United Kingdom

Under the microscope: Novelist Shirley Conran, 88, answers our health quiz

Novelist Shirley Conran, 88, answers our health quiz

Novelist Shirley Conran, 88, answers our health quiz. 

CAN YOU RUN UP THE STAIRS?

Not quite. After having a brain tumour removed in February, I moved from a house to a duplex flat, and I walk up and down the stairs every day. Originally I had a cleaner, then came lockdown and I was on my own. But luckily, my sons [designer Sebastian, 64, and fashion designer Jasper, 60] live nearby.

GET YOUR FIVE A DAY?

YES. I always try to eat organic food and have nothing but fruit for tea.

EVER DIETED?

YES, every woman I know has dieted. I’ve no idea how much I weigh and even if I did, I wouldn’t say.

POP ANY PILLS?

I USED to take a variety of vitamins, but after reading an article recently, I realised I could dump them and get all I needed from one multivitamin.

ANY VICES?

I find one gin and tonic after a morning’s work is a good relaxant.

EVER HAVE PLASTIC SURGERY?

NO. I have seen famous beauties on TV with trout-pouts and I think: ‘That’s very helpful of them to show us what not to do!’

ANY FAMILY AILMENTS?

MY mother’s family all lived to 99. Unfortunately, my father was an alcoholic, and he died at 59.

COPE WELL WITH PAIN?

Very well. A dentist once told me I can take 60 per cent more pain than the average person.

HAD ANYTHING REMOVED?

MY BRAIN tumour, which was the size of an orange. Thankfully, it was benign. I began to feel unwell last summer — it was the size of an egg then and they waited to operate to see how fast it would grow.

WORST ILLNESS?

When I was women’s editor of the Daily Mail in the late 1960s, I went into hospital with pneumonia and came out with ME. I was so weak I couldn’t stand, nor could I cope with a full-time job any more. I needed to make money, so I wrote my bestselling novel, Lace.

EVER BEEN DEPRESSED?

YES, after I had Sebastian. I was 24 and post-natal depression wasn’t recognised then. As soon as I got back to work, I was myself again.

WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?

Anxiety. I couldn’t sleep after my brain surgery, wondering how I would cope in lockdown.

WORST PHOBIA?

HEIGHTS. I rose above it in my 60s, trekking in the Himalayas. We came to a 2ft-wide path with a drop of 250 ft and had to cross it. I shook for an hour before, but I astounded myself by reaching the other side.

LIKE TO LIVE FOR EVER?

NO. But I was told people who had my kind of brain operation only lived an average of five years and there are so many things I still want to do.

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