Illustration by Sarah Matthews
From the outset I’ve been a window ledge dweller. See: 90s me – My room festooned with posters of Titanic and my wrists rammed with beaded bracelets, I’d hug my knees and look through the diamond criss crosses, out to nowt. Well actually, in true 50s style, there were houses surrounding my highly suburban home, but nothing happened in them – not like the farms and the High Street. Bar the lady exercising in her garage, next door’s night time epiphany decorating and Maureen nattering to her dolls. I know M did this because my mum had mince pies there once and since she ‘met’ the dolls, I since reckoned I could see their (red) eyes through the window panes.
But I looked mainly across the road to the enormous tree that looked like one you might find in Africa. It was really tall, but had a flat top. My cat got stuck up it in 1992, at 2am – when she first ventured outdoors as a kitten. I was proud. She wanted to touch the sky. *Paw, paw*. This tree, and the one I would look up at as I walked up the big hill, back home from Primary School (more Australian looking) signified travel to me. I had decided pretty much from birth, that I would start with Australia when exploring the world. Perferably dressed like a female Simon King. This particular destination desire was compounded by Neighbours and the early 2000s, when I fell in love* with the surfing boys that lived in the next village. And the Extreme Sports Channel. Urg. Simon King‘s style was replaced by the redundancy of my hairbrush and light coloured jeans (now, finally on Ebay).
So at 19, I went to Australia for a year. I found an unsuitable boyfriend at the very end. Came back and (classically) thought Sussex was cramped, materialistic and I missed the sandy shores. So I moved to Cornwall for a university I found down them there parts. At the end of 2006 I split up with boyfriend. Sold our flat’s contents. Felt numb. Then bouncy, curly haired, Jersey surfing boy popped along (aka: Charlie). Blew me away. Freaked me away. Ended it. Regressed back to ‘the’ former pre-Australia surf love. More of a Byron character – we sat by the sea and pondered. It was poetic. And I realised. Cried for three months. At the end of which Charlie fell off his bike and abandoned me. What a mess. I was someone else. Charlie and I were reunited on the end of a pier. I started wearing his clothes again and I never felt a millisecond of ‘freak’ since. IT.
After graduation, I felt like careers were the way to go. I wanted to be a psychologist/ lawyer/ teacher/ banker… writer… WRITER. The last year of university was full of some joy but also some deep kind of horrific (the crying), that had me writing without realising. Then moving to Bristol, getting a cat, being so very happy – also made me scribe, scribe, scribe. Hmmm. VULNERABLE PROFESSION. Someone paid for my writing. Internship & NCTJ BLURRRR – fell for London’s Londoness. Bah. London/Bristol/London/Bristol – Canada…? Then of course… South America calls and calls – then sits – on the edge of a cliff, waiting, waiting.
THEN no one tells you that at some point you start looking at babies, like you actually want one. I did. This was unplanned, unexpected and I suppose quite nice. Small e.g: Last night my friend and I spent at least three minutes cooing over Ben Fogle‘s twitter picture, with his blonde baby in his rucksack, cute carry thing. This would NEVER have happened a few years ago.
Fogle. A surprise.
Of course also there is granny. The other day she asked me when Charlie and I were getting married; “just joking – aha”. We all know she wasn’t. And Charlie’s grandparents ask quite blatantly on a regular basis. Which I secretly like. “He thinks I’m a sure thing, he hasn’t asked.” I say to his Granny. Cue: take him aside: “Ask her!”. Ha. But then I need to sort out my job. And we’re not quite ready yet. But… then of course… I want to have a kid before I’m 30, see more of the world and I WANT TO BE A WRITER. More than I think anyone in the world could possibly, possibly understand. I want to be a writer.
Mind feeling follows: I’m happy but… BAH!
Then as if from a joyous ship, Cherry Healey seemed to get it. In her programmes, she was doing all that I/we (girlfriends, hola!) wanted/were thinking about/trying to understand. It was fine. She kept her identity and she never belittled anyone else’s decision. We discussed her. Especially at knit club – oh yes, domestica – whilst the boys were cycling through the woods in the dark. Where do we really want to go now?
Cliche Titled Pretty Song: Here’s to the drama of life!
I am so very lucky to have an interview here with Cherry. And two illustrations by two fabulous artists, Sarah Matthews and Mina Bach. Who jumped at illustrating Cherry. I’m so happy about all of this. And I have to say that after some recent news and thinkings, as cheesy as it is – I have been pondering over the 20-something crisis. It’s true, we need to stop worrying and remember to keep living. Living our only lives. We are fortunate. It’s the one thing we have and it’s precious. Live, live, live. *And when you want something so much… Keep trying. I am positive every night I will continue to have insomnia for a couple of hours before – fingers crossed – I will (?) make it as a writer.*
Illustration by Mina Bach
How did you get to where you are today, *superstar lady presenter* ?
That’s really kind! Well…I started at the BBC working my way up the production ladder with the aim of becoming a director. A friend put me forward for a job as an immersive journalist and amazingly the channel came back with a yes! Whilst I was training to become a director I travelled all over the UK meeting interesting people to feature in programmes – and I LOVED it! So actually, what I do now isn’t really all that different!
What has the reaction been to your programmes? We all loved them, it was great to actually relate totally to someone on screen.
The reaction has been amazing – the response was very exciting! I’ve had some lovely emails from girls saying the films have helped them navigate pregnancy/dating and/or marriage – which warms the heart!
Now: Feeling felt by many gals my age (26):
“Sometimes it feels like life is on hold, whilst the career takes precedent, when in the old ticker, I want to start all the marriage, family palava of joy. Especially hard when the career is so difficult to get a grip on! I also want to make sure I travel and see the world. But i’m not being ungrateful for my life of course – ARG!” (ends).
Your programmes have made the milestones of baby, marry etc. seem doable and REAL for us. With the thoughts on childbirth etc. very normal. So…
What is it like being a mother?
Completely to my surprise I am loving motherhood! You do have to make some sacrifices and your life does change – but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find the payoff is totally worth it. I don’t think I’ve changed as a person – I still love going out and dancing like a loon until 3am (OK, that happens a little less now I confess!). I do however, like all mums, sometimes feel very frustrated. If my friends are meeting somewhere fun and hectic it’s really tricky for me to join them with the buggy and baby in tow! If I’ve been disorganised I also find myself juggling work emails and phone calls whilst cooking baby food one handed – and I end up doing both badly! But generally I love the excitement and adrenaline of being a working mum.
How do you address the work/home life balance?
I really relate to the above statement – work, social life, family, travel, interesting hobbies – can we have it all? Even managing a job and family is quite a challenge. But things are changing. Working life is becoming more able to accommodate a woman (or man) who want flexible hours and part-time appointments. I do feel fortunate that my job allows periods of time off to muck about with Coco – and I don’t know what I’d do without the support of my mum and hubbie. But even with support and a job that isn’t a gruelling 9-5, I do sometimes feel like I’m being pulled in too many different directions. Like so many women I often put too much pressure on myself to play too many roles: I want to be there for my friends and family; I want to be a great mum and wife; I want to read more, to be fitter, to be a better cook, to travel the world – BUT, to avoid going potty, I’ve had to prioritise. In order to actually be a happy and useful mum, wife and friend there is a certain amount of sleep, sofa and wine that’s needed!
What’s most important to you in life?
I know it’s very cheesy but Coco, my husband and my family. No question.
How do you think our twenties compare to our mother’s experience of them?
I can only speak from my own experience but in my twenties I was expecting to focus 100% on my career whereas my mother was expecting to have a family. I know that she sometimes feels frustrated at not having had a career – she had her hands full with four children and part-time jobs. I absolutely respect her for being such a wonderful mum – I sometimes wonder if it’s really possible to do an equally good job whilst juggling work. But our generation expects to, wants to OR has to work – so we’re all trying to work out how to get that balance right. We’re redefining what it means to be a mum and it’s not an easy task.
City or country?
City city city and, hang on, city.
Clothing people you love?
Sarah Beeny for her wonderful nonchalance. Claudia Winkleman for creating about a thousand variations of gothic, 60’s chic. Angela Rippon for her elegance and grace. Jessie J for being a fox.
Films you love?
Contact ( I love a good sci-fi), A Beautiful Life (I challenge you not to blub like a baby) & Zoolander (who doesn’t love that film!)
What FOODS could you not live without?
Ketchup. All other foods exist merely as a vehicle.
Finally: What advice would you give happy but quarter crisis people ?
This is what I say to myself when I have a mini meltdown (basically when I feel I can’t possibly fit any more into my day whilst also feeling like I’m not doing a good enough job in any area of my life): everyone finds it hard sometimes, everyone struggles sometimes and, annoyingly, you learn more from the challenges than the good times – so take a deep breath and carry on because if you’re doing your best, that’s good enough. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so take your time.
Thank You Cherry x
You know it’s Friday…