5 questions with... Seb Dance
Travel, wild nights out and North Korea.
Seb Dance | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
1. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
I travel. Occasionally I like to relax at home because I travel all the time for work, but after a while I get the urge, even if it's just a trip on the tube somewhere. The world fascinates me; there's so much to see and do. It's why I'm so passionate about making it affordable and sustainable to travel - it must never be the preserve of the rich and it shouldn't contribute to the destruction of our environment.
2. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
My husband and I once went clubbing with John Kerry. A friend of ours works for him and was over in London. After a fraught day his boss came down to the hotel bar and said he wanted some air and so the four of us - plus several scores of security detail personnel - took a walk a couple of blocks. We decided to go for a drink and ended up in a nightclub.
3. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
'Nothing to Envy' by Barbara Demick. It's tempting to look at totalitarian regimes from the comfort of our lives here as a sort of gimmick. The Kim dynasty is so ludicrous it defies logic. You have to read first-hand the extraordinary accounts of people who have escaped North Korea, the sheer horror of what they and their loved ones are going through in the prison camps, to appreciate the reality. The absence of scrutiny and accountability - dry and unfashionable as those things are now - has created the closest thing to evil on the planet.
4. What one item would you save from your house or apartment if it was on fire?
My grandmother's Lutheran bible. It's been in her family for generations, with its beautiful, dense gothic German script. It's intact and I can only guess the places it's been on its journey across Europe.
5. What is the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
Meeting the relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing when I worked for the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Seeing the determination, in the face of such pain, to ensure a better future for other families still moves me.