Portrait: A Nightingale sings

She was `born for blonde' but is not afraid to go through the odd aubergine phase. Annie Nightingale explains why her looks send her mood swinging
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
In Broadcasting House there's a picture of me, taken about 10 years ago, and I'd really like to pull it down. I look much better now than I did then.

I think getting older is easier for men, but maybe that's changing, and it's important to me to be part of that change. Girls say to me, `Oh, you've been such an icon,' and I think, `Well, I can't just stop now.'"

Mind you, even when I do radio, I get my make-up mirror out just before I go on air. I believe you should always give of your best to the listener.

When I lived in Brighton, that hour travelling to London on the train was very useful for doing my make-up. I'd go into the ladies' and come out a different person. Now that I just have a 10-minute cab ride, I have been known to ask the driver to go round the block because I haven't finished.

I go through phases with buying clothes. I do it in bursts, feel guilty, then think, `Well, I won't have time to go near the shops again for ages.' When you see something you like, you should buy two, because next year you might not find anything. Last year I went mad on slip dresses in Oasis, then cut the linings out.

I've got bad hair, very thin and straggly, so I spend a lot of time on it. I was born fair, then my hair kind of went mousy, and now I have it this whitish blonde. I did decide at one point to go aubergine. People didn't recognise me. A Russian friend said `Darlink, you are born for blonde,' and I realised she was right.

I believe in innovation - in make-up, clothes, everything. Like my new glittery nail varnish. I found it in a motorway service station, in a shop that catered to little girls' fantasies, selling tiaras and pink feather boas. It looked as if it had stars in it, so I thought, `I've got to give it a try.' It looks extremely doubtful.

I have a very unpleasant scar from when I was mugged in Cuba and had my leg broken, I am still embarrassed about it, but last summer I went to Sicily with people who took all their clothes off. I didn't take everything off, but I pretty much did and that was probably quite therapeutic.

After Cuba, because I was on so much medication, I stopped smoking and got thinner, I was thrilled, but everyone said `You look grey and haggard.' My skin's improved a lot, though, since I gave up the cigarettes.

I'm very mood-swingy about my looks. I've got very low self-esteem. As a child I thought I was hideous. Fourteen was the worst. I had a pretty friend, and one of her many boyfriends said, `Annie has a nice personality,' so I thought I'd better work on that and went around agreeing with everyone for the next three years.

I am very, very self-critical. You have to be careful, and not make a fool of yourself, not wear things that are too young for you, but develop a look that suits you.

Recently I did The Jo Whiley Show, and I kept my shades on, so The Sun said `You've been doing naughty things at a festival, that's why you've got to keep them on.' But it wasn't that at all, it was a fashion statement. They're rather posh shades. I bought them in Whiteley's shopping centre in west London, and they were very expensive. When I wore them to the literary festival at Hay on Wye, Tom Wolfe wanted them. He said `I like your shades.' I said `You're not having them.'

People will ask me, `What was your favourite decade?' and I say `Right now.' I've had a great time in the Nineties. You can't live in the past.

`Wicked Speed' by Annie Nightingale is published by Sidgwick & Jackson at pounds 15.99. She presents `Annie on One' for Radio 1 from 4am every Sunday morning.

Comments