I was on a seminar at work recently and as an icebreaker we had to tell other delegates who we would like to be stuck in a lift with and why.
I love things like this. I like the “who would you invite to a dinner party and why” question too.
The answers people give to questions like these are quite revealing, especially if you don’t give them much time to think about it and their answers are more instinctive.
One girl instantly said she would like to be stuck with a lift engineer so she could get out as soon as possible. (Practical. This idea never even crossed my mind)
Another girl said she’d like to be stuck with Gary Barlow, but then admitted it would only be so she could look at him, she wasn’t that bothered about talking to him! (stalker…)
So, because I’m in charge and it’s my game, you get to be stuck in a lift with THREE people, alive or dead (er, but not dead in the lift, obviously). It’s a big lift ok? So no claustrophobia. And there would be chocolate and wine for the duration, naturally (my rules remember).
My first person would be Queen Elizabeth I. The Virgin Queen. I remember being fascinated by the Ladybird book about her when I was a child. When we were allowed to pick a ‘free reading’ book to read at junior school I would invariable end up with that. I would look for ages at the iconic reproduction of that full length portrait of her and the Ladybird imagining of Rayleigh laying down his cloak for her to walk over a puddle.
From the age of just 25 she led a great nation, governed wisely and was respected worldwide. I would want to know how she felt about her life. Were her personal sacrifices worth it for the country she loved (arguably) more than any man, even Robert Dudley? How did she feel about her father, Henry VIII and mother, Anne Boleyn? Possibly the two most famous parents in history, one responsible for the death (murder) of the other…
My second person would be Chris Evans. He’s a bit “marmite” isn’t he? I know lots of you will be completely anti-him. I went off him a bit for a while too, but then when he started working on Radio 2’s Drivetime programme I grew to love him again. I’ve read both his autobiographies and they are fascinating. He holds his hands up to all the mistakes he’s made in his life with good humour, self deprecation and a very humble attitude. The section of the book where he writes about his split with Billie Piper had me in tears, and I hardly ever cry when reading books. (Notable exceptions include Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” and the more contemporary novel ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes at which I sobbed)
I would love to chat to him about how he turned his life around. And how he realised he even needed to. His enthusiasm and lust for life is contagious. He seems to have the greatest capacity for love and is generous to a fault (he discusses this in his books too). Did you know he has recently paid half towards the expenses of Paul Gascoigne’s rehabilitation in Arizona?
My third person would be Nelson Mandela. History is littered with these amazing people, the lone (at the start) men and women who have quietly started/caused and won revolutions. Ghandi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Nelson Mandela did just that. I would like to know how he survived those long years in prison, how he kept his faith – in his cause and his God. How do people like him keep on going even in their darkest times? I would ask him how he felt on being released and how it felt to discover he was the author of such great change.
Other people on my (secret reserve) list would include Tom Hanks and David Tennant (both such great contemporary actors). Emeline Pankhurst (no need for explanation I hope). My paternal grandmother (she died when I was very young and my memories of her involve nursing homes and dementia only). Marilyn Monroe (I’m positive she had a lot more about her than people give her credit for). Jane Austen (I’d like to talk to her about how much women’s lives have changed since she wrote her books). Oscar Wilde (simply to listen to his stories). Georgiana Cavendish (Duchess of Devonshire who surrendered one of her children and stayed in a loveless, cuckolded marriage for the sake of her others). And George Clooney (well, just to look at really, you know?)
I canvassed a few friends whilst writing this too. Michael Palin, Margaret Thatcher, Ian Fleming, Florence Nightingale, Jessica Ennis, Audrey Hepburn, Ghandi, Jeremy Hardy and Sir dmund Hilary all came up.
Which 3 people would you like to get stuck in a lift with ? Let me know, here or on twitter x