The immensely talented and lovely Elle tagged me for this meme, which I was very happy to answer, given that I love the sisterhood. We need to stick together, my female friends.
- What’s the best trait you’ve inherited from your parents?
I was going to say my work ethic, but thinking about it, my parents passed on their desire to be very supportive of family and friends and that’s probably worth more angel points.
- What fictional world would you live in if you could, and what character or position would you occupy within it.
I’d like to live in St Mary’s Mead, please, and be Miss Marple. I’m doing my best to train up for the role in later life, though at some point I’m going to have to tackle knitting. But I really want Dolly Bantry to be my best friend; she’s a hoot.
- In what situations, if at all, is it acceptable to talk through a movie?
I can think of plenty of movies I’ve been subjected to seeing by Mr Litlove that I easily could have talked through. Given a preference, I’d rather take a book along, if only someone would turn the lights up a bit.
- Do you think it is moral to have children?
I think it’s incredibly hard work to have children, and I think it’s a tougher job than one can ever imagine, childless, that parenting will be. I think it puts every part of your personality on trial, and will ultimately challenge many of the values you hold. You have to make a lot of sacrifices and do so willingly. So I don’t think I could ever say that people HAD to have them out of moral obligation. I think if you have them, you must do your very best by them, no matter what the circumstances. Once in situ, children force you to be moral, I think. (Though this does NOT mean that parents never behave badly, or that the childless are immoral. No. Only that children exert a certain pressure.)
- What is the unkindest thing you have ever done?
I wrote a post, The Lost Photo about this a while back. Read it and weep.
- What practical skill do you most wish you had?
I’d be happy to have any practical skills; I’m rather low on them. When I was younger, I would have liked to be able to draw. Now I’m older, I wish I were more green-fingered. I’d grow all my own vegetables if I had any talent for it.
- Tell us about an epiphany or “lightning bolt” moment in your life.
When I was about six months into my first ever job (marketing person for a book printers), the realisation was dawning that this was not for me. I did not like working for my bosses, I did not like keeping office hours, and I was frequently and deeply bored. And it occurred to me, that no one was forcing me to be here. It wasn’t like school or university where you have to hang on in there until the end. Now I was free to make different choices, change my mind, look for other jobs. Or indeed return to graduate studies. But what constituted the real lightning bolt was that work was a choice. So much of life you just have to put up with because you can’t do anything else. But work is not a prison; you can get up and leave. Sure you may have to take a pay cut, or move a rung down the ladder, or do some more training. I don’t think that’s a big deal, not when you consider that genuine freedom is at stake here.
- What is the first thing you do when you get home from work.
These days I work from home! When I was full time at college, it would be: feed the cat, feed the child, feed the husband. These days I only know I’m not working when I’m reading a book that doesn’t have to be read for review or research.
- How do you feel about writing in books.
I’m fine with it. I wrote in all my college books as that was how I kept track of my thoughts as I went along. I’d have been lost without those notes. Somehow, I can’t bring myself to write in books I’m reading for fun or reviewing for the blog. It doesn’t feel quite right, though I dog ear pages happily.
- Do you miss your hometown?
Colchester is a perfectly nice town, but I do prefer Cambridge.
Now at this point, I’m supposed to make up some questions and tag some bloggers. I’m going to do things a little differently by asking a few general questions about sisterhood that people can feel free to answer in the comments, or on their blog, or not at all. But they are questions whose responses I’m very interested in hearing.
1. What does the sisterhood mean to you, if anything?
2. Do you think women are still disadvantaged in the modern world? And if so, how?
3. Have you come across examples of ‘everyday sexism’ in your day to day life?
4. Which book would you most readily recommend as saying something important about women’s lives?
5. Supposing you and some female friends got together to create a publishing house that would be the new Virago. What sort of books would you publish?