My guest this week is Heidi Colthup who works in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Kent. We learn about the unusual criteria she uses to remember how long she has been here and we discover that Heidi has also worked as a freelance journalist and trained as a primary school teacher. Heidi talks about why she felt powerless in that profession apart from when she was actually teaching and we learn why all of her careers have been creative and why she is an ‘intellectual butterfly’.
Heidi was married to a farmer and has twin boys and we find out how she combined fine art with driving tractors and how she ended up channelling her talents through writing. We learn why books have always been a sanctuary for Heidi and why the reader gets to lead a thousand lives, and we have an extended discussion around trashy novels and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and the notion of ‘counterpoint’.
Heidi talks about being a child of the 1970s with Scottish ancestry and we learn about how and why her family moved to Kent. She discusses her ancestry and how she has been tracing it and we learn about the time when her grandfather wrote his memoirs before he died, which her grandmother put in his coffin before he was then cremated. We talk about our shared interest in writing diaries and reflect on who we write them for. Heidi also discloses why she can’t read about her younger self, before turning to how important it is as social history to learn about ‘normal people’s lives’.
We find out about Heidi’s ‘life long love’ of video games and how she was the first female opinion columnist for the 'Farmers Weekly’. She tells us how the whole of her childhood can be charted through movies, and we learn why she is terrified by horror films and about her love of reading Stephen King novels and the peerless way he writes Americana.
Heidi talks about embarking on a Creative Writing degree programme and how she ended up teaching, wanting to be a vet when she was young and why she was serious about wanting to become Prime Minister. Heidi refers to the abuse women get which has put her off going into politics, why she has ‘always wanted to make a difference’, and why ‘the small stuff’ in life makes a massive difference.
In the final part of the interview we learn how Heidi’s memories are positive but that she hasn’t necessarily had a terribly positive life and she talks about how in order to process the emotional stuff it needs to be written. And, at the very end we learn why Heidi doesn’t really believe in either looking back or looking forward.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Heidi Colthup and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.