Philippa Perry: ‘Love of my life? Grayson’s nice, but have you met my cat, Kevin?’
Born in Cheshire, Philippa Perry, 63, trained as a psychotherapist. In 2012, she published How To Stay Sane; her 2019 bestseller, The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (And Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did), has been translated into 38 languages. She is married to the artist Grayson Perry, with whom she presents Grayson’s Art Club on Channel 4. They have a daughter, Flo, and live in London.
What is your greatest fear?
What is your earliest memory?
Being told to hurry up by my father.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Desperation for acceptance and approval.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Their desperation for acceptance and approval.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
I’m a bit face-blind. I wish I hadn’t asked Stephen Fry, “What do you do?” Mortifying.
If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
My youthful neck.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I think Harry Hill would be good. He could carry off the hair.
What is your most unappealing habit?
I pick my nose.
What is your favourite smell?
Grayson when he’s just returned from a mountain bike ride in high summer. I also like stale beer breath. Maybe to do with positive sexual associations with my teenage years.
What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“I’ve bought your book but haven’t read it.”
Which book changed your life?
The Road Less Travelled by M Scott Peck introduced me to psychotherapy. I wish I could say something brainier, like Freud’s The Interpretation Of Dreams, but no.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I like watching television between 4pm and 6.30pm every weekday. I don’t feel guilty.
What do you owe your parents?
My overinflated sense of entitlement and privilege, and several neuroses.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Everyone. In advance. Just in case.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Grayson’s nice, but have you met my cat, Kevin?
How often do you have sex?
Less than we used to. The great thing about getting old is I don’t want to be at it the whole time. This frees up television-watching opportunities.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
I’m closer today than I was yesterday.
What has been your closest brush with the law?
Due to my privilege, upbringing and subsequent luck, I’ve never been caught.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
One written in 2057.
How would you like to be remembered?
It’s probably a bit of an ask, but I’d like my latest book to stay in print. For ever.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Everything is better when you remember to breathe.