You know what? I’ve had a pretty good life so far. It’s had its ups and downs as in every life, but overall its been fun. I was born in Kent in the U.K a million years ago to two lovely people who were studying to be nurses, working mainly in psychiatric wards.
My parents worked in the asylums of yesteryear and gradually they were closed down. Every time that happened we moved on. By the time I was 16 we had lived in at least sixteen houses and even emigrated to Australia for a while. That theme has continued into my adult life and to date I have lived in over 34 houses and apartments!
I’m one of four boys, three of which are gay. My parents brought us all up pretty much in the same way, so if there was ever an argument for it being in the genes, I think we might be it. Although, my parents did want a boy for their first born, which they got – he’s the straight one! When I was conceived they wanted a girl. They had even given me a name – Sarah. Obviously, I was born gay. They wanted a girl for the third and the fourth – both gay sons! Go figure.
Im a natural blonde, darker than this photo, of course, but no bleach has touched my golden locks. I must admit though, I did used to bleach it in my early twenties. I must have looked ridiculous! Anyway, I’m now in my late 40’s and I still have no grey as yet!
I was painfully shy as a child. I don’t think I spoke to anyone without going bright red till I was about ten! I still have an inner battle between introvert and extrovert to this day, but I think somehow it makes me a kinder person, who stays quite grounded. I hope so, anyway.
When I was eleven years old I went away to a boarding school – a seminary for young boys training to be priests. I come from a very Catholic family and at the time it seemed perfectly normal to send your son away, almost an honour that one of your offspring may serve god. I don’t blame my parents at all, in fact, I think I kind of courted the idea as a way of getting a little attention. It was a dreadful place though and all sorts of crazy things went on. It closed down two years later, so there you go!
In my heart I wanted to sing. I persuaded my father that instead of being an alter boy, I should join the church choir. I loved it! There was a young gay guy in the choir that I really looked up to and he made me giggle when we were supposed to be singing. He had a passion for music and he lit my musical flame alright. Before long, the only thing I wanted to do was sing. I would practice in my bedroom using a hairbrush as a microphone, crooning away to every song on the Wham! “Make it big” album. My mother would yell from downstairs: “Stop that racket, you sound like you’re being strangled!”
In my careers interview with the deputy head of our school I told him that I wanted to be a singer. He laughed and told me I needed a proper job and that I would be poor for life if I insisted upon that path. That was it! I was determined! I think it might have been the first time in my life that I had been determined to do anything, but my god, it has stayed with me. I’m like a dog with a bone once I’ve set my mind on something now. I will not be deterred, just ask my husband!
So, I set about trying to get onto a pre-drama school technical college course, which was over two years, doing GCSE music, drama, dance, television studies and art history in the first year, followed by theatre studies A Level in the second. When I told my parents I was applying they couldn’t believe it. “But, you’re so shy son, you couldn’t do that. You’re not outgoing like your brother.” Little did they know!
I loved every second of those two years and before long I was applying for drama school. I only wanted to get into one: Guildford School of Acting and Dance (GSA). It was the most prestigious school in the country for musical theatre. The lovely Michael Ball went there before me, along with Brenda Blethyn and Celia Imrie. They auditioned thousands of people and only took twenty on the course. I was so lucky, I got in. Three years of my life went by in a heartbeat and before long I was working professionally as a singer. However, my career was short-lived. It was only once I started working in the profession that I realised it wasn’t actually that much fun! Every nine months a contract would end and you would have to audition all over again. These were the days before the internet and mobile phones, so getting a job took hard graft!
After a few years and being pipped at the post a few times for some West End roles, I decided it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t overly keen on the people in the industry either, all a bit me, me, me! So, it was time to move on. What the hell was I going to do? I had always liked writing. After doing my time working in a call centre I heard about a role at the company’s head office in London working as a PR executive. I knew I could do it and so I applied. That was the start of my next career. It was such a creative job, requiring powers of persuasion and off-the-cuff thinking, creative writing and brainstorming powers. I was in heaven! Before long I was editing the company’s fortnightly newspaper and doing the PR for its international arm. However, it was hugely stressful and I could see my boss almost about to have a heart attack. Did I want to be him? No!
It was during my time at this company that I met the love of my life and my husband today, Mr C, as he will now forthwith be known. He is my rock and we’ve been together now for twenty-one years! We moved in together almost straight away. We lived in a small house in Fulham. It was very run down and needed a lot of attention. It was here that I discovered my ability for gardening and interiors. It was my first ever garden that I could call my own. It was just a small patch of grass with concrete pavers running down the centre to create a path to nowhere. Mr C made the mistake of saying that perhaps we could lift them and put more grass there. By the time he came back home that night they had all been removed by me and I had started creating borders!
That was the beginning of our life in renovations and garden designing. It’s not a career and we never meant to keep doing it, but somehow over the years we have been together we have now done eight projects. The photos above show the house we did before the one we live in now. Neither of us have the best pensions in the world, particularly with me being self-employed, so utilising our skills in gardening, interiors, plumbing, carpentry and painting, we set about renovating houses to increase our pension pot.
I now work as a hairdresser, after leaving PR one of us needed to be home more and run the house. So, I trained at the Vidal Sassoon Academy with view to starting my own business. I’ve now had my own business for fifteen years.
We live in the Surrey Hills with our sweet dog Missy. Our current home was a 1920’s wreck of a house with a mountain for a garden that no one wanted to buy. We, over six years, transformed it into a New England style home with a terraced garden a bit like the hanging gardens of Babylon!
A few incidental details: I have one kidney, I hate pineapple and gherkins. I’m rubbish at all things sporty except the egg and spoon race. My most hated song of all time is Mull of Kintyre. My favourite book and movie is The Color Purple, god I could go on forever! Hope that gives you a little insight into my life so far. Can’t wait for the next chapter!