What you put into life is what you get out Her passions and life lessons that make mary berry who she is
TV presenter, cookery writer and national treasure Mary Berry, 82, shares her memories, passions, fears and habits. She lives in Henley, Oxfordshire with her husband Paul Hunnings
What is your earliest cooking memory? a domestic science lesson with my teacher, miss Date. i made a treacle pudding, which i brought home, and my father said, “it’s as good as your mum’s.” miss Date was knee-high to a grasshopper, round and jolly and very knowledgeable. i loved every lesson because she was patient and gave praise. We kept in touch throughout her life.
did you have a career plan B? Cooking was the only thing i was good at. my headmistress told my parents that the other thing i could do was be a nanny. my father replied, “i’d pity the child.” that wasn’t kind, was it?
Best decision you’ve ever made? to follow my dreams, to do what i enjoy.
And the worst? i think that one conveniently forgets bad decisions… What has been your greatest achievement? When i won last year’s national television award for best tV judge. i was sure that len Goodman or simon Cowell would get it. i was also honoured when i was given a lifetime achievement award from the Guild of Food Writers, and when i was awarded a Cbe. each time something new comes along you think, “Gosh, how very nice.”
the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? my husband always tells me, “Don’t put off what you could do today until tomorrow.” He says it whenever i say i’ll do something later. He tells me to do it now and he’s absolutely right.
What is your best quality? i think i’m fairly loyal.
And your worst? i’m impatient. i’m always trying to complete something and i’m very impatient if it’s not working. i want to finish a job, do it well and not have it hanging over me until tomorrow.
Greatest fear? losing any of my family [mary’s son, William, died in a car crash when he was 19].
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? to me, a dream dinner has to be with my friends and family
– my children and grandchildren. i have no ambition to dine with a prime minister or anything like that.
What is your biggest pet hate? lateness. i’m one of those people who is always early. Fortunately, Paul is the same.
We’re always likely to be sitting outside a church or shop waiting for it to open.
Your favourite ever fashion item? the sparkly, pinkish dress i wore to the baFtas in 2016 and on the Highclere Castle episode of my programme, Mary Berry’s Country House Secrets. it’s by designer adrianna Papell and i love it.
Have you ever made a fashion faux pas? For me, a fashion faux pas is if i wear trousers that are too short in the
winter. they look fine in the summer with sandals, but in winter i look hideous with a trouser-shoe gap!
What is your confidence trick? two things: being prepared and dressing the part. it’s a matter of doing your homework, whether that’s knowing where you’re going or researching ahead of a meeting. in terms of dressing for confidence, a good pair of trousers and heels does the trick for me.
How do you relax? i have a subscription to woman & home, which my sister-in-law, margaret, buys me every Christmas, so i enjoy that. i also enjoy walks and playing tennis – badly! i play with the same four friends and really, it’s about friendship rather than tennis.
does anything keep you awake? thinking about work. i’ll get up and make notes, then go back to sleep again.
do you have a secret skill? i’m very good at cleaning out drains!
What has been your most extravagant purchase? Recently, it’s an alitex greenhouse. at the moment it’s empty but i can’t wait to get going in it, growing tomatoes and cucumbers. And your most treasured possession? a Valentine’s card William drew of him and his two siblings as little elephants in different sizes. i’ve always kept that.
What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done? appearing on Pointless Celebrities with Paul Hollywood. i always said i wouldn’t go on a quiz show and i was terrified. Paul was the brains, i was the dumb one. never again!
Your most important life lesson? What you put into life is what you get out.
And the secret to a happy relationship? Respect, sincerity, fairness. w & h
Classic mary berry is airing on BBC One. The accompanying book Classic by Mary Berry (BBC Books) is available to buy now.
The best decision I ever made was to follow my dreams, to do what I enjoy