What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?
“ You’re going to work in Tesco’s until you get married, aren’t you?” (Dad)
“ There’s no call for interior designers” (Careers teacher in 1979 – I have dodgy dress sense and a double barrelled name; I could have been Laurence Llewellen Bowen!)
“ You like dance and English – you could be an English teacher with dance as your second subject.” (English teacher)
“ Have you thought of joining the Army?” (Careers teacher)
“ You should learn to type so you can work in an office” (everyone!)
What did you want to be when you left education?
Anything but a teacher, army driver, secretary, wife and mother! I thought I might be an artist or something creative.
Did your mother work?
No and thought a woman’s role was as a housewife.
Love & Relationships:
Do you think getting married is important?
No – I think too many people think it is what they ‘have’ to do and end up living lives of unhappiness, or staying single and thinking they are missing out on something.
What did you dream your future partner would be like when you were a little girl?
Georgie Best or Sean Connery. (Elvis Presley was far too out of my league!!) Seriously, I wanted a man I loved enough that I would be willing to change everything I was for him, but who loved me enough that he wouldn’t want me to change a thing!
Is your relationship with your partner the same as your parents’ relationship?
Not applicable – happily single!
How like your mother are you?
I don’t think I am like her at all, but others may have other ideas. I am very much more like my paternal Grandmother.
What are your hopes for any daughters or young women you know?
That they choose the lives they want to live, whether that is wife and mother, career women, anything in between, without any judgement from others – especially judgement from other women. (Don’t let’s get into how many women have given me a hard time because I chose not to have children.) With equality and no barriers. And to do it by being women and not having to take on ‘male’ qualities to get by.
Do you bring your son up the same way as your daughter? Do you think boys and girls should be brought up differently?
I think they should both be brought up to believe that they can do anything they want, regardless of what they ‘should’ be doing. After all, if being a housewife is such a wonderful thing to be, why shouldn’t men be able to do it as well?
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?
Have the life I want in quite a selfish way, but which allows me to have more space and time for friends, clients, etc. I have been able to change direction, place, focus at the drop of a hat and be on a lifelong learning process. I have been able to take risks without worrying about the consequences to my family. I have been able to reserve my energies (mental, emotional, physical) for what I want, which perversely is to serve other people – but on my terms. To do jobs I want without having to worry doubt salary, because I only have myself to think about (and I am quite low maintenance really – aside from the handbags!)
Expectations and Dreams:
Who are your heroines and why?
Elizabeth I – against all the odds, was marvellous in the ultimate ‘woman in a man’s role’ job;
My paternal Grandmother, Victoria, who although she died when I was 9, gave me a marvellous example of a woman who made her way in the world (whilst raising two children, for a long time as a single mum) during times of great hardship through to owning her own house. Who believed that anyone could do what they wanted if they showed up, rolled up their sleeves and got on with it. And all of it whilst always looking a million dollars and always wearing silk underwear regardless of circumstances!
Michelle Obama – intelligence, beauty, grace, humour, values, human, accessible – I mean, she is remarkable however you look at her.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Leaving home at 19 (moving from Clacton to London) having never spent a night away from my parents.
Leaving London in my early 30s to move to Chester to change careers, having never been to Chester or knowing anyone there
Leaving a well paid job and starting my own business at 49, having always had the perceived safety of a regular salary all my working life
What drives you?
Wantingto support others in finding the best of themselves; being the best I can be; knowing there isn’t enough time to learn everything I want to learn; curiosity
What are your values?
Be true to myself; honesty; collaboration; humour; self respect; always try to leave people feeling better than before they met you;
How old are you?
Physically 57 – mentally 35
What has been your favourite age to be and why?
Whatever the age I have been / am – every age has its pleasures/challenges
Do you think it’s better to be young now than when you were young? (Or better now than when your parents were young?)
Again, I think every period has its advantages and its pitfalls. It isn’t the time/circumstances that matter, but how you deal with them.
What have been the biggest challenges in your life?
My late Mother’s continual disappointment that I wasn’t going to present her with grandchildren (a conversation, I discovered after she had died, she had NEVER had with my brother!)
Having a family who never really understood what I was doing or why
Lack of self confidence
The death of my best friend, Paul, when I was 34
Why do you dress the way that you do?
To win a bet? Because I like bright colours and accessories and like putting clothes together; it is a bit like creating a mini-art installation every day! And my Grandma Victoria said you should never go out of the front door unless you are “finished” as you may meet the person who could change your life
What would be your musical soundtrack?
It would all depend on my mood. Tango, Madonna, the Great American songbook, Stephen Sondheim, Doris Day. Anything I can sing along to. If it helps, the song I am having played at my cremation is ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by The Kinks!
Do you have a life’s motto?
I am everything I need to be, to be everything I want.