The 5-Minute Interview: AS Byatt, Novelist

'I hate cyclists. I wish they were not so self-righteous'
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A S Byatt, 70, is joining the Free Thinking festival in Liverpool this weekend and is today taking part in the debate, Will the 21st Century Be the Lonely Century?, which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Wednesday at 9.30pm. Tomorrow she takes part in the debate, Writers vs Scientists: Who Will Tell Us More About Human Nature in the Decades to Come?

Writers vs. scientists - who is going to help us more in the future?

The answer is obviously scientists. If anyone's going to get us out of global warming it's scientists and if anyone's going to find a cure for Alzheimer's it's scientists. If anyone's going to stop the war in Iraq it's probably journalists, not novelists.

Are people getting lonelier?

I don't think so, though I think there may be particularly old people who are lonely because of the disappearance of the extended family. We live in a nanny state and are on the whole too much impinged upon. It's rather the opposite - we don't get enough solitude.

A phrase I use far too often is...

I'm always saying "I mean" and I don't like it.

I wish people would take more notice of...

Cyclists. I really hate them. I wish they would not be so self-righteous and realise they are a danger to pedestrians. I wish cyclists would not vindictively snap off wing mirrors on cars when they were trying to cross in front of the car at a danger to motorists and pedestrians.

The most surprising thing that ever happened to me was...

My son was killed by a car aged 11.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

Never stop paying attention to things. Never make your mind up finally. Do not hold beliefs.

Interview by Elisa Bray