The Inventory: Sophie Dahl

‘I wanted to be an archaeologist – I was a very geeky child,’ says the former model whose first novella was a bestseller

Sophie Dahl, 36, is a former model whose first novella was a bestseller. She has published two cookery books and has presented The Delicious Miss Dahl on BBC2. The granddaughter of children’s author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal, she is married to the musician Jamie Cullum.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an archaeologist. I was obsessed with bones and coins – I was a very geeky child. I was also obsessed with being an orphan because all the children in the books I loved had some kind of tragic tale. Make of that what you will!

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

I went to both public and state schools and I went to lots. I left school just before my A-levels and started modelling straight away.

Who was or still is your mentor?

As a teenager I didn’t really have one. I wish I’d known some of the women I know now. I totally adore Camila Batmanghelidjh from Kids Company. She has become a friend and is a very dear person.

How physically fit are you?

Medium-fit. I’ve started running since I had kids, and I’ve become one of those annoying people who likes running.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

I hope, ultimately, talent – but ambition and a strong work ethic are up there.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I think I’ve improved it vastly by having children, as I’ve stopped travelling – though I’ve added to it by putting other humans on the planet.

Do you have more than one home?

I do not.

How politically committed are you?

I’m a dual citizen so I can also vote in the States, and I feel there’s a government there that represents my views a lot more clearly than the government here.

Greatest disappointment: my children not meeting my grandparents

My husband’s on tour a lot, so at the moment speaking to people on the phone after the children are in bed. All my family are in America – I speak to my sister every night.

In what place are you happiest?

In my bed with my husband and my children on a Saturday morning, watching cartoons.

What ambitions do you still have?

I’d love to master another language properly. I’d also like to make really good patisserie.

What drives you on?

Firstly my children. Secondly – I hope it doesn’t sound worthy – a desire to try my best and learn as much as I can along the way.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My family life. All my life I wanted to create my own happy family and I really, really think that my husband and I have done that.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I wish my grandparents were around to see my children. My grandmother died in August 2010, just before I had my daughter. I wish, wish, wish they’d met.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

She’d be really happy. I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to do: being a mum, writing, living in the country, having a happy time.

Fresh start: open a bookshop

Open a bookshop.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

I do.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Maybe a waiting room, like a nice version of limbo, because there’s a few people I’d like to see. Then I’d like a good long rest.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

Different bits of life have different answers, some high, some quite low. I would average it at a good eight.

Sophie Dahl has designed a bespoke limited-edition set box for Sky+HD 2TB, available from www,

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