Really the only feature that was permanent in my life in those days was my mother, because we had moved house so many times. My father worked for Shell as a chemical engineer, and so we not only moved countries but then he would fly off here and there. By the time I was five, we had moved from Australia to Scotland to the Netherlands to London to Guildford, and I'd been in five schools. Then I left school half-way through my O-levels, because I just hated it so much, and went to a crammer to finish off.
I was very shy. I can remember feeling awkward with strangers, and panicking about having to go to school: really, really being frightened. I was quite a loner, too. I have two older sisters, and I was a very happy little girl at home with my family, and I didn't have problems making friends; but I was just happy on my own, playing in my room, making things up.
I used to play at being different people - I'd be a secretary and answer the phone, and I used to pretend to be the girls at school who were the most popular, the most pretty, the most clever. I'd do that a lot. Every day. I didn't think it was sad. I had a great time.
But I did tell everybody at school that I had a brother: from the age of seven until I was 10. Quite a long time. And I hadn't.
That's not a habit. I'm not a bull- shitter now. I just really wanted a twin brother, and so I told everyone I had one. And then people used to come to my house and I used to freak. I used to think: 'They're going to find out. I'll have to make up a story and just hope that my Mum doesn't say anything . . .'
It was a huge part of my life and I was very wound up about it. I couldn't de- invent him, no way. I told stories about what we did at the weekends, how we used to go walking and that sort of thing. Things like having a row with my brother . . .
I suppose, in a way, I thought it would make me more interesting to other people. I suppose it was a need to be liked, maybe. It was an all-girls school, so boys were always a bit sort of 'Oh, a boy]' - a bit intriguing and special. This is off the top of my head, because I don't really know why I did it. But I really was terrified of being found out and, of course, I did get found out.
One of the parents of one of the girls in my class knew that I didn't have a brother, and this little girl obviously said something about 'Sara Crowe's brother . . .'
The girl went back to school and told everybody, and I was just mortified. I felt so ridiculous, and people were very weird with me. Not my close friends - I had one or two close friends - but it was very embarrassing, and I felt so silly. There was a lot of giggling in corners, though in the end it wasn't as bad as the worry that I suffered over being found out.
I forgot it eventually. There wasn't one day when suddenly it all got better, it just sort of merged. Actually, I've blocked that out. I don't know how that little saga finished. I was very relieved. And then I went on into senior school and was fine . . .
Sara Crowe is appearing in 'Relative Values' at the Savoy Theatre.
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