Elizabeth Chats With…Lesley Deschner
I first met this month’s guest at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School of which she is the current Treasurer. She has also served as Secretary to the School in the past. She has been a keen writer for many years and is part of the group, LiterEight (eight wonderful and mature women from Ayrshire) with whom she has produced three anthologies of poems and short stories. She has written several short plays, sometimes working in tandem with Helena Sheridan, another member of LiterEight, and has acted with two local theatre companies showcasing new plays. I am delighted to welcome Lesley Deschner to my blog.
Hello Lesley and welcome. Let’s start by taking you back to childhood. What is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
I would have been about three or four years old and it was both an olfactory and aural memory. The sound of my grandmother in Germany grinding coffee beans each morning of our holidays. This was always shortly followed by the smell of the coffee being filtered and shloouurp, plop, plop as it dripped into the pot beneath. To this day, those sounds and that smell will take me right back to that time.
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
I loved Art & Design, practical and theory, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say my favourite subject was Fabrics & Fashion (sewing). I had been sewing and knitting since I was very young and wanted to learn as much as I could about all kinds of crafts. Art and sewing crossed over at times – hence why it’s hard to really separate them – but although I was fairly adept at portrait drawing, I preferred the more hands on creativity of sewing. The subject I tried hard to avoid was algebra! I was OK at arithmetic and loved geometry (shape, design, creativity, you see) but algebra just completely fazed me. Weirdly, since I do have an analytical element to my thinking, I am certain that if I decided to revisit the subject now, I would find it made more sense to me. However, I have not yet experienced the need to do so.
If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
Something to cover my feet, something to cover my body and hopefully, my dignity! The truth is, I’d probably spend too much time trying to choose what to take with me, I’m likely to be filmed leaping out of a window onto a huge air mattress, with my arms full of a sundry collection of items I’ve randomly grabbed in my haste to exit! I can say that should I lose my photographs in a fire, I would be heartbroken. For me, a picture captures a moment of a memory which is reinforced each time you look at it.
If you could change one thing about yourself or your life so far, what would it be?
Definitely, my ‘procrastination-itis’! I am a serial procrastinator and am frequently known to burn the midnight oil to meet a deadline. This rather goes along with my general untidiness and disorganisation which I hate but have trouble overcoming. When called for, I can pull it together and get organised enough but it isn’t second nature – yet!
What would be in your ‘Room 101’?
Ah, now this may seem strange, but I would put all the people who place figurines (of people or animals) on a window sill and have them facing OUT THE WINDOW! Seriously, what is the point of that – to show off to everyone passing by, perhaps? After all, they can’t actually SEE! Can they?
Watch a film, go to the theatre, read a book or talk to friends — which would you prefer?
It depends on how I feel at the time. I often go to the cinema on my own if I want to see something that my friends aren’t keen on or if I just want to experience it on my own. I always go to the theatre with friends as it feels like a group activity rather than a solitary one. I love to read but I don’t seem to have the ability to concentrate on a book at present. When I do, I tend to be selfish with it and grab every moment I can to read more – if it’s hooked me! I love to talk to friends and get together when possible so, if a choice had to be made, that would be it.
If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?
QI! No contest! Strangely enough, I don’t watch the show avidly, but when I find myself channel-surfing later in the evening and come across it, I’ll dive in. It really speaks to my sense of humour, so I’d love to appear on it.
Would you describe yourself as left-brain (analytical), right-brain (intuitive) or a mix of both?
As I mentioned in an earlier answer, I do have an analytical element in my thinking, so my left-brain figures strongly, but I’d have to say my intuitive right-brain has the upper hand. In the past, right-brain was the first to react, leaving left-brain hanging. Now, I find I can temper one with the other, getting a more rounded feel for the situation.
What is your proudest achievement?
That would be my Post Graduate Diploma in Person-centred Counselling which I achieved in 2017. It all started in 2006 with a night class Introduction to Counselling Skills and nearly ended six months later with the death of my mother just before the end of the course. With a lot of encouragement from my eldest sister who came for mum’s funeral, I completed the final part for the certificate, but had I known then that she, too would be gone just a few weeks later, I may never have gone any further. While working full time, I completed a 4-Module COSCA Course in Counselling Skills – two attempts – and finally, the Diploma at Strathclyde University. The hardest but most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
Thank you, Lesley, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me today. Readers, you can find out more about Lesley and her writing on her LiterEight page; you can also find her on Facebook.