A strong sense of values is what strikes me most about Claire. For her this comes down to ‘trying to make the most of what is there and available to you … to be content … and doing no harm’. People lie at the heart of her notion of the good life, particularly her two children: being a good mother is very important to Claire. I’ve seen for myself the love, care and devotion she shows her children. She also recognises that ‘you sacrifice a lot of other things for them.’

One such sacrifice is time for herself (she craves solitude), particularly for creative pursuits – she’s a talented painter and musician. She also has a great passion for literature, particularly George Eliot and Virginia Woolf – two of her heroines. Having studied English at university, she now teaches it. She also writes and has, impressively, carved out time to work on a novel. Her great ambition is to get it finished.

I’ve always seen Claire as a very shrewd judge of character, a skill she sees in herself, though with the caveat that ‘people are ultimately unknowable.’ She also clearly understands herself well, even admitting to ‘having a temper and being quite fiery’. My sense is that this is closely connected to her strong sense of values – if something feels unjust, she needs to let that be known. Behind a composed exterior, there’s also something of a wildness in Claire, as hinted at by her love of windy days and the sea.

Another quality I enjoy in Claire is her love of humour and the very act of laughing itself – ‘proper, proper belly laughing’. What makes her laugh especially is the absurd. I tried to capture this in the somewhat random image of a lone giraffe floating on a raft!

Here’s to much more absurdity, belly laughing and time for your novel, Claire.

Claire

‘I spend quite a lot of time trying to work out what really matters, so that I can feel I’m doing things that match up.’

How I know Claire

Claire and I were at the same college at University. She was one of a gang (including also Lorna – see below) who used to come to my room every lunchtime to watch Neighbours (oh, the shame of it!). I remember lots of laughter with Claire. I also remember her as the steadiest one of our gang. And in times of trouble (of which there were a few), I could rely on Claire to be the voice of reason and to provide a sympathetic ear. I’ve seen the same steadiness in Claire since, and she’s made excellent life choices along the way.