Writer Kathy Lette: ‘South Hampstead is full of shrinks and Aussies’
- Credit: Archant
Kathy Lette, 56, is a bestselling author of 12 novels. The mother-of-two lives in South Hampstead. She is married to renowned human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson. Her latest novel, Courting Trouble, is published by Black Swan.
What brought you to South Hampstead?
When I first moved to London 26 years ago, I lived in Islington but it was a little too PC for me. Neighbours tended to feng-shui their auras and knit their own orgasms. South Hampstead is home to so many Aussies I call it “Vegemite Valley”. The area’s so full of shrinks I also call it “Couch Canyon”. I only write because it’s cheaper than therapy.
You have a day off to spend as you wish in the area, what would you get up to?
I would power walk up to Hampstead Heath with a gaggle of girlfriends. If we talk while we walk, it means we can have guilt-free gormandising later at Singapore Gardens. I’d visit the houses of all the famous authors who have lived here, from Dickens, Daphne du Maurier, Katherine Mansfield, A.A. Milne and John Mortimer to Keats, Shelley, Byron, Huxley, Sitwell, Orwell, Lawrence and Elliott. The whole place hemorrhages history.
Is there anything about South Hampstead which you would like to see changed or improved?
Cycling lanes, especially around Swiss Cottage, where I am nearly turned into roadkill every bloody day.
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As guest editor of the Ham&High for a day, what one local issue would you most like to see reported?
Help for autistic kids to get into the workforce. My 24-year-old son has Asperger’s. He’s also Wikipedia with a pulse. With the right help, autistic people could give back to society in the most wonderful ways. But too often they end up living in a bedsit on benefits.
A film is set to be made about your life. Which actor would you choose to play you and why?
Wit and wordplay are my passion, so I’d choose a woman who has a black belt in tongue-fue, like Mae West or Katherine Hepburn.
Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?
Spike Milligan. Spike took me seriously and encouraged me to keep writing. He was the first grown up I’d ever met who didn’t have a condescension chromosome. It was like having a sugar daddy, but without the sex; a saccharine daddy. It was love from the neck up. And we stayed friends for life.
Kathy Lette was in conversation with Tim Lamden