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Local people answer the Proust Questionnaire

Kay Stevens, ponders her meanings of life.

In 1890, long before he claimed his status as one of the greatest authors of all time Marcel Proust, still a teenager, took a questionnaire similar to this one, answering the questions with frank sincerity.

Banburyshire Info have resurrected the concept, and have started publishing answers from various local people with some questions from the Proust Questionnaire – designed to reveal the answerer’s tastes, aspirations, and sensibility.

Name: Kay Stevens

Date questions answered: 19/04/2016

Age: Well now Ian (Banburyshire Info editor), and there was me thinking you were a gentleman…..shall we just say I am a lady of a certain age

Village / Town / City you live in: Middleton Cheney

Occupation: Currently I get paid to clean people’s houses –badly (they don’t pay me to do it badly, it’s just that I am not particularly good at it, I am sensing this might be my Gerald Ratner moment!!). Occasionally I am employed to sing vintage songs at elderly people, who are universally grateful for their frail hearing! I also write poems and such for weddings, funerals, naming days etc, which I generally get paid for in Cava..and chocolate (smiley face).

Kay Stevens Answers the Proust Questionnaire

The questions include Marcel Proust’s answers

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery

Proust: To be separated from Mama

Kay Stevens: To be separated from Cava

Where would you like to live?

Proust: In the country of the Ideal, or, rather, of my ideal

Kay Stevens: On a narrow-boat next to a vineyard.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Proust: To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater

Kay Stevens: A comfy chair, some knitting, a dog on my feet, a book on my lap… something bubbly at my elbow.. ( and a hot young fire-fighter , scantily clad and chained to my kitchen sink singing IL Divo’s greatest hits…)

To what faults do you feel most indulgent?

Proust: To a life deprived of the works of genius

Kay Stevens: I think the fault I am most prepared to overlook is overwhelming wealth on the part of a would-be suitor.

Who are your favourite heroes of fiction?

Proust: Those of romance and poetry, those who are the expression of an ideal rather than an imitation of the real

Kay Stevens: Oooh- those with a touch of the super about them….every girl likes the idea of someone tall dark and handsome to fight sharks and villains .. to swim oceans and climb mountains… just to bring her a box of chocs (You may have an idea of my age now..if you understand this) . Failing that, I DO like a clever man, love the Indiana Jones’s .. the ones that solve all sorts of complicated clues leading to revelations of ancient mysteries, simultaneously beating off snakes and super-villains, whilst their shirts accidentally rip open exposing a well oiled and tanned chest……ooer, excuse me for a moment, I have come over all unnecessary I need to go lie down in a darkened room.

Who are your favourite characters in history?

Proust: A mixture of Socrates, Pericles, Mahomet, Pliny the Younger and Augustin Thierry

Kay Stevens: I love the kindly maverick… the well meaning eccentrics, the hopeless romantics that put their money where their hearts are, the women who stood out of their time, and did what had to be done, despite what society said. But most of all I admire the truly noble who lived their ideals-Mahatma Ghandi, he unified his nation and freed his people from the yoke of British tyranny without striking a single blow, and ….. the man who looked at a bunch of grapes and decided they would be more fun if they could fizz.

Who are your favourite heroines in real life?

Proust: A woman of genius leading an ordinary life

Kay Stevens: I really admire women who took men on ,in a mans world, they didn’t always win, they certainly didn’t have it easy- but they stood up for what they believed in. Boadicea, she stood her ground in the face of Roman invasion ( not that easy when they wore those tight leather tunic things and spoke ITALIAN!!) Eleanor of Aquitaine – boy that woman could kick arse!. Joan of Arc, the suffragettes, the lady spies of the second world war, Rosa parks… and of course.. Malala. Some time we have to man up to a situation, sometimes that just isn’t good enough…and then it’s the woman’s time to shine.

Who are your favourite heroines of fiction?

Proust: Those who are more than women without ceasing to be womanly; everything that is tender, poetic, pure and in every way beautiful

Kay Stevens: Bridget Jones, and apparently there is a book called “ the Cava Queen”…I suspect I would like this lady very much, though I may have to challenge her for her throne

Your favourite painter?

Proust: Meissonier

Kay Stevens: ooh now that’s a toughy, can I only have one? If I say anyone other than my daughter I severely reduce my chances of getting access to any possible grandchildren in the future. But I am currently on a bit of a Pre-Raphaelite bender...

Your favourite musician?

Proust: Mozart

Kay Stevens: I flatly refuse to choose one!! You might as well ask a mother to choose her favourite child ( I don’t have one – I find them all equally annoying) so…. let’s go with who I have on my playlist this week..Michael Buble, Russell Watson, Katie Meluah, – IL Divo, Andre Rieu, Disturbed, Bowie, and a bit of ‘Quo

The quality you most admire in a man?

Proust: Intelligence, moral sense

Kay Stevens: With men it is a truth often misquoted that size is EVERYTHING! A man should have a large heart, a huge sense of humour, a massive vat of kindness, and , of course, a GINOURMOUS ….. income!

The quality you most admire in a woman?

Proust: Gentleness, naturalness, intelligence

Kay Stevens: The ability to be fatter, frizzier and uglier than me are qualities I search for in a female friend…I admire women who are strong, yet still kind, clever , yet still humble.. and if she can remain seated on a barstool whilst touching up her lippy with a completely steady hand after a bottle of the sainted bubble she will earn my undying respect.

Your favourite virtue?

Proust: All virtues that are not limited to a sect: the universal virtues

Kay Stevens: tricky- there are so many virtues I wish I had, and that I admire in others, but so often one alone is not enough.. courage is a wonderful one, but unless tempered by kindness…is harmful. Let’s go with Moral courage and kindness…that, and the ability to drink Cava quickly without burping

Your favourite occupation?

Proust: Reading, dreaming, and writing verse

Kay Stevens: I think I am with Proust on this one.. add a glass or two of the sacred fizz -perfection!

Who would you have liked to be?

Proust: Since the question does not arise, I prefer not to answer it. All the same, I should very much have liked to be Pliny the Younger.

Kay Stevens: I should very much like to have been in the crowd on the first Easter Friday… when Herod gave the peasants chance to choose to release Jesus, or the well known bad-boy Barabbus. Every year at school we were told the story of how some local trouble makers whipped the crowd up to call for Barabbus to be released, and every year I would cross my fingers and hope the story would end differently this time. It never did, but I would love the chance to put my money where my mouth is and stand up for something.. for someone I believe in. I would be the mad fat frizzy woman who would change the mood of the crowd, thereby securing Jesus’s release………….. and condemning the entire human race to die, as the lamb of God would not get to die in our place, for our sins. Yep, that just about sums me up!

Local people answer the Proust Questionnaire;

You can find more here – Local people answer the Proust Questionnaire

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Banburyshire Info Proust Questionnaire - designed to reveal the answerer’s tastes, aspirations, and sensibility.

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