Getting to know you

Written by on 24 July 2014 in Interviews

Janette Harkess, Head of Media, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

If you weren’t doing what you are doing now what would you be?
As a graduate, I turned down jobs in banking and HM Tax Inspectorate and opted for journalism. Right call, I think, and a huge relief to all the savers and taxpayers who know me.

Who would be at your fantasy dinner party?
A difficult one and I hope someone else is volunteering to do the cooking! On my guest list would have to be JK Rowling (see below) and the outrageous columnist and author Caitlin Moran who makes me laugh out loud…frequently. 
I’d also love to invite the brilliant astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. I had the pleasure once of meeting Dame Jocelyn, who aside from being great company, is an amazing role model for young women. Katharine Hepburn would be a must, not just because she’d have a wealth of stories to tell from the heyday of Hollywood, but for her timeless style and her surgically non-enhanced beauty in old age. Roberta Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon in 1966 would also have great tales to tell. Unbelievably, women could not officially enter the race until 1972 and even then, many people still thought women incapable of running that distance. Credit to Bobbi and others for busting the myth. It would also be just glorious to have actor Jon Hamm there, in character as Don Draper from Mad Men. He would never get a word in edgeways but he can mix a mean Manhattan. And last but not least, Rosa Parks, the African-American civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. What a lesson in the daily opportunities that could be just round the corner to effect positive change. 

Best thing about your job?
Everything! As someone who spent a lot of time in daily newspapers managing an editorial agenda over a 24-hour cycle, it felt strange at first to have a pressing deadline that was more than a year away. I can’t believe how time has flown and every day now it flies a little bit faster with so much to do and so many great stories to tell as we head towards the Games. I’m so incredibly lucky to be at the heart of an event of such scale and to work with a team which cares about it really deeply. That enthusiasm is infectious. I’ve met so many incredible characters, have so many tales to tell and can’t wait for Glasgow and Scotland to put on the best welcome ever for the athletes of the Commonwealth. Already, it’s simply joyful seeing the reaction of people as the Queen’s Baton Relay travels through Scotland. There’s such a clear sense of pride in individuals and in communities that’s just lovely to watch. That – and discovering one of the highlights of Festival 2014 is to be a nightly live theatre show called News Just In, which will be a satirical comedy set in a fictional media office of Glasgow 2014. Now that I’ll pay good money to see!

Who would play you in a film of your life and why?
A colleague suggested Peter Capaldi as Malcolm Tucker...in drag. However, I’d prefer to see Scottish actress Siobhan Redmond take up the challenge. I’ve always fancied being a redhead. 

Your hero in real life and why?
Who could fail to be in awe of Malala Yousafzai, a teenager standing up for the rights of children? In simple words she states profound truths. To do so after everything she has endured is the definition of inspirational.  

Your favourite hero in fiction & why?
It has to be Harry Potter, having so many pleasurable hours sharing the adventures of JK Rowling’s boy wizard with my son through his childhood. We loved reading the books together and sometimes out loud and I also lost count of the times we sat in the car outside the house at the end of a journey just to listen to the wonderful Stephen Fry complete a chapter of the audiobooks.

Top of your bucket list?
Until very recently, it was to run a marathon, but delighted to have ticked that off in Manchester in April. I trained with a brilliant bunch of running buddies and absolutely loved the experience. 
Despite being unable to run the length of myself since, I’ve entered the ballot for next year’s London Marathon, so fingers’ crossed I get a place and that my calves can be persuaded to go that distance again.

Your one regret?
I try not to do regrets. 

Something that would surprise people about you?
I keep chickens. And bake. It would be such a waste not to, having a direct source of fresh, free-range ingredients. However, domestic goddess I am not.

Your favourite place and why?
Late morning at the top of any Scottish mountain on a bright and crisp autumn day. A sense of satisfaction at having got up early to make the climb and a chance to sit for wee while to savour the magnificence of the view. 

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