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Apr 10, 2021 | by Clair Fisher

10 interesting things

This blog was originally published on, a website owned by Clair Fisher.

In Clair’s words: “Dying Well was my retirement project. A space for me to document my personal journey, to explore the evidence around wellbeing in terminal illness and test out some of the theories.”

I don’t want cancer to be the thing that defines me. I don’t want to become a cancer celebrity. Although this blog is all about death and dying, my normal life is full of joy and happiness; if you met me in the street right now you might not know I was sick. I tell people that cancer is the least interesting thing about me. So I thought I ought to make an effort to record some of the more interesting things and post them on this blog to balance all the rest of the cancery / deathy stuff that I write about!

  1. At University I was part of a record breaking effort to get the most people to abseil down a building in 24 hours. I was pushed off the top of our Arts building by someone from the Army and got a medal and a free drink afterward.

  2. My whole career (UK Civil Service) was inspired by going to Parliament on work experience during my A-level Politics, falling in love with the building (specifically the library) and trying to work out what I had to do to be allowed to live there. If I hadn’t got into the Civil Service, I would have taken up a Master’s place doing medieval history; probably en route to an academic career, also living in a library.

  3. One of the strangest evenings of my life was spent in a nightclub in Manilla with a UK Government Minister, their bodyguards and some very nervous local embassy staff. We drove there in an armoured cavalcade.

  4. I was also a bemused witness to Michael Jackson’s visit to see the Lord Chancellor… I think he might even have sung happy birthday to someone that day, it was all very odd.

  5. I’ve read and loved every single Terry Pratchett Discworld novel, the original copies of these are some of my most precious things.

  6. I have the drafts of several books on my computer, but doubt I’ll ever published any of them. One is on Strategic Thinking in the Public Sector, another a meditation on Psalm 16, another a novel based on a Victorian ladies detective club. Eclectic, I know. Maybe if I focussed on one genre I would have got somewhere!

  7. I have literally had to escape from a burning building, so I can tell you that the three things I saved from the fire were my dressing gown (I was in the bath at the time), my glasses and my phone. And yes, my now husband (then a fire fighter) did rush to the rescue, but we were already together so it wasn’t the romantic meet-cute. In fact on arrival (after I’d safely escaped) he declared ‘goodness that’s hot, I’m not going in…

  8. Thanks to meningitis, I have lost quite a lot of my mid-range hearing and rely a lot on lip reading in busy environments. This comes in very handy in training rooms, networking events or parties where I can tell what people are saying from across a crowded and noisy room. Sometimes I warn people about this super-power, other times I like to catch them out with it.

  9. I once failed a ballet exam because I stuck my tongue out while I was concentrating. That story has haunted me most of my adult life, especially when I catch myself still doing it in grown up meetings.

  10. The most fascinating and beautiful place I’ve ever worked was the Island of Montserrat. Most of it’s population was evacuated when a volcano erupted, and half of the island is still uninhabitable. You fly in on a plane with 5 other people, where the pilot checks your passport and recognises you as the only stranger on the flight. With no functioning port or significant airport they are figuring out how to rebuild and recover their country, their economy and their population.

When I asked my kids for an interesting thing about me… they said they couldn’t think of anything. When pushed, they suggested I should add that my middle name is Joanna. My husband also struggled to think of anything specific, settling in the end for ‘you are relatively unique.’

So hey, maybe I’m not actually that interesting after all.

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