Here are my answers to the three topics she gave me. (I'm not sure why she thought I wouldn't be interested in pets or literature ;-)
My iPad spontaneously makes little films -- slideshows, really, but with visual effects and music. Most of my photographs are taken on holiday -- in Vancouver, Krakow or Lindisfarne -- so the films are usually fun to watch but, the other day, one popped up that was a bit upsetting.
His name was Swee'pea and he was a Roborovski dwarf hamster. The film's dated 12 July 2014, so I must have bought him a few days earlier. He was the tiniest and, believe it or not, the least attractive of a litter of four, and he was the easiest to catch, which is how I came to buy him and not one of the others. He didn't like being handled, and that was OK with me because I was afraid I might crush him, or drop him, but he was very friendly otherwise. I'd had him about 18 months when I noticed a growth on his tummy. My previous hamster, Arthur, had developed a growth on his leg, and I'd taken him to the vet, where he'd got very frightened, and went to his death in terror -- something I still feel very guilty about -- and I didn't want that to happen to Swee'pea, so I decided I would just keep a careful watch on him, and only take him to the vet if he seemed to be in pain. It was the right decision; a few weeks later, he passed away peacefully, curled up in bed.
On the whole, I'm not a big fan of fruit because eating it tends to 'burn' my mouth. My brother has the same problem, so I think we must have a sensitivity to the acid. The fruits I do like tend to be the sweeter kinds, like grapes, pineapple, mango, sweet apples, and I generally eat them with Fage Total Greek yoghurt. I also eat bananas because I've noticed they settle my stomach and the nutritionist told me they're 'pre-biotic', which means that friendly bacteria like them.
Fruit does make nice icons, though! Here are some I've made for various food_stillness challenges.
Oh, where do I start?!
I have O and A Levels in English Literature and although, at university, I studied History, I also attended lectures about Mediaeval and Early Modern literature, and... Gerard Manley Hopkins!
I went to the Hopkins lectures because I'd 'done' him for A Level, and loved his poetry and his philosophy of 'inscape' (the essential 'this-ness' of an entity*) and 'instress' (the interaction between the inscapes of entities).
*As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
Melvin Bragg did one of his In Our Time programmes about Hopkins just before I went to Vancouver in March. I like to take a 'special' book on holiday, one that will become part of my memories. (I do the same thing with scented soap!). This year I took Hopkins's letters to Robert Bridges.
When I was studying Hopkins in the 70s, it was generally said that he was gay and that this could be 'read' in his poetry. Nowadays, people are rather more respectful. Whatever his sexuality, Hopkins was a Jesuit priest and had taken a vow of celibacy. We tend to be dubious about religion and celibacy, but Hopkins was not, and there is no reason to assume that he broke his vow.
I went to the Early Modern literature lectures because that was the period of History I was studying and I was particularly interested in the History of Ideas, and Shakespeare & co are a brilliant gateway to the exploration of Early Modern culture. (For example, Quentin Skinner's book, Forensic Shakespeare, investigates Shakespeare's use of the forensic rhetoric he would have learned in his final year at Grammar school). I still enjoy reading Early Modern English and, for some reason, I find it much easier and more fun to read my cheap Kindle version of the First Folio than the Arden edition with its modern spelling and punctuation.
I don't exercise much physically, unless you count all the walking I do, but I do do a lot of mental exercise! I've been taking online courses with FutureLearn for over three years, and some of the best have been about literature, especially Jonathan Bate's course, Shakespeare and his World, which involves reading a play a week for ten weeks. Blitzing the plays like that left me with a strong sense of Shakespeare as an individual, who approached each play with a different angle.