Lulu: You ask the questions

(Such as: how did you rate David Bowie as a lover? And is it true that while your friends were getting stoned, you cleaned out their ashtrays?)
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The Independent Online

Lulu was born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie in 1948, the eldest daughter of a Glaswegian butcher. She first sang in public when she was four, at a party to celebrate the Queen's Coronation. "Shout!", her first single, was released when she was 15 and reached No 7 in the UK singles chart. Her career has spanned five decades and, as well as singing, she has appeared in her own BBC television series, films, live concerts, pantomimes and the Eurovision Song Contest, of which she was the joint winner in 1969 with "Boom Bang-a-Bang". Last year she published her autobiography, Lulu: I Don't Want to Fight, revealing that she once had an affair with David Bowie. She has been married twice, first to the Bee Gee Maurice Gibb (who died earlier this year) and then to the celebrity hairdresser John Frieda, with whom she has a grown-up son, Jordan. She is now single and lives in London.

There are those of us who have always daydreamed about getting you down the aisle. Is there still hope? Or have you had enough of marriage?
John Gillespie, London

Are you offering? Actually, marriage isn't high on my agenda. I have been married twice and, on the whole, they were wonderful marriages, but at certain points they were also very difficult. In my first marriage there were no children, which made it easier, even though it was painful for the two of us. In the second case, it was much deeper and it took me much longer to get over it. So why would I want to get married for a third time? I don't have a desire to be married again and again.

Be honest. Did you enjoy all those pantomime appearances?
Oliver Kitts, Leeds

No, I hated them. The bottom line was that I didn't find it challenging. Why did I do them? I don't bloody know.

So, how many marks out of 10 would you give David Bowie as a lover?
Elizabeth Stephenson, by e-mail

It was a high score, for sure, but I wouldn't want to settle on a figure - that would be too honest. I think it's good to leave some things to the imagination.

Is it true that you used to clean out the ashtrays while your friends got stoned? What's the squarest thing you've ever done?
Cynthia Brown, by e-mail

It's true. I did clean out the ashtrays while the others were all getting bombed. "Square" is a really funny word, though; how old is this questioner? I think the word now is "geeky" or "uncool". Certainly, I've done a lot of things that would be called geeky: being in the Eurovision Song Contest was definitely that, though at the time it wasn't totally uncool, only half uncool. But it's not the most uncool thing I've done... just one of the many, many things. I never felt like I was cool, ever. Today, people tell me I'm cool and I say, "Well, maybe from your point of view, but not from mine."

How much did you leave out of your autobiography, I Don't Want to Fight?
Sandra Priest, Birmingham

I "tap danced" around a lot of issues and that was out of respect to people. I wanted to be honest, but not gruesome. It would never have been a kiss-and-tell book. I found out a lot about myself while I was writing it. I laughed a lot, I cried a lot. And I was astonished about all the things I'd forgotten. I was with Paul and Linda McCartney the night they met and I'd forgotten that.

Like you, I seem to be living my life backwards - having been married for years, I'm now enjoying the single life for the first time. Does it ever seem strange to you?
Jill King, London

Sometimes it is strange. Sometimes it's sad, because I've been conditioned, like most of us have, to believe in the idealistic dream that you grow up, get married, stay married and have lots of children. But at the moment I'm a career girl. Many people I know are retiring, but I don't think I'm the retiring type. So, yes, it's strange, but at the same time it's totally natural.

There's a little sadness that I'm not sitting in a room filled with a husband and lots of children and possibly grandchildren, though. I found it difficult to start dating again. I'm not in a relationship at the moment; I find intimacy quite hard. It's scary, just as it is for any younger girl.

Does "Shout!" ever make you want to scream?
Debbie Maitland, Fareham

Yes, it does sometimes, but on the whole, I have a lot of gratitude for that song. It's woven its way into my heart. "Shout!" came about because I sang it at my first audition for Decca Records. When they told me that I'd got the contract, I thought they'd give me a song written by The Beatles or something. But they said, "No. We want you to do that song you did at the auditions." I said, "Oh no. I've been doing that for a year!"

You must have given thousands of interviews in your time. Is there a real you and a public you that you wheel out on separate occasions?
Orlando Phillips, London

There's a professional me and there's a private me, definitely. I'm not one of those people that really wants to air my dirty washing in public. I'm not looking to destroy anyone or to be vindictive. I don't want to available 24/7. When I had a documentary made about me, I said, "You're not going to photograph me in the bedroom and you're not going to photograph me in the bathroom."

Is old age a) the world's greatest evil, b) a challenge to be overcome, or c) something that you are ready to embrace?
Harry Smith, Chester

It's not the world's greatest evil. It's certainly a challenge to be overcome. And I am trying to embrace it: I'm the sort of person who still feels like they're 20. But at this point in my life, some people are making me more and more aware of my age.

I would have plastic surgery, absolutely. You should never say never. It's like when I had my son: I wanted to have a water birth, in the bath with no drugs. I was telling someone about it and they said, "Why would you want to suffer any more than you have to when science has so much to offer?"

Do you feel you've reached your potential as a musician?
Bill Hamilton, Haywards Heath

No, but I hope to carry on and reach my potential. Isn't that why we're in this body? That's the most important thing about being in the physical form: to reach your highest potential.

Your career has spanned many different fashions. What outfit are you most embarrassed about wearing? Which one are you most proud of?
Sarah Dover, Norwich

God, I think there are probably many that I'm embarrassed about. But when I was 15, I used to wear tunics with splits up the side and these dreadful pedal pushers. My hair was plastered with hairspray and back-combed to the max. When I look at it now, I think, "Hello! What did you come as?"

The best outfit? Actually, I think my wedding outfits were pretty cool. And then there was this Versace red leather jacket that I bought two years ago. I remember standing in the shop and thinking, "Should I buy it? Do I need another jacket?" I knew exactly who to call: Elton John. He said: "I know the one. You've got to get it!" That was a good buy, although, of course, I couldn't wear it after that season because it'd been worn to death and seen everywhere.

'Lulu: I Don't Want to Fight' is published in paperback by Time Warner, £6.99

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