Proust’s Questionnaire

by Wendy Smith

 

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Perfect weather and a perfect view – possibly from the Amalfi coastline in Italy.

 

What is your greatest fear?

That people will continue to live afraid of ‘the other’. Here in the UK we have made huge strides in understanding, appreciating and embracing differences; however we still have so much further to go.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I can be very stubborn. Once I set my mind on a course of action, it is difficult for me to admit mistakes and change direction. 

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Small mindedness, and therefore a lack of vision or a grasp of the bigger picture. 

Which living person do you most admire?

Hilary Clinton. She is pushing 70 and still wants to change the world. Al Pacino – gosh, that man can act.

What is your greatest extravagance?

My hairdresser, or should I say hairdressers. They keep my hair from looking like a seagull would like to take up residence in it, and they all look after me. I learn so much about life, other countries, cultures and social change when in the hairdresser’s seat.

What is your current state of mind?

Hopeful and excited

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Making money. We get too caught up in wealth creation and forget about the value of just being.

On what occasion do you lie?

I try to lie as little as possible. I try to reframe a negative with my clients so they recognise it themselves, rather than me telling lies to make them feel better. 

  • What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My hands and nails. Note to self – I must take more care of them.

  • Which living person do you most despise?

It would be invidious to name names, but let’s just say anyone in a position of authority who makes life difficult for the disadvantaged and disabled.

  • What is the quality you most like in a man?

Charm, which in other words is simply the ability to listen.

  • What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Humour. Women often have their own way of supporting each other through challenging times, using wit to get through. Laughter releases all those chemicals to make you feel good.

  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Do you want to know what I think?

  • What or who is the greatest love of your life?

The three men in my life – my husband naturally, who has listened for a very long time, and my two sons who are learning fast!

  • When and where were you happiest?

Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, Hammersmith, West London, after I gave birth to my two sons – Matthew and Nathan. In 1987 and 1989 I was considered fairly old as a first time mum. Now it is pretty routine.

  • Which talent would you most like to have?

To sing and hit the right notes at the right time.

  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

To be technologically literate.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Work I have done with other women, dealing with challenging issues and family affairs, and hopefully giving them confidence in themselves to realise just how great they really are.

  • If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

My cat for an easy life, or Emily Pankhurst as an inspiring person. 

  • Where would you most like to live?

I am quite happy where I am, thank you. 

  • What is your most treasured possession? 

The art on our walls at home. Much of it has been given to me by artist friends over the years.

  • What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Loss. Losing a loved one, whether a family member or close friend is a pain like no other.

  • What is your favourite occupation? 

A full-on discussion with close friends where one can challenge and be challenged. Fantastic

  • What is your most marked characteristic? 

Empathy and emotional intelligence

  • What do you most value in your friends?

Loyalty

  • Who are your favourite writers?

Philip Roth, Linda Grant, Ivan Turgenev,Sebastian Faulks

  • Who is your hero of fiction?

Hans Fallada’s leading man Otto, as featured in his novel Alone in Berlin. His campaign with postcards predates social media shaming and naming.

  • Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Joan Arc. She’s stubborn and the subject of a Leonard Cohen song.

  • Who are your heroes in real life?

All the people I have worked with who have kids with disabilities and just get on with it and see the joy in their lives. All the people who work with disability who strive to make better things happen.

  • What are your favourite names?

 My middle names Paulina and Coralie as they are so random.

  • What is it that you most dislike?

Lack of tolerance and dismissiveness of others

  • What is your greatest regret?

 Not being cleverer

  • How would you like to die?

Laughing

  • What is your motto?

Do unto others as you would do to yourself

Who is Wendy?

 

 

wendypicWendy’s background takes in public relations, magazine and newspaper journalism along with teaching, coaching and media training. She has appeared on television and radio and written for the Guardian, FT, The Times, Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday and Marketing Week. As a trainer she has worked with leading PR consultancies, academics, charities and trade associations. Using her qualifications and experience in higher education, Wendy can create and deliver training programmes to cover all learning styles. She has a Masters in Communications from Brunel University and a PGCE, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the Coaching Academy.

More about Wendi click here

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