While I can think of many real people, both dead and alive who it would be interesting to meet – such as Martin Luther King, Lawrence of Arabia, Ghandi, Sir David Attenborough to name but a few – I think that if I did meet them my brain would turn to jelly and I would be unable to think of anything sensible to say to them. I would probably also find them to be very different in person from what I would expect. Far safer to spend a day with a fictitious character, you know where you are then and they would be exactly as you expect. If I must choose someone I think I would choose Ellis Peters’ Cadfael. He seems a most likeable character, worldly wise for a monk, dependable and trust-worthy, knowledgeable with a great sense of justice and attention to detail and not easily swayed by others' prejudices. I would ask him about his time in the crusades and his knowledge of herbal remedies. I think it would be a most rewarding day.
What are the worst/best jobs you’ve ever had?
I don’t think I have ever had a bad job but I have had jobs where I have felt slightly inadequate. When I left school I first trained as a Secretary before going on to Teacher Training College. While at college I worked as a ‘Temp’. I had learnt to type on old-fashioned typewriters where you really had to press the keys quite hard. One of my first temping jobs was at an electrical appliance factory and I had to walk the length of the shop floor to get to my office. For a shy, self-conscious young girl this was quite an ordeal with the inevitable wolf-whistles, then, when I got into the office I found that I had to use an electric typewriter for the first time in my life. I touched the keys and got a long line all of the same letter. I had to learn very quickly to lighten my touch. Other temping jobs required me to use things like Fax machines that I had never been taught to use. Most of these jobs required me to learn new skills pretty quickly.
My best job is one I really don’t think of as a job at all, and this is the many years that I spent with the day-to-day responsibility for our small-holding where at various times we kept goats and chickens, pigs, sheep, horses and ponies and also grew organic vegetables to Soil Association standards. There is nothing to compare with sitting on a bale of straw in the lambing shed in the middle of a cold winter’s night watching the new born lambs with their mothers, listening to the chewing of hay, the gentle bleats of lambs, the ewes nickering replies, with the warmth of their breath and the steam rising from their woolly coats. Most of our lambing was done out in the open but, especially on very cold nights, the new family were immediately brought into a pen in the barn to make sure all was well.
What’s your favourite music?
Oh dear, a hard question as I don’t really have a favourite type of music. Depending on my mood I listen to most things. I enjoy the pop music I grew up with; The Beatles, Abba, Simon and Garfunkel, The Carpenters, The Beach Boys and so on. I also enjoy the music my children introduced me to as they grew up, even including some heavy metal, but I also enjoy real oldies. My mother sang in a choir, my sister is a music teacher and I play around on the flute and piano so music has always been a part of my life. I tend to like specific songs and tunes rather than particular acts and I am fond of classical music and easy listening, especially in the evening and I like folk and country and western now and again as well as the rhythms of jazz, rap and drumming. To sum up I prefer a recognisable tune that is well performed, I can’t stand unmusical noise posing as music.
What’s your favourite TV programme?
Another hard question. There seems to be so much rubbish on the television I don’t actually watch a great deal – it seems so dumbed down. I enjoy a good costume drama, adaptations of classic novels and so on. I like detective programmes as long as there is not too much blood and gore – a good Agatha Christie tale for example or things like Morse, Lewis, Frost, Midsomer Murders, Foyle’s War etc. I also enjoy a good documentary, especially to do with science, history or the natural world, though even these seem exceptionally dumbed down at times, extending the programme unnecessarily by repeating the same information over and over. The commercial channels are the worst as after each Ad break they seem to think it necessary to give you a resume of the previous section as if you couldn’t possibly have retained the information in that five-minute break. I can’t stand soaps or so-called ‘reality TV’ and can’t understand how people get so gripped by them. I abhor the cult of celebrity and the way people can become famous simply for appearing on ‘Big Brother’ (which, along with ‘I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here’, I have never watched). I don’t watch things like ‘The X Factor’ though I will admit to enjoying ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Dancing On Ice’ for their relaxing entertainment value.
What’s your favourite food?
Oh dear, favourites again, I just don’t have favourites. Food is something I eat to stay alive. I prefer good plain English food although the occasional Chinese or Italian meal is nice. Neither my husband nor I are very fond of spicy foods and he won’t eat anything with peppers in, I also have to go easy on the garlic or not let on that I have used it. Nothing can better a nice salad on a hot summer’s day, followed by fresh fruit and cream.
Five words to describe yourself.
Truthfully? How about – private, disorganised, procrastinating, day-dreaming, perfectionist – I think that about sums it up! (Or is that six?)