How We Met: Imogen Parker & Martha Kearney
Interviews Clare Dwyer Hogg, The Independent on Sunday (London, England)
The author Imogen Parker (left) was born in Hertfordshire in 1958. After going to Oxford, she au paired for a literary agent who inspired her to join the profession. As director of AP Watt she discovered a host of authors including Simon Nye, Colm Toibin and Linda Grant, before she herself became a novelist. She lives in Dorset with her husband Nick and their son
Martha Kearney, 44, was born in Dublin. After Oxford, she worked in radio before joining `A Week in Politics' on Channel 4. From 1988 she was a reporter for BBC1's `On the Record' and has been on `Newsnight' for eight years. Bafta-nominated in 1998 for her coverage of the Northern Ireland peace process, Kearney also presents `Woman's Hour' on Radio 4. She lives in London with her husband Chris
Martha Kearney My most vivid memory of meeting Imogen was in 1976 on the first day at St Anne's College Oxford where we were both doing classics. It all seemed very bewildering and intimidating. It was my birthday, so Imogen took me out for a drink. We went to a pub next door and I don't remember why, but we both drank neat gin. I think I must have thought it was sophisticated: it was the time that I smoked French cigarettes, drank black coffee and had Salvador Dali on my wall because I thought it was cool. That night we went to a freshers' disco at another college, and got on very well from the word go.
I always remember what Imogen looked like when I first saw her. She had naturally blonde hair - annoyingly. And a very stylish dress sense: she wore a beautiful red cord jacket of her mother's from the 1940s. Imogen always had a very individual style, kind of hippy, because punk hadn't really come in yet.
One reason in particular we got on so well was that neither of us worked very hard. Imogen was my partner in tutorials and we were a bad influence on each other. We knew that if one of us was late with her essay, the other would be late too. We'd stay up all night together trying to get our essays done in time.
We were a very lucky generation: there was an assumption that in the end you would get a job. And careerists were slightly looked down upon. But in the last term I suddenly got in a little bit of a panic and did a tiny bit of hospital radio so that I could put it on my CV.
While neither of us worked very hard, I think we both got excited about our sub- ject. I remember being really impressed with Imogen because she couldn't do Greek at school so she did it on her summer holidays. We had a passion for it.
In our first year we went to Crete on holiday because that's what we were studying. We got a bucket-shop package deal - we never read notice boards, so we didn't know about travel bursaries. We stayed in a hideous hostel with bunk-beds three high in a really dodgy area. And then we took off - we didn't even know where we were going. It sounds weird but we had a real laugh about how awful the reconstruction of these ancient sites was.
I spent time with Imogen's family, too, because my parents moved abroad when I was at college. She had a very warm mother, and a quite eccentric father. The first time I went there, he played me a Tom Lehrer record and got me to smoke because he liked the smell - I couldn't believe this was someone's father.
We really got to know each other because we spent so much time together: we were at an age where we just had hours and hours and hours. Imogen has a really brilliant sense of humour, so that even in dark circumstances we'd always end up having a real laugh. …
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Publication information: Article title: How We Met: Imogen Parker & Martha Kearney. Contributors: Interviews Clare Dwyer Hogg - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent on Sunday (London, England). Publication date: February 16, 2003. Page number: 5,. © 2009 The Independent on Sunday. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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