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Judith Kerr: ‘You have to make a plan for the day’

Christmas Radio Times

Judith Kerr

“Radio Times: You’re 91. What’s the secret to a long and successful working life?

Judith Kerr: You have to make a plan for the day. I get started at 10.30am. At lunchtime, I have a Martini Rosso on ice which keeps me awake in the afternoon. In the evening, I go for an hour’s walk along the Thames. It helps me to think. When I get home, I have a whisky. I’ve done more work since Tom [Judith’s husband, Quatermass screenwriter Thomas Nigel Kneale] died eight years ago than I did before because otherwise there’s this emptiness.”

We read a fair number of Mog stories round here, and I keep thinking that T must nearly be ready for When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (which the Radio Times reveals might be adapted by the BBC), so I was really excited to see this year’s Christmas Radio Times cover. But then, just as my brother & I used to as children, T disappeared with it & spent many happy hours poring over the Christmas TV listings. She has listed every film that she’d like to watch in her Christmas notebook. (The one in which she also writes letters that begin: ‘Dear Father Christmas, I hope that you and Mrs Christmas are both well…’.)

Anyway, these days of planning & plotting, mulling over the year to come and its shape & rhythm are probably the perfect time to heed Judith Kerr’s wonderful blend of pragmatism & heartbreak. For further Judith Kerr inspiration look no further than this fantastic BBC documentary. The sight of her practically skipping up the stairs to her studio with Alan Yentob, more than twenty years her junior, puffing far behind her is enough to make anyone a devotee of daily hour-long walks.

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