MY 'brother lie', that's what I used to call it in my head, my 'brother lie'. I got into such deep water over that. I don't think I've ever really told anybody about it before . . . I would have been about seven, and I remember exactly having this photo taken, because my front tooth had been hanging on by a thread for three weeks and it was such a joy to get rid of it. I was so relieved, I washed my hair and put on a clean nightie and had my picture taken.

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.

(Photograph omitted)