First Impressions: Duncan Goodhew
DUNCAN ALEXANDER GOODHEW MBE was an Olympic swimmer for Great Britain and won Gold in the 100-metre breaststroke and Bronze in the 4x100-metre medley at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. He is now a 2012 Team GB ambassador for Games organisers Loc
What are you working on at the moment?
It's manic with Olympic-related activities. I'm visiting schools.
When were you at your happiest?
When I see a stretch of water in front of me and I know I'm going to be there for a while. I swim in the Serpentine. It's surreal: you're in the middle of London and there you are swimming, and you cannot see a building.
What is your greatest fear?
I hate reading out loud in public.
What is your earliest memory?
The Changing of the Guard in St James's Park. We're going to watch the beach volleyball there. It's remarkable to have an Olympic event right in the centre of London where Henry VIII set land aside for jousting. I think out of all of the venues, it's the most extraordinary one.
Who has been your greatest influence?
Henry Cooper. When I looked at how he succeeded, I realised he seemed to have time for the things he believed were important.
What do you most dislike about yourself?
I worry whether I'm doing the right thing.
What is your most treasured possession?
Apart from my family and friends, I'd say my Gold medal. It represents a moment when I managed to change my future – and hopefully I'm right in saying I have some fuel left in the tank.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
I dislike talent that is wasted.
Do you have a fantasy address?
Tides house, Alderney.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I'm pretty comfortable in my skin. Being bald, I had to come to terms with that. Wearing a pair of Speedos most of my life – I've had to come to terms with that, too! I've got a funny chin that wiggles around a bit.
What is your all-time favourite book?
I'm not a huge reader because of my dyslexia, but as a child it was The Lord Of The Rings. I'm currently reading Boris Johnson's Life Of London.
What is your favourite film?
Chariots Of Fire. There were moments that were so close to my experiences. I saw it with Colin Moynihan, and we sat there after the film for about 15 minutes; it just hit home.
Your favourite record or piece of music?
Ernest Ranglin's King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown.
Your favourite meal?
Breakfast and the day stretching ahead of me and a swim behind me. I love porridge, kippers or haddock and poached eggs.
Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Shakespeare: he's a fellow dyslexic, apparently. He must have been unbelievable.
Which historical character do you most admire?
Shakespeare: just look at all the sayings he brought to life. He represents what I struggled with, which is reading, so I'm fascinated by written work.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
I was incredibly sensitive about being bald. People stared at me and if someone said something I was very sensitive. But it helped to prepare me for when I won. One of the things people find very uncomfortable about becoming well known is being stared at, which, on a good day, is not so bad. If you have had a bad day, you feel deeply uncomfortable.
Do you believe in aliens?
I studied EXO physics at university, the study of extraterrestrial life, so I think, absolutely, yes! The question is the intelligence of extraterrestrial life.
What is your secret vice?
Violet and rose creams. When I buy them, everybody assumes I'm buying them for my wife.
Do you write thank-you notes?
I try to, but I usually text or email. I think a handwritten note can't be replaced, but people do love to receive a text the next morning because you know they're reflecting.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
When I'm trying to get my act together, I say 'Right'. I'm not sure it helps but it's better than OMG.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A one-swim day is a good day; a two-swim day is a great day. I would like to be able to swim every day.
What would you like your epitaph to say?
I could have done with a few swims.
Daily tip from the lady archive
"NEW clothes are the most wonderful tonic in the world. The meekest of women going out for the first time in her new hat and suit will achieve a feeling of jauntiness which comes from her deep inner satisfaction."The Lady. Keep Joy In Your Clothes. 18th January, 1934