November 21, 2009

Here’s a Q&A based on the questions in the Saturday Guardian magazine. As you know, I am bored, unemployed, self-indulgent, meaningless and have nothing going on in my life, so it’s only a matter of time before they do a feature on me. Anyway, I may yet regret it, but let me know if you do the same on your blog as I found it an interesting experiment and it might present an interesting sort of cross-section of a person.

When were you happiest?

I don’t really experience gradations of happiness. I am basically happy at times, basically unhappy at others. There are, however, fleeting times when I’ve been more excited than others, and a recent example of that would be seeing Magazine play at the Forum in February after being a devout fan for almost a decade and never for a moment expecting them to play together again.

What is your earliest memory?

I remember quite a few things from before school, it’s hard to put them in chronological order. I remember being in a cot at the end of a bed and I remember being in a pram.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Total lack of empathy. Perhaps related to that – a struggle to attribute any intrinsic value to anything. Living without the ability to attribute meaningful value means I repeatedly allow myself to experience the illusion of satisfaction at having completed what is only ever a partially good idea or bit of work. And the larger issue – occasionally being taken in by a false sense of specialness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Inauthenticity. Unfortunately I see it everywhere.

Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I have never bought anything expensive.

What is your most treasured possession?

Everything I own is replaceable. I’m not really sentimental about objects, it’s too high risk.

What would your super power be?

I’d like to be able to read and understand things extremely quickly, rather than unbearably stupidly and slowly as is currently the case. I’d like a protective, selective blindness. Plus very few superheroes only have one power, so obviously sign me up for these too: flight, x-ray vision, invisibility, mind-reading, ability to do genuine magic, super-speed and strength, time-manipulation, Visionaries-style shape-shifting, ability to communicate in the language of machines etc etc.

What makes you unhappy?

Almost everything: criticism, pain, guilt, regret, fear of failure, aging. But in particular the inescapable dead end to which my life has ground and the cold daily confrontation of that.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I am aware that I look quite a lot like a man and that can be embarrassing for everyone at times.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

There aren’t many actresses who look rough enough. I’ve been compared to Kelly McGillis as a plain Amish woman in Witness but that feels madly flattering. I don’t know. I think I look a bit like Ronnie Corbett.

What is your favourite book?

Not very good at reading so whatever I say will be meaningless as it’s pulled from such a vanishingly small sample. Michel Riffaterre’s borderline insane work Semiotics of Poetry changed the direction of my life for a while.

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?

Don’t really understand fancy dress parties.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Doing this fucking interview.

What do you owe your parents?

The determination not to make the mistakes they did, leading to my making worse ones.

What does love feel like?

Never unconditional.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

All the lovely people I know and have known. The idea of a dinner party at all, however, is not a dream but a nightmare. Can’t we do something more informal?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I’ve become very lazy with my language. I say ‘really’ too much. Really.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?

My school years were almost unremittingly miserable. I wish I’d had the balls to leave school at 16 as I wanted to, and gone straight into work. I can’t even think about amount of the time I’ve wasted dicking around with education and media stuff when I could’ve been training for something that provided some kind of job security.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I’d like to have been old enough to remember the British music happening in the late 70s and 80s. I wish I could’ve seen that. In general though, as a woman, backwards seems the wrong direction to be time travelling in.

How do you relax?

I find work – depending on the work – immensely stress-relieving. Failing that, long walks.

What is the closest you’ve ever come to death?

I once spent a night in hospital after collapsing at school. I don’t know if I was close to death but the whole thing was very weird. Also going under general anaesthetic when I had my wisdom teeth out. The idea your consciousness can just be switched off was very existential for me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Realising and living by the principle that everything is without value and will end. It is also my greatest regret.

What keeps you awake at night?

Caffeine, alcohol, anxiety, depression, sleeping too much during the day. Considering the answer to the previous question in any depth.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Rules and Regulations by Public Image.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Someone told me Woody Allen said this, but it’s true. Life has taught me that it’s not such a precious thing to lose. It sounds ridiculously negative, but I find it strangely comforting. Things become a lot easier when you take that kind of pressure off life.


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