Bakers Dozen: Proust Questionnaire 13 – SK, and goodbye!


After ending on a high last night with the celebration of Dennis O’Driscoll’s life and work, Dublin Writers Festival 2013 is closing its doors for another year. Thank you so much for reading. It has been a pleasure contributing, and here is number 13 to make the Proust Questionnaires a “bakers dozen”. Thanks also to all the contributors, and goodbye for now – SK. p.s. Richard Ford did warn me beforehand that he wasn’t good with questionnaires. Just to clarify (!).

What is your idea of happiness?

Being with the people I love most in the world. But also, having time alone, reading, listening to music, watching things I really like, walking by the sea, pottering, tippling prosecco and watching the world go by, writing, swimming, cycling, daydreaming uninterrupted.

Where would you most like to live?

Dublin is home in so many ways, but I would also like to live (and may yet) in New York, Reykjavik, Paris, Copenhagen, anywhere in Italy, and then near Blacksod Bay in Mayo, which is home-home.

What is your favourite virtue?


What are your favourite qualities in a man?

Honesty, communication, kindness, humour, courage, gentleness, loyalty.

What are your favourite qualities in a woman?

The same, really.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their senses of humour, their gentleness, loyalty, and also their kindness and strength, their acceptance and open-heartedness, their differences and good natures, and that I seem to corral them into mad things without too much trouble.

What is your biggest weakness?

Overthinking things. Worrying. Anxiety. Daydreaming and drifting when I should be working.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Doing things for others. Writing. Reading. Listening to music. Watching really good television. Walking by the sea. Cycling. Dinners with friends. Music festivals. Swimming. Going to live music as much as possible. Going to the pictures. Seeing a really good stand up comic. Watching a great football match. Travelling. Being cosy, by the fire. Watching/listening to political programmes. Listening to the radio. Sewing things that need mending.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Curiosity. Passion for things. Being reliable. Loyalty. Nervy. Tired (these days).

What is your idea of misery?

Being misunderstood. Being let down really badly. Someone I care about being very unwell. People struggling and lonely.

If not yourself, who would you like to be?

I suppose you just have to try and be yourself, sadness comes from trying to be someone else.

What is your favourite colour and flower?

Deep scarlet red, and emerald green. Freesia.

What is your favourite bird?

The owl, followed closely by the robin.

Who are your favourite writers?

A very long list, but some that spring to mind instantly are; John McGahern, James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, David Sedaris, Christopher Marlowe, Charles Dickens, Alice Munro, Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, Juvenal, Tove Jansson, Roald Dahl, Horace, Lester Bangs, Jane Austen, Henry Miller, Stan Lee, George Bernard Shaw, Grant Morrison, William Goldman, George Eliot, the Bronte’s, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Trevor, Shalom Auslander, Annie Proulx, Henry Fielding, Alexander Pope, Louisa May Alcott, Halldor Laxness, Lewis Carroll, Richard Ford, Ernest Hemingway, Alan Moore, George Plimpton, Anais Nin, Ronald Dworkin, John Stuart Mill, Flann O’Brien, Raymond Carver, James Baldwin, Edgar Allen Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Iris Murdoch, Homer, Stendhal, Laurence Sterne, Samuel Beckett, Marcel Proust, the list goes on and on…..

Who are your favourite poets?

Seamus Heaney, Tim Key, Patrick Kavanagh, Wendy Cope, Christina Rossetti, John Keats, W.B. Yeats, W. H. Auden, Philip Larkin, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and so many more….

Who are your favourite artists?

Louise Bourgeois, Edward Gorey, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paula Rego, Sandro Botticelli, Francesca Woodman, Leonarda Da Vinci, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, and so many more. And then if expanding on the term artist, I would include people like Daniel Kitson, Woody Allen, Chris Rock, Louis CK, Amy Sedaris, Neil Hamburger, Phyllis Diller, Jon Stewart, Dylan Moran, George Carlin, Gilda Radner, Bill Cosby, Rodney Dangerfied, Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Larry David, Richard Pryor, George Burns, Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, Jackie Mason, Dave Chappelle, Steve Coogan,  and so many others who have made the world a better place just by their very existence, and ability to make me laugh a lot. And Eric Cantona, of course, who is a wonder.

Who are your favourite musicians?

A very long list, but here are a few; Planxty, Kate Bush, Rakim, Tommy Peoples, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Oscar Peterson, Allen Touissant, Van Dyke Parks, The Walkmen, Harry Nilsson, Count Basie, Randy Newman, Björk, Owen Pallett, Destroyer, Future Islands, Prince, Wu-Tang Clan, Mary J. Blige, Mel Torme, Paul Simon, Mos Def, The Smiths, Talib Kweli, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Belle and Sebastian, Elvis Costello, Phil Lynott, Low, Public Enemy, Nat King Cole, Big Star, David Bowie, Beach House, Dan Deacon, Owen Ashworth, Bobby Short, Miracle Fortress, Creedence Clearwater Revival, El-Producto, Junior Boys, The Zombies, Charles Mingus, The Modern Lovers, Miles Davis, Slick Rick, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, Beastie Boys, Max Roach, Dusty Springfield, Juan Atkins, Notorious B.I.G., Suicidal Tendencies, Pavement, Cocteau Twins, Clipse, Thelonious Monk, Daniel Johnston, Arvo Pärt, Prokofiev, Satie, and so many more….

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction?

Elizabeth Bennett, Stephen Dedelus, Jane Eyre, Little My, Jo March, Batman, Catwoman.

Who are the heroes and heroines in your life?

My parents, my brothers, my friends, others that have come in and out of my life and left a legacy.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

Grace O’Malley, Martin Luther King, Tony Benn, Michael Collins, Mary Robinson, Charles Stewart Parnell, Constance Markievicz, so many more if I start really thinking about it.

What is your favourite food and drink?

Food: Roast chicken dinner, hot buttered toast, cheeses, stew. Drinks: prosecco, coffee, red wine, hot chocolate, milk, and when the occasion requires it – a little glass of Guinness, a little glass of turfy whiskey.

What are your favourite names?

Patrick, Marcella, Finbar, Tomás, Woody, Agnes, Bridget.

What do you most dislike?

Thoughtlessness, people being unkind, lack of courtesy, people not being honest and true, bigotry and fascism in all its forms.

Which historical figures do you most dislike?

I suppose anyone associated with fascism, bigotry, and bullies really get me down.

What event in history do you most admire?

The civil rights movement in particular.

What social movement do you most admire?

The civil rights movement, socialism, feminism, anything that looks to level the playing field.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?

To fly like a little bird.

How would you like to die?

In the full knowledge of it, feeling like I gave life my best shot, and that I’d been true.

What is your present state of mind?

Very tired. Very woolly and worn out. Rainy.

What is your biggest pet peeve?


Which fault in others do you most easily tolerate?

Lateness, although maybe I don’t see it as a fault, as I am often late (!)

Which fault in yourself do you most easily tolerate?

I don’t know if I do, but perhaps procrastination, and being scattered.

What is your motto?

Young Hearts Run Free, and on days I don’t feel like that, I just watch Annie Hall or Barefoot in the Park and hope that tomorrow might be better.

Or this –


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