A maddening lack of madeleines – The Proust Questionnaire

One of those weeks, and the mood is half fin de siècle and half
fin de l’après-midi. The double-bass of Michel Benita rumbles from the speakers, audible more through my feet than my ears over the pink noise of the tumble dryer. The Proust Questionnaire could probably be put to better use in drawing character maps for fiction, but the moment is more a case – and I cringe at joining the mountain of Bowie tributes, much as I admired the man’s work – of “Where Are We Now?”.

As with any profiling device, the answers here – certainly the ones in italic – would probably be different tomorrow. And then again on Thursday. And something entirely contradictory in February. So be it. For January 30th 2026, this is the lie of the land.

Your favourite virtue Justice. As an interim answer, while we’re waiting, patience
Your favourite qualities in a man Thoughtfulness
Your favourite qualities in a woman Ditto
What you appreciate the most in your friends Their continued existence and presence
Your main fault Laziness
Your favourite occupation Wandering
Your idea of happiness A hammock for two with a beautiful view
Your idea of misery Repetition. Especially a second time. Da Capo al Fine is dispiriting enough in a piece of music; in a life, it’s plain depressing.
If not yourself, who would you be? Without any particular hero, a difficult question to answer – surely the response should be aspirational? Jimmy Carter? Bowie?
Where would you like to live? South Island, NZ; Pisa; Lisbon. Places large enough to provide culture and anonymity but small enough to offer community.
Your favourite flower Night-scented stocks
Your favourite prose authors William Golding, J Robert Lennon, Graham Swift
Your favourite poets Thom Gunn, WS Graham, Auden
Your favourite heroes in fiction Christie Malry
Your favourite heroines in fiction Lady Macbeth, Renée Michel
Your favourite painters Mark Wright
Your favourite composers Gustavo Santaolalla, Custodio Castelo
Your heroes in real life My father, for his grace and absence of narcissism
Your favourite heroines in real life My maternal grandmother, for her determination
What characters in history do you most dislike Friedrich Hayek
Your heroines in World history Rosa Parks
What I hate the most Broccoli and banjos.
World history characters I hate the most Mostly the obvious candidates
The military event I admire the most Christmas Day Football Match, if I’m forced to answer
The reform I admire the most Universal suffrage, or any move towards equality
The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with Piano playing, singing
How I wish to die Painlessly, surrounded by my loved one
What is your present state of mind As jaded as one might anticipate at this age
For what fault have you most toleration? Anxiety
Your favorite motto Live and let live
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