1. I used to be a translator and lived in Italy for a few years, so I speak fluent Italian. Obviously when I started studying the language I made a point of learning all the swear words first. Italians have great swear words.

The Stolen Letter

The Stolen Letter

2. I can tap dance. Kind of. I was practising at home once and my husband heard the noise and panicked because he thought the boiler was about to explode. Let's just say I'm not very light on my feet.

3. I am a terrible procrastinator and have to get up at 5 or 6 and catch myself by surprise while I'm half-asleep before I can talk myself out of doing any writing.

4. I am not very domestic: I can't cook and would have to think for a couple of minutes if you asked me where I keep the iron. I can put together an Ikea flatpack like a boss, though.

5. (Possibly related to 4) My husband can competently assemble a meal and probably knows where the iron is. No, you can't have him.

6. (I'm now wondering whether we do, in fact, own an iron.)

7. I have no pets because we're all riddled with allergies in this house. But I have a bird feeder outside my study window and that gives me something to look at when I'm supposed to be writing. My favourites are the greenfinches. They look as bad-tempered as I feel at 5 in the morning when I've just got up to work.

8. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but if presented with a buffet will ruthlessly trample over small children to be first to the cheese and onion crisps.

9. I have a little tattoo of a rose on my ankle, which I got when I was 22 and thought I knew it all. I breezed into the place and exclaimed, 'Hail, good fellow! Kindly give me your cheapest tattoo!' or words to that effect. So he did - and it looks it. I keep it as an object lesson to my children, to show *exactly* how cool a bad tattoo looks on a middle-aged woman.

10. I know all the words to the rap bit in Blondie's Rapture. I have no explanation for this; some things just stick in your mind.