Transcript: Elizabeth Harrower in Conversation with Ramona Koval

Watch the interview here

RAMONA KOVAL: Elizabeth Harrower, it is such a pleasure to be here with you in your lounge room, speaking with you for the Monthly book. Thank you for allowing me to come and talk to you.

ELIZABETH HARROWER: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for coming.

RK: Elizabeth, you were saying that when you got the letter from Text saying that they wanted to reissue your book, it was wet by the time you got to it. What happened?

EH: It was. I had walked around from the little hotel that I was staying in, collecting mail. The letter was wet and I unpicked it, and I was very surprised, of course, except that I always thought that the books would be published after I’d died. I was quite comfortable with that thought because I had a lot of confidence in them, so I accepted this thought that it was going to happen sooner. So we then corresponded and I met the Text people, and I am very lucky that if I am being published while I am alive that it is by these very good publishers. They just love books.

RK: And you love books, too.

EH: I love books, yes. I can’t think who I would be, if I hadn’t read so much when I was very, very young.

RK: Did you have an enabler? Someone who put you towards the books you loved?

EH: Like you with your mother, my mother read to me when I was very young. Alice in Wonderland, AA Milne, Peter Pan and Wendy, but I loved Alice especially, and then I just read everything that was in print. I just loved words and felt very clever with words even as a child. Pencils, writing letters: at a very early age, I just felt that it was my thing that I could do, I suppose.

RK: Clever with words because you learnt how to put them together in the right order to say things exactly the way you wanted?

EH: Presumably, I don’t know but because I was an only child and people were moving around I wrote letters at an early age. I was keen to tell them exactly what I thought. I wanted everyone to know my deepest feelings and I can only imagine what they might have been when I was ten or so.

RK: People moving around because your parents split up?

EH: Yes, yes, and then a little bit later I always took to the pen and paper, when say, school friends went to hospital with appendicitis or somebody actually won the lottery. Any opportunity for me to write a letter I took it.

RK: Did you know about being a writer, and having a job as being a writer?

EH: No, no, not at all. This was just like a bird singing, I wrote, something like that. So then as I got older and learnt to type, I typed deep thoughts, diaries, more letters and, I suppose even like Herzog, wrote letters far and wide. 

RK: Saul Bellow’s character.

EH: Yes, yes. What a good idea that was.

RK: It was a good idea to have a character to write letters to everybody.

EH: Exactly.

RK: Great philosophers!

EH: I love Saul Bellow: what a marvellous writer.

RK: I think Herzog was his favourite. Or, no, I think Henderson the Rain King was his favourite.

EH: I absolutely love Henderson. I think it has everything in it and I have been recommending it recently to everyone. I gave a copy recently to a friend who is a painter. And what was it he said in it? “The shock that wakes the spirit’s sleep”, and this made a big appeal to me and to Salvatore. He asked, “So where did that come from, Elizabeth?” So I had to give him the book. ‘The shock that wakes the spirit’s sleep.”

RK: What does that mean to you?

EH: Well ... It just means what it means, doesn’t it? I think life is just one long shock. We are constantly waking the spirit.

RK: Sometimes it wakes the spirit and pushes the spirit to write, though.

EH: Well, perhaps, perhaps, but I had certainly written books before I had read Henderson. He [Bellow] is a marvellous, marvellous writer.

RK: So when you finished school, you learnt to type and you worked as a clerk. Is that right? What was that job?

EH: I did all sorts of things and, like you, they tested my IQ …

RK: Did you do your own IQ like me?

EH: Yes, yes, and like you I had a good opinion of my IQ. So I was often taking myself off to places in Sydney where they could test you on this that or the next thing, and it always seemed to be a good result except in manual tasks. I wasn’t so good at all of those at all.

RK: Visual-spatial ability or something.

EH: Yes, I’d come away feeling quite pleased but not quite knowing what to do with myself, and these people who took money, nevertheless didn’t have any good ideas for you about what you might do. And this was, let me think, it must have been while the war was still on. Yes, the war would have been on, ’cause I was 17 when the war finished. So I did take jobs all over the place, little jobs.

RK: What sort of little jobs?

EH: Oh, little jobs, I don’t know.

RK: Shops? Offices?

EH: No, I was never in a shop, handling money. I don’t think that would have been my thing. Eventually I …

RK: Would you call yourself a people person?

EH: Well, I don’t know.

RK: Were you a noticer? Did you want to put yourself in situations where you could notice what people did and said?

EH: I never did anything deliberately. I know some writers study people, look at them, take note. With me, anything that I have ever written that has been any good has had to be accidental and intuitive and nothing done on purpose is any good – for me. So I didn’t take little notes and just things occur to you, you might see something in a bus, or a stranger might tell you something at a gathering, a few significant words that they might say to you because they will never see you again.

RK: Stranger on a train.

EH: Yes, exactly. So it was always close to unconscious.

RK: And then the imagination takes over.

EH: Exactly, it’s intuitive and unconscious. It’s not deliberate because that kills things for me. But, anyway, I did take a job in a small fashion place and it was owned by a retired lieutenant colonel, and he had a nice woman who was his offsider, then I went in and I was her offsider and what did I do? They had a little factory and it was actually quite central to the city. Little factory and we worked long hours, we would go in and switch on the power and all the noise would start up and then they would make samples. Department people would come and look at them. I was the right size and so I would put them on.

RK: So you were the model?

EH: Well, that was just one small thing but I would price the dresses. I don’t know I could do everything but there was a Scottish accountant and two young girls who had trained as designers and it was a very jolly, pleasant sort of thing. All this time I was reading steadily through the city of Sydney library – everything, everything. Oh, my goodness, I don’t think any book escaped from me. It was wonderful, wonderful, really.

RK: Were you thirsty for knowledge and experience? 

EH: I was interested in everything, rather like you: I ranged far and wide. Although I wasn’t very scientific like you, but I was still interested. 

RK: But you were interested in psychology, weren’t you? Reading about people and minds and motives?

EH: Well, I was reading large literature. I was reading great novels. This is where in my view everything is contained and I think we could sit down with Shakespeare and the ancients and not read another book and we’d be much wiser at the end. Because they knew everything, really they knew everything, and we just have to find it out all over again – probably not as well, but they knew first. So that was good fun. I have seen photographs of myself as a teen and I’m always clutching a large book. So that went on for some time and then I went away. 

RK: Did you feel as an Australian that you weren’t completed until you left? 

EH: No, it was really ... well, I was 17 when then war ended and the city came alive. Sydney was gorgeous, covered with neon lights because there had been a brown-out. There were booms across the harbour to stop the ships. The harbour, which is now sort of empty except for cruise liners, had hospital ships, troop ships and working ships, and it was all highly significant, and the streets even after the war were crammed with soldiers, people coming back from the war, The city was filled with life and people were discovering things. After the war inventions came and it was quite exciting. Of course, I was 17, which was always a rather nice thing to be. So, then what happened? 

RK: You left it all. You left all that excitement.

EH: Yes, I left all that and went away. This was like – in those days it was like another planet, like the moon. It was so separate from the rest of the world, so the ship, to go away, six weeks and three days it took to Tilbury and calling in at many, many foreign ports. And you realise that this is how human beings have always gone, from the beginning of time: they’ve approached other places by sea. And now there is this gorgeous smell, scent coming off the land – tropical plants and fruits and so on. Even coming back to Australia you could smell the Eucalypt. You could know that the land was there. Anyway that was all very, very enlightening and by the time I got off the ship at Bombay and spent a day there, I thought, I’ll never go back.  

RK: You didn’t want to go …

EH: Never go back to Australia.

RK: Did you want to stay in Bombay or did you want to travel on?

EH: I wanted to travel on till I reached my destination but I thought, I’ll never go back to Australia. And I think I said long ago, in an interview, decades ago, the best thing that ever happened to me was being born here, and the next best thing was going away, and I still think that is probably true.

RK: So it was in London that you found your writing voice?

EH: No, not really.

RK: That’s where your first book was written. 

EH: Oh yes, yes, but I didn’t go there and immediately write. I visited Scottish relatives and loved Scotland and stayed there in Edinburgh and in the borders –very beautiful, love Scotland. After a while I did go to London and did have little jobs. I worked for an undertaker once and I know that he thought, What is she doing here? I was doing sort of clerical work and he would sort of puzzle. Never mind.

RK: What were you doing there? 

EH: Just doing clerical work.

RK: Were you thinking about death?

EH: I don’t know what I was thinking. No, I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just thinking about the small amount of money I was getting.

RK: And your first book was Down in the City.

EH: Yes.

RK: And it was set in Sydney. So you were writing about Sydney in London?

EH: When I realised, it slowly dawned on me. I wrote one short story and I thought, that’s it, I’m written out. So then I thought of the story of the long prospect and then I thought, No, I better practise first.

RK: Now The Long Prospect is a story of a young girl.

EH: Complicated story.

RK: And she was living with her grandmother and she is living in a Newcastle-type city.

EH: Yes.

RK: But it’s not Newcastle; it was based on Newcastle. But she meets a man, an older man, who shows her how to think, and shows her how to be engaged with her intellect.

EH: Yes, also after I wrote this, I remember that after I did write that back here, quite a while afterwards, I had a letter from a man, thanking me for writing it and I could only assume that he might have been a man who was falsely accused of bad intentions towards a child. Anyway …

RK: But just on that, because that is very interesting, I read that a couple of months ago, The Long Prospect, and it really is about the child being romantically attached to him, because he is standing in for her father in a way.

EH: Interested.

RK: Interested in her, excited by her mind and allowing her, like a good teacher, or a good librarian or someone who cares about a child, who’s allowing them to grow and experience wonderful things. And this man is, there are rumours around him implying that there is something unhealthy about them. And I wonder what you think about conversations these days?

EH: Well, I think it’s quite sad, for men, to think of themselves as suspect, horrible. It’s a shame, isn’t it? It blocks quite natural instincts; they must think and then sometimes …

RK: Not act.

EH: Exactly. So I thought it was complicated.

RK: Why did you write it, do you think, at that time, because it was the 1950s, wasn’t it? No, it was 1958 it was published.

EH: Well, I decided to practise in Down in the City.

RK: And we should just say for people who haven’t read Down in the City yet, that this is a young woman who marries below her, in a way, or she is attracted to a loose and fast guy, who takes her into a flat.

EH: See, when I was writing it, what I was mainly thinking of was Sydney. So the characters I’m not remembering terribly well, cause I haven’t read it for years and years.

RK: The Sydney flat that you describe, I mean I have never lived in Sydney flat, but it felt very much like that kind of flat.

EH: Sydney was, as I say, very interesting to me at that time, so I was sitting in London freezing, ’cause in those days I was in a room, high, high up opposite Kensington Gardens, probably wearing a hat and nursing a hot-water bottle, putting a shilling in the slot. I was thinking of Sydney with a lot of affection and picturing the city itself, the sky, the light, everything about it.

RK: The heat.

EH: I was just feeling the breezes, the southerly bluster, so I was enjoying that, and I think it had one review in Sydney, which was a good one by Ray Mathew, the poet, and he said he liked it because of the picture it gave him – of Sydney, written about in a simple way. I don’t think, I didn’t get any attention because Australian novels were like, you know they were like – what were they like? – well, they didn’t exist. New novels, very, very few novels were being written by any person with common sense.

RK: Were people without common sense writing novels?

EH: They were the only people reckless enough to do it I think, because there was no future in it. It was dangerous, it was risky.

RK: Why was it dangerous?

EH: Well, there was no future. Nobody who planned a life would sit down and write a novel, in those days. Now, the danger is if you walk down the street and you have written a novel you are going to be killed by the prizes thrown at you. And, also now, it is a career, that carries maybe celebrity, attention and in those days you just wanted to write. And you risked everything, I mean really what was I thinking, I’ve no idea. I wasn’t thinking at all.

RK: So Down in the City was the first book, and The Long Prospect you did come to after practise with Down in the City. The third book was The Catherine Wheel, which will be published next year, which is a book that I really love and I’ll remind you of. A young woman, a law student who goes to London, who is sitting in a room, perhaps similar to the room that you just described at the top of a boarding house. Some other people are living in the house and she forms a friendship with the man living downstairs, whom she agrees to give French lessons to and he is living with a woman. And, for me, when I was reading that he was obviously disturbed psychologically, psychiatrically disturbed but interesting. Enthusiastic, firm in his opinions, fascinating, and the young woman knows that there is something wrong but she is too interested to find out what might happen if she allows the story to develop.

EH: Yes, there is a friend that I have who talks about the charisma that is sometimes part of mental disturbance, that is has a sort of exceptional charm, exceptional … well ....

RK: Attraction.

EH: Attraction. Magic, you know, something quite special. It doesn’t really come from a very good source, but it’s interesting.

RK: And in that book, in a sense she adopts his madness. She identifies with his madness towards the end. Perhaps she takes it on a bit. It can be infectious.

EH: Oh, I don’t …

RK: Well, not strictly …

EH: Well, I don’t know but it’s a complex book, isn’t it? Trying to understand something really not understandable. Difficult but challenging.

RK: And then the fourth book, the 1966 book, The Watch Tower, which was the first one that was published by Text in the reissue. 

Again, an interesting psychological thriller almost: two sisters whose completely narcissistic mother abandons them and goes back to England when their father dies, make their way together. The older sister getting a job in a box factory and having to leave school, and she is really a clever girl and she wants to protect her sister from having to do the same. And she finds herself embroiled in a marriage with the man who owns the box factory, Felix. I mean, I can see it as a film, actually. I can see Bob Hoskins playing this character in my mind. But he is kind of attracted more to men than to women, by the look of him, by the sound of him, but maybe for the times he had to get married or he needed a wife, or, I don’t know. But he begins to be rather cruel, and this young woman, Laura, she is sort of giving up, giving herself up, because she is protecting her young sister. She doesn’t want her sister to leave school. 

Anyway, it is a fantastic book: I love it and it’s chilling. Again, this psychologically damaged man and the orbit, the women around him in his orbit, and one of them breaks free but the other one is captured, I suppose. And I think a lot about capture and freedom reading your books.

EH: Well, people live dangerously to discover things, sometimes it’s a high price to pay but then it’s interesting. I feel that writers obviously come in all different shapes and sizes, but, as I think I said, everything for me has to be accidental, that I don’t study people. But I do somehow or other feel that I know something interesting about human nature, that I have a deep wish to tell everybody. I haven’t searched for it;, these are just interesting things I know. I think I’ll keep on like this to the end. Although I’m not writing I’ll still keep thinking. I think poor Michael Heyward [publisher at Text Publishing] is sick of hearing about my deep thoughts.

RK: He wants you to write them down, does he?

EH: Well, yes. It’s quite true that in life, if there is something you can do, then I do think you have an obligation to do it. 

RK: But you have done it?

EH: I have done it, but I stopped. I can’t work up any guilt but I should, I should.

RK: Why should you?

EH: Well, because of what I say. If you have a capacity to do something interesting that strikes you as important, you really should do it, otherwise it’s self-indulgent.

RK: You are wonderful at getting temperatures into sounds and smells and boarding-house flats and gritty kind of situations and men who go and bet on the horses, I mean, all kinds of situations like that. But it’s funny that you say you are not an observer or you’re not a watcher. Somehow they must make their way into your mind.

EH: I must be, I don’t know. I don’t know. I can’t account for it.

RK: Let’s talk about language, though, because I was re-reading The Watch Tower just coming up in the plane and marvelling at some of the sentence constructions that you’ve come up with and I wonder whether they’re worked at or do you revel in playing with the language and making a sentence that will give several points of view, move backwards and forwards in time.

EH: I did work hard, but then it’s such a wonderful pleasure, a wonderful challenge. Also, I think when you are writing, you are called on to reach levels of concentration that nothing else challenges you to have. And it’s very lucky because there is this concentration that is waiting to be used, if you know what I mean, it’s just there and you discover things. 

I think writers do this all the time: that you had no idea that you knew, but it means a lot of waiting, a lot of thinking that has no particular form. I think it’s what AC Grayling might call, what someone said to him was “insp-I-ration”. I don’t know if you heard him say that,; it’s quite funny. He was a young boy reading about inspiration in the bible or somewhere and then he met an academic man who said, “It’s “insp-I-ration”, and he was very taken by this word.

RK: It’s like Grace Paley, who said that there is a long time for her in between knowing and telling. 

EH: Yes, yes. So, she didn’t write very much during her life and there were years and years between her stories, but when something was ready, was right, that was the time to tell it.

EH: It is inspiration, it is concentration and it is intuition and unconsciousness, which doesn’t sound wonderful but you have to be not too conscious of what you are doing and then it helps obviously if you love the language. So you might spend a day writing these rather tragic events and then feel exceptionally light-hearted, very happy, having put all of that down and you can go about gathering flowers and feeling quite cheerful because you feel you have earnt your keep in some mysterious way. You know?

RK: Your cosmic keep?

EH: Exactly, exactly. You have to deserve to have been alive. This is all I’ve got to offer. 

RK: Did you read them again when they came…?

EH: No. Michael, I think, thought this was almost inconceivable, but cross my heart I haven’t opened them and looked at them at all.

RK: Why?

EH: Because, as I said to him, if I thought they were good, that would be bad, and if I thought they were bad, that would be bad, too.

RK: So nothing good will come of it.

EH: No. And I thought I might look at them and see something trailing from somewhere else that I had picked up and that wouldn’t please me, so better just leave them. Another person wrote them, in a sense. A much younger version of myself. Friends have been very pleased. Let’s say, friends have been very pleased about it.

RK: What have they said?

EH: Well, until recently, my writing friends had died or disappeared. Well, died principally.

RK: Like who?

EH: Oh, well, everybody, everybody.

RK: Patrick White.

EH: Yes, Patrick had gone, and Judah Waten and Richard Hall. These three were very supportive, very supportive and urging me on, different levels or urging.

RK: But you didn’t listen.

EH: No. I was terrible. I was terrible.

RK: Why were you terrible?

EH: Well, because I was pleased in an awful way that they wanted me to do it and I was pleased, I don’t know. I knew I wasn’t going to. I seemed to be annoyed about something and I just wouldn’t do it.

RK: Do you know what you were annoyed about?

EH: I could work it out but I think it probably wouldn’t reflect well on me so I won’t do it.

RK: All right. You got in your own way.

EH: Yes. I always had this confidence that they would not disappear forever. I thought they deserved to be found and they would be found. Total confidence. All the friends I have had in the last couple of decades at least, some of them didn’t know I’d written anything, I never talked about it, never discussed it, or even books much with a lot of people. And everybody reads but not in the way readers read, if you know what I mean.

RK: Well, the kind of readers we are – that are sort of encyclopaedic readers, but who like to pull out this idea or that book, or this poem or that phrase.

EH: Yes.

RK: From everything that we know.

EH: Sometimes I would jump out of bed, even now and go into the office and look at my depleted range of books to find something.

RK: Depleted because you had given them away?

EH: Well, yes, because I left a big house and a whole lot of books and had to shrink them, which wasn’t easy.

RK: What did you leave with you? What did you decide you could not possibly give away.

EH: I’ll show you later. Some great books I’ve kept and a great mixture of philosophy, novels, ancient history, dictionaries – that’s about it, I think. I do love them. You can’t always go back: you know you can’t step in the same river twice. Nothing is ever quite the same, you know you fall in love with these books, don’t you?

RK: You do.

EH: You just adore them. You feel that no one in the world has understood it exactly as you do. You know they have spoken right to your heart.

RK:  That’s right, but when you re-read them sometimes, for me, I think I didn’t understand this the first time. I didn’t understand that Flaubert wanted me to like Charles Bovary, as well as Emma, or to have pity for both of them. Because when I first read them I was only focused on Emma.

EH: I see. Well, I think writers have to not really make judgements, because I think they have to be aware that they themselves are capable of anything and everything. Consequently, the person who has written the book they are reading understands that judgement is not called for, from them anyway. For other people, they make up their own minds. I can remember, when I was quite young, picking up Henry James and I thought, No, no, I’ll have to be a bit older. So I put him to one side for a while and then later on, of course, I loved him. 

RK: You had to be ready for him.

EH: Yes, I did see no, no that not for me yet. You know there are wonderful short-story writers like Karen Blixen, Winter’s Tales, marvellous stories. And then the Russians, I love all the Russians and then the Scandinavians and Ibsen. So many.

RK: The friends you had the writers, Patrick White, Richard Hall. Kylie Tennant, I think was a friend of yours.

EH: Yes.

RK: Did you talk books all the time with them?

EH: No, actually, no. I remember some people met Patrick, writers, very brilliant writers, academic in a way and they talked about some book with him. They were really disconcerted because they would only say if it was good or not good, and this was how we conducted conversations about books. If he liked it. He knew what I would like and I knew what he would like, there is no need to say anything. You just understand that’s your cup of tea. So, but these people thought, Strange, he didn’t analyse it. Wasn’t his thing. Richard Hall was a great reader and he would ring and say “ What are you reading, comrade?” So I had to think of something quickly. 

RK: You were involved in politics, too, weren’t you? 

EH: Well, I was enthusiastic, certainly, because of ancient history. 

RK: What Herodotus and such? Or the twelve Caesars.

EH: I just loved Greek and Roman history and was very involved in it and at the time when Athens fell and the walls were breached and there was a wailing from Athens, I cried. I was really involved, and so, that’s right, I was converted, so to speak, in England, in London, no, in Bath, in a hotel, with a radio going behind me. I heard Attlee give a speech for the [British] Labour Party and it seemed to me to make such extraordinarily good sense. That was it, I was converted. All my unspoken, not analysed thoughts were given something, by him and after that I was very enthusiastic about the Labour Party. Because, of course, England was so shattered by the war: food was still rationed when I got there and people were very, very poor. Now that I am older and wiser I can see how hard it is to do good, which I didn’t fully realise.

RK: Because of the constraints of politics?

EH: Because of the constraints of politics and because of the contrariness of human beings and because of wanting everything.

RK: And because how easily swayed they are?

EH: How easily swayed, and kind hearts want to give everything to everyone, regardless of whether it is feasible, so you do actually live and learn. By the time you are my age, you have a lot of opinions not exactly overturned but you have to think again. Well, history is interesting, you know. We’re just trailing through, aren’t we? Just thinking when you think of politics people going into war, when it’s all over.

RK: I had a look at the list of the documents that you stored at the National Library and I noticed that you have letters between you and Gough Whitlam.

EH: Oh, yes. Well, you see, I came back after all those years in London, where everything was very vital and serious and the world could blow up, bombs. I’m not being very coherent but all I mean is, it was a very serious world and I would go and hear people like Bertrand Russell and Linus Pauling, they were thinking about war, the extinction of civilisation, and going for these marches that I went for, too. 

Then I came back in 1959 and people were trailing through the street, trail, trail, trail, plonketedy plonk. And, I thought, my god, this is not a serious country. On the other hand at Balmoral, where I went, it was so beautiful, it was gorgeous. I thought if everyone in Europe knew how gorgeous it was, the would all want to come. Now where was I?

RK: Gough Whitlam.

EH: Gough. So then I was living, doing whatever I was doing. Working briefly at the ABC and then at Macmillan, the publishers. Then Gough Whitlam arose and lost that first election, but then came ’72 and we were all so happy. It was like ancient history in the sense that the ruler decides what to do and everything changes. I remember the first few days or weeks, when he and Lance Barnard, I think, were the two operating everything. They did so many things: they looked after birds in Tasmania, they brought home the troops. I could tell you – well, you would know how busy they were – but I thought, my god, they just have to make up their minds and do these great earth-shattering changes, which all seemed so beneficial. And Medicare, so many good things that are forgotten and taken for granted. Well, to say we were all elevated is an understatement. It was quite thrilling. So, yes...

RK: We were talking about the writers being all involved in politics.

EH: Well, the writers were. Even Patrick was interested, although gradually he became disillusioned. No, they were great days, really, to live through.

RK: Did you get disillusioned? Are you disillusioned now by the political climate?

EH: Well, I just think everybody thinks, everybody I know, everybody that you read about is a bit sad about politics. I don’t know exactly what we expect; it’s a terrible job, being a politician. They have to act so quickly, they can’t know what the effects are going to be. And, of course, the world is so connected now, I think good intentions are not enough, but still you do need good intentions, but what a job.

RK: Finally, do you still look to the novel, you enjoy reading a great novel, to understand the world a bit better?

EH: Not really. I might read older novels that I’ve read. I suppose there are great novels being written now but I just haven’t read them. They haven’t come my way mostly and I don’t go to libraries and the friends who used to give me books and send them to me aren’t here. I still read, of course, but, no, about the state of the world, it’s a constant worry. I feel responsible somehow. You have to worry about it. 

I worry about overpopulation, which I think is a real threat. What’s going to become of us, of humans. You see, I don’t have children and people obviously adore their children, but if you think of how few of us there were in the very beginning, we are all related. I can never understand why people don’t take that view, that there were very few of us we were lucky to survive, we were very clever and we are all related. So I don’t have to have a child, brother, sister to feel connected to the human race, and that’s why I feel very responsible for everything. I think this interconnectedness is marvellous and so important, so I talk to people in the street and in cafes. They all seem potential friends to me. Everybody’s happy to talk to me, I think.

RK: Well, I have been very happy to talk to you. Elizabeth Harrower, thank you so much for speaking with us today.

EH: Thanks so much. It’s a pleasure.

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