I was around 2 or 3. Our house at that time, in Torrance on the outskirts of Glasgow, backed onto a field filled with grass almost as tall as me. It was a miserable day – probably goes without saying for Scotland – and as I watched the wind batter the grass this way and that, I turned to my parents and announced, “the grass is dancing!”
What an imagination, they said. She’ll be a writer, they said. They soon came to regret this.
Monday mornings in Primary 1 were for sharing news, and on one otherwise dull morning I announced that my mum had had a baby the night before.
I was thrilled when the teacher wrote my big news on the blackboard for everyone to copy, and all day long basked in the excitement of being a new big sister. I was somewhat less thrilled by everyone’s reactions when my mum, still very much eight months pregnant, waddled in to pick me up from school. “I couldn’t think of anything else interesting to say,” I reasonably explained.
By the time they had been called in to school to be questioned about my twin sister who was kidnapped, discovered that half the kids invited to my 7th birthday party (and provided with loot bags) were imaginary, and confronted at parents’ night with a roomful of teachers all under the impression that my name was Kylie, my parents had started to seriously doubt my sanity.
Luckily as the years trundled by, I mostly grew out of fantasising (though cheerfully apply Mark Twain’s advice to never to let facts get in the way of a good story) and set out to pursue a life that is as interesting and random and entertaining as I could ever invent.
Mae West once said: “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”, and that’s pretty much my mission statement.
My sister commented on a Facebook photo recently, “Claire’s daily life is like a scene from a film…” and it may have been the nicest thing she has ever said about me. Which is particularly generous of her, given that I once convinced all her friends that my parents found her on the street and took her in to save her from the workhouse (I might have been reading The Little Matchgirl at the time).
There are so many things to see and do – glitzy things, random things, scary things – that at times I need a cup of tea and a little lie down in a darkened room at the thought of it all.
I once told somebody that I would love to be a vampire because I’m afraid I won’t live long enough to read all the books I want to, and was a bit taken aback by the funny look they gave me.
There are ups and downs of course, moments when I’ve run out of petrol, alone in the pitch dark middle of nowhere in Central Queensland, or found myself snowed in with a coked up rockstar in remote Canada, when I wonder if a normal life of contentment and security is really so bad; but on the whole, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I’m lucky enough to earn my living as a freelance writer, which is useful for my habit of emigrating on a whim.
After getting into a drunken debate with a stranger in the Ladies’ of some bar in Soho over where the actor Jason Priestley comes from (no, I have no idea why either) I moved to his hometown (I was right!), and Vancouver remains one of my favourite places on earth. I didn’t even have that much reason to move to Sweden – I think it had something to do with the fact that ABBA mention Glasgow in Super Trouper – but I’ve spent the last five very happy years living in Stockholm.