I met Bridget Holding through our mutual links with Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and, as someone with a science background and a very ordered approach to life and living, I found her course on Wild Words to be fascinating. I didn’t know, until preparing for this interview, that we also have links via South Devon, where I now live and where she was located for six years before moving to ‘a wilder place, the mountains of the Pyrenees in France’. In her twenties, she developed an interest in Buddhism and was ordained as a lay member of the Order of Interbeing (Tiep Hien), of Thich Nhat Hahn. She has been a scriptwriter and film director; she is a qualified psychotherapist and member of the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapists; she teaches creative writing; and she is working on her first novel.
Bridget, welcome and thank you for finding the time to come and chat with me. Let’s start back at the beginning. What is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
My first memory is of a white, yellow-crested cockatoo squawking in a tree. I was four years old, running around barefoot in Australia.
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
I came top in English, and bottom in maths. Always. Then I started playing tennis with a friend, instead of going to Maths lessons. My parents were not pleased.
If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
Diaries. And more diaries. (They chart my life.) Oh, and the purple blanket I was wrapped in as a baby.
Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…”?
How little money I make. I can never make myself choose money over what’s interesting and creative.
Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?
How could I choose? There seems to me to be breath-taking beauty round every corner. This evening I walked on the mountains in the dusk light. Long shadows, sun, and the moon already high.
I always remember the places where I had limitless time and space just to be there. My grandparents’ garden, (they lived in Spain), no longer exists, but it’s still fresh in my mind, and still a place of safety.
How do you relax?
I go outside. I walk in the mountains. I swim in lakes, rivers, the sea.
If you knew you only had 24 hours left, how would you spend them?
Cuddling my son. Seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, listening to the natural world.
If you could change one law, what would it be?
Oh, don’t get me started… I’d begin with raising the age of criminal responsibility (we can be responsible for crime at 10, but can’t have sex until 16. You what??) Then, I would make a law that people who own second homes must live in them at least four months per year. (The villages in rural southern France are full of shut up houses. It’s terrible for communities.) And that would just be in the first hour. Then I’d move on to the Brexit situation…
If you could change one thing about yourself or your life so far, what would it be?
Everything that’s happened seems clearly to be the outcome of who I am. So, a more useful focus for me is to be more and more accepting of who I am.
Describe your ideal menu — and where would you like to eat it?
Food always tastes better outdoors. Crab, or lobster, and rice on a beach on a tropical evening. Or, for a bit of reassurance and nostalgia, a roast Sunday lunch with my family in the UK.
What would be in your ‘Room 101’?
Now this is when living abroad starts to show… what is Room 101?
If you were a car, what type would you be — and why?
A 1920’s Rolls Royce. Because they can throw off their roofs, and are beautiful. They move at a slow pace (I would like to slow down).
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be — and why?
My current heroes are living, or just gone. Peter Levine the American psychotherapist. Mary Oliver. Maya Angelou.
There is a saying: to make the punishment fit the crime. Which character from fiction would you like to punish — and how?
I’m not very interested in punishing. Understanding, yes.
Watch a film, go to the theatre, read a book or talk to friends — which would you prefer?
Week days for books and friends. Friday and Saturday evenings for film or theatre, and a meal out.
If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?
I haven’t had a television for more than ten years, so I’ll just wait and see who invites me, and look them up on the internet (as I did Room 101!)
Upload a picture or a photo that best represents you, and tell us why (and it doesn’t have to be a portrait, although it can be).
This is the side of me I feel most comfortable with. Outdoors, exploring, and not caring what I look like.
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
The Body Knows.
Would you describe yourself as left-brain (analytical), right-brain (intuitive) or a mix of both?
I’m not a huge fan of the right brain/ left brain discussions. The functioning of human beings is much more complicated and much more interesting than that. And so am I.
What do you feel passionate about?
I’m passionate about the importance of recognising that we are animals. We are always naturally orienting towards health, via instinctual behaviours. We have long misunderstood what that means. The behaviours that we fear, and call ‘wild’, are actually the outcome of disconnection from our animal nature, not a result of it. When we start to listen to our whole organism we find a powerful route from creative block, into creative flow. We become better writers.
Bridget, that is fascinating. I’m delighted you were able to take time out of your busy schedule.
Readers, if you want to find out more about Bridget and her Wild Words you can find her on the Wild Words website; on the Bridget Holding website; on the Wild Words Facebook Group; or at Wild Words on Twitter.