My Secret Life: Lynne Truss, writer, 55

Interview,Charlotte Philby
Saturday 03 July 2010 00:00

The house I grew up in ... was a council house near Richmond in Surrey, on an estate built in the early 1950s. I shared a bedroom with my older sister. For some reason I used to think it was a good idea to pile books at the bottom of my bed, and they would fall on the floor in the night, which annoyed everyone.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... invisible. I tried to keep out of family rows. I still can't bear to see people fall out with each other.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I'd be tidier. There's a book leaning against the wall in the corner of my living room which I know has been there since Christmas two years ago.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... sleeping. I think it's my main talent.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... typing. I did learn touch-typing when I was about 18, but it was in the days of old-fashioned manual typewriters, and I never had the strength in my little fingers to do the cap-shift keys. Now I type very quickly with two fingers, and have to go back and correct every other word.

At night I dream of ... houses, sometimes. I have a classic dream quite often of suddenly remembering there's an extra dimension to my own house – a deserted west wing, if you like. I go in and it's all familiar and lovely.

I wish I'd never worn ... my hair in a bob. I hate all the pictures.

My favourite item of clothing ... was a simple dark-green linen waistcoat from Nicole Farhi, which went with a beautiful matching linen skirt. It had buttons that were discreet sea-horses and shells. I had it when I was thin and flat-chested in my thirties and it really suited me.

I drive ... a Volkswagen Beetle, with a special car-seat for the dog, so that he can see out.

My house is ... a bit untidy.

My favourite work of art ... is a watercolour by Quentin Blake I bought in a mad moment. It shows a large woman in a floppy hat taking a duck for a walk on a beach. I don't know the back story (why a duck?), but it's a picture of pure timeless happiness.

My favourite building ... is Senate House in Bloomsbury. I worked in the library there before I went to university, and at the time I had no idea how odd and alienating it was architecturally. Now I am forever recognising it on telly and in films.

A book that changed me ... was Alain Fournier's 'The Lost Domain', which I read when I was 18 years old. I was very serious in those days.

Movie heaven ... is either 'Master and Commander', 'Batman Begins', or 'Julie and Julia'. One man has to choose the lesser of two evils; one man combats fear with fear; and two women make mouth-watering boeuf bourguignon.

The last album I bought ... was a talking book of Ford Madox Ford's 'The Good Soldier'.

My greatest regret ... is that I'm always conscious of class, which makes me an awkward customer socially. I'm really envious of people who don't think it's an issue – or who have so much personal confidence that the issue disappears.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is Paul Merton.

The last time I cried ... was watching a BBC4 documentary about the loving nature of working-class fathers in the 20th century. I was so upset I had to switch it off.

My life in six words ... I worry about things too much.

A life in brief

The writer and broadcaster Lynne Truss was born in Kingston, Surrey, in May 1955. After working in journalism, she published the international bestseller Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation in 2003. Truss is also a writer on football, and her most recent book, Get Her Off the Pitch!, is published by 4th Estate, £12.99. She lives in Brighton and London with her dog, Hoagy.

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