Decca Aitkenhead

English journalist

Jessica "Decca" Aitkenhead (born 8 February 1971) is an English journalist, writer and broadcaster. She is the chief interviewer of The Sunday Times and a former journalist for The Guardian.


  • At the heart of my mother's death, it turns out, there had been a big secret after all.
    She had wanted very much to die at home. She had feared the final ravages of disease which might frighten her children and demean her dignity. So she had obtained a pill that would kill her. The night she died had been planned in advance; she chose her moment, and took her own life.
    It meant she knew she was saying goodbye when we said good night for the last time. Her closest friends had been told as well. While the four of us slept, the terrible drama of their final goodbyes was being played out in her bedroom, and when we woke the next day, thinking fate had taken its course, we were quite wrong. Our father had known he would be breaking the news all along.
    Did it matter? At first I wasn't sure. Our mother's belief in a person's right to control the moment of their death was well known, for she had taken part in a World In Action documentary six months before her death, and been a powerful advocate. But I'd taken her argument for hypothesis, never dreaming she had found the means to make it real. My mother had decided we must not be told.
  • As chief interviewer for The Sunday Times, it is my job to be the pitcher. What I've learnt from interviewing people for a living is that the quality of any conversation is determined not by what someone thinks they have to say, but by what someone else asks them. In my experience, even the dreariest interviewee will eventually come out with something interesting. My job is to try to find it. Take a look around the room at any party and you will see women — heads cocked, expressions attentive — trying their best to find it too. Only they're not getting paid.
    Yet however tiresome the gender question gap is for women, it is a big problem for men, for it must explain why so many struggle to make meaningful male friendships. A rewarding conversation requires at least one party to be curious about the other. If neither asks a single question, both are doomed to bore each other.
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