarities, but we have very different interests, hardly anything in common. I do share her independence and stubbornness, I think though. But I’m much more creative and much less ladylike than she is!
What are your hopes for any daughters or young women you know?
The closest I have to a daughter is a close friend’s two year-old. I guess I think of that more in terms of what she will be able to give the world rather than the other way round (although obviously I hope she will be happy too). I hope her parents will bring her up to be a good, moral, right-thinking member of society, and to be able to contribute to it in a way that would go a little way towards counteracting the idiocy of the vast majority of the general public. This is also one of the very few reasons I have ever vaguely considered having kids of my own. To help redress the balance in my own way.
Do you bring your son up the same way as your daughter? Do you think boys and girls should be brought up differently?
I don’t have children of my own, but on the whole I don’t see as there should be any reason for boys and girls to be raised differently. Although I would not go to the extreme of making sure everything around them is gender neutral, or force a boy and girl to play with the same toys if they didn’t want to etc. It’s all about cultivating the individuality of the child, and some have a stronger gender identity than others.
If you don’t have children, what have you been able to do that having children would have prevented you doing? What has your focus been?
I have a hugely rich social life, with a strong group of close friends who I see regularly. I am out most evenings and weekends and maintain my friendship with them, which I would not have been able to do if I was held back by children. Before my partner died, we had an almost perfect relationship and were entirely focused on each other; our love and our time was not diluted by having something else to care for or think about. I can also have lie-ins, which are very important! My focus has been on spending time with the people I love most, and also trying to make sure my own mental health and life is in order; I have enough trouble organising myself, I’m not sure I’d have the time or energy to be responsible for another life too.
Expectations and Dreams:
Who are your heroines and why?
A lot of comedians and comic writers/actors, such as Julia Davis, Rebecca Front, Victoria Wood. Just because they are so clever and amazingly talented at what they do. Ana Matronic from the Scissor Sisters, because she’s beautiful, kick ass and absolutely lovely and humble to her fans, which is a rare combination in a celebrity. My grandmother because she cared about me unconditionally, and always put other people first. I was far closer to her than to my parents.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Broken up with my partner of three years, which meant moving out of the house I felt safe and secure in and completely starting my life again. And leaving my cats behind!
What drives you?
Other people. Being around my friends, sharing jokes with them, feeling loved by them.
What are your values?
That’s a very wide-reaching question! Just to list a couple, fairness, trust, honesty, intelligence, humour, optimism, love. To take the question a slightly different way, I’m very left-wing in most of my political views, although not everything (when it comes to unions, for example).
How old are you?
What has been your favourite age to be and why?
17/18. Because that was the time I was happiest in myself; I had an amazing group of friends around me who supported me and loved me for who I was, and respected my individuality. I was exploring my creativity. I felt confident in my intelligence compared to my peers. And it was around that time I discovered the comedy show The League of Gentlemen, which in turn introduced me to so much more of the world, both in terms of the amazingly rich creative output the world has to offer (other films, TV shows, books, music which are all referenced in the show or which the actors used to talk about as being their influences), and in terms of the brilliant friends I made through League of Gents fandom online, and who I’m still incredibly close to now 16 years later. That was the age I was revising for my A- Levels, and I felt so absolutely calm and relaxed throughout the entire thing which was reflected in my results (two As and a B).
Do you think it’s better to be young now than when you were young? (Or better now than when your parents were young?)
No to both. The advancement of technology, whilst undeniably being an amazing achievement and having brilliant benefits, has also increased the amount of stress and pressure young people feel whilst trying to navigate modern life. I get stressed trying to keep up with everything that’s happening with my friends on social media, and end up losing a lot of sleep because I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on. I do end up missing a lot of stuff on TV that I would enjoy purely because there is so much choice that I simply have no time to sit down and filter it. I would love to go back to the 90s when the Internet was first introduced, forums were linear, and there were only a handful of TV channels unless you paid a bit more! I feel that life would be so much simpler.
What are the pros and cons of being a woman?
Pros: greater variety of clothes choice! You can do more stuff with your hair and wear nice make-up. Divorce courts are usually in your favour. You will never accidentally get an erection in public!
Cons: Periods! The possibility of accidentally getting pregnant. More societal pressure to look good all the time. Ageing treats women far worse than men.
What have been the biggest challenges of your life?
Trying to get back to normal and regain my self- confidence after my partner’s death, and after being treated very badly by someone I dated after that. Learning the lesson that you have to put yourself first in life when people sometimes let you down.
Why do you dress the way that you do?
A lot of my clothes were my mum’s or my nan’s. Things I have bought myself tend to be just comfortable or classic looking; I buy them because I like the way they look. I’m not really into clothes though.
What would be your musical soundtrack?
I have a hugely eclectic taste in music, and if you were to accompany me for a week of my life you would hear everything from Rufus Wainwright to Boyzone to Korn to Mozart to Pulp to The Cure. I guess if I were to choose something that reflects my life, it would probably be a simple 90s pop group; generally happy, unassuming and not outstanding but well put together and easy to listen to and get on with. I hope!
Do you have a life’s motto?
I’ve never really thought about it before, but I suppose if I had to choose something, as mentioned above, it would probably be “you are the most important person in your life”.