What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?
None. I just followed my heart. I wanted to act so I went to drama school….
What did you want to be when you left education?
Did your mother work?
Eventaully – as a teaching assistant then as a teacher and then as a head mistress
Love & Relationships:
Do you think getting married is important?
I can’t bear the thought!
What did you dream your future partner would be like when you were a little girl?
Someone out of Dr Who.
Is your relationship with your partner the same as your parents’ relationship?
How like your mother are you?
Horribly – and also very unlike.
What are your hopes for any daughters or young women you know?
Fulfillment, adventure, curiosity, discovery, love and respect, world peace…
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 each child should be brought up according to its needs – and gender assignment is not part of that picture for me
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 a career. It’s why I chose not to have children. I wanted to act. I wanted to have adventures. I wanted to be able to travel and go off when I felt like it.
Expectations and Dreams:
Who are your heroines and why?
Ann Frank, for her optimism and positivity; Helen Bamber, for her humanity and dedication; Shami Chakrabati for her commitment to human rights; Gareth Pierce, ditto; Jayaben Desai for her courage and absolute commitment to workers’ rights; Anwar Ditta for never giving up in her fight to have her children live over here with her…
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Cycling up Mont Ventoux – on second thoughts, freewheeling down it. That was terrifying.
What drives you?
People, curiosity, wanting to known the world a bit better.
What are your values?
I’m a Humanist. My moral compass is set in the direction of the betterment of humanity.
What is your biggest achievement?
Today it’s been filling in a Home Office vetting form. Other days it’s finishing a poem or digging the garden and laying a patio on my own. Just living is an achievement.
How old are you?
62 and 11½ months.
What has been your favourite age to be and why?
I loved being 14. I was so aware of the world and it really felt as though I could challenge anything and make things happen. But every age is good so far. I don’t much like the idea of becoming frail though.
Do you think it’s better to be young now than when you were young? (Or better now than when your parents were young?)
I think each era has its own drawbacks and its own positives. You can’t play out these days. When I was a kid, you used to be able to have the run of outdoors. Girls get a better deal now – but then that’s not always the case. Online trolling and terrible pressure to fit in with an image that’s not real or useful.
What are the pros and cons of being a woman?
Having a clitoris is fun! Being the subject of sexism is not.
What have been the biggest challenges in your life?
Coming out as a lesbian was interesting.
Self-image – Body or Looks:
Why do you dress the way that you do?
Because I feel totally comfortable that way.
What would be your musical soundtrack?
The Rail Bank of Bamako – “Foliba” – and Ella Fitzgerald singing “How High the Moon” live.
Do you have a life’s motto?
Anything else you’d like to add?