Ashley Jensen

To read the Guardian’s ‘corrections and clarifications’ column is to tap a rich seam of unintended comedy: ‘We misspelled the surname of actor Ashley Jensen as Jenson in a preview of the new Ricky Gervais comedy series Extras,’ one entry began. ‘An accompanying photo caption mistakenly described her by the name of her character, Maggie Jacobs, and we called her a newcomer when she has two feature films, 28 TV dramas and 23 stage appearances to her credit.’
That was last summer and, with a lilting Scottish accent, Ashley Jensen says of it now: ‘It doesn’t pay to take yourself too seriously.’
She has a nice line in self deprecation, this Jensen with an ‘e’. When I mention a recent TV appearance of hers — Jonathan Ross’s chat show — her raised hand goes limp at the wrist. ‘I was only asked on because someone dropped out. They rang me at half twelve on the day and said, “Will you do it?… Great. We’ll send a car at five thirty.” All I could think when I put the phone down was: ‘But I haven’t got anything to wear.”
Ashley Jensen is a gentle woman with a slightly camp manner and an easy laugh. She is, she says: ‘Quite Scottish in that if I’m having too much fun I have to find something to worry about. Don’t get too carried away with yourself.’ She has a ‘ditzy blonde’ side to her, she adds, and is prone to getting distracted half way through a sentence. ‘I will suddenly look out the window and say, “What is that bus doing on that route?” My boyfriend Terry will say, what conversation are we on now?’
The self deprecation, though, rings a little hollow now that she has won two British Comedy Awards for her role in Extras, as well as a nomination for a comedy Bafta (the winner to be announced on May 7). She says she finds the accolades flattering but a little disconcerting. ‘This time last year I was a 35-year-old jobbing actress, doing some jobs for the money, some for the art, some simply because they were in London. A lot of the work was serious acting. I hadn’t thought of myself as a comedy actress particularly.’
So is she expected to be funny at dinner parties now? ‘I do feel a bit of pressure to be more funny or, rather, less boring. I still think of myself as an actress first, but now I’ve got two comedy awards I suppose I am OFFICIALLY FUNNY. Twice.’
Extras, written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, was the eagerly-awaited follow up to The Office. It managed not only to live up to expectations but surpass them, and a second series is about to begin filming — under great secrecy. The first, you see, featured cameos from big Hollywood names such as Ben Stiller, Samuel L Jackson and Kate Winslet. Even so, the surprise star, with her fine comic timing, was Ashley Jensen. Gervais had wanted her character, Maggie, to be a foil to his, Andy —  as he put it, he wanted a Stan Laurel to his Oliver Hardy. They play platonic friends — as one writer put it, ‘they generate less sexual tension than an episode of Songs of Praise’ — and they make a gloriously understated double act. Maggie is hapless and embarrassing, but also vulnerable: a hopeless romantic who can’t find love, only sex. She always seems to dress inappropriately for her age: ankle socks with high heel shoes.
Today, sitting in the high-ceilinged drawing room of her flat in Holland Park, Ashley Jensen is casual in jeans, sheepskin boots and a loose-knit cardigan. She has the face of an Edwardian doll — with large blue eyes set wide apart, puffy lips and a doughy softness to her skin. ‘I think I have grown into my face in the past ten years,’ she says. ‘Felt more comfortable. That said, I do sometimes think I look half baked, as if I’ve come out of the oven too early.’
Is there anything about herself she would change? ‘I don’t think so, though I am always shocked at how short I am — I’m only 5ft 3in. I feel like a taller person. When I’m walking along and I catch my reflection in a shop window next to other people I think: You really are a runt.’
Despite what people tell her, she doesn’t think she is conventionally attractive. ‘I can look really bad, really easily,’ she says with a laugh. ‘For one episode of Extras, I had to dress up as a Bosnian civilian in a war zone. Ricky wanted me to look as ugly as possible so I was given this ratty wig and black eyes. But I was supposed to be flirting with this good looking actor and as soon as we started filming Ricky started giggling: “Stop! Stop! She looks like a witch. You can’t have a witch flirting with a good looking man, it doesn’t work.” So they took off the wig and make up and made me television ugly rather than real life ugly.’
In the Holland Park flat there is a piano, a designer stack of old leather suitcases and, on the floor, a rubber bone. I discover who this belongs to when, in a blur of pale hair, a large wolf-like animal jumps on the sofa between us. ‘This is Barney,’ Jensen says roughling the beast’s main. ‘He’s a cross between an Alaskan malamute, a German shepherd and a Siberian husky. The breed name is  utonagan.’ Delivered with Scottish vowels, it sounds musical:  ‘Oot-on-aa-gan.’
An only child, Jensen was born in Dumfries and brought up in the Scottish border town of Annan. She was an athlete at school, running the 100 meters for her region. After taking her highers she studied drama at Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh. She adores her mother Margaret, who teaches children with special needs and still lives in Annan. Her mother raised her single handedly from an early age after her father had an affair, walked out and re-married. He is now a wealthy property developer. Does she have any contact with him? ‘No.’ This is said with a pursing of the lips. ‘And that’s the end of that story.’
Does her parents’ separation make her nervous of commitment? ‘No not at all. I don’t know what it’s like to have two parents, but I don’t feel deficient, or cautious, or commitment phobic. No more than anyone else.’
She lives with Terry Beesley, an actor. They met in 1999 when they were both appearing in King Lear at the Royal Exchange. Does she ever feel as if she is in competition with him, or vice versa? ‘Not at all. We are never up for the same parts. We try not to talk shop too much at home or behave like actorly actors.’ They have just returned from a trip to Italy where Terry was filming on location. What about when they are working in different locations? Does that put a strain on their relationship? ‘We’ve been lucky because our work hasn’t kept us apart too much. We always try and get back at weekends. If you value your relationship you have to find a way to make it work. Have big phone bills.’
Are they planning to marry? ‘I don’t know when we will fit it in. Maybe, if there is  a window.’ Does the same wait-and-see approach apply to having children? ‘Yes, when we can fit it in: we’ve only been in this house a few months and are stilling doing it up. That’s our big project at the moment. We’ve got a dog, that’s a start.’
I wish her luck at the Baftas and ask if she has picked out a frock for the big night yet. ‘No, and I didn’t buy one for the Comedy Awards either. Do you think I should have one of those tits-up-to-here dresses?’ She demonstrate with two cupped hands. Yes, I say. Definitely. ‘No, I think I’m too old for that. Besides, I’m too Scottish to spend a fortune on a new frock. I’d love to be able to buy a dress without feeling guilty.’ She stares out of the window. ‘I bet I wake up on the morning of the Baftas with a bloody great cold sore.’


Retracing the steps of the Boston strangler

Albert DeSalvo was always friendly to Ellen Junger, except for one ‘incident’. She tells Nigel Farndale, in Belmont, about her terrifying encounter with the serial killer – and the murder mystery that has fascinated her family for decades

Forty-one years after his capture, the Boston Strangler still has a unique hold on the American psyche. Other serial killers may have been responsible for more deaths, but none haunts the collective imagination quite like Albert DeSalvo, the carpenter who confessed to raping and murdering 13 women in their own homes between June 1962 and January 1964.

It was partly to do with his efficiency. He worked quickly, on one occasion managing two murders on the same day – and he never left any sign of a break in. It was also to do with his calling card: his victims were strangled with their own clothes, usually their stockings, which he would leave tied with a bow under their chins. Supernatural powers were attributed to him. He was the inspiration for a Rolling Stones song, “Midnight Rambler”. For two terrible years, no woman in Boston felt safe.

Ellen Junger, a 77-year-old artist, has more reason than most to feel haunted by DeSalvo. For six months of his killing spree, she employed him as her carpenter, building a studio extension to her house in the sleepy Boston suburb of Belmont. Ellen was often alone with Al, as she called him – her husband, Miguel, a Harvard-educated physicist, being at work. The couple still live in the area, in a large, yellow-painted clapboard house. When I meet them there on an overcast April morning, I am struck by the almost fond tones in which they speak of DeSalvo. “He was quite likeable,” Ellen says. “He had an easy smile and a gentle manner and was… he was quite passive about starting conversations. I would go out and see how he was getting on every day. He was so strong, he could carry huge piles of lumber. When the weather was nice, we would have a sandwich and a chat with him out on the patio.”

Miguel leans forward and says: “There was one time, I was ill in bed with flu. Al came back after work with his children, to introduce them to me. He was so solicitous and kind, you know, asking: ‘Can I get you a glass of water, Mr Junger?’ He was so sweet. I was touched. I guess he must have had a split personality.”

Ellen is a handsome woman with erect posture, high cheekbones and steady green-blue eyes. She levels them at me now and says: “Yes, he was always friendly, except for one incident.”

Up to that point, the Boston Strangler had murdered six women, all elderly. The police assumed their suspect must be a mother-hater. That theory was to collapse a few weeks later when the Strangler murdered the first of his younger victims, a 22-year-old. But, at the time, Ellen, 33, did not fit his victim profile and so had no especial reason to feel afraid. The “incident” occurred in October 1962. It was the second day that DeSalvo had turned up for work and he had called up to Ellen from the basement, saying something was wrong with her washing machine.

“It was early,” she says. “Miguel had just left for work and I was still in my nightgown and bathrobe. I think he had been waiting to see Miguel leave. I went to the basement door and looked down at him and he was looking up at me with this frightening expression in his eyes, kind of intense and burning. It wasn’t anger it was more as if he was trying to mesmerise me, to compel me to come downstairs. It was like he was seeing right though me. I’ve never had anybody look at me like that. I was terrified.”

In 1965, DeSalvo described to a psychiatrist how, on the morning of a murder, he would wake up in a trance-like state, feeling hungry, yet he did not want to eat. It was more as if he had ‘little fires’ inside him. I ask Ellen if she could relate to that description. “Yes, it was as if he was possessed that morning. Bold. I got a strong sense of that. I guess not many women who witnessed that look of his survived to describe what it was like. Only at the last moment would his victims have seen it. I thought I cannot go down there into the basement because I’ll be harmed. I was completely frightened. I was shaking.”

For years, Ellen convinced herself that DeSalvo would not have been so stupid as to rape and murder the woman he was working for, thereby making himself the chief suspect. However, she later discovered that Al was not supposed to be at work that day. “He had a perfect alibi,” she says. “He and his workmates weren’t due back until the following day. Maybe the worst scenario would have been that he raped me, but he was smart enough to know you can’t leave witnesses.”

“Ellen never told me about that incident at the time,” Miguel interjects.

“That’s true, I didn’t,” Ellen says. “I thought about it. I did think: ‘I can’t have this man working here for six months.’ But then, the next day, Al turned up with his workmates and he was all “Good morning, Mrs Junger. How are you today?” – all cheerful and busy, and I thought, ‘Maybe I was overreacting. I don’t want to get a man fired because of the look in his eyes. I’ll just watch him today, keep an eye on him.’ ” She laughs and shakes her head. “And I was anxious to get the studio done. I knew that if I told Miguel, he would sack him and the studio would never get done on time!”

How did she react when she heard the news that DeSalvo had confessed to being the Boston Strangler? “I heard from Al’s old boss, Russ Blomerth. I collapsed. We had this white, rotary desk phone and, in front of that, a stool, and I just felt my knees go and found myself on this stool. I was speechless. Just speechless. It’s very hard for any man to understand what women went through in that period. We all felt so vulnerable. There was mass hysteria. Then to find out that the Strangler had been on my property all that time. It was unbelievable.”

She asks if I would like to see her old house, on Cedar Road. It’s only five minutes away. As she drives she talks about the peculiar fact that DeSalvo was never actually charged with murder. In 1967, he was sent to prison for life on unrelated rape charges, having confessed to being the Boston Strangler in exchange for immunity from prosecution and transfer to a psychiatric hospital. In fact, of all the murder cases attributed to the Strangler only one was officially “closed”, that of Bessie Goldberg. “Her murder especially frightened us,” Ellen says, “because she lived on our doorstep. We’re coming up to her house right now.” We pull up in front of a brick and wood-slatted house.

On March 11, 1963, the day Bessie Goldberg was raped and strangled, a man named Roy Smith happened to be doing a cleaning shift here. Being the only black man in an all-white neighbourhood, Smith was easily spotted, by several witnesses, walking away from the house at 3pm. Bessie Goldberg’s body was discovered by her husband at 4pm. Though there was no evidence linking Smith to the murder, he became the sole suspect, and within months had been tried and found guilty by an all-white jury. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Ellen’s son, Sebastian, the bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, grew up listening to his mother’s story, and has written a new book on the Boston Strangler. “Sebastian’s book has brought it all back to me,” Ellen says. “I think about it all the time now. I hadn’t talked about it for years.” In A Death in Belmont, published on Tuesday, Sebastian Junger raises the possibility that DeSalvo could have committed the Goldberg murder.

“[Roy Smith] was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Ellen says, as she leads the way to the back of the house. “It was pure racism that got him convicted. What the jury had not been told was that a man fitting Al’s description and wearing work overalls had been round the back here, that day, asking a neighbour if he wanted some painting done.”

In his confessions about the Boston stranglings, Al revealed that he had always gained admission to his victims’ premises under the guise of being an official checking for leaks, that or a decorator. “Here, let me show you something,” Ellen says. We get back in the car and drive towards some traffic lights. “See those? Al always used to complain about those lights. This was his route to our house, you see. The two houses are only a mile apart.”

We soon arrive at Ellen’s old house, a grey-painted wooden structure with the roof extending to the ground. It is surrounded by leafless trees and colonial-style houses, some with stars and stripes flapping lazily from their facades. “The jury in Roy Smith’s trial did not know that Al was working here unsupervised on the day of the murder,” Ellen says. “We were the only ones who knew that and we had no reason to suspect him at the time.”

Though DeSalvo never confessed to murdering Bessie Goldberg, Smith always professed his innocence and twice refused parole in exchange for a confession of guilt. In 1973, days after the 10th anniversary of Smith’s conviction for the killing, DeSalvo was stabbed to death in prison. Smith was finally offered unconditional parole in 1976, but died of cancer a few days before his release.

Ellen is now convinced that DeSalvo murdered Bessie Goldberg. “I think Al knew the Goldbergs because he lived right across the street from their business in Chelsea. They had a movie house, and he almost certainly recognised them. Bessie was strangled in the same way as the other Boston Strangler victims. Al would only have had an hour, but he killed very quickly. He may have been waiting for Roy to leave the house.”

Ellen shows me the studio that Al helped “The afternoon of Bessie’s murder, I came back here at about 4.30 or five and Al was back painting here, up a ladder. I had a phone call from our babysitter saying “Lock your door – there has been a murder on Scott Road”. So I hung up and locked the door, then went out to the studio to tell Al. I said this terrible thing has happened. There has been a murder in Belmont, and he said: ‘Yeah? That is terrible.'”

Ellen shakes her head and says, “I remember the last time I ever saw Al. It was right here, the day after the Goldberg murder. They had finished the studio and had come to collect their tools. We thought we would commemorate their last day with a photograph. Me with Sebastian, and old man Wiggins, and Al in the middle with his big hand across his chest. It turned out to be quite a poignant photograph.”


Richard E Grant

In a small, private cinema in Soho, Richard E Grant is introducing Wah-Wah, the autobiographical film he has written, directed and, to all intents, produced (though that’s a long story). ‘The audiences we have tested it on so far have both laughed and cried,’ he says, baring his teeth in a smile that looks more like a grimace. ‘So no pressure.’ This might be a tougher audience than most: a dozen gnarled distributors who watch films every day. But the screening begins and they duly oblige with the odd chuckle and sniffle. Afterwards, in his intense way, Grant seems pleased, his pale blue eyes slightly mad and starey. We find a dimly lit corner and the 48-year-old actor sits forward, straight spined, as he talks and talks, earnestly and articulately, spooling out sentences like tickertape.
The film, set in Swaziland during the dying years of British colonial rule, tells the story of his parents’ divorce, as seen through his adolescent eyes. It opens with a scene in which Grant’s mother (played by Miranda Richardson) has sex with his father’s best friend in the front seat of a car. The 11-year-old Richard is pretending to be asleep in the back seat but sees everything. He is horrified. He tells no-one. Grant’s father (played by Gabriel Byrne) is the minister for education. Like all his peers in Swaziland he speaks ‘Wah-Wah’, Wodehousian English punctuated with phrases such as ‘toodle pip’. Confronted with his wife’s adultery, his cheerfulness disintegrates. He turns to drink and, over time, becomes an alcoholic.
One particularly affecting scene shows the young Richard E Grant sniffing a lipstick mark on his mother’s wine glass after she has abandoned him. ‘Oh yes, I am obsessed with smelling everything,’ he now says. ‘My food, clothes, cars, books. I’m only just retraining myself from sniffing this sofa.’ It is brothel red, the sofa, and velvet covered. Grant, with sweptback hair, paint-flecked old jeans and beads on his wrist, looks bohemian sitting on it. ‘The sniffing obsession is a legacy of my mother’s adultery and of her walking out on us. Another was a facial spasm I had. A compulsive disorder. I couldn’t stop myself.’ He shows me, suddenly opening his mouth wide and twisting his face. ‘It’s an involuntary spasm which was to do with having to keep a secret. It was as if the secret had to come out somehow. I was teased at school for it. When I am particularly nervous or anxious even now I can feel the ghost of that spasm hovering in my face, waiting.’
We talk about the time he tipped away a crate of his father’s whiskey in a bid to stop the drinking. His father, in a drunken rage, held a revolver close to Richard’s forehead, fired a shot and — obviously — missed. ‘He was provoked by me. He said, “I’m going to blow your brains out”, and chased me around the garden. I felt utterly helpless but I goaded him, saying, “Go on, get it over with”. I thought I was going to die. The bullet whistled past my head. The reality was that at that point there was nothing I could do about it. It was like a near death experience, a chemical in my brain made me accept that I was going to die. I thought: “He is going to shoot me now. This nightmare will end.” I felt very calm. The shock of it only hit me afterwards. Then I became frightened and ran away.’
I suggest that even Freud would have been stumped as to how to interpret such a nightmare. ‘Yes, a father trying to kill the son is against all nature, isn’t it? But then my father was very drunk at the time. When he was sober he was a gentle man who loved me.’
But to try and kill someone you must really have to hate them; surely that must make him doubt his father’s protestations of love when he was sober? ‘Yes but after my father tried to kill me he turned the gun on himself and tried to kill himself. He was full of self-pity and remorse.’
So that makes it all right? ‘Alcohol changed his character, like Jekyll and Hyde. He wasn’t himself when he was drunk.’
Didn’t it worry him that the ‘bad’ drunken father might be, as it were, his true father; the ‘good’ sober father, the impostor? He shakes his head. ‘I think if my father had had no friends then I would have thought he was is completely abnormal and a bad person. But he was incredibly popular and garrulous. You ask about the split between the things my father said when he was drunk and sober…’ He pauses. ‘Which reality has more credibility? Well, the vestige of that is that when I am feeling especially vulnerable, or have been turned down for a job I wanted, or panned by a critic, my father’s drunk voice squats in my brain and says: “You aren’t good enough. You are a shit. You are ugly. You are untalented.’ That comes back. But…’ Another pause. ‘I had psychoanalysis for 18 month when I was 42 and worked out that this was only the drunken voice talking, it wasn’t him. He couldn’t even remember saying the things in the morning. But because the abuse was so insistent and regular when he was drunk, when I am vulnerable it creeps up on me unawares. So as much as I know I should ignore it, if the world looks like it is saying it doesn’t want me, thinks me useless and untalented, doesn’t like me, doesn’t want to give me a job, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. It saps my confidence and I don’t get the job. Despite the fact that I have worked regularly throughout my career, there is still that marshy bit in my brain that says: ‘Yep, your dad was right.’
In his career there have been many hits and misses — and those toecurling ads for Argos. The hits have included Martin Scorsese’s Age of Innocence and Robert Altman’s  The Player and Gosford Park. The misses have included Hudson Hawk with Bruce Willis, a film Grant himself describes as ‘excruciating’.  But all can be forgiven for the film for which he is still best known, his first, the sublime, transcendent black comedy Withnail & I (1986). As the acerbic, drunken out-of-work actor Withnail, Grant created one of the most obnoxious yet likeable characters in cinema history. ‘Some people tell me they have watched it 200 times,’ he says.
Do they still confuse him with that character? ‘Yeah, people think if you play a drunk convincingly you must have first hand experience of it. But actually  from being around my father I had first hand experience of drunk behaviour. I had a fast track on how to act drunk.’
Was it his father who put him off drinking? ‘Yes and no. I have an allergy to drink, I get a terrible rash and get ill for about 24 hours and, at first, I thought this might be psychosomatic. But I went to a doctor when I was 19 and he said I had no enzyme in my blood that processes alcohol. He asked if I had Japanese blood. Or Inuit. Or Native American, because they have none of this enzyme. The French as a tribe have the most of it. It wasn’t for lack of wanting to do it, it was just I am unable to, which is ironic because when I say I don’t drink people say, “Oh, are you in the programme?”’
Richard E Grant lives by the Thames in London with his wife Joan, a voice coach. ‘We married in 1986,’ he says. ‘I’m a very loyal person. I think I put a higher value on monogamy because I witnessed the emotional cost of my father’s cuckolding.’ The couple have a teenage daughter, Olivia, who has a cameo in the film. How did his strained relationship with his parents affect his relationship with his daughter? ‘Well there was a generational difference so I’m not passing judgement here. My parents were very non tactile. Stiff upper lip. You didn’t wallow around feeling sorry for yourself. With my daughter I tend to be the other extreme — over tactile and talking about everything.’
Given that Grant sees himself as a contradictory mixture of low self-esteem and large ego, I ask him if he has ever really come to terms with feeling rejected by his mother. ‘I suppose it is telling that I became an actor, a profession where I would have to replay the rejection scene for the rest of my life. Repeating the pattern of rejection. We are drawn to that which hurts us. It’s like a masochism, because part of me believes they are right to reject me.’
The film led to a reunion with his mother, now 77 and living in South Africa. ‘It’s been amazing. I’ve seen her and we have reconciled and written long  letters and opened up to each other. I have finally heard her point of view of what happened 35 years ago. It had never been explained to me. Pain has no sense of time. If something was painful then it will be painful now, but you get used to living with it. You accommodate it.’
There has been no reconciliation with his younger brother, Stuart, though. ‘No, none at all. He hasn’t read the script or seen the film, though he claims to have done both, apparently. I feel pity for him that he is so troubled and unresolved about what has happened.’ Stuart, an accountant living in South Africa, once sold a story to a newspaper describing Richard as ‘a pansy who played with dolls’ as a child. Richard took his revenge by writing Stuart out of the film, portraying himself as an only child. The last time the brothers met was at their father’s funeral in 1981. Stuart subsequently accused Richard of arriving at the funeral with dyed blond hair and theatrical self-obsession. ‘He said I was being disrespectful,’ Richard says. ‘Well I only dyed my hair blond because I was in a play at the time that required me to dye my hair. I was playing a Nazi. Stuart has projected his own failings and shortcomings onto me and blamed me because he feels guilty. There is nothing I can do about it. I accept it. And we never had anything in common so it’s not as if we had a relationship that went rotten and can be salvaged through mutual understanding. I’ve been so estranged from him for so long, if he walked down the street I wouldn’t recognise him, quite frankly. He has never met my wife and children [he also has a stepson, Tom], but I have heard from other people that he has said appalling thing about them in the press. He can attack me all he likes. But them? He doesn’t do himself any favours by doing that.’
In the mid-90s, Grant published a wonderfully waspish memoir of his years in  Hollywood. Though the comedian Steve Martin is still a close friend, the book alienated many of his contemporaries. As Bruce Robinson, who wrote and directed Withnail & I, has warned: ‘Richard is a terrible gossip – tell him nothing. I’m convinced that when he’s on his own he gossips about himself. It is part of his bitter-charm.’ Grant has confided in a daily diary since the day he witnessed his mother’s adultery at the age of 11. He finds it a consolation. He is about to publish a journal — also called Wah-Wah — about the making of this new film. It is a gripping account of the hell that is trying to get a movie financed and made. It chronicles the way he would yo-yo from jubilation and despair on a daily basis: ‘My nerves are so shredded that I lie face down and blub like a bitter baby.’ It covers his battles with banks, lawyers, the Swazi government and, most of all ,with his producer, a French woman whose name he pretends he can’t pronounce. When I suggest that his book is unlikely to affect a reconciliation with her he laughs grimly. Has she read it? A solemn shake of the head. Does he have a helmet and bullet proof vest ready?  ‘Libel lawyers have been through it and I have proved everything I’ve claimed about her. The catalogue of incompetence. The failure to reply to important emails. If I thought it was only a personality clash between her and me I wouldn’t have dwelt on it, but she has managed to alienate almost everyone she has come across.’
I suggest that from her perspective she might consider him to an obsessive; an anal retentive even? ‘She would no doubt say I was pig headed and intransigent, all those things you need to be.’