The author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F**k’ reveals why she doesn’t believe in fate

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Emma Ledger
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Five Minute Philosopher is a weekly series in which Stylist gets profound with people we love. From her thoughts on the meaning of life to her greatest fear, what will author Sarah Knight make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

Not dying for as long as possible and being happy for as much of the time you’re not dead.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

I can’t tell you that. You should know the difference – and if you claim you don’t know, then it’s wrong.

Where is your happy place?

On a lounge chair in the sun. I’m half-woman, half-lizard.

Nature or nurture?

Nature, absolutely. I think you can slightly improve or ruin a child based on parenting, but ultimately you can’t escape your nature.

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

Respected. You can’t control if people like you, whereas if you behave honourably then you know you’re worthy of respect.

If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

Besides using the word ‘f**k’ 732 times in one book? I just want to be remembered for being a good time.

Who or what is your greatest love?

My husband.

When did you last lie?

Every time my doctor asks me how many alcohol units I drink a week. He probably needs to triple it for me. I live in the Dominican Republic and every day at 4pm it’s Aperol spritz-o’clock.

Does the supernatural exist?

Intellectually, I don’t think it exists, so I want to say no but I also don’t want to be haunted for saying that.

Are you fatalistic?

No. Saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ might be soothing but it’s total bulls**t. It gives you an excuse not to have to deal with what’s going on.

What is your greatest fear?

In my nightmares, tsunamis. In real life, I’d say cancer and spiders. I’m scared that spiders are going to bite me.

Animals or babies?

Baby animals! Kittens especially. They’re the reason I have Instagram. I have two cats but they were adults when I got them.

What talent do you yearn for?

I wish I could dance. I’m such an embarrassment to myself, but that doesn’t stop me getting on the dance floor… or on the bar.

Do you like to be complimented?

Does anybody say no to this? The biggest compliment I can get is a laugh. But growing up, I was insecure about my looks so I do enjoy a compliment about that too.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

No, I’m weak and frail when it comes to pain. The other day an ant bit me and you’d have thought I’d been run over by a lawnmower.

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What book do you recommend most to others?

I’m contractually obligated to flog my own books, but other than that it’s Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. It’s a memoir about her crazy family which is hilarious and thoughtful.

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

That I cannot do my own taxes. I don’t know why but I sit down to do them and I just can’t.

What food sums up happiness?

Cheese. It’s reliably pleasure-giving. What have you never understood? Why people who are so awful rise to such high positions in businesses. It’s one of the reasons I left my corporate job.

Sarah finds Jenny Lawson’s memoir both hilarious and thoughtful. 

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

The recipe for [US fried chicken chain] Popeyes’ biscuits. They are salt-dusted butter sponges and they’re the most delicious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. I’d like to know how to make them so I’d have access to them all the time.

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

I’m scared of knowing that I’m going to die. I hope it’s super-fast. But I’m not scared about what happens afterwards because I don’t believe anything comes after that.

Quinoa or Quavers?

I have no idea what Quavers are, but I’m picking them. I’m definitely not a quinoa fan.

Calm The F**k Down is out now (£14.99, Quercus)

Images: Alfredo Esteban


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Emma Ledger

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