Hello, and welcome to the debut episode of the alonement podcast! The show got off to a flying start when Alain de Botton kindly agreed to be my first guest – a brilliant (if not a little daunting) beginning.I was soon reassured upon arriving at Alain’s office in north London. In person, the philosopher, author and School of Life founder is every bit as quick-witted and articulate as those innumerate YouTube videos would suggest – but with a base note of light-hearted humour.A lesser-known fact I learned about Alain is that his surname, de Botton (of Sephardic Jewish origin), coincidentally translates to ‘ordinary’ in Korean, meaning he goes by the nickname ‘Mr Ordinary’ among his many, many fans at the School of Life's Seoul branch. As Alain’s dedicated global fanbase will know, he is anything but ordinary. Yet, what IS apt about this nickname is that it acknowledges Alain’s versatility; his ability to respond with a gentle, yet incredibly insightful, wisdom to almost any topic you introduce – like a tennis player with a knack for drop shots.During our conversation, we talked about everything from Bridget Jones to the benefits of takeaway curry (honestly), with wider discussions on how to develop greater self-knowledge, how to find the right romantic partner, and the all-important difference between being alone and loneliness.What I most enjoyed about our conversation was Alain’s suggestion that we need to make the state of being alone ‘glamorous’. In this, he identified something central to the alonement concept, which is demonstrating that alone time – done correctly – is something empowering and aspirational, rather than the painfully negative connotations typically associated with being alone.