I speak Nepali, which has a beautiful, musical quality and is rippled with phrases of onomonopia such as “rungi chungi” (colorful), “jealy mealy” (bright and shiny) and “walk-walk lagio” (feeling nauseous). I learned Nepali when I was 20 years old, living in a village in the foothills of the Himalayas. Very occasionally, when I’m lucky, I still dream in the language.

Heather Harpham

Heather Harpham

Twice my family has tried to adopt a dog, twice we’ve failed. Both times we chose rambunctious rescue dogs from the American South, who, before they came to us, endured hardscrabble lives they preferred not to discuss. We hope to try again someday, with a very calm gentle geriatric dog who will be happy just to flop around on our laps and be hand fed.

I am hopelessly addicted to the color blue. Not navy or dark blue, but greenish blues and indigos. If I see an article of clothing in the blue I love, I buy it; even if it’s utterly impractical, like a pair of heels I’ll never pull off. I like to think of wearing blue as “color therapy” though I’ve no idea if such a thing exists.

My son doesn’t like me to write about him, so I won’t.

My daughter feels the same; they are teenagers.

My very first job, as a teenager, was working in an ice cream parlor. I can still vividly remember the feeling of being left totally alone – when my co-worker stepped out for her break – with 31 flavors of ice cream and a spoon.

When I was ten, we moved to a house that was situated at the bottom of a beautiful set of rolling hills, protected from development. I spent many hours in childhood wandering those hills, on my own, or with our dog or later still on the back of my long-suffering pony who I sometimes forgot to feed but bathed four times a week.

I consider myself a Christian. Even though I’m iffy on the concept of a literal resurrection, and absolutely alienated by most Christian public figures, I love the ideals of Christ. I grew up Greek Orthodox, wooed by its gorgeous iconography, pageantry and music. And, to the extent I could absorb them, I revered the core values of altruism, tolerance and mutual stewardship. I hope the progressive movement in the US figures out a way to reclaim Christianity, that would be fun.

I would not want to stand beside Donald Trump in a street fight. He’s cowardly. First off, he tends to personally attack -- with insults or insinuation -- those with the temerity to question his motives or practices as President rather than illuminating his beliefs, like a true leader. Secondly, leaders stand in front and take the hit, while Trump likes to duck behind whoever is handy, and let them cope with the arrows aimed at him. 

I find writing hard. Maybe somewhere on earth is a writer (or two) for whom words pour forth like a natural spring; all they have to do is standby with a bowl. (If they exist, I hate them.) For most of us who wish to write, it is labor intensive, word by word. To achieve anything approximating what you hoped to say, takes a ludicrously long time. And yet, labored as it is, it’s a joyful privilege. Writing is storytelling, and telling one another stories is the oldest art we have.

Happiness by Heather Harpham is available in audiobook now at audible.co.uk, and hardback from Oneworld Publications.