My idea of bliss is a bookshop, big enough to browse in, good lighting, thoughtful displays, with somewhere to sit. Shelves full of books chosen by staff who read and love books, and who become my Best Book Friends Forever. If I can also order coffee there, I’m in heaven.
- What is the trait you least like about yourself?
I sometimes second-guess myself, question my first impulse, try to see both sides of any story, and miss the moment when I should speak my mind, undiluted. So basically an occasional failing of self-belief and an excess of prudence.
- What do you consider to be the most overrated virtues?
Sociability in excess – I think we all need solitude to know who we are and what we think, and perhaps to write it down. And I believe any virtue in excess is overrated: prudence, temperance. I like balance.
- Greatest regret?
Any situation where I simply didn’t dare, when there was no reason why I shouldn’t have gone for what I wanted. There have been a few of those.
- Who would be your nemesis?
Unfortunately, my mother.
- Which talent would you most like to have?
On a lighter note, I have never been able to do a decent cartwheel. It’s probably too late now, but I wish I could.
- Biggest dislike?
Hypocrisy, dishonesty, cruelty, racism. misogyny and the arrogance of ignorance.
- Qualities you admire in a man?
I prize honesty, kindness, intelligence, a sense of perspective, humour, confidence.
- Qualities you admire in a woman?
And ditto, as for a man: honesty, kindness, intelligence, a big view of the issues, a sense of humour and a sense of self.
- What is your best characteristic?
I know I’m resilient, and I like to believe I am open-minded and warm-hearted. I’m sure about resilient, anyhow.
- What would your motto be?
I have a cheerful poster on my study wall that says, in letters all the colours of the rainbow: ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’. So perhaps, ‘Question your basic assumptions’, or more optimistically, ‘En avant, what the heck.’
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