MAZ Pennington grew up in Belgium, where she trained to be a dancer.
Getting run over by a car at 16 meant she had to switch tack and moved to London to study law at university. Spending most of her time choreographing college musicals and appearing in am-dram productions, she soon realised she’d fought the law and the law had won.
After a drifty spell of temping, she studied footwear design at Cordwainer’s College – alma mater to Jimmy Choo, Lulu Guinness, Emma Hope et al. On graduating she was taken on by the college and the Royal College of Arts as a technician. She then moved to Freed’s of London, where she designed ballroom dancing shoes, then a little shop in a back street where she designed platform boots for drag queens.
Then she had two children and moved to Hampshire, where she keeps chickens, teaches Zumba, writes books and makes everything edible in her garden into Pennington’s Proper Preserves.
1. Who was your childhood hero? My parents and grandparents were the people I aspired to be like. One grandfather was a coal miner and the other a stoker in the Royal Navy. They were true heroes to me.
2. What is your most precious possession? My laptop, which contains 10 years’ worth of photos of my daughters.
3. What was the first record/CD you bought? I honestly can’t remember, but I hope it was cheesy.
4. What is the radio/television show you hate to miss? Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing.
5. What is your favourite film? Humphrey Bogart was my teenage pin-up, so Casablanca and The African Queen are high on the list. It’s A Wonderful Life would be up there too and The Shawshank Redemption.
6. What is your pet hate? Bad grammar – I’m a pedant.
7. What are you reading at the moment? The Universe Versus Alex Woods, for the second time within six months.
8. If you had a time machine, where would it take you? To the court of Charles I as described by George MacDonald Fraser in his introduction to The Pyrates.
9. If you were choosing a last meal, what would it be? Fresh crab, brown bread, butter, lemon, black pepper and a cold bottle of Sancerre, in a sunny garden in Cornwall.
10. If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be? Ernest Shackleton. He took his expedition to within 97 miles of the South Pole, and then had the guts to turn back when he realised they could make it there but wouldn’t make it back. This cost him his glory, but he got each and every man home alive.
11. If you were stranded on a desert island, what luxury would you choose to have with you? A virtual portal to the local library. I cannot live happily without books.
12. What sports team do you support? England cricket and rugby. Dummer Cricket Club.
13. What was your first job? I was a tap dancer with a French touring theatre company performing plays by Voltaire.
14. If you could take over someone’s job for the day, whose job would you choose? I think I’d like to be a barmaid in a beach shack in Mustique, and in a bar that only opened for a couple of hours.
15. What worries you the most? The most important thing to me is the health and happiness of my family and friends.
16. What is your proudest moment? My daughters make my heart swell with far more pride than I could ever feel in any personal achievement.
17. What is your guilty pleasure? I don’t think there’s anything I feel embarrassed about enjoying.
18. What one thing could change society for the better? Tolerance.
19. What would you like your epitaph to be? Lying down, at last.
20. What three words best describe you? Busy, noisy, happy.