Q&A with Claire Beeken

My Body My Enemy, now available as an ebook for the first time, is the life story of Claire Beeken who suffered with an eating disorder for 13 years. She recovered and went on to found Caraline, an internationally recognised counselling service which helps eating disorder sufferers. Claire wrote her story with Rosanna Greenstreet, the national newspaper and magazine journalist. For the last 23 years, Rosanna has compiled the celebrity Q&A for the Weekend Guardian, interviewing everyone from Bruce Willis to Dame Helen Mirren. She now poses her famous questions to Claire. In her answers, Claire reflects on the ups and downs of life, her pride in setting up Caraline and her new passion for reading. Claire is 43 and lives in Bedfordshire with her son Sam.

Claire Beeken with Hazel O’Connor

When were you happiest?

That question is hard to answer because life is a bit of a rollercoaster and in each day there are happy times but also difficult times.


What is your greatest fear?

Not going to heaven.


What is your earliest memory?

Dancing on my dad’s toes.


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I get a bit paranoid at times.


What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Dishonesty and selfishness.


What was your most embarrassing moment?

Just now, when I was running up to say hello to you at Luton Station and I fell over!


Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

A car.


What is your most treasured possession?

The statue of the Virgin Mary that my grandma gave me when I was 7.


Where would you like to live?

I love where I live now.


What would your super power be?

I’d like to be invisible so I could observe what’s going on.


What makes you unhappy?

Relationships breaking down, people breaking promises.


What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My teeth.


If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?

Sabre-tooth tiger.


Who would play you in the film of your life?

Suranne Jones.


What is your most unappealing habit?

Probably smoking.


What is your favourite smell?

I adore Belle D’Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.


What is your favourite word?



What is your favourite book?

‘Pillars of the Earth’ by Ken Follett.


What would you most like to wear to a fancy dress party?

An Abba girl.


What is the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?

You’re fat.


Cat or dog?

Cat. Saphie is my little princess. She’s a British Blue and spoilt rotten. She’s scared of birds!


Is it better to give or to receive?



What is your guiltiest pleasure?



What do you owe your parents?

Everything. They have been there for me from the beginning and I love spending time with my mum and dad. I can talk to my mum about absolutely anything and our relationship has changed. When you are younger, you rebel a bit and think, “What do parents know?” Now I find myself saying things to Sam that my mum used to say to me. I catch myself and think, “He’s not going to listen, because I didn’t!”


What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Sam, my son.


What does love feel like?

Initially it’s quite hard because you are constantly ‘butterflying’ and you can’t get that person out of your head. It’s almost stressful. But, when it calms down, it’s comfortable and respectful.


What was the best kiss of your life?

With a female.


Have you ever said “I love you” without meaning it?



Which living person do you most despise and why?

I despise anybody who deliberately goes out to cause hatred and divide communities. I despise anybody who goes out purposefully in the name of god to destroy. We all live on this planet, why can’t we get on with it?


Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Hazel O’Connor (see photo above), Simon Cowell, Barbra Streisand and Jesse J.


Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I have a sense that…”


What is the worst job you’ve ever done?

Working for Woolworths when I was 19.


What has been your biggest disappointment?

Not yet finding complete personal happiness in terms of a relationship.


If you could edit your past, what would you change?

Absolutely nothing, because my past has made me the person that I am today.


If you could go back in time, where would you go?

I would be a bit scared but I am absolutely fascinated with the Tudors and Stuarts – Elizabeth 1, Henry and Anne Boleyn. I wouldn’t want to be beheaded though!


When did you last cry, and why?

Last week, because we are waiting for our money to come in from the NHS, and I was worrying that we were going to run out and what was going to happen to our clients.


How do you relax?

Reading. I have only just discovered it. My mind is always full of something, usually to do with Sam and my clients, juggling the school run and thinking about who I am concerned about. I rarely switch my phone off, even at weekends. I started reading books after I read Fifty Shades of Grey and then I got a kindle for my birthday. Reading is such a healthy way to relax, because you lose yourself in a book. I am so into reading now and I have to have a book on the go. When I was coming to the end of Pillars of the Earth I was getting anxious because I didn’t want it to end. I am reading Bernie Nolan’s book, Now and Forever, at the moment and that’s terribly sad because she’s dying. Next I am going to download Roots.


How often do you have sex?

I am on a break at the moment!


What is the closest you’ve ever come to death?

When I was ill with my eating disorder.


What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

Giving up smoking.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Setting up Caraline.


What keeps you awake at night?

Worry. But generally I am quite good at falling asleep on the sofa at 8.30!


What song would you like played at your funeral?

Eva Cassidy’s ‘Songbird’.


How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who never gave up trying.


What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

To be careful before you judge.


Where would you most like to be right now?

In Hope Cove in Devon. I went there at Easter with Sam and loved it. I’d like to be sitting on the beach, looking at the ocean, reading a book.


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