The charming and hugely talented Andrew Blackman tagged me for this meme:
1. What’s your favourite memory?
It was early one morning and I was lying reading in bed, about five months pregnant. The phone rang and it was one of my mentors from the university. He’d rung to tell me the results were out and I’d come top of the Mphil group that year. I’d taken a big risk returning to college for graduate work, and I’d loved it: it had felt so easy and right and natural. Now here was an unexpected but wonderful reward. I didn’t leap about or scream or rush off to celebrate; I simply felt enveloped by this deep, peaceful serenity. I’ve never experienced anything like it since.
2. Why do you blog?
I began blogging when I was off long-term sick from college with chronic fatigue. I was used to talking about books from one end of the day to another and I really missed it. But then I began to enjoy writing in a more unconstrained style, and suddenly here was this wonderful community of people whom I was getting to know better each day. For all these reasons, I love it still and I couldn’t give it up.
3. What’s your most unrealistic ambition?
I’ve always found it hard to watch people suffer, which has led to a career of attempting to fix them and their problems. In the past few years it has dawned on me that people are essentially unfixable. Or at least, they have to do it all by themselves. No amount of help and support from me will ever change another human being by as much as an atom, unless they are absolutely determined to make a difference to their own lives. In fact, personal change is extremely hard to accomplish at all, even with good will and tenacity. I would have loved to make everybody I’ve come into contact with that little bit happier and wiser, but I rather think it was too much to hope for.
4. What makes you angry?
I really hate the way internet forums promote pathologically vicious and unkind attacks on people and ideas. It’s scary, the level of hatred and malice that people will bring forth under cover of anonymity, and defend as the right to ‘to have an opinion’. Derren Brown, who performs some very interesting psychological experiments on television set up a mock game show, in which a studio audience decided what would happen to some hapless individual whose evening out was being transmitted to them via webcam. Repeatedly, Brown offered the audience the choice of making a nice thing or an unpleasant thing happen to him. In fact it was the audience on trial, as every single time, they chose the unpleasant thing and took delight in the stooge’s suffering, right up to the point where he was run over by a car. Derren Brown was pointing out how easily the mob mentality takes hold of a crowd, how they egg each other on and ratchet up the suffering. It’s the sort of thing I think we ought to be horrified by, (and Derren Brown made the point brilliantly) not encourage as acceptable and ordinary behaviour.
5. What’s your biggest regret?
I will always be sorry not to have had another child. But it just was never an option, and I’ve been extremely lucky with the one I do have. It’s his 18th birthday today. *wipes away a happy tear*
6. Why do you like reading?
How long have you got?
7. Write a mini school report for the human race. What grade would you give us, and what suggestions for improvement?
In technology, continues to forge ahead, but has an unfortunate tendency to treat the humanities with disdain. Shows surprising strength and resilience in a crisis, but can be lacking sympathy and understanding when it comes to ordinary day-to-day woes. Still, alas, a tendency to lash out with violence when thwarted, rather than stop, think, and use words to resolve issues. Overly concerned with the superficial and the short-term, in a way that belies the genuine intelligence and wisdom that teachers know are readily available. Resistant to change when it comes to long-term flaws and failings. C+
Now I’m supposed to create 7 questions and tag 7 people.
1. What do you think of literary prizes? Good idea or bad?
2. If you could write any sort of book, what would you write?
3. Describe your ideal home library/study.
4. Name two new authors whose work you think will last the test of time, and explain your choices.
5. Which books do you hope to get for Christmas?
6. What’s the last book you did not finish and why?
7. Would you accept 20 books that were absolutely perfect for you and dependably brilliant reads, if they were also the last 20 books you could ever acquire?