I am British-born of German parents and consider myself a European, although I spent my formative years in Australia and studied for my Bachelor of Arts at the Australian National University.
Writing and book publishing runs in my family. My grandfather, father, uncle and cousin have all published books. I picked up my grandfather's book the other day, a German academic book on the philosophy of knowledge. It struck me that his book addresses the very same theme that I am writing about, namely the forward march of technology and culture in crisis.
I speak German and French, and have a love of French cinema - favorites include Moliere and La Vie en Rose. I am trying to go more often to the theatre. I've seen The Captain from Koepenick, a British adaptation of the German play Der Hauptmann von Koepenick at the National Theatre . I also went to see This House at the National Theatre - a play about vote manipulation in the Westminster Parliament. Previously, I've seen the stage play of Yes, Prime Minister and went to Shakespeare's Globe to see the comedy The Taming of the Shrew. I like to support my local arts centre, and enjoy indie film showings like the quirky 'Jane Austen Book Club', or slice-of-life Lebanese film Caramel. I only watch television in the gym, when the choice tends be between The Jeremy Kyle Show and Homes Under the Hammer!
Musically, I like anything (almost) with a guitar -these days, I mainly listen to American country. There is whole raft of country singers that I really like. Current favorite is Gretchen Wilson who I put on whenever I really need to wake up! I've got lots of others on my Spotify playlist (yes, I get it all through Spotify, driven by an old laptop attached to my even older hi-fi system as described in this article Will Spotify build the copyright star?) but a few I could mention are Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Shania Twain and Lucinda Williams.
I've had to work hard on my personal fitness. Being a writer means I spend a lot of time sitting down at the computer, which is really bad for your back, and I do my best to keep flexible and mobile. Unfortunately, in 2011, I suffered a back injury that was mis-handled and mis-diagnosed by the so-called professionals and it is made me very sceptical about the quality of medial care for people with back problems. It turned out to be a facet joint sprain, which is notoriously difficult to heal and it got worse, indeed, very bad, due to the mis-handling. It is only thanks to my own determination that I would like to be fit to work, and to finding a specialist in pilates rehabilitation, that I have recovered. I still have to be careful and can feel the injured joint, but am able to enjoy normal life again. Even so, I did not waste 2011, and took advantage of the enforced lack of mobility to write my new book which was published by Zed Books in August 2013.
Now back in fitness and health, I walk, swim or gym every day. I do aerobics, pilates and BodyBalance. I enjoy horse-riding, and I used to ride at a stables near Windsor, but the back injury has called a halt to riding for the moment. As a rider who came to the sport later in life, I've had to focus a great deal on technique, and am a believer in the so-called 'natural horsemanship' methods. I occasionally help out at horse events and write for dressage judges.
I am a member of Maidenhead Speakers, which is a Toastmasters International club for public speaking. Currently, I am the club vice-president for Education. This means I have to plan all the meetings, but also to be aware of the progress made by all members of the club through the Toastmasters education programme.
I have achieved the Advanced Communicator Silver award, which means I have completed a total of 30 prepared speeches with a formal written and oral evaluation. I'm now working towards the next level which is the Gold award. I've also achieved the Competent Leadership award, which means I've participated in organising and running Toastmasters meetings, chaired a club contest, and mentored another member. One speech that got particularly positive feedback was 'how to buy designer clothes on ebay'!
I like good food and am a keen cook. I am a member of my local branch of Friends of the Earth in Maidenhead. I joined partly to carry on the work of my mother, Irmela, who was an active member of FoE for many years, but in the process of understanding the environmental movement, I've become a total fan of organic products.