My Secret Life: Max Clifford, PR consultant, 67


My parents were ... Lillian and Frank. He was an electrical worker and an accomplished classical pianist and my mum was a housewife.

The household I grew up in ... was a three-bedroomed terraced house in south Wimbledon, with an outside tin bath and toilet. There was never much room but always a lot of laughter.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I would stay in my 60s for the next 50 years. I've been very lucky, it's been wonderful all the way through. You're still reasonably fit and healthy – I swim every day. It's a wonderful, wonderful age.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at ... solving problems. Not just in my business; everybody comes to me with their own problems. You tell me a problem, and I'll instinctively try to find a solution, even when you can't really find one.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... suffering fools and huge egos. I meet a fair few, but I've never had the patience.

My favourite item of clothing ... I live in shorts all year round, even the winter, and have them in every colour of the rainbow.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... my hair increasingly going from a light grey to white.

I wish I'd never worn ... I had a velvet jacket as a teenager which I absolutely loved, but when I look back, it wasn't a good look.

I drive/ride ... I ride a bike, a Cannondale Street 600, and drive a Rolls-Royce Ghost – both of which I love and get a lot of pleasure from.

My house is ... I've got three houses, and they all feel like home. There's a three-bed apartment in Spain, a seven-bed house in Burwood Park in Surrey, and a four-bed cottage in the Cotswolds.

My favourite work of art ... I'm not really into art. A jukebox wouldn't be a work of art, would it? I've got a rebuilt original and the songs are records I promoted in the early 1960s. That would be the nearest thing!

My favourite building ... a tea stall on Epsom Downs – it's just a little wooden building. As a kid I used to fly a kite up there and go with my dad to The Derby. I've had lots of happy times up there, lots of laughter.

My secret crush is ... that would have been Sophia Loren; magnificent – erm – lungs.

Movie heaven ... Waking Ned. It's a comedy about a little Irish village where they win the lottery. It's very cute and very funny. The Irish are such a friendly, funny, happy people.

A book that changed me ... as a kid, it was reading The Famous Five, because they were always going on exciting adventures. My life has been, and still is, an exciting adventure.

My greatest regret ... that I didn't learn the piano from my father – he was a wonderful pianist.

My real-life villains ... old-school Tories.

The last time I cried ... when my first wife Liz died in 2003. She died very suddenly, of cancer.

My five-year plan ... to get away with what I'm doing now for as long as possible. I have a very, very full and happy life, owning a business that I love.

What's the point? To get as much out of life as possible and give as much back as you can.

My life in six words ... happy, healthy, funny, and very fulfilling.

A life in brief

Max Clifford was born in April 1943 in Surrey. He left school at 15, and after a job as a sports reporter, joined EMI records' press office in 1962; one of his first clients was The Beatles. Clifford has become a public-relations guru, working with celebrities from Frank Sinatra and Muhammad Ali to Jade Goody and Simon Cowell. In 2008, Clifford was diagnosed with prostate cancer; he is now an ambassador for The Prostate Cancer Charity, supporting their awareness month (prostateaware.org.uk). He lives in Surrey with his wife, Jo

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