49 Guildford, United Kingdom
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My self-summary
Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.
- Dorothy Parker

I try hard to make a difference in the world. I have demanding work and two young children whom I co-parent.

After years in government service I'm lecturing, blogging and running my own think tank.

I am outgoing, colourful, and ambitious.

I'm geeky but stylish.
What I’m doing with my life
I sicken of the calm, for I have known the storm.

(Paraphrased from Dorothy Parker)

I spend as much time as I can with my children.

I fence, but I do the more rough-and-tumble Historical European Martial Arts fencing rather than the classical fencing in white on a piste.

In my professional life, I bring strategic thinking to people who need it. I try to communicate the realities of cyber warfare. I blog on foreign affairs and strategy, occasionally on silly things. For the months leading up to the EU referendum I was writing scenarios for the day after we voted to leave. Now I'm explaining the scenarios.

I teach Hebrew school at my progressive synagogue, I love cooking, I read constantly.

I sew mediaeval costumes, tablet-weave narrow-wares, dye yarn, embroider with beads, paint silk, and write ancient hands with quill and reed pens.

I drive an old Land Rover, live in a pretty little cottage in a lovely village and share space with a beautiful blue greyhound. I ride a retro Dutch bicycle, not terribly quickly. I own a very light carbon fibre road bike which I ride never. I walk in the countryside around my village. I garden. I craft.
I’m really good at
Talking ... I mean really, really good at it. I do it for a living. I'm also very good at thinking. My older daughter used to say that I'm "a thinking doctor" as opposed to a medical doctor.

I'm a good listener too.

I'm good at cooking, especially soups and stews though I can do some very nice roasts with the proper tools.
The first things people usually notice about me
I think every woman should have a blowtorch.
- Julia Child


I had to take a course at RADA to learn to contain my passion because I can bowl people over.

I'm tall and have bright red hair. I have a great hawk's bill of a nose and deep-set blue eyes.

Only later do people find out that I'm a geek (and proud of it).
Favorite books, movies, shows, music, and food
The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook.
- Julia Child

JRR Tolkien, David Sedaris, Patrick O'Brian.

Who else do I love reading ... Sparkle Hayter, George Macdonald Fraser, Lindsay Davis, Robert Heinlein, Diana Gabaldon ...

My favourite novel is The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. My favourite comfort novels are The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth and SS-GB by Len Deighton.

I saw the Rappeneau version of Cyrano de Bergerac in the cinema 7 1/2 times, and loved every bit of its language, its production design, its acting, its direction and its attention to detail.

I've seen both Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont and I'm not sure which I loved more.

I could recite The Princess Bride from memory, but I rarely do.

My all-time favourite band is Steeleye Span, and I mourn the passing of Bellowhead; I have to look to Shooglenifty as a substitute. I like Heather Dale's work too. Also lots of Ella Fitzgerald and Pete Seeger.

My ideal of the ideal gig is something where you sit at a table with drinks, get up and dance if you feel like it, and can carry on a conversation during the breaks. I recognise that this sort of club mostly exists in 40s movies, and I adjust my expectations accordingly.

Food: lamb, duck, dark chocolate with hazelnuts (the whole ones, not the bits), cashews, rich stews made with chestnuts, red wine and chicken livers.

Standup comedy isn't one of the categories here, but I love Maria Bamford, Shappi Khorsandi, Margaret Cho and Lewis Black. I also love improv comedy.

Television isn't listed either, and I loved Downton Abbey, The Sopranos and Mad Men. After ignoring Game of Thrones for a few series I finally got into it, and I'm dreading the end of the show in 2017.

I used to listen to Radio 4 a lot, but I've since discovered that I'd far rather listen to podcasts as I drive and then get my news through an aggregator. I listen selectively to BBC downloads, mostly comedy.
The six things I could never do without
A good bathtub. Even when I lived in the smallest house in Surrey I had a great big gorgeous bath.

Books. I have a few thousand, half boxed up ready to move out of my office and half on shelves in my house. I've just started reading on my iPad, which is good for some things including reading at night.

A broadband connection. I love to feel connected to the world around me, to old friends and new, and to news and analysis.

A purpose. I always want to know why I'm meant to be doing something, even if it's just to have fun or to relax.

My family. I don't see my girls every day, I don't talk to my parents every day, but I get so much support from my mum and dad, my sisters, and my girls!

There is no number six.
I spend a lot of time thinking about
Foreign policy, politics, fabric, shoes, bath oil, my children.
On a typical Friday night I am
Either out with a friend at the theatre or cinema; or in my house lighting candles with my girls, tucking them in and cuddling them while they watch movies and do puzzles. Sometimes we're at Society for Creative Anachronism tournaments settling down in our big linen pavilion for a weekend of fencing, archery and Renaissance dance.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit
I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.
- Dorothy Parker
You should message me if
If you can't say anything nice about anyone else, come sit next to me.
- Gertrude Stein

you like spending time with a challenging but rewarding person.


Please don't write me as though you were texting. Even if you're texting. "how r u" makes a really repulsive first impression.