If you haven’t heard of Madeline Walker get on over to The Twenties Club to check her out. Cue deep exhales of relief that someone else is also battling a mouldy flat and sighs of admiration as she still manages to look incredibly chic while doing it. Inspired by her wonderful and relatable writing I wanted to do my own spin on her 20 Questions series. I’ve spoken before about the agony and ecstasy of this twenty something time of our lives and I wanted to give people a chance to share what they’ve learned or wish they knew. I’ve certainly loved reading the inspiring and down to earth answers that have been given by the gals on her blog so I wanted to cast the net wider. There’s nothing better than being reminded that everyone is just taking it one day at a time and hopefully it will help to show that while we’re all chasing different pursuits we have so much in common and that is inspiration in itself. *wolf whistles*
Harriet Ruth Winn
Are you at uni?
Yep! studying a BA double majoring in history and theological + religious studies (with a bit of hospo work on the side)
What inspires you?
Many, many things – so here are just a few that spring to mind:
People who work ardently and selflessly towards constructive social change: both on local and global levels. Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Kate Sheppard, Elizabeth Kerekere, to name a few.
Writers who nourish my soul by simultaneously challenging and encouraging me (recently this has been Jeanette Winterson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Roxanne Gay, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Hera Lindsay Bird).
My family. My younger brother Charlie is an endlessly patient person with an immensely compassionate nature. His warmth paired with his desire to understand people (what makes them tick, what makes them different, what they love) constantly reminds me to strive to be better. Charlie epitomises goodness. My Dad’s ambition for me nudges me to keep dreaming and planning for the future – even when I don’t want to. He is optimistic, driven and hopeful in a way I aspire to be. Mum is not content with stagnancy, injustice, or unresolved bitterness; she is fiercely resilient and wise. All three of them inspire me in unique ways.
As horrendously nerdy as it sounds, History inspires me. I find empowerment in recovering the lost narratives of marginalised people. I think that the way History is written has the power to shape people’s world views. So I am excited by the possibility of writing History from the position of people who have previously been shut out of dominant discourses. What can queer people, women, indigenous peoples (and more) of the past tell us about the present? What mirror do they hold up to us?
What is something you are most proud of?
A few things: various pieces of writing I’ve done (either essays or personal reflections); my ability to pull increasingly ridiculous all-nighters for uni; being told by a favourite high school teacher that she would want her children to be taught by me; my ability to craft an excellent playlist.
First thing you do when you wake up?
Predictably, I check my phone. Then I put lip balm on and make coffee (I’m literally addicted to Vaseline HELP)
What is your perfect Sunday?
Brunch at home, lots of coffee, going for a walk somewhere by the sea, and then watching a film with my flatmates. There would probably be excessive quantities of ice cream involved too.
What was the last thing that made you laugh?
Tagging my brother in Gavin and Stacey memes.
What are you passionate about?
Feminism. Learning. Cycling. Equality. Music. Relationships. Sea swimming. Fries.
What does your ideal night look like?
This is really dependent on who I’m with and how I’m feeling. But loosely it would involve a bath, dinner with friends, and excellent conversation. Good music, dancing, and a lot of laughing.
Best comfort movie?
Bend It Like Beckham. Hands down, no question about it.
Favourite 3 songs that get you on the dance floor?
Only three???!! Well I’m a major fan of the ‘nostalgic bangers’ genre at parties. It will have to be Dog Days Are Over, Mr Brightside and American Boy. Classic bangers. Certified tunes.
Something that you luurve about yourself?
I’m a really committed person.
Which four people (can be anyone from past or the present) would you invite to a dinner party?
Laura Marling because her lyrics are divine verse, and I’m certain she would have drily articulated wisdom to impart.
Florence Welch because her music makes me outrageously exuberant and happy; I’d cheekily request she sung for us. She also seems like a blast and I feel like I need to meet her for the sake of my infatuated 16-year-old self.
Martin Luther because I have a lot of questions.
Yasser Arafat because I want to know if his vision for Palestine would have changed in recent years, and how (whether) he thinks reconciliation is possible.
What is your favourite season?
Autumn in the UK because of the richly coloured leaves. Summer in NZ because of wharf jumping and long evenings spent drinking beer with friends.
Favourite thing to eat when hungover?
Hash browns and bacon.
Favourite item of clothing you own and why?
It will have to be my t-shirt collection (is that allowed?) Not to sound like a knob, but I own some damn brilliant t-shirts (just ask Rachel Ashby 😉 ). I love how baggy t-shirts make me feel androgynous and cool all at once. I’m especially fond of my band t-shirts (super wanky but whatever) because of what the artists mean to me.
If you could have a word with yourself at 13 what would you want to say?
Don’t let people convince you that passion is uncool. Feeling things deeply may be a bit shit sometimes because it’s so intense, but it’s also a gift – harness that for good. Also, you’re gay, and that’s totally fine. Be kind to yourself and remember that it’s not your duty to help others come to terms with that. Probably most importantly, believe in your abilities and intellect because you (teenage girls generally) will be frequently told the opposite. Keep doing what you’re doing, girl. You’re gr8.
Anything you’d like to ~improve~ about yourself?
I’d like to be more patient. I want to understand the limits of my extroversion better. I’d like to commit to reading more regularly. I’d like to think more rationally and learn how to not let my emotions rule me entirely. I’d like to learn another language (probably Māori first, then maybe German). I think we should always strive to be kinder – so that too.
How does the future make you feel?
Joyful at the countless possibilities. I guess it’s slightly daunting too, but I’m more drawn to the excitement of it all.
Shot over pasta and prosecco at Cocos Cantina where I have had many long chats with many lovely people