Sara Baume on being a champion dog walker and losing faith in politics

  1. What was your childhood or earliest ambition?
    To work with animals. The novels of Dick King-Smith had a significant impact on my early life.

  2. Private school or state school? University or straight into work?
    Two different state schools in rural County Cork, both Catholic, then art college in Dublin, specialising in sculpture. I was a good student but hated school. I was much happier in college, working with my hands.

  3. Who was or still is your mentor?
    They’ve changed with the different stages of my life, but nowadays my mentors are my mum, my partner and my best friend.

  4. How physically fit are you?
    I’ve never been inside a gym, but I’m a champion dog walker. My super-skill is stumbling across rough terrain in pursuit of rabbits.

  5. Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?
    Talent should matter more, but the system has been set up in such a way as to favour ambition.

  6. How politically committed are you?
    Not very. I’ve lost faith in politics in recent years. I’m one of those miserable people who believe we are living at the beginning of the end of the world.

  7. What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
    A home of my own, with a garden, preferably beside the sea, but this is completely unattainable for the foreseeable future.

  8. What’s your biggest extravagance?
    The most I have ever spent on a single item was my second-hand van. It has become my greatest expense because of the price of fuel and because it is now officially a banger and constantly breaks down.

  9. In what place are you happiest?
    The passenger seat of our clapped-out van, with the dogs in the back and a picnic basket at my feet and my partner driving us off to the coast on a tiny adventure.

  10. What ambitions do you still have?
    There are a lot of things I have started that I want to finish, and an awful lot more ideas for things I haven’t even started yet.

  11. What drives you on?
    Guilt over all the unfinished and unstarted things.

  12. What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?
    I do not think in terms of one big achievement. There have been lots of small ones and lots of small failures, too.

  13. If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?
    She would be disappointed I have not gained any acclaim as a sculptor.

  14. What do you find most irritating in other people?
    I find people who do not say very much extremely annoying. I have a pathological fear of awkward silences, so taciturn people send me into a babbling stupor.

  15. Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?
    A model hedgehog I made out of balsa wood and toothpicks. It was stolen from an exhibition.

  16. What is the greatest challenge of our time?
    A few weeks ago I would have said climate change. Now, I am not so sure that it isn’t nuclear war.

  17. Do you believe in an afterlife?
    I believe there’s a big pub in the sky and my dad is at the bar with my dog, and he is slipping her crisps.

  18. If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
    I’m way too superstitious to answer that.

‘Seven Steeples’ by Sara Baume is published by Tramp Press

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