THE PODCAST,
my life in seven charms
THE PODCAST,
my life in seven charms
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Rachel Johnson

Novelist, Journalist and Presenter

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Annoushka Ducas:
I'm Annoushka Ducas and I've been designing jewelry for 30 years and collecting charms for long as I can remember. In this new podcast, I'll be asking a series of extraordinary women to tell me their life story in seven charms.

Rachel:
What really worries me about the place we're in now is it's stopping people having big lives, in the sense of travel, adventure, getting away from their parents, and all those things. And I pray that we return to a normality where everybody can feel they can do anything, because that is definitely what my parents made me feel I could do.

Annoushka Ducas:
For me there are so few things that can stand the test of time and evoke a memory like a tiny detailed charm. A very special 18 karat gold biography.

Annoushka Ducas:
My guest this week is a journalist, editor, broadcaster, and novelist. She was born into a bunch of talented high-achieving, independent from the word go, siblings. She's extraordinarily patient about being referred to as the sister of one of them, a member of the most well-known political family of our time. I'm delighted to welcome Rachel Johnson to My Life in Seven Charms.

Rachel:
Thank you, Annoushka. That was very generous and extremely delicately phrased. Because often I'm triggered. If I'm introduced as, and of course a sister of the prime minister, whatever, because it is inevitable, but you like to be sort of introduced by your own name first. And so that was perfect.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, I'm glad. Anyway, let's talk about your first charm. When you describe it to me, you said it's got to be a black dog with a red sparkly collar. Now, haven't drawn, as you can see, as a black dog with a red sparkly color, because dogs, when you get them to be very, very tiny, really don't look very much like dogs. And I didn't think I'd get a Labrador perfectly in a charm. So I've drawn a lovely, as I think the paws on dogs are one of their most adorable features. So, I've drawn it as a paw with black diamond purvey setting in yellow golden, and on the backs written Coco. Because I think that was your dog as a child.

Rachel:
Coco was our family pet. And when the children were small, we got Coco. And I think, as happens with all pets, all our love and all our conversation went through the Coco channel. And when she died, it was sort of a couple of days before Christmas, a few years ago. And she died under the Christmas tree, just as another family were arriving to spend Christmas with us, with their dog. And they arrived, and it was literally a sea of tears for about a week. And she just does live on in my heart, which why I wanted to have a charm of her. And she's buried on our farm in Somerset, actually really close to our, our house on Exmoor.

Annoushka Ducas:
I actually, I had Labradors as a child, so I know exactly what that feels like. But dogs are incredibly loyal and somehow they are the glue, aren't they, in the family?

Rachel:
Well, there's also that thing. If you want a friend in politics or a friend in Washington, get a dog, that was what one president was told because you know, politics is such a nasty business. And if you want a true friend, you have to get an animal. And we've now got a new dog Ziggy.

Annoushka Ducas:
I was hoping to meet Ziggy.

Rachel:
You may meet Ziggy, but she has lived so far, a very short and uncharmed life because we got her at the beginning of lockdown, just before we went into lockdown in March. In July, she ran under the wheels of my car, which is how I described me actually running her over when I came up our drive.

Annoushka Ducas:
I think I've discovered that too.

Rachel:
My howling adult children. And then in July she ate a peach stone.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh.

Rachel:
When I was having my five days holiday of the year in Greece and she had to have her stomach cut open. And then last week she ate corn husk and had to have her stomach cut open again. So I just don't know what to say about Ziggy. I'm completely in love with her, but she seems to be on a suicide mission. And so we've started calling her pussy cat, because she's already lost three of her nine lives.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh my God. But that's why she's not here?

Rachel:
She's gone out for a very socially distanced, a walk on a lead, with strict instructions that she cannot eat anything off the ground.

Annoushka Ducas:
Poor, poor Ziggy.

Rachel:
Hello?

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, is that the dog in there?

Rachel:
Hello? Oh, hi, love. Yeah, you can let her in.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh yeah, let's meet the doggie.

Rachel:
Hi there Zig.

Annoushka Ducas:
She doesn't look like she's had an operation.

Rachel:
What did she eat along the route, Bob? Come here my darling. Sit, Ziggy.

Annoushka Ducas:
She is absolutely adorable. So, Rachel, let's say your second charm. I'm fascinated by the second charm. So it's a grizzly brown bear. Very specifically, you've said it's a grizzly brown bear. Just before you tell us why you've chosen that I see this bear as three dimensional, probably made in yellow gold or brown diamonds with moving legs. So you can sit him up or you can be on all fours, just really cuddly and kind of, probably not what bears are, but tell us why you chosen a bear.

Rachel:
I love how you've done the bear because he's both a grizzly bear that you would see in Yellowstone, which is my mental image of the brown bear. And he's also a sort of teddy, you can sit him in a teddy shape. So he's also rather comforting creature.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
And when we were very little, my mother made up stories, bedtime stories, as well as reading to us a lot. And they were called the bear family. And my older brother was, I think, big bear and I was little bear. And then my little brother Leo was baby bear. And then my even younger brother, Jay was baby baby bear. So she would tell us these stories and she sort of anthropomorphized the bears. So we knew what she was really doing was telling us stories about what we had done. So of course we absolutely howled with laughter. We sort of fall out of our bunks, crying with laughter, as she said about baby baby bear dropping his yogurt. It wasn't like Goldilocks and the three bears at all, but very much more kind of slightly naughty bunch of little bear, baby bear cubs.

Annoushka Ducas:
I love that.

Rachel:
So that's why, and I, very, very happy memory of her using her humor and her creativity.

Annoushka Ducas:
She was a painter, wasn't she?

Rachel:
She is a painter.

Annoushka Ducas:
She's still painting?

Rachel:
Yep, she is. I mean, although she's got Parkinson's and she's 78, you know what she really, all she really wants to do all day is paint. She's one of these naturally creative people.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, we're surrounded by her painting.

Rachel:
Yes. That's a painting of my father done by my mother and behind me is a picture she painted while in New York of Avenue of the Americas.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, she's immensely talented.

Rachel:
She really is. Yeah.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. She really is. I mean, being the only girl-

Rachel:
Of the first four.

Annoushka Ducas:
The first.

Rachel:
Yeah.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. How was that for you? Do you have a special bond with your mother? Because I'm an only child and I was very close to my mother, and I know when I had children, because I had that very special bond with my mother, I was desperate to have a girl. And so it was quite a long-winded question, but I wanted to know-

Rachel:
I think that's the same. I was desperate to have a girl as well. And I always felt very close to my mother. I still feel very close to my mother.

Annoushka Ducas:
You think more so than the boys?

Rachel:
I don't know. But yes, I did feel that we had that. You do have a special bond with your mother, if you're female, because there are things that they will tell you about, about being a girl that doesn't apply to their three sons and you know what they are.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah, no, I absolutely know what they are. But also as a painter, I mean, I have visions of her being much quieter than perhaps your father and much more in her own place. Would that be right? Or...

Rachel:
She is much quieter now because Parkinson's has sort of robbed her of her speech, so much.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
But in her, pomp, she was the life and soul, they were both life and soul. They are. My father is very much life and soul type person. And she was too. They were always the funnest people in the room and incredibly high in high demands as guests. And they'd go out every night and you know, just big ravers, basically.

Annoushka Ducas:
I'm sure we'll talk about that later. Do you think that says something you've all inherited?

Rachel:
When we get onto my champagne bottle or wine bottle? Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
But I guess it's a bit of a cliche question, but how, how has your upbringing, do you think, influenced the way you've brought up your children? Because you've got three, haven't you?

Rachel:
I think that my parents were absolutely brilliant in not over-parenting.

Annoushka Ducas:
Right.

Rachel:
And I know we live in a different world. I mean, when I had children, parenting had become a sort of profession and women said, "I'm staying home to do kids." As if that was their job. But when I grew up you people just had children and then get got on with their own lives.

Annoushka Ducas:
In your life, I think quite a lot of people, it was the other way around. They were... Don't you think? I think quite a lot of people when, in our generation, their parents stayed at home to look after them. And now they're talking about going out and getting jobs and things. It's don't you think it's quite.

Rachel:
No. Weirdly when I had small children, motherhood became a sort of career and you've got all this sort of crafty, make your own Christmas decorations and cupcake type. You know, it became a kind of who was creating the more perfect childhood for your child.

Annoushka Ducas:
Notting Hill.

Rachel:
And that what [inaudible 00:10:41] I was expecting, Notting Hill. Exactly. When I was growing up, it was assumed that children kind of did a lot of bringing themselves up and school's very important, but parents put their own lives first because you only have one life. Why would you sack everything off to get on down on your hands and knees and make Play-Doh?

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, I absolutely.

Rachel:
So boring.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. So have you taken that view?

Rachel:
I took that view.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
I also, I just wasn't configured for it.

Annoushka Ducas:
Despite the fact that you said you wanted to be a wife and mother didn't you? [inaudible 00:11:18]

Rachel:
Well, I did say that because that was what... I didn't know that other alternatives options were available.

Annoushka Ducas:
Interesting. Yeah.

Rachel:
And when I was next asked the question when I was seven, what do you want to be? I said I wanted to be a photo journalist. Because I've, cause I'd read Tintin and it seemed a much cooler way of spending your time.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. Completely. And presumably once your brother said he wanted to be world king, you had to come up with something.

Rachel:
Yeah. I had to come up with something pretty damn good.

Annoushka Ducas:
Do you think big birth order is important in the way that you've lived your life and also for your own children? Do you think that's... Because I've got four-

Rachel:
Have you?

Annoushka Ducas:
And I kind of look at the third child and think, oh.

Rachel:
You've got four children?

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
I wanted five.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh my God.

Rachel:
I think three is a really difficult number. But although each one of my children has their own unique place, growing up, I always felt, I was the only girl, but I don't think I felt I was only a girl.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, you said you were quite tom. I mean you presumably were quite a tomboy with all those boys.

Rachel:
I was a massive tomboy. I mean, I'm always amazed when I see a photograph of myself as a child in a dress, because I mean, I used to kick up such a tantrum. I used to have actual physical fights. My mother would have to wrestle me into this Laura Ashley high neck.

Annoushka Ducas:
With those frilly collars?

Rachel:
Yeah, and these things that are sort of pinched tight sleeves in the 70s. She made the most wonderful, very fashionable now.

Annoushka Ducas:
It's all coming back now.

Rachel:
Yeah, I was, I would just scream and scream and scream like violent Elizabeth bought. And wear it for a photograph and then take it off and put on a pair of bell bottoms cords.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, yeah, because you at school, I mean, you were one of two girls at school weren't you?

Rachel:
I was. Yeah.

Annoushka Ducas:
And in the rugby team, and the various other.

Rachel:
I played cricket. I played in cricket and rugby teams.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, I guess you absolutely had to do that, but I know in your book, there is a quote that your eldest brother Boris says that "As the antelope wakes up every morning and knows he must out run the lion, so I wake up every day and now I must somehow scamper to keep ahead of Rachel."

Rachel:
I think that happened. I mean, he must've been teleporting himself back to when he was about seven because he outpaces me. He out punches me now totally on all counts.

Annoushka Ducas:
I suspect that's not true.

Rachel:
Actually. I think I can, probably-

Annoushka Ducas:
We just read about it.

Rachel:
The only thing I can probably do better is cook.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, rubbish.

Rachel:
And actually play tennis. And I think those are two pretty big things to be winning in.

Annoushka Ducas:
They are pretty winning things. Yeah, Absolutely. We're going to talk about tennis. Your next charm is a tennis racket. Now again, we've got to make it absolutely perfect. I want to make it in yellow gold and then white strings so that you can see through them. I put, because it depends what racket you have, but I just put black diamonds around the head, but you've probably a specific, as a pro, that you've probably got a specific racket.

Rachel:
I think that's a perfect tennis racket. Is that a tennis ball?

Annoushka Ducas:
That's a tennis ball, as well. Yeah. I forgot about that. You're absolutely right.

Rachel:
I mean, tennis is my passion.

Annoushka Ducas:
So has it always been your passion?

Rachel:
Pretty much for the last 10 years or so.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, it's 10 years? It's not a childhood thing.

Rachel:
No, not so much. We used to play ping pong. We never had a tennis court.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh. So you-

Rachel:
I think I started playing with my husband when we were courting. Get it?

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. Got it. Yes. Thank you.

Rachel:
And I've always carried it on and my children play. And...

Annoushka Ducas:
Do you play as a family together now?

Rachel:
We can do.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
Yep. Or that it's quite difficult with five. I play with my husband.

Annoushka Ducas:
But is that your kind of wind down? So, if you've had a stressful time-

Rachel:
It's been a stressful year for everybody.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yes, but is that your way of kind of winding down or trying to forget?

Rachel:
It's very good because you have to focus on the present. So you can't worry about the future or the past and you have to live in the moment. And as soon as you don't, you send it into the net.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
And then you've got your partner who you have to play up and play the game for him.

Annoushka Ducas:
Do you like playing doubles?

Rachel:
I love playing doubles and I enjoy singles too, but it's a lot more exercise.

Annoushka Ducas:
I was going to say, you must be fit for single.

Rachel:
I'm nursing my elbow now, because I played this morning and they've closed the indoor court. So we had to play outdoors and this court was wet and the balls got wet. And so I just want us all to hurry up and open up the whole world again and just get on with it. Crack on.

Annoushka Ducas:
Perhaps you could have a word.

Rachel:
I know. Who could I have a word with?

Annoushka Ducas:
Just if you could have a word we could all get [crosstalk 00:16:14].

Rachel:
Do you know anyone I could have a word with?

Annoushka Ducas:
But I think you might. I would be great if you could help. Your next charm is a Land Rover Defender. So I was absolutely fascinated by this, but also excited about this one. Because I think I'm fixated with taking totally miniatures as perfect as it can be. So this Land Rover.

Rachel:
I've always had Land Rovers on the farm and that there are sort of totemic Johnson family vehicle. And my father and my grandfather use them as farm. My grandfather's sheep farmer, hill farmer say he had near throw you in labor in the back of the Land Rover and then power on upper vertical cleave. And my father uses them to go and get wood and kind of... Basically our childhood weeks were spent on the farm and in the rain kind of hurling, huge logs into the back of the Land Rover we're in sullenly, wishing that we were just in our rooms underneath the covers, reading Enid Blyton.

Annoushka Ducas:
So this is really about your childhood and maybe your dad is all about it?

Rachel:
Absolutely, and my grandfather and the farm. They're just kind of in dissoluble in my mind, together.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. Your memories of childhood and where were you born?

Rachel:
Exmoor. So that's where the family farm is, still, and where my father lives and I have a house.

Annoushka Ducas:
And have you always gone back there?

Rachel:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
And as your own family now, that's your kind of, that's where you spend your holidays?

Rachel:
Yes, exactly. And my son is there now and I'm going there on Monday and it's lovely. And actually it helps one get through lockdown because it's not the same. If you're in London, you really feel the fact that life has stopped and you have to be in your bubble if you want to go to a restaurant, and all of that. And when you're out of London and deep in the countryside, it's easier to pretend that nothing has changed, but when everything has changed and life's really, really difficult for everybody.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah, no, I completely see that, but I have kind of visions of you. I don't know what you did as children, but I have visions of you taking the Land Rover without your father or your grandfather.

Rachel:
And racing off in it.

Annoushka Ducas:
And racing off in it, as a kind of rabble.

Rachel:
Actually, you say that because the Land Rover before we end this one, was it really hard to start. They used to leave it on a hill, above the farmhouse. And once a boy who was staying did get in the driver's seat, put it into neutral and it just careered down the hill and into what we call the duck pond.

Annoushka Ducas:
No one in it. Was the boy in it?

Rachel:
And I think, no, I think the boy jumped out of it. So then it was found, it kind of knows first in the drug. And then we had to get the local farmer to drag you out, but then nobody admitted to it. I think the Land Rover was found in the ditch and it was like, nope, no, it wasn't me. Not me, Governor.

Annoushka Ducas:
Okay. Moving on to charm number five, which is your chimpanzee. He's got to be quite a fun chimpanzee. I see him holding onto a branch swinging. And his legs will be moving and wobbly. And I just put... You can see from what I've done, I put a banana just in his.

Rachel:
That's very funny. That's very like Zephyr the monkey and Baba, what you've done.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yes, it is like that, you're right.

Rachel:
Gorgeous.

Annoushka Ducas:
It is like that. But he's going to be kind of brown diamonds, I think where the yellow gold, with his little tummy button. And I just think he should be really cute and really smiley.

Rachel:
Yeah. He's so jolly. I mean, really lovely.

Annoushka Ducas:
So tell me about why have you chosen this chimpanzee?

Rachel:
The chimpanzee? Again, I mean, it represents, in a way both my parents, my father is an ambassador for the Gorilla Organization and as an environmentalist, and it's been passionately involved in animal conservation and welfare, his whole life as an environmentalist.

Annoushka Ducas:
I had no idea about that's true.

Rachel:
Yeah. And he's a real rock star when it comes to the environment. He's won the RSPCA award, he's won the Greenpeace award. He sounded a huge amount. And he wrote the animal habitats directive for the European Union and he's written books on population and the environment.

Annoushka Ducas:
I mean, did he spend a lot of time with monkeys, somewhere?

Rachel:
He goes off. I mean, his idea of a good time is to go to the Congo on a sort of camping trip and wait to see gorillas in the mist basically,

Annoushka Ducas:
But maybe that's what he was hoping for in I'm a celebrity Get Me Out of Here. Did he see a few of those monkeys?

Rachel:
Yeah sure.

Annoushka Ducas:
Did you go all those places?

Rachel:
He used to take us on safaris in Africa, which was always wonderful at times, camping, and losing all the passports off the top of the Land Rover, going to all the via gorgeous and seeing the will, the beast and rivers in spate and lions at dawn, I mean, it was amazing because he imbued in us an admiration for all of the natural world. In a way, almost greater than humanity. I mean, it was very clear that man's inhumanity to the natural world is even greater than its inhumanity to man. And you know, what we're doing to the planet is an irreparable damage.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
So that sounds a bit gloomy, but you know-

Annoushka Ducas:
But it's right. Isn't it?

Rachel:
Yeah. I mean, he was also completely ahead of the curve on climate change and the ozone there and all those things. So, that's been a hugely formative influence in our lives. My brother Leo is involved in sustainability. And my brother, Boris Alexander is also very involved in to trying to do anything he can as Prime Minister to protect the natural world. So that got a bit serious, but, and also, you know-

Annoushka Ducas:
No, that was important.

Rachel:
Yeah. I looked at that very close. It also, it's a reminder that we are animals. We're very, very close to chimpanzees and we have this kind of absolute exceptionalism as if we are in charge of everything and it's all ours, but it's not, we have to share the world and species loss is just devastating.

Annoushka Ducas:
But it will change the face of the earth won't it?

Rachel:
Yeah. You lose one species, like the bee, you lose everything. And when yet we go on our merry way.

Annoushka Ducas:
And you said at the beginning that it was both your mother and your father?

Rachel:
Well, I always give my mother monkey presence. So, so her flat is sort of got all these monkeys, hanging off cheese plants and toy monkeys and everything.

Annoushka Ducas:
But I wondered when you said about, it reminds you of your mother as well, whether there was a bit of this kind of feeling of juggling, but for her, from being a mommy, being a painter. How did she manage with all of that?

Rachel:
It was hard. I think she found it really hard because she had four children by the age of 30 and I think-

Annoushka Ducas:
She was incredibly young mom.

Rachel:
Yeah. And I think her creative drive is really, really strong. And then motherhood is so labored and time intensive, emotional labor as well, that I think it's just... It was very, very difficult for her to, awful phrase, self realize, but we always knew that when she was in her studio, you couldn't interrupt. So-

Annoushka Ducas:
She said, you weren't allowed to go there at all?

Rachel:
You weren't. You weren't allowed in.

Annoushka Ducas:
I think I read somewhere, that she said that she thought it was a terrible mistake to educate girls, but she was-

Rachel:
What she meant was, and I wrote this in my book Rake's Progress. She didn't mean it literally that women should be illiterate. What she meant was that biology will always get in the way of ambition, putting it very simply. You may want to run a FTSE 100 company, but if you have four children, unless you've got an enormous amount of backup and a house husband, you're going to be pulled in lots of different directions and it's the having it all myth.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. Ironically, there's bits about lockdown that has kind of enabled that to be easier in one way. Although you still got to struggle with it. But don't you think?

Rachel:
I don't agree. I mean, I think lockdown really hard for women.

Annoushka Ducas:
Oh, I've done not dispute me. It's been hard for me. Yeah.

Rachel:
It's because of the homeschooling and the housework.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
Every survey has shown it's, three-quarters taken care of by women. So, it's as basically thrust women back into 50s, where we were in the 50s in terms of domestic responsibilities.

Annoushka Ducas:
This year I have started an initiative called The Brilliant Breakfast, which is for the Price's trust.

Rachel:
Oh, good. Tell me about that.

Annoushka Ducas:
And well, the reason I've done that is because it appears that one in eight young people are going to be out of work by the end of this year. 80% of those will be women. And that's because-

Rachel:
Why have you got to that?

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, that's the research. That's the PWC-

Rachel:
But why? What's it cause? [crosstalk 00:26:21]

Annoushka Ducas:
It's across the hospitality sector. Is because hospitality, retail, beauty, it's all of those things, which is utterly terrible.

Rachel:
Maybe you can come on my LBC show and talk about that.

Annoushka Ducas:
How lovely. I'd love to. Okay, moving on to charm number six, a bottle of wine.

Rachel:
Never too early.

Annoushka Ducas:
It's never too early. I mean, I see this bottle of wine. You said it's got to be white wine and it's got to have sloping shoulders and greens. I'm imagining it's a bottle of Chardonnay, or at least-

Rachel:
It is. It's actually the most of the most delicious, crisp white burgundy.

Annoushka Ducas:
I'd like, I'd like to carve it in green olives cords and give it an 18 karat gold label with whatever your favorite wine is. And with a proper cork, all yellow gold. So it will be absolutely a perfect bottle, ready to be drunk. So, why have you chosen Mrs. Party Girl, I'm assuming.

Rachel:
Mrs. Lush. Well, it symbolizes good times. Parties, which I love and I miss and just fun and jokes and laughter and flirting and dancing. Because you don't dance unless you've had a few jars. Got a few jars down you. Yeah. And holidays and just-

Annoushka Ducas:
Carefree.

Rachel:
Yeah, and having a glass of cooling white wine before lunch on a Tuscan hillside. I mean-

Annoushka Ducas:
I love it. So yeah it's white wine.

Rachel:
So do I need to sell it anymore?

Annoushka Ducas:
No, no. You absolutely don't need to sell it. But yeah, God, can you remember what a party was like? Haven't been to a party for so bloody long. I mean, it'll be nice to be nice to do that, but are you the life and soul of the party?

Rachel:
Well, that's not for me to say, but I do love a party.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well, the reason I'm asking that, because I think it's really... Somebody asked me this the other day and I'm interested whether you would describe yourself as extrovert or introvert.

Rachel:
Very extrovert.

Annoushka Ducas:
And always.

Rachel:
Pretty extrovert. I mean, I don't mind talking to anybody about anything.

Annoushka Ducas:
Okay. So your last charm is a radio microphone. I'm real excited about making this one because I think I can absolutely make a perfect miniature microphone in white gold. And I think it's got to swivel properly the way it does on an arm. LBC engraved on it, in honor of your own radio show. It's going to be gorgeous.

Rachel:
I love it. I love it. I don't want them to tell this, but I would pay to do my show. It's such fun talking to people.

Annoushka Ducas:
So just for those people that haven't listened to the show-

Rachel:
Yes. It's seven to nine on Sunday evenings. And it's just, you feel incredibly privileged. It's like you're talking to the nation. You just think, people ring in and they tell you things or they tell you you're wrong or they tell you you're right. Or they tell you stuff that's going on. Or they tell you about their children at university who are locked in their lodgings or they tell you about how their father died in a care home. And it's just, for me, awfully gripping.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah, I bet it is.

Rachel:
And I feel incredibly privileged to be in that position of being able to sort of mediate this conversation, but it is a learning curve. I mean, if you joined the roster LBC, you're joining, you're sitting alongside broadcasters or before and after broadcasters, who've been doing it for, for 10 years and they are at the top of their game and they're the best in the business. So, each time I sit in front of her live mic, I'm like, I'm going to get it wrong. And it also, if you fluff, it's live radio. So I fluffed the top of my show week before last. And I was like, oh no, but you've just got to power on through. And just, our audiences kind of enjoy it when things drop off air and fluff.

Annoushka Ducas:
But ultimately it is. I mean, I was interested in this charm because this seemed to me that this was the only charm that really speaks about you and your achievements, because all the other charms are very much about family, memory, and this-

Rachel:
It's important to me because I am proud that I've done a sort of career shift at my age, and during lockdown.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
And to do something so enjoyable and also sort of, I hate to say it, but on trend, I mean, as everybody listens to podcasts and radio and we've seen life move online. Radio is something that can actually thrive at the moment because you don't have to have a lot of people in a room, it's very intimate, and it's very current. So I feel, as I keep saying this, really privileged to have that work.

Annoushka Ducas:
But I mean, privileged at the work, but also, because you've said I'm secretly a medium.serious person, but you said I long to be taken seriously, but why do you think you're not taken seriously?

Rachel:
I don't know. Maybe I just assume as a woman that I will never be taken seriously. One does long to be taken seriously, is extraordinary. I know. I mean, I think it's partly [crosstalk 00:00:31:53].

Annoushka Ducas:
But I mean, you've done serious things, you've been at MEP.

Rachel:
No, I haven't been at MEP. I tried.

Annoushka Ducas:
Sorry. Yes. Okay. But it was actually-

Rachel:
And failed, utterly.

Annoushka Ducas:
Well may, but yeah, it's a serious thing and it requires kind of, quite a lot of guts I'd say, huge determination. Real, real putting yourself out there.

Rachel:
Yeah. You do put yourself out there, but I realized it was an interesting experiment because it proved to me that I'm the opposite of a politician because it seemed to me that politics was about saying the same things over and over again, and things you don't necessarily believe in. Therefore, I couldn't do that. And that was exposed almost immediately. And as a result, I didn't become an MEP. The party failed to win any seats. And we left the European Union. As the British people had voted for in 2016.

Annoushka Ducas:
We'll move on. But we're very close here to Grenfell Tower.

Rachel:
Yes.

Annoushka Ducas:
And I know you've spoken quite a lot about Grenfell Tower.

Rachel:
Well, I was here during Grenfell Tower about 300 yards from it.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah.

Rachel:
And my, my son Oliver had a really good, his best friend lived in Grenfell Tower. So I've been to Grenfell Tower and had sort of play dates there. And it was a terrible time but it was also an extraordinary time the way this community did pull together. I've never seen anything like it. And we live in Kensington and Chelsea's got the most uneven wealth distribution of anywhere in London, in London. And so, all those people in Grenfell Tower, those poor people who've been through the most unalterable trauma near work, living cheek by jowl with some of the most privileged people in the country. And I thought it was it. Therefore, it was a story of our time. Wasn't it? About the gap between rich and poor, of privilege, educational privilege. And lack of privilege.

Annoushka Ducas:
Totally. Are you continuing to follow the inquiry?

Rachel:
I have seen a bit of it and that they were televising it and then not anymore. I've worked. I mean, I know very well a lot of the counselors who've tried and worked night and day to, everyone is now rehoused, but-

Annoushka Ducas:
They are rehoused?

Rachel:
They are rehoused.

Annoushka Ducas:
It took a long time.

Rachel:
But you know, it has been a massive scar, and just seeing Grenfell, when you go out of your front door, you go to the top of my road and you can see it. And it's got this green shroud around it, which says Grenfell forever in our hearts. And you see it from the top of my road. You see it from the west way and it was an unforgettable. Yeah. It's tragedy.

Annoushka Ducas:
Yeah. It's a landmark that you, every time you go past, perhaps shocking. Just going back to, to being taken more seriously. So LBC, that's a very serious thing. Are there other things that you still want to do? Because you've done lots.God, you've done lots of things. I wish I'd done as many things as you have.

Rachel:
I remember making a kind of a wishlist of things. When I was in my thirties, what did I want to do? What were my ambitions? And I remember what they were and something that they were like, write a novel, have another baby, I think I had three, and present a radio show. And I think I said, present Woman's Hour, but that's taken by the brilliant Emma Barnett. So I never had another baby, but I did do the other things.

Annoushka Ducas:
So we've been through all of charms and as you know, I'd like to make you one. So I wondered since we've been chatting, whether you've had a chance to think about which one?

Rachel:
It's just impossible, because they are all so precious and so meaningful. I mean, I hate that word, but they are, they're all really meaningful to me. And I'll feel that I'm rejecting the others. If I choose one. I think that, because it's about the future and about my own professional career, as opposed to family, I think I'm going to go for the mic.

Annoushka Ducas:
I'm so delighted.

Rachel:
Are you pleased?

Annoushka Ducas:
I'm so delighted. A, I think it will make it absolutely divine charm, but B, it is the one charm that absolutely represents what... It's all about you.

Rachel:
It's a sort of investment in myself, in a weird way. And in the future.

Annoushka Ducas:
I really am-

Rachel:
It's a diamond certainly not ruling out commissioning the monkey and the Land Rover as well, but we'll have to do the separate negotiation.

Annoushka Ducas:
We'll discuss that later. Okay, Rachel, we've got one more question. So in a hundred years' time when your grandchildren, or great-grandchildren find this bracelet in a drawer somewhere, what do you want them to think about you? How do you want them to kind of think of this is Rachel, my great grandmother?

Rachel:
I'd like them to think that I made the most of life and I had... I took it. I ceased it by the balls, basically, if I'm allowed to say that, because what really worries me about the place we're in now, is it's stopping people from having big lives, in the sense of travel, adventure, and getting away. Getting away from their parents and all those things. And I pray that we return to normality where everybody can feel they can do anything, because that is definitely what my parents made me feel I could do. They gave me the confidence to assume that I could write a book, I could have children, I could travel. I could do all these things just as good as any man or boy. And you know, you cannot put a price on that. So, that is, if I had any messages that you can do anything and my little radio mic proves it.

Annoushka Ducas:
Thank you so much for listening to my Life in Seven Charms with me, Annoushka Ducas, please do like, review, and subscribe to hear our latest episodes. Thank you to Fairley Media for our audio production.


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