"I was six and it was one of those 'Eat up your food because…' conversations"by Prospect Team / January 30, 2019 / Leave a comment
First news event you can recall?
Famine in Cambodia, 1979. I was six and it was one of those “Eat up your food because…” conversations. After that I remember my parents discussing the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981—we were living in the Middle East at the time—and Indira Gandhi in 1984.
The book you are most embarrassed about not reading?
American Pastoral. But I am one step closer to reading it, having bought a copy after Philip Roth died.
Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with?
Louisa May Alcott, because her books were so much a part of my childhood.
What was your most uncomfortable on-air moment?
Hearing Jake Chapman chomp on his cornflakes as we crossed to him live one morning to talk about a new exhibition.
If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why?
I’d look for a really well-run small charity with minimal overheads, probably one connected to family or friends, and put it on a sustainable footing for the future.
The talent you wish you had?
Dancing. But I’m OK with it, no desire to publicly learn to do so.
The best and worst presents you’ve ever received?
The best: when I got married, an aunt gave me a shawl edged in a piece of silk with a special resonance. It came from a sari given to her mother on the occasion of my grandparents’ wedding more than 60 years earlier. The worst: an aquarium, given by my father. The fish started to die almost immediately.
What do you most regret?
The times when I have been impatient or unkind.
What is the biggest problem of all?
Where people have a lack of compassion for their fellow humans.
Are things getting better or worse?
It often feels as though they are getting worse, but then I remind myself of all the ways in which this is an age of inclusivity and where difference does not have to mean isolation.
The last work of art that brought you to tears?
“Danny Boy,” sung at John McCain’s funeral, because my mother sang it at my father’s memorial gathering, at his request. I don’t know how she got through it, but her beautiful voice never faltered.