The pioneer of women's refuges answers 11 questionsby Erin Pizzey / December 15, 2016 / Leave a comment
What is the first news/historical event you can recall?
The first historical event I can recall is boarding the last ship out of Shanghai in 1942. I was four years old. We had been captured and were held hostage before being exchanged for Japanese prisoners of war. I remember the Japanese guard who brought fruit for me and my sister every day and showed us pictures of his own children.
The book you are most embarrassed you’ve never read?
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, which I’ve never got through. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never understood why the book is supposed to be a masterpiece. I feel like that about most Russian writers.
One bit of advice you’d give to your younger self?
I would advise my younger self to not drink so much. Drinking always got me into serious trouble and then I would behave very badly and have to be forcibly removed from dining rooms and dance floors.
What is your favourite saying or quotation?
“The world breaks everyone and afterward more are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway
Where do you want to be buried or have your ashes scattered?
I want to be buried with my grandson Keita Craig in Kensal Rise Cemetery. He didn’t survive his breaks and was too fragile to recover in the broken places.
If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why?
I would hire the Albert Hall and invite all the people I love and most especially all the mothers, children, staff and volunteers from my refuge to have a knees-up with lots of glorious food and wine.
The talent you wish you had?
I really wish I had a soprano voice. As it is I am a mezzo soprano and it’s a bit like being a pigeon among nightingales. In my dreams I win The X Factor and Simon Cowell assures me I have a great future.
What are the best and worst presents you’ve ever received?
My first puppy was my best ever present and my worst was having to wear my mother’s awful hand-knitted cardigans because I was too frightened of her to refuse.
What is the biggest problem of all?
We have ignored an ever-growing…