My Secret Life: David Bailey, photographer, 72

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The Independent Online

My parents were ... regular working-class people. My father was a tailor, my mother a machinist. My mother was tough like a gypsy – in fact, she used to scare the gypsies. I seldom saw my father – he was too busy scallywagging around.

The house/flat I grew up in ... was a two-up, two-down in East Ham. My aunt and her family lived upstairs, so it was quite crowded. I was actually born in north Leyton, though, about two streets from where Alfred Hitchcock lived as a kid.

When I was a child I wanted to be ... an artist. I won a City and Guilds prize for a picture I drew of Bambi when I was 13; I loved art and drawing. And Disney – hence Bambi. I was very dyslexic, so I learnt to read – and to some extent to think – in a visual way.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at ... sculpture and painting.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... being serious.

At night I dream of ... I don't sleep enough to dream; I read till three and then I'm up at seven. When I was young, I used to dream that the house was falling in.

I wish I'd never worn ... a purple leather jacket purchased under pressure from Penelope Tree. It subsequently vanished into the ether.

I drive/ride ... whatever is pointing the right way at that moment, or any car with fuel in it, to be perfectly honest.

My house is ... a whole floor of a converted factory in London's King's Cross. It's all glass – brilliant for light, not so good when you're trying to hang your pictures. I also have a house in Devon made up of four interconnected buildings. That's where I keep the archive of my work; I have a studio down there, too.

My favourite work of art ... is anything by Picasso. Perhaps the 20th-century artistic genius. I'm also very fond of Marcel Duchamp's work.

My favourite building ... is St Pancras Station – the clock tower means I don't have to bother having a clock at home. The Pyramids are pretty good, too.

A book that changed me ... Delacroix's journal. It made me realise that things are as they have always been, and always will be: people are still grumpy and people still graffiti beautiful buildings. 'Kim' by Rudyard Kipling is another of my favourites.

Movie heaven ... I'm not mad about movies, there are too many people involved in the making of them, and they lack a definitive creative focus. I only did them for money. The only thing approaching art in a movie is the script.

The last album I bought ... was a photo album from Selfridges. When I do listen to music it can be anything from Bob Dylan to Louis Armstrong, or more classical stuff like Stravinsky or Wagner.

My secret crush ... My dog, Pig.

My greatest regret ... I don't really have any. I remember watching a programme where they asked Sir John Betjeman that same question. He paused and said: 'I wish I'd had more sex.' I can't really lay claim to that one.

The person who really makes me laugh ... Myself. I look in the mirror and think that is ridiculous and laugh out loud.

The last time I cried ... was when I was born.

My five-year plan ... is to stretch it to 50.

What's the point? The point is that there is no point.

My life in six words ... Wish it could go on longer.

A life in brief

Born in east London on 2 March 1938, David Bailey CBE is one of the most successful photographers of his era. He has snapped everyone from the Beatles to the Kray twins and has previously been married to Catherine Deneuve and Marie Helvin. He now lives with his fourth wife, Catherine Dyer, and their three children in London. David Bailey Sculpture + is at Pangolin London to 16 October. See pangolinlondon.com for details

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