I spotted this on Nan Bovington’s brilliant, hilarious blog. She got it off another unmissable writer Isabel Costello who inspired the equally inspiring Susan Elliot Wright, Janet O’Kane and Kristin Celms.
It’s an exercise in understanding the relationship between characters in fiction and in real life, using ourselves as source material. We’re all invited, so just copy the format and use the #realcharacter. You’ll be found.
I am what you get when you cross an Eastern European Jew (Latvia and Lithuania via South Africa) and a (lapsed and now anti) Catholic Celt (Irish and Scottish but half of the Scottish bit is Italian). My grandparents on both sides were horrified by the match and my parents eloped as my mother was underage at 19. They stayed married just about long enough to have two children.
I love being a mixture. I’m rarely ill and I grew up unclaimed by any religion which feels like freedom to me.
I am very catholic in my tastes though, so maybe something’s rubbed off in some way. I like all sorts of music, almost any kind of food and all kinds of people. I couldn’t do without my friends.
I live in a very small, very pretty village. This is a great surprise to me. I was born in London and expected to live there all my life. Love will do that to you. I knew something was changing the day I bought walking boots and a waxed jacket (secondhand in case things didn’t work out).
I am trying to harness the power of good ones. I mean, how hard is it to stop picking your nose, or saying, ‘I have to say … ‘, or watching CSI? Imagine if the problem was trying to stop getting up early to write, or not doing so many sit-ups? Be like winning the habits lottery.
That’s work in progress.
Habits that are forced on me are the school run and cooking breakfast and supper. I also do try to tidy up a bit sometimes, but I agree with whoever it was who said only one of us can be tidy, it’s either me or the house. And that’s with paid help.
I also have to work sometimes which, in case my boss is reading this, I do very thoroughly and methodically sitting at my incredibly tidy desk, fully and immaculately dressed.
These days there is homework for my creative writing course as well, which I also do in good time every week and to the best of my ability. I would never do it in the Summertown branch of M&S in 20 minutes in case you’re wondering, Dr Ballam.
I’m crippled with shyness and don’t like calling attention to myself in public.
Ah. Yes. Tricky one this. I’m a luxury item with almost no practical applications. Anything that requires coordination is a challenge for me. This includes all forms of sport.
I had to give up netball for the safety of the rest of the team and I need a lot of space around me in aerobics. Many of the other jumping, leaping ladies find my awkwardly flailing limbs and resolute confidence in the wrong direction for the grapevine incredibly funny. There was also laughter last year when I fell up a small rise in the playing fields of the school my boys attend. In front of the head of sport. Who I was waving to at the time.
It took me five years to learn tennis and I’m not great. It took me 10 years to learn skiing and I’m not great at that either (although I’m expert in the bumsleigh event). I play rubbish bridge.
I can’t do any form of DIY. I’m not even allowed to wash the wine glasses. I lose everything (keys, purses, scarves, children) and am lost a lot of the time myself, not metaphorically. I can’t sew or knit. Last time I gave a dinner party, three people were quite seriously ill.
I don’t believe in fate, or things ‘happening for a reason’ or any kind of invisible being up there who is in charge, but if I did I would say that She wants me to write. Or watch telly. I’m safe for those.
I do work at listening to my children. Even when my phone is alerting me to emails, tweets and texts. Yes, that is a halo around my hat.
And one more thing
I have started hiding in the larder to try to stop my children eating all the chocolate.
I was in there for quite a long time the other day but none of them appeared. (It’s when you come out that it’s a bit embarrassing. You have to just open the door, hoping no one sees you so you can go about your business acting normal.)
I got one of the kids after a few days of trying. He won’t be looking for the curlywurlies any time soon. That success encouraged me so I ended up spending quite a bit of time in there, on and off. Finally, my daughter opened the cupboard door. ‘Raaaaah’, I said.
She cried for half an hour.
When she’d stopped crying, she was really cross. I said, ‘Well, you shouldn’t have been trying to steal chocolate.’
She said, ‘I wasn’t looking for chocolate. I was looking for you, mum.’