I was always rushing, yet at the end of the day my to-do list always seemed to be longer. Looking around, I saw that my problem was not unique to me. Everybody complained about their busyness. Or was proud of being time poor. It struck me that thanks to technology and our changing culture, the architecture of time in our lives is being dismantled. The steady and the regular is being replaced by the instant and the unpredictable. But although our relationship with time has changed absolutely, we have not fully appreciated the implications of our new situation, or inherited the tools to deal with it. I wanted to understand how time really works, and how to stop chasing the clock.
I grew up in Northamptonshire, and studied languages with the idea that one day I’d run away and be able to talk to anyone, anywhere. But I liked reading novels too much and settled for studying English, then moved to London. I live near the human souk that is the Portobello Road with my husband, who is a journalist, and our daughter and son.
I have worked as a gossip columnist (which taught me that enjoyable conversation and scoops don’t mix), interviewer (and discovered that even the god of mirth Eddie Izzard isn’t funny at 6 a.m., New York time), and briefly as a publicist in contemporary arts (my ardour died the day I watched Naked Russian poets waggle their bits at Big Ben). I moved into publishing, then writing full-time.
Apart from adventures with other minds, I love good books, food, theatre, art, film, friends – enjoying all fine things, and observing the quirks, vanities and ridonculities of the world and what people say and do in it. I have contributed to publications including The Times, Daily Telegraph, Elle, Spectator, and the Mail on Sunday, and written scripts for the BBC and Channel 5.
My first book, The Art of Conversation, is a rallying cry for this neglected yet vital pleasure, offering a guided tour of the secrets and surprises, as well as tips for doing better. The Art of Marriage uncovers the mysteries and dynamics of this timeless institution.