Sharing things

Transcript for 1.10 Ross and Catherine (Christmas special)

Transcript for Sharing things 1.10 Ross and Catherine (Christmas special)

Amalie: You're listening to Sharing things, a new University of Edinburgh podcast from the Alumni Relations team about the University community, which we want to get to know a little better.

Hi I'm Amalie, I'm a fourth-year student and I'm the host of this podcast. In this Christmas special of Sharing things, you will meet Ross Nixon and Catherine Rayner. Ross is the president of the University of Edinburgh Law Students' Council. He is also a fourth-year law student who loves musicals.

Catherine is an author and illustrator. She studied illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, likes to draw animals and has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Peters Book of the Year award for 'Smelly Louie'.

In this episode we talk all things Christmas, pets and favourite festive tunes.

[Ringing bell sound]

Amalie: Welcome to Sharing things, Ross and Catherine, how are you today?

Ross: Yeah, good.

Catherine: Really good, thank you.

Amalie: Yeah, this is our Christmas special, so today's episode is going to be Christmas themed, which is fun. So my first question is then, what is the object that you have brought and why does it remind you of Christmas?

Ross: So I brought a picture of my family.

Catherine: Oh that's lovely...with a portrait of the family behind the picture of the family!

Ross: Yeah, there's a picture of me and then a picture of me.

Catherine: How amazing.

Ross: So Christmas is about me. [Laughter] No, but I brought this because for me, like, we've got exams before Christmas so you finish exams on the 21st and you get to go home and see all your family and we've got a big family so at Christmas Eve it's just the four of us, then on Christmas Day it's my mum's side, and Boxing Day it's my dad's side, a day off and then it's my mum's birthday and then two days off and then it's New Year, so it's a lot of seeing everyone you haven't seen for the last six months.

When you're at university, you're sort of in like a little bubble away from everything else, like everyone else like my little cousins have all got full-time jobs and trucking away and I'm here like waking up at 10 am like 'whoooo'!

Catherine: [Laughs] sounds like [inaudible].

Ross: So yeah that's what like Christmas for me is. I'm not particularly religious, like we don't go to church but it's just getting all the family together, seeing everyone, catching up, just away from work, away from all the stresses of sort of day to day, just get to eat a lot of food and be happy.

Amalie: In this picture I see your sisters.

Ross: Yeah so I've got my little sister, my cousin, my mum, my pap and my gran.

Amalie: Aww.

Ross: So this was taken about four years ago. I just really like the picture because that was the last Christmas that my gran was with us, unfortunately, but it was just nice to see everyone together and having a good time- yeah it's good.

Catherine: It's a good photo, it's very nice.

Ross: My mum puts this up every year instead of getting a new photo. I'm like, we could do an updated one. She's like, too much effort, too much effort. I think that was right after first year so I hadn't quite got my soul broken by the university experience yet [laughs] I still had some joy and some pep in my step. [Laughter] That's Christmas for me.

Catherine: So my thing is a bit different to that- makes me very uncaring about my family in some ways, but I brought with me a book because I thought that would be extremely appropriate, because books are my life and it is a book about meerkats and it's written and illustrated by my friend and it's called 'Meerkat Christmas' and it was only sent to me the other week, but the reason it's particularly special is A) because my littlest is three and he's totally totally into books at the moment especially books like this and my biggest is eight so he reads to him, which is lovely but I opened it and I didn't know my friend dedicated it to my children.

Amalie: Awwwww!

Catherine: Which I just thought was the nicest thing so in the front- I knew she had mentioned them somewhere but it says 'For Sandy', so the whole book's dedicated for Sandy and then at the back there's a family portrait- a bit like yours but they're meerkats- and she's named them after my two children, Finlay and Sandy.

Amalie: Oh that's so amazing!

Catherine: And it's so nice because they're at the age where they really really appreciate that, so this will become a Christmas treat, it's such a special book and it's about a meerkat who wants to go where he thinks the snow is and where he thinks the Christmas trees are but he gets all of it wrong and in the end realises that it doesn't really matter where the snow is and all the Christmassy things because he just wants to be his family.

Amalie: Awww.

Catherine: It's really sweet and it's really beautifully done. It's written and illustrated by Emily Gravett, who is extraordinarily talented.

Amalie: Are the characters that are named after your kids, are they also like your kids?

Catherine: I don't know, she doesn't actually talk about them, it's all about the main character who is Sonny, so you just see his family in the background, which is why I think, because this is the second book in the series, she got away with just naming them in this second book. My eldest was at a holiday club and a guy brought a real meerkat in and Fin said it was the sweetest thing he'd ever seen in his life.

Ross: I don't know when you were in Edinburgh but there's a ferret man who walks his ferrets around the Meadows and I always see him out and about with his like four ferrets and I'm like what a wholesome activity.

Catherine: For a city centre...

Amalie: A ferret man?

Ross: Yeah the ferret man who has them on leads, I don't know where he lives but he always walks around the Meadows with ferrets on leads.

Amalie: Do you guys have pets?

Catherine: Yes, do you?

Ross: We have a dog at home but we got Jenson after I moved out so I'm like the fun uncle, like no responsibilities but I still get cuddles.

Catherine: Jenson's a good name.

Ross: He's a lovely little boy.

Catherine: I like the sound of him already, it's absolutely great.

Ross: What pets do you have?

Catherine: Oh we've got a bit of a zoo. I have starting with the smallest we have a goldfish, two goldfish called Richard and Louise, very sensible names.

Amalie: Very sensible names!

Catherine: I know and we have got a guinea pig, who we love, he's the friendliest, funniest, he just he just loves the kids, so they sort of carry him around like he's a pyjama case and he's called Rocky, he was adopted and rescued so we don't know how old he is and then we've got a cat called Anna, who is 15 and we got her just after we graduated. She's a funny grumpy old- we think she's gone a bit senile but she's hilarious and then I've got a horse.

Amalie: A horse!

Catherine: I know, it's quite random isn't it? And she is 30 years old.

Ross: She's older than me!

Catherine: Yeah, I know it's really weird and I've had her for 22 years so.

Amalie: [Surprised tone] 30 years old.

Ross: For the listeners out there, I'm 22.

Catherine: Oh goodness [laughs]. For the listeners out there I'm not [laughs].

Ross: She's 24.

Catherine: [Laughs] I got her when I was two, no I didn't- yeah I've had her for 22.5 years so she's my big baby but she is a bit of a granny horse now, I don't ride her any more, she's just up on the hills outside Edinburgh and she's lovely, she's beautiful.

Ross: I won a goldfish at a- do you know the shows, when the shows come round and it's like in the car park of [inaudible] and you can hook a duck and win a goldfish in a bag, in hindsight it sounds a bit inhumane.

Catherine: I don't think they're allowed to do that anymore.

Ross: Are they not? This was a while ago. But I ended up winning this and I was like, Mum I won a goldfish and she's like, okay, it's fine it will be dead in two weeks. 20 years old and she passed away two years ago.

Catherine: But that's how long they should live. That's brilliant.

Amalie: Wait really?

Catherine: Yeah.

Ross: Well she was gold, she went silver, her eye fell out but she just kept swimming [laughter] just kept swimming. I'm not an animal-y person myself, like other people can have animals but I don't have any caring instincts at all, so a fish was good for me. Twice a day I'd feed it, clean out the tank.

Catherine: Yeah but you clearly do have a caring instinct cause you did feed it.

Ross: For the fish.

Catherine: I don't believe you.

Amalie: Bare minimum [laughs].

Ross: Bare minimum of caring [laughter].

Catherine: I actually really love looking after things, I don't know why, it's just I've got loads of house plants too- they take quite a lot of work.

Ross: My flatmate has so many house plants and they're all beautiful and I bought one- immediately wilted.

Catherine: [Groan] Noooo, well you have to kill a few to learn how to look after them, they do say that.

Ross: I have a cactus, I've not killed that yet, I'll leave- my cactus's called George- I'll leave him out.

Catherine: You see you do care. He's even got a name for his cactus.

Amalie: Amazing!

Ross: Cactus George, he gets watered once a month.

Catherine: You're finding out about yourself.

Amalie: Yeah.

Ross: [Softly] Self-discovery with the University of Edinburgh.

[Ringing bell sound]

Amalie: I wanna ask, what is the first Christmas that you can remember?

Catherine: I was really little, I can remember we used to go up to Coylumbridge up near Aviemore, I think I remember it because there were reindeer and you could go ice skating- it was amazing but we stopped going after a while, I think it was, I'm from Yorkshire so it was a very long drive with three small children all arguing in the back.

Ross: Christmas is always at my house with my mum's family so they all sort of roll into one. I remember I got a Harry Potter castle one year.

Catherine: That's amazing.

Ross: Yeah, that must have been...

Catherine: Lego, or?

Ross: You pressed a button and it opened up and had like potions, very cool.

Catherine: You still got it?

Ross: Probably up somewhere.

Catherine: Amazing.

Ross: Everything goes up in the attic so it must have been around the time the first movie came out and I remember going to see that because I was so excited I was sick in my dad's car in the way there and we couldn't go see it.


Ross: So we went back a week later and it got to the scene where they're playing like human chess and I started crying, so we had to leave.

Catherine: Awww.

Amalie: So you never actually saw it?

Ross: 10 years later- I decided I didn't like it- 10 years later I gave it another shot and actually- fantastic series. Just a traumatic experience from start to finish at that age- that's the oldest one, although at three o'clock we always eat a lot of food and then we watch some TV and then we just get really drunk so...

Amalie: What do you eat?

Ross: So I always want turkey but no one else likes turkey.

Catherine: I love turkey! We have the same argument in our house- everyone else is like, shall we do something different this year? No! It's like, turkey!

Ross: I always want to do something different cause we have roast beef and we have ham and I'm like, turkey! We had it one year because I converted by aunt but, erm, it's a proper operation to get it all cooked. Like three different houses cooking different things, all bring it over.

Catherine: It's quite good fun thought isn't it, it's the tradition that's the nice thing.

Amalie: Yeah.

Ross: Where do you do Christmas, at your house, at your parents' house, or?

Catherine: Well it's all changed around, a little bit, we used to usually go down to my mum and dad's but very sadly my dad died last year, so last Christmas mum came up to us, which was a bit weird- still feels like Christmas hasn't quite happened because it was quite strange, but it was nice, but it was just not in the family house and then this year it's going to be really Christmassy cause we're going to Germany to my husband's family.

We're going to go to the real German markets and have Glühwein and yeah it should be good but it's going to be quite tricky taking all the prezzies for the little ones.

Ross: Yeah.

Catherine: Who don't really understand why Santa's going to be travelling light because Santa's got a sleigh so it shouldn't really be an issue.

Ross: [Laughter] He actually has 23kg for bags.

Catherine: You have to pay for extra, yeah [laughter].

Ross: Santa's not had a good year.

Catherine: So we were just trying to explain that we have to bring them back and they're like, well maybe Santa could bring them back. He's tired by then.

Ross: He's got annual leave to take.

Catherine: Yeah, he really does, I mean he's been working really- he's been working really hard making all those toys. And they're also at the age where they can't quite understand why there's a limit on what Santa can make because it's all free because he makes it, so they can ask for the £300 Hornby railway set.


Catherine: I know and you're like, uhhhh. And they said, or an iPad, an iPad's really small. It's like, well small doesn't really equate to a monetary value but anyway we'll just nod and smile and put it on your list and we'll see what he brings.

Ross: My first ever job was as a sales assistant at a national toy shop and just seemed like parents trying to say no to kids, that's like...

Catherine: Oh, it's really sad isn't it.

Ross: Yeah.

Catherine: It's hard, I mean sometimes it's quite satisfying if they're being really bad but they actually get genuinely upset. When someone cries because you say no, you feel like the worst person in the world.

Ross: It's like, look at like a Lego Death Star for £300 and that's like realistically I'm not paying £300 for Lego but then that kid starts crying and suddenly the parents are paying £300 for Lego.

Catherine: Aww, it's those two years, they've got something in them that casts spells on soft parents I think.

Ross: I worked Boxing Day and that was a whole other experience of like, if you don't have a receipt, I can't return it. Someone turned up with a black bag of Lego, like just indiscriminate Lego, no box, no set, just, 'Can I return this Lego?' I was like [pauses]....

Catherine: No.

Ross: No [laughter]. I don't know what was the expectation here, but no.

So you worked in children's books and with children. Like when you had children, was it-- you've never not been involved with children.

Catherine: Mmm that's a good point- no but the children have been quite useful actually in testing new texts for books and they are the most brutal critics, so if I've drawn something or illustrated something and it's not very good, I can ask them and they're quite-- they're much more-- well Fin's much more tactful than he used to be but they do say, what even is that? [Laughs] Is that the rough or is that the final artwork? So it's brilliant that they will point things out as well and they are an inspiration in terms of I know what that age group really wants to read about now.

I think my books got a lot more fun since having them but I have always had a lot to do with children, I kind of like them, I mean they annoy me, I'm no amazing supermum by any means- I get really cross and really fed up and really tired like anybody does, but I just find them really interesting and they make me laugh. I find their wee minds absolutely fascinating.

They seem to be very into drawing and I don't know if because they see me doing all the time- I've recently moved my studio out of our flat so when I get home I work at the kitchen table, whereas I used have a studio at home but because they see me drawing all the time, they're drawing more. And Fin especially, his drawing's come on loads since I started doing that.

Ross: I'm like a terrible artist in terms of visual art but I always was annoyed when they were like, 'Draw in the lines.' Like, no, that's not fun, I just want to make everything green.

Catherine: Oh that's good though, that's really good. But you can talk, I get tongue tied at the smallest of things, like this is absolutely fine, but to be able to debate and actually put a case across- I'm the sort of person that has an argument and that says, I can't be bothered to argue anymore so you've won.

Ross: Yeah.

Catherine: And then I give someone a look.

Ross: I went for speech therapy when I was like seven or eight because I have a tongue tie, so it was a little bit graphic- a little bit too much skin connecting my tongue to my mouth.

Catherine: Yeah yeah, they usually just sort that when you're a baby, don't they?

Ross: Mine wasn't bad enough so they never, but I always had issues I don't know if it's from that with my r's, my s's, my, like, thought and fought, to fight and to think.

Catherine: Ahh.

Ross: So I never spoke a lot, but actually I always did, just badly, but then I think once I got over that, I was like, oh I can do it, I'm just going to speak for ever.

Catherine: [Laughs] That's fine!

Ross: I never stopped- unleashed upon the world, but it was great I mean speech therapy is the most frustrating thing ever cause you just get a picture of a snake and go 'snake'.

Catherine: Oh really?

Ross: I'm like, I know what it is, I just can't say it. I love to talk, did debating for a while but in my family, my dad or my sister, they will fight to the bitter end over the smallest of things because they believe they're right, but me and my mum, we're just like, if I know I'm not going to win, I'm just like, 'Oh okay'. I don't have-- I'm not [inaudible] about defending my stance, I'm just away to my bed.

Catherine: Oh pick your battles, that's very, very wise though I think- keeps life nice and calm.

Ross: Yeah.

Amalie: Yeah, what do people usually fight over?

Catherine: In our house, we're not of a particularly argue-y house. The biggest sort of conflict is small children answering back. [Laughter] And you're like, no I'm right, but you're not, but I am, why are you right? Because I'm the adult, just put your coat on. [Laughter] Oh yeah there's literally an argument about putting your coat on, who sharpened the pencil onto the floor, eating tea, that kind of thing and it's funny, a lot of the time you have to hide in another room and laugh and then go back into the room with a very serious face, like I can't believe I'm having a really serious conversation about putting two shoes on and not just one.

That is funny, that is funny. Last night we had a huge argument with Sandy, our littlest because he said that he could not eat pizza without socks on and he'd taken his socks off and they had to be the right socks- pizza socks.

Anyway, it went round and round in circles- we went through three pairs of socks and you just don't think that you spend your evening changing someone's socks because you don't want to eat pizza in a certain park of socks. Anyway, this is why I quite like children, they're just really funny.

Ross: You never expect what's coming.

Catherine: No, no and his seriousness, they-- 'I do not want dinosaur socks to eat pizza, these are the wrong socks.' Ugh, right.

Ross: But small kids, sometimes you say this and then they just say something back, I'm

Catherine: [Laughs] what?

Ross: Like sometimes they have their own logic and you never know quite what the steps they took to get there.

Catherine: I think I --- I really like that, I just think it's really funny. [Laughter] And the seriousness of the problem that isn't actually a problem at all, it's brilliant.

I go to theatres and talk to large groups of children and if I've missed something in my book or made a mistake, they will pick it out and they'll be beautiful. I was doing a performance in front of--- I say performance, I do live drawing, read the stories and we talk about silly things. And a child put their hand up and I was like, yes! I thought it was going to be a really sweet question because this angelic girl put her hand up and she went, 'You've forgotten to draw the wings on that dragon.' And I blimming had, hadn't I?

It had gone through, it had been published in loads of different languages, it's been checked by me, editors, pretty-- I mean it's gone through about hundreds of people, no one's picked up on it but a six-year-old in the middle of a theatre in Ipswich noticed.

Amalie: Gasp.

Catherine: Gasp, but they loved it because I was like, oh my goodness, you're absolutely right, I've made a completely horrific mistake, she maybe just tucks her wings away when she's not flying. You just don't get away with it, the shorter the text as well the less space there is to get away with stuff.

Ross: The book you published while still at ECA was a children's book.

Catherine: It was, so I wrote and illustrated that book as part of my degree show and as we left we went down to a graduate show in London called the D&AD and you could take I think it was a metre squared to show your work, and a plinth in the middle of the room and I had that book on the plinth and on the wall and a publisher found it and published it.

So it was a lovely start to working life but it was a bit in the deep end, sorting out contracts and two publishers actually wanted it and I had to go through contracts and work out who was going to give the better deal.

Ross: That's the stuff I love.

Catherine: So, well yeah, contracts bring me out in a cold sweat, I hate them so much, I now have somebody that actually does that for me because they literally fill me with.

She's really funny, she gets a phone and she-- either my accountant does it or my agent does it and I'll phone and go, 'Helloooo?' and they say, just put it in the post, I can tell that something's come through. Like, yeah, just any kind of form I'm a bit allergic to.

Ross: Oh I love forms and like logic and like.

Catherine: I don't understand what's-- but you need to find out loads of like random stuff.

Ross: I think that's like a different kind of creativity or like what's the best way to like word this or what's best way to do it like, I'm...

Catherine: I've never even thought of it in a remotely creative way, I just think of it as gathering information that I usually don't know, that's a good way of thinking about it.

Ross: Well the law degree doesn't really train you to be a lawyer proper, like it's quite academic, being a lawyer's quite practical, I think for better or for worse I can find new and innovative ways of wording things, usually maybe [inaudible] will send out a contract that looks very complex and then for the client will be like, here's five paragraphs telling you what's going on in the simplest way possible, because the law is quite bad for that, the law's sometimes overly complex only and like Latin and all of that. Before I did the degree, I couldn't read the law and be like, that's what that means.

Catherine: It sounds-- this is why I get into a complete panic, I can just about cope with 'What's your national insurance number?' That's about the level of it-- What's your middle name?

Ross: The law needs to be better at making things just simple like if you could go read it so you don't have to go ask eight different people what this means.

Catherine: Well maybe that's your place in the world, there you go, you're going to make a difference.

Ross: Simplifier.

Catherine: Yes.

Ross: You should make a children's book about a lawyer.

Catherine: Yeahhh [laughs].

Ross: A lawyer dragon?

Amalie: A lawyer dragon. A tiger who is a lawyer.

Catherine: That might work, you never know, you never know but you'd have to write it, I mean, as I said and it can't have any forms because I'll go to a cold sweat.

[Ringing bell sound]

Ross: So your degree show was a children's book, were you always interested in that or has it come about as your degree show?

Catherine: Art was my thing, partly because of this allergy to forms and things like that and I knew I wanted to go to art school from as long as I can remember, that was just what would happen it was like this magical place where amazing things happened.

Well, I could remember that I'd always loved books, they were just such a good escape from the real world and they're so good for you and I must have said to somebody at some point, I kind of remember the conversation that I was interested in children's illustration, so I presumed that you had to do Fine Art because art is art.

I had no idea that there were all these little branches of art you could go off and do, like there was graphics and there was fashion and there was jewellery and then there was painting but there was sculpture and [makes garbled sound].

And somebody said to me, well you don't want to do Fine Art you want to do Illustration and I was like ohh I didn't realise you could actually do that and my style has always-- well I love animals as you can probably tell and I just drew them all the time and it was really suitable for kids' books and I love books and it kind of naturally developed like, it's quite organic really.

The stories, I still feel like a bit of a fraud when I say I'm an author because they just sort of happen alongside the pictures and somehow that makes you an author but I illustrate for other people as well.

Amalie: I feel like you must be a great bedside storyteller [laughter] like your kids must be in heaven.

Ross: Do you do the voices?

Catherine: Oh I do do the voices but often the problem is bedtime stories, I'm often so tired I'm like [fast reading sound] But if I'm reading to other children or doing events I'm really flamboyant but no, we do read a lot of books.

Amalie: Yeah.

Catherine: My own kids, they have the-- like we're literally trying to get in the car to go somewhere and they're like, mummy can I have a story? I'm like, oh no, we've got one foot in the car, the traffic warden's there, I don't feel like because of my job I should every opportunity say 'yes darling, sit on my knee, I'll read you a story.' It's not really like that.

Ross: Have you ever thought about or been offered to do cartoons, or is that sort of a separate?

Catherine: What to have the characters animated? Yes, a few years ago they did animate my book 'Solomon Crocodile', which was amazing but my stuff's quite tricky to animate because it's quite free flowing and watercolour-y, it's not that easy to make arms and legs move, sort of authentically but they've done puppet shows and theatre performances and stuff like that, which is also amazing and they did a musical of Augustus. In fact, they've done two. They did one that they performed at the Royal Albert Hall, which I never got to go and see, I think I was pregnant and I couldn't go. Gutted, it would have been amazing.

Amalie: They should put it on again so you can see it.

Catherine: You know they should, I mean it was a long time ago now but maybe, I haven't even thought of putting the request in, that's a good idea.

Ross: Out of everything, I'd go see a theatre show every day. 'Kinky Boots' came up to Edinburgh last year- I went to see it six times.

Catherine: Did you? That's dedication!

Ross: They've always got like deals on, like there's tickets for like £10. I think like theatre's just such an amazing thing.

Catherine: It is an amazing experience, yeah.

Ross: And like musicals...

Catherine: You really feel like you've been somewhere and done something when you go.

Ross: Yeah.

Catherine: I haven't been for ages, we should, we must go to the pantomime at least or something.

Ross: Lion King's coming up but I think it's all sold out.

Catherine: My mum took Fin to see it at the cinema and he got really upset, but he just came back and clung on to my husband and went, I don't want you to die, Daddy. Mum went, oh I thought you'd really enjoyed...clearly worried sick throughout.

Ross: Ah yeah, the Lion King's traumatic.

Catherine: It is, quite, yeah.

Ross: I remember Beauty and the Beast when I was little cause my grandad loves to see films, he had them all on VHS and Beauty and the Beast, I was always scared of the beast, he's so terrifying, like all the story about like accepting people-- none of that I was just like, ohh.

Catherine: Creepy man.

Ross: You leave her alone.

Catherine: Noo, what a shame.

Ross: The Little Mermaid was always my favourite.

Catherine: I liked the Little Mermaid, loved that, and tell you what else is good, Frozen.

Ross: I loved Frozen.

Catherine: I loved Frozen and the second one's coming out -come with us, I'll take the boys, yeah. [Laughs] I haven't seen it.

Amalie: Sharing things goes to Frozen.

Catherine: Oh, it is brilliant. I feel I should ask you more about your studying and stuff but I don't know anything about law- well I obviously know not to break the law.

Ross: The thing with law is that it touches on every aspect of life, which is what I kind of like because I actually came to uni to do pharmacology and then switched degrees after a year.

Catherine: Oh did you?

Ross: Yeah, for me I thought was good science, I got to university...I'm not good at science, it turns out, so I put in this form like please let me be a lawyer, somehow they said yes, I don't know how, I wouldn't recommend to anyone as an entry route but it's definitely something I enjoy because it's sort of like half of science and half humanity.

Catherine: It's quite logical as well, which is nice.

Ross: Some things are like a yes/no answer but some things are a lot broader questions.

Catherine: Well everything feeds into each other more than you think because, illustration, I have will have dealings with people who are in your forte as well.

Ross: There's people that illustrate for everything cause everyone wants to have an image and brand...

Catherine: So they do, I had loads of students from Boroughmuir at my studio yesterday and we were doing a careers chat, so I was explaining that you can make a living from being an artist, contrary to popular opinion, you can do very well and it is a good career and if they looked around my studio the things like the Sellotape box, the sandwich packet, things like that, everything's illustrated or designed, graphic designed, things like that. You don't really realise that you know this microphone has had hours and hours of precious time spent on it, getting it just right. It really fascinates me that even the smallest details have a bit of somebody's soul in it, do you know what I mean?

Ross: Yeah.

Catherine: The most boring things.

Ross: And there's so much like the psychology behind it as well especially for like marketing things, like things are certain colours because they invoke certain emotions and like they all plan it out like people have done a lot of research well, I'm not like visually artistic in any way so I look at the microphone and I'm like, oh it's a microphone but probably it's this colour for a reason and it's been researched...

Catherine: It's actually a very nice looking microphone, I mean, when you look at it.

Ross: Very [French accent] artistique.

Catherine: Very handsome piece of equipment [laugh].

[Ringing bell sounds]

Amalie: So, who is your favourite person to buy presents for and why?

Ross: Me [laughs].

Catherine: That is a br--- yeah, just myself really.

Amalie: Honestly, such a fair answer.

Ross: [Laughter] Probably my mum because my dad's awful to buy for because he always just says he wants nothing but my mum, I can have a good guess at every year. My dad always just gets like a generic dad gift.

Catherine: Dads are really hard to...

Amalie: What's a generic dad gift?

Catherine: I'm guessing socks...

Ross: Socks, erm last year he asked for...

Catherine: Chocolate?

Ross: A bag for his work, so I got him a bag for his work.

Catherine: Oh but that's good.

Ross: Or like, alcohol, Jack Daniel's every Christmas.

Catherine: I love buying people presents, I just really enjoy picking out sort of unusual things that I know that person's going to love- sometimes I don't want to part with these things and it's quite hard and they open them and I'm like, [excitedly] Do you like it? Do you like it? And they look at me and they say did you want to keep this for yourself? Yes I did. So, it's tricky, it's really tricky but I like buying bits and bobs.

Ross: The best gift we've bought is also the worst thing we've done and we had this friend and she doesn't like fish.

Catherine: Eating it or fish in general?

Ross: Just fish in general, we took her to Sea World and she was like, you know what, I don't enjoy this, I don't enjoy fish, like they're sort of scary, so we got her a shark diving experience for 21st. She had a fantastic time.

Catherine: Ohhh!

Ross: It was not my idea but...

Catherine: That's a really good but the millennials are supposed to be much more into experiences than things. Yeah but I remembered a good present- for my husband 30th, I bought him an Ian Hamilton Finlay print and he wasn't expecting it at and I had to save up for it for ages and it was this-- but he absolutely loved it and he had no idea he was going to get it and it meant a lot to him because it was an artist that he'd studied at art school and he knew that I'd gone to quite a lot of trouble to get it and it was just a really nice moment- just he was like, I can't believe like I've got this. Men are quite difficult to buy for.

Amalie: Yeah.

Catherine: I mean good thing is that socks don't last forever so you can always replace them, but it is tricky. I'm easy to buy for, I love-- just in case guys-- candles, flowers and chocolate and wine, I mean it's the simple things in life- bubble bath as well.

Amalie: Are you the type of person that if you get a gift that you don't like, do you pretend like you like it?

Catherine: Yeah you can't say you don't like it [laughs]. I got given a squashed frog from the bottom of-- sweet not a real frog-- from the bottom of Sandy's pocket the other day, he said he'd saved me a bit and you're like, oh this is the best thing I've ever had and you can't say you don't like it.

Amalie: No, that's true.

Catherine: Bits of fluff and sand, my favourite.

Ross: People say it's the thought that counts and it's so cheesy but it is, if someone's gone to the effort of getting me something, then...

Catherine: It's really touching, yeah.

Ross: Yeah.

Catherine: It doesn't have to be anything big, it can be the tiniest-- well it can be half a squashed frog but somebody actually thought of you and yeah it really is the thought.

Amalie: Okay so my last question is: What's your favourite Christmas song? And why?

Catherine and Ross: Ohhh.

Ross: Okay, erm, is the gay in me with 'All I Want For Christmas Is You' / Mariah Carey.

Catherine: No that was mine! I love that song. Oh it's just really good [sings a few words]. And I think it reminds me as well of the Love Actually film, which I really like and it's just so jolly and passionate and uplifting- it's really good, I do also quite like when we used to drive home for Christmas down to Yorkshire, we quite like 'Driving Home For Christmas' just because it was like do-do-do-do.

Amalie: Such a road trip song.

Catherine: It really is, it was lovely and yeah Christmas songs are good actually because they do, they really get you in the mood, don't they?

Ross: Some people hate them until like two weeks before but from about the first of November I am happy.

Catherine: Oh first of November? First of December I'm happy, that's fine.

Ross: Well I used to work in a toy shop because everyone was in buying for Christmas all the time, we just had them on from when I started working to when I stopped, but it just gets you in the mood and Christmas is lovely and especially when you're at uni and you've got exams you have to get through, it gives you like a nice light at the end of the tunnel.

Amalie: And on that note, thank you for taking part in Sharing things, Ross and Catherine.

Catherine: Very welcome, it's been lovely to chat.

Ross: Thank you very much.

Amalie: And Merry Christmas.

Ross: Happy holidays.

Catherine: Merry Christmas to you too!

Amalie: Yeah!

[Ringing bell sound]

Amalie: Thank you for listening to Sharing things, make sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play to catch our next episode. Be sure to visit our website to read more about our guests and other episodes at

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