Cherie Blair on stage at Shanghai’s JC Mandarin.
Yesterday afternoon we attended a talk at the JC Mandarin with Cherie Blair and guest speakers Jane Huang and Sha Sha. The Chinese version of Blair’s autobiography Speaking for Myself was launched at the Shanghai Book Fair yesterday.
We were a little disappointed with the nature and quality of the questions that were asked of Cherie Blair by MC Kathy Cui and the audience–questions for example like this one: “Is being a woman an advantage or disadvantage?” Come on, people! Really?
One gentleman in the audience asked Blair such a long and convoluted question about her marriage (“are British gentlemen less romantic?”), that Blair pointedly asked if he was looking for “sex tips”… and if so, she informed him that she doesn’t give sex tips.
The focus of the event was to discuss women in the workplace, building sustainable relationships with society and managing motherhood with career. Unfortunately, very little was asked about her autobiography or her many charity projects—instead the panel chose to discuss her upbringing, being a career mom and her marriage.
Shanghaiist would really have liked to get our hands on the microphone to ask Ms. Blair a few hard-hitting questions, but alas, our attempts failed.
Hit the jump for some quotes from Cherie Blair from the event:
On being Britain’s former First Lady:
I was the first spouse of a [British] Prime Minister that had gone to university.
On her upbringing in Liverpool:
I did not come from a wealthy or influential family. My mother had to leave school…she had to give up her education to cook and clean for her 10-year-old brother.
My father abandoned my mother. One thing my mother and grandmother taught me was that for a woman to be secure she has to have financial independence.
On if she misses having a chef, after leaving 10 Downing Street:
In Britain, the Prime Minister’s spouse is expected to cook. I was the chef…. Tony wouldn’t have married me if I wasn’t a good cook.
The first thing Tony Blair says when he gets home from work:
Where’s Cherie and where’s my dinner?
On Chinese women:
My husband’s brother, Bill, is married to a woman from Hong Kong (Chinese), so I have a strongly favorable opinion of Chinese women.
On being married to Tony Blair:
When you are married to the leader of your country, it does affect your relationship.
I think that actually at heart my husband is quite romantic. I am very conscious of how lucky I am. My own parent’s marriage did not last a very long time. My father had eight daughters by four different women. I am lucky to have a marriage that has lasted 30 years.
When we got married, the priest said the important thing about marriage is to keep working at it and to have the highest expectation of yourself and the ability to forgive. I think one of the keys [to our marriage’s success] is my husband and I share a religious belief that marriage is to last for life.
On why she wrote Speaking for Myself:
The other reason I wanted to write the book is that my journey took 50 years, when I came out of Downing Street, I was looking back on a journey of over 50 years.
On the Cultural Revolution:
The Cultural Revolution is a really fascinating piece of history that we need to talk about and remember.
I am not very good at curtseying. The queen was very tolerant of my attempts.
Photo by Rebekah Pothaar.