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Stroud and Proud: Katie Jarvis – Eric Clapton in the fast lane, Emma Samms and lime soda

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Stroud Times sat down with journalist Katie Jarvis. Katie writes for national and local press – including Cotswold Life magazine – as well as being the author/contributing author to books on the Cotswolds, local history and cheese. She lives in Nailsworth, where she’s a member of the Nailsworth Festival team.

When were you at your happiest?   

I’m happy most of the time but loved my days on the Stroud News & Journal, back when wonderful Dennis Mason was editor.  I once went to report at Stroud Magistrates’ Court, only to find Eric Clapton up for speeding on the M5. His solicitor (appearing in his stead) pleaded that, were Mr Clapton to be banned, bus services in London would mitigate against him travelling to concerts with his guitar. (Genuinely.)

I felt deeply sympathetic towards all the other poor motorists that day, highly surprised to find themselves before a packed gallery of the UK’s national press.

What has been your biggest disappointment?  

Not being able to recall much Latin, despite studying it at university. I can remember Cave Canem (‘Beware of the dog’) and tomaculum (‘sausage’; a word used in one of Juvenal’s satires). Though, hearteningly, my brother pointed out I could still say, ‘Beware of the sausage dog’.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Buying kitchen gadgets I don’t use. I once bought an air fryer, and tore up the packaging so Ian, my husband, wouldn’t see it. I would have sent it back but I couldn’t because I’d torn up the packaging. 

What is your favourite smell?

I smelt bleach the other day and was beyond thrilled. I had Covid back in October and haven’t been able to smell or taste much since. My family currently describe my cooking style as ‘Russian roulette’.

Who would play you in a film about your life?  

I’d vote Scarlett Johansson; but, for greater realism, we’re looking more in the mould of Marty Feldman. (Well, look him up, then.)

What do you like most about Stroud?   

Back in 2003, when I was protesting against the impending Iraq War, Stroud not only had a peace group I could join: it offered a choice of two. Sums it up. 

What would you improve about Stroud?  

I’d get someone (come on, people; this is eminently feasible) to pass a law that no utility company could dig up a road within 12 months of another, bar emergencies.

What is your ideal weekend?

With my family, my cerebrally-challenged spaniel, and a vegan takeaway from Nailsworth’s Wild Garlic. (Though now they’ve closed *weeps*, I’m going to try the Natural Cookery School in Day’s Mill.)

What is on your bucket list?  

Any bucket from Brutons. You couldn’t buy better.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?  

Double-check the ‘To’ line in emails before pressing ‘send’. *Shudders at unbidden memories*

What public figures do you most admire? 

The Dalai Lama made the point that we often confuse pleasure with happiness. Wisdom indeed.

Who is the most famous person in your phone? 

I’ve had a lot of famous numbers, over the years, though I delete after interviews. But Emma Samms, the actress, is always there; one of the first people I’d turn to in a crisis. A true friend.

What are your best and worst qualities? 

My worst is that – as my children point out – I always think I’m right. My best is that I’m always right.

What book, song and drink would you take with you if stranded on an uninhabited island? 

Goodness. Too many brilliant Cotswold authors. So I’ll take the Oxford Book of English Verse; Elgar’s Salut d’Amour, which my mum used to play on the cello; and a freshly squeezed lime soda.  

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