Today we add to this column’s interview series by speaking to ex-Archers Sleepcentre accounts manager turned youthful retiree, Louise Archibald. I speak to Louise while she’s driving her daughter and your writer (me) to Scotland, and catch up with her latest project: travelling around the world watching her kids race bikes.
The first thing I want her to tell readers is who really is Best Archibald? “No,” she replies. I leave a silence to see if she’ll fill it, but the air stays still. It’s a tricky start to the interview, but I press on with enthusiasm and instead ask her to describe her own sporting background. “Is Body Combat a sporting background?” She’s referring to a class she attends at the leisure centre once a week where she and 20 others follow a dance routine (my description, not theirs) involving upper cuts and high kicks to the air. I confess I’ve been one or several times and I love it. “And I like to go out on my bike, but only when it’s good weather,” she adds.
Today the weather is too good, and since the air con in my mum’s car is broken we’re cruising down the motorway with all the windows rolled down. This means we’re shouting our conversation, and ruins the co-conspiratorial and relaxed air I’m trying to create when I ask if she’ll tell me any secrets so I can write something juicy. It’s another no. I explain they don’t have to be her secrets. “Everyone knows I can’t keep secrets so they don’t tell me any,” comes the reply. I suffer from the same affliction. Asking for secrets in order to print them in a national magazine might have been my giveaway. Of course this means that one person does tell Louise their secrets: me. But we’re not printing those.
At the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the BBC interviewed my mother. “My heart is still beating!” was the headline quote. We bullied her so mercilessly about it (“Thank goodness you’re still alive, Mum!”) that it seems she’s reluctant to commit words to print again.
Our interview doesn’t give much away, but if you got to know my mother the answer to Best Archibald would be pretty obvious: the kind one of the bunch – Louise.