Recently I was honoured to be the subject of the ’20 Questions’ Hot Seat on Dorset Biz News. Obviously space is limited on these things, and I did rather ramble on in my answers, so only a portion of my responses could be published. But… most of my working life hasn’t been local, and lots of people who read the magazine are naturally curious about me as editor.
Firstly – the obvious: lives in Sturminster Newton, married to Courtenay, and we’ve four kids aged 14 to 22. Before editing The Blackmore Vale, I ran LittleStuff, an award-winning magazine website for parents of teenagers.
So to satisfy your noses, here y’go: the full and unedited version of Laura’s 20 questions…
- What’s your favourite TV show?
Hmph. Is that ever, or right now? I’m more of a book or movie girl, and don’t actually watch much TV. Gilmore Girls is my go-to permanent comfort-watch, and the show I’ve committed most hours too. Recently I enjoyed Lupin on Netflix, and Bridgerton obviously. Queen’s Gambit, Chernobyl (I suspect we were the last people in the country to finally watch it)… I randomly dip into cooking shows if I stumble on them, and I’ve a sneaky fixation on the Great Pottery Throw Down.
But ever? Probably the BBC’s 90’s Pride & Prejudice adaptation.
- Who would you like to share a car with?
I think I’d pop Dame Judi Dench and Peter Ustinov in the back. I’ll drive, and just listen while they talk and talk. Oh, and I’ll have Robin Williams up front.
And now I feel shallow, because actually the one person I’d love to share it with would be my Granny. She died when I was a young teen, and only as an adult have I started to learn what a remarkable woman she was. I’d like to properly talk to her, and get to know ‘Winifred’, rather than just Granny.
- The best bit of my job is…?
The delight and pride you see when you share someone’s story – when a person realises someone else is actually listening and genuinely noticing what they’re doing.
The team of amazing new friends we’ve made – I couldn’t have designed a better group of interesting, funny, knowledgeable (and brutally honest) people, let alone randomly collected them.
Also, just looking at where we are and saying ‘We did that’.
- And the worst…?
(it’s the biggest issue with being a small two-man production team – we’re doing everything, so it’s easy to miss a small thing like a typo or a missing word. But it hurts my grammar-trained soul)
- Who was your childhood hero?
Floella Benjamin and George from the Famous Five. Oh, and Willy Rushton for reading Winnie the Pooh on Jackanory and starting my lifelong love affair with the bear of very little brain.
And when I was a bit older, Amelia Earhart. Just a fierce, strong woman. She didn’t break through barriers – she never even acknowledged their existence. Before she was an adventuring solo pilot, she was a nurse, a car mechanic, a social worker, a photographer, an airline vice president… and she had a modern view of marriage that was far out of her time.
Also, don’t tell her, but probably my sister. I’m the youngest of four (much younger – they’re 8/10/11yrs older), and of course I loved it when any of them took time to do anything with me. But the next sister up had gorgeous big 80s hair, brilliant make up which she sometimes let me borrow, excellent taste in records she wasn’t averse to lending me when she was in a good mood, a nice line in Essex Girl attitude, and the best wardrobe to borrow from (when she was out, obvs. I wasn’t stupid).
- What’s your favourite smell?
Just one? Then it will have to be CoffeeBeansBiscuitsBakingCutGrassSandyOceanOldBooksHotRainBabyNecks.
That’s definitely my top favourite.
- Where’s your favourite place in Dorset?
Maybe the back of Bulbarrow Hill; just as you’re approaching Rawlsbury Camp when you get the first look across to the Dorsetshire Gap.
And the ledges at Kimmeridge Bay. Can’t pick between them
BUT – there are a bazillion tiny magical equally-important spots. A small stretch of deep silent Holloway, a certain walk under an ancient yew tree, the quiet lane where we always see the barn owl at dusk, the secret valley with the chalk stream bumbling through the grass, the sand dune at Shell Bay we’ve run down endless times on a hot summer’s evening, the avenue of ancient beeches hidden in a stretch of woodland, the curve of an old village street…
- What advice would you give to anyone starting out on a career?
Be curious, be open… and Google ‘Rick Rigsby’s Graduation speech’ (or just click that!):
“Find your broom, and check how you’re livin’.”
- What was your first record/CD?
The Stutter Rap by Morris Minor and the Majors.
My best friend would also inform you I had a penchant for dodgy Athena posters involving kittens and puppies on my bedroom wall at the time too.
- What gets you angry?
On a smaller personal level? Being patronised.
- Do you have a favourite piece of music?
I refuse to answer on the grounds I may incriminate myself (I refer the reader to Q.9). You will not make me a) choose between Einaudi, Nina Simone and Bon Jovi, nor b) acknowledge my love of the Country Music playlists on Spotify.
- What are the qualities you look for in a new employee?
Humour, intelligence… and the ability to spell.
- What’s your favourite food or dish?
Pizza. No, cake. No, a cone of crispy-but-fluffy-in-the-middle salted hot chip-shop-chips.
No, pizza. And cake. With chips. And lasagne. And mussels. With wine (that is a food group, yes?).
- Steamed sponge pudding and custard or a plate of melon?
What kind of psychopath chooses melon over sponge pudding?
- Name the best thing about living/working in Dorset?
Dorset. Literally. Step outside your door, and it’s right there.
I see buzzards overhead when I hang out the washing. Do you have any idea how that feels to a girl who grew up in a huge town in Essex?
- If you were Prime Minister for the day what would be the first thing you do?
Introduce regulations that no one could hold a senior position in government without a minimum of five years practical working experience in the relevant field. Also remove education and health service policies from short-term party politics, and ensure cross-political-party working groups of qualified professionals made all major decisions in those spheres.
Oh, and I’d create a cabinet from as broadly representative of the British public as possible – 50% women, 90% state school educated, broad regional & cultural spread and all with practical work experience, obviously.
It’d be quite a busy day, wouldn’t it?
- What’s your biggest frustration?
That crisps aren’t considered a lunch food in their own right.
Oh, and the tone of surprise when people see what we produce.
- Where’s your favourite holiday location?
Wherever my favourite human beans are hanging out. Is that a cop out? Sorry. Hmm. So… the Brecon Beacons for a family trip of fresh air and wide skies. France for a Do-Nothing holiday of sunshine, pool and all the breads and cheeses (and wines). If it’s just the two of us, then Italian cities with ALL the wines.
Courtenay hasn’t flown for 20yrs, so our trips are limited to Europe by car or train – though our eldest’s moved to the US, so there’s plane journeys in his near future now!
- Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
Older. Not much wiser. Still spilling wine, swearing inappropriately and gathering my favourite people together whenever I can to feed them.
Except I’ll obviously be in a big house with two cats, three dogs, about 4 acres for the chickens to scratch in, and driving a normal-sized car instead of a rackety old people carrier required when you have four kids and then can’t justify selling even though they’re all adult-sized now.
- What would you like to be remembered for?
Being kind, and making people feel happier.
And now I feel like a people-pleaser. I’m much tougher than I sound! I’ve a core of steel. *cough*
Actually, Courtenay answered this perfectly for me:
‘for being told she probably couldn’t, and doing it anyway’.