The Scotsman interview

What matters to me

What’s the best bit on your personality CV?
My modesty and self-effacement, despite the fact there is so little for me to be modest and self-effacing about.

And the worst?
My belief that if I ask a direct question, I shall receive a direct answer.

What are your earliest memories?
Digging for worms with my father, cows being milked, being tucked in by my mother, jumping into my grandmother’s bed for her to read to me.

Describe yourself as a food/car/drink.
An oyster, an acquired taste that needs a discerning palate to appreciate it. An Aston Martin with an ejector seat for those who have trespassed into my life. A Drambuie, the recipe’s secret, it has to be savoured to be appreciated, it warms the soul.

How do you stay in love?
If you ask yourself how, then you’re not in love.

What keeps you up at night?
Is there a connection between this question and the last?

Who or what makes you laugh?
Brucie, my ram, who appears to try to copy my tai chi exercises.

Who’s your biggest influence?
My greatest literary influence is Charles Dickens. I admire his blend of humour with social comment and sharp character observation. My heroine is my mother, for the way she can go forward while still looking back.

What object would you save in a fire?
The practical side of me would save a fire extinguisher; the creative side would rescue my first hardback copy of The Infinite Wisdom of Harriet Rose; the emotional side would grab my collection of photo albums of those I love.

What was your life’s main turning point?
Suddenly understanding how to ski down a steep mountain without falling over, by thinking only of what I was attempting, oblivious to all else around me, knowing that the mastery of each bend was entirely up to me.

Who would star in a film of your life?
The casting could take a very long time.

Which song is the soundtrack to your life?
The Impossible Dream from Man of la Mancha.

Tell us about your first date?
I remember no dates before I met my husband.

If you could meet any famous person, who would it be and why?
God – he could answer all my whys and why nots.

Perfect Sunday?
Going into a country church and finding my late father preaching as he did when I was a child. Then, when he had finished, he would walk past, solemn and serious, and wink as he went by.

Interview by Gaby Soutar