Pinched from the wonderful Abby Norman, whose book I read earlier this year and found very relatable. She asks herself these questions once a year so I thought I’d do the same, using them to kick of the month of reflective posts I usually write as we approach the end of the year.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sitting indoors reading a really good book while a rainstorm rages outside.
2. What is your current state of mind?
A mixture of tired, excited and nervous.
3. What is your greatest fear?
Losing my mental capacities.
4. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Sometimes I can be kind of mean.
5. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
6. What is your greatest extravagance?
Stuff for my flat.
7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
8. What is it that you most dislike?
One of the main things that irritates me at the moment is how shocked people are by how bad things can get even in the world directly around them. It’s an irrational irritation really, since none of us can know everything that goes on outside of our direct little bubble.
But when Grenfell Tower burned down loads of people were stunned that such a thing could happen, in this day and age, due to a lack of safe building materials. I grew up in social housing and it didn’t surprise me at all. One of the stand-out memories from my childhood was when our roof fell in and they wouldn’t rehouse us, so we moved into a burned-out caravan my aunt found in a field.
Likewise, on Twitter today one of the main pieces of news is how Oxbridge admissions are hugely skewed towards rich kids at, like, eight immensely posh schools. People seem surprised, not so much at the news, but at the fact that kids from state schools often don’t even bother applying because they’re worried about prejudice. I was one of those kids, so again this doesn’t surprise me. I got six As and a B at A-level (yes, the B bothered me for years, until I finally got over myself), and was deputy head girl and on every committee going, etc. etc…. yet I didn’t even apply to Oxbridge because I believed that (a) I probably wouldn’t get in since I was also the poorest kid in my school, and Romani to boot; and (b) even if I did get in, I didn’t think I’d be able to cope with the level of casual classism. To be honest, I still think I was right.
9. On what occasions do you lie?
I mainly tell lies of omission (or don’t tell them, I suppose), with the goal of making sure the conversation doesn’t steer towards ‘omgyourlifeisSOINTERESTING’ when I don’t have the energy to deal with that.
10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I’m fat. It still confuses me.
11. What is the quality you most like in a man?
12. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
13. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
These are the words I tweet the most often, apparently:
So in terms of overused words, I guess:
14. What or who is the greatest love of your life?
15. When and where were you the happiest?
Like, ever? I dunno. This year I was really happy at my friend’s surprise hen do which we arranged for her. It was a lovely weekend and I think we pulled it off very well.
16. Which talent would you most like to have?
I’m not sure it counts as a talent exactly, but I’d love to regain the physical ability to swim. I miss it a lot.
17. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being asked to join the pilgrimage project.
18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
If I could wave a magic wand right now, it’d be better physical health.
19. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what do you think it’d be?
Something tired and a bit broken. A sloth just before it falls out of a tree, perhaps.
20. What is your most treasured possession?
21. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
22. What is your most marked characteristic?
Physically, the one people remark on the most is my hair, which is long and foofy.
23. What do you most value in your friends?
Mine specifically? OK, here we go.
- A (the BFF): that we see life with the same level of cynicism, dark humour and appreciation for the little shiny things that make each day a bit better than it might have been. Also, that she’s not afraid to shout at me when I need it.
- U: that he understands what I’m saying when I go “What’s the word for… like… thing?” and our shared sense of humour.
- C: that we can talk about anything (admittedly mainly poo) and that she’s not afraid to call me out when my moral compass is skewiff.
- E: that she’s so accepting of all my weirdnesses even though she’s “the normal one”. Also, how devoted she is to her friends.
- B: that we can rant together about healthcare, and how she makes a massive effort to see her friends from time to time even when it really hurts.
- L: the wave analogy, and similar WhatsApp chains that are comforting and sad and wonderful all at once, because it’s so good when someone gets it even though you wish no one had to.
My friends are beautiful and lovely and all the superlatives. Also, here we look like we’re in a super-badass glamorous detective show.
24. Who are your favourite writers?
Søren Kierkegaard, Umberto Eco, Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt, Franz Kafka, Joanne Harris, Sophie Hannah.
Unputdownable books I’ve read this year have been by Jane Harper, Holly Bourne, You-Jeong Jeong, JP Delaney, Lisa Gardner, Yaa Gyasi, Gabriel Tallent, and the aforementioned Abby Norman.
25. Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
26. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
27. Who are your heroes in real life?
Hibo Wardere, Esma Redzepova, Søren Kierkegaard, Umberto Eco, my friend Anna.
28. What are your favourite names?
Zaphenathpanea, Keturah, Cailleach, Harley, Hannah, Shuvani.
29. What is your greatest regret?
I’m honestly not sure I have one.
30. How would you like to die?
Alone, quietly, when it feels like the end.
The first set of answers can be found here.
If you decide to do this too, send me a link!