The Proust Questionnaire

Redemption Song
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I’ve not quite got around to all the usual lists I write at New Year; I started off a list of the top 10 songs of 2011 – and mainly came up with old music that I rediscovered in new contexts. More car trips with Beethoven’s 9th concerto, more time on the sofa with St. Matthew’s Passion, more listening to the same Killers album as in previous years, and still liking it just as much. And of course just as many soothing moments with Bob Marley (and other for some reason less appreciated reggae musicians) as ever.

So instead, I wrote out my responses to the “Proust Questionnaire” that usually appears in the back of Vanity Fair. The questions are always amusing, even if I’m not sure that the answers reveal anything in particular:

  1. What is your idea of Perfect Happiness?
    • Living a life that leaves some legacy for the world.
  2. What is your greatest fear?
    • Being eaten by a shark
  3. What historical figure do you most identify with?
  4. What is your worst personality trait?
    • Expecting the worst case scenario at all times
  5. What trait do you most deplore in others?
    • Hypocrisy
  6. What is your greatest extravagance?
    • An embroidered cream silk coat from Favourbrook which I wore twice and lost.
  7. When do you lie?
    • To avoid worst case scenarios
  8. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
    • My eyes are quite small.
  9. What phrase or expression do you most overuse?
    • “Actually” (spoken), and “just” (written)
  10. What is your greatest regret?
    • Never trying my biggest dreams
  11. Who or what is your greatest love?
    • I can’t say who; “what” is usually the natural environment, a building or an activity, but there are many I love: the Pacific ocean.  Merton College. Walking through fresh snow.
  12. When and where were you happiest?
    • On a hiking holiday in Graubünden, Switzerland with my best friends from school. The tent leaked, we played a lot of poker at which I made major losses, and the glacier lakes were beautiful. It was in September 1995. I was 17.
  13. What talent would you most like?
    • To write, dance or play the violin with talent. Enthusiasm is second-best.
  14. What is  your current state of mind?
    • Jaded, but I’ll get over it.
  15. If you could change on thing about yourself, what would it be?
    • My lack of self belief and the concomitant solipsism.
  16. If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
    • It would be nice to have a brother.
  17. If you could choose what to come back as, who or what would it be?
  18. What is your most treasured possession?
    • My diaries
  19. What is the lowest depth of misery?
    • Not having enough money to buy fresh meat. Or disappointing people.
  20. Where would you like to live?
    • Paris, Munich or San Francisco
  21. What is your favourite occupation?
    • Writing
  22. What quality do you most like in a man?
    • Intelligence and wisdom
  23. What quality do you most like in a woman?
    • Confidence
  24. What do you value in your friends?
    • Honesty
  25. Who is your favourite writer?
  26. Name a hero of fiction.
    • Jesus
  27. Who are your real life heroes?
    • Any soldier defending freedom as I understand it
  28. What do you most dislike?
    • Jealousy
  29. How would you like to die?
    • Off a cliff, when I’m 80 and climbing a VS
  30. What is your motto?
    • Never judge people for anything you might one day do yourself.

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