My secret life: Poly Styrene, Singer, 51

The house I grew up in... was a white-fronted, Grade II-listed council house in a mixed part of Brixton, but I still felt the racial tension. Once I was hit over the head with a cricket bat, it was just that kind of area. Even if you were Italian, you were a "wog".

When I was a child I wanted to be... a fashion designer, an actress and an air stewardess. But then I started a small clothes label which never took off, failed an audition to Rada, and never applied to be an air hostess.

The moment that changed me for ever... was seeing a Day-Glo UFO in Doncaster one night after a concert. It was a bright ball of luminous pink, made of energy – like a fireball. Everyone else thought I'd lost the plot.

My greatest inspiration... The Pilgrim's Progress: it was read to me at a very young age and I loved the way the characters were given names relating to their personalities – I was very moved by it.

My real-life villain... is the personification of war and violence, which is open to interpretation.

If I could change one thing about myself... I would lose a stone. I've gone down to nine and a half, but eight and a half stone would be nicer!

At night I dream of... angels, if I'm very lucky.

What I see when I look in the mirror... is a distant shadow of my former teenage self. You start seeing signs of age. I have a fear of losing my teeth.

My style icons... are size 14 ladies of the Hollywood Golden Age, such as Marilyn Monroe and Joan Shawlee in Some Like it Hot: they're perfect.

My favourite item of clothing... is a black Freya bra.

I wish I'd never worn... a blue foam dress with an army helmet, which I wore to perform at the Brixton Academy in 1991. I looked like the world's biggest hot water bottle, a giant oblong with protruding limbs. It had little planets all over and was meant to replicate something I wore at the Roxy in 1978. It didn't work.

It's not fashionable but I like... twin sets and pearls – punked-out versions, of course.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... cooking vegetarian food, simple tofu stir-fries and homemade soups.

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at... knitting. I have tried, but haven't the patience.

All my money goes on.... overheads.

If I have time to myself... I go swimming. Sadly the sea here in East Sussex is just too cold so I go to the local pool.

I ride... along the St Leonard's promenade on my little manual chrome scooter. I've still got one as I haven't grown up. I used to ride it in London and someone shouted "supergran" at me.

My house is... by the sea, at the end of a terrace, about five minutes from the seafront. The house isn't very punky, I don't stamp too much of myself on to a property.

My favourite building... is the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. It looks like something from a fairy tale, with all the domes, but it's also quite kitsch.

Movie heaven... The Great Gatsby, mainly for Robert Redford. He plays a poor boy done good, but is continually trying to impress a girl. It's very sad and dramatic. And he's very beautiful!

A book that changed me... Angel Inspiration by Diana Cooper. It's about angels and how to connect with them, and bringing light and good energy into wherever you are. At night I practise going through the angel chambers in my dreams.

My most valuable possession is... my soul.

My favourite work of art... is a version of Queen Elizabeth II by Andy Warhol. I saw one with pink diamond dust thrown on and it was really lovely, really pretty. The Queen looked nice.

The last album I bought... was A Portrait of Duke Ellington.

The person who really makes me laugh... is Ronnie Barker in Porridge; the nonchalance, the attitude, the deadpan British humour.

The shop I can't walk past... is the beautician's, I can't resist the nail salon, for a good basic French manicure. I'm not into false nails, they look like talons and with them I could never type fast enough.

The best invention ever... is the Hoover.

In 10 years time, I hope to be... retired, from singing, as I'll be 60. I've just started singing again after a long time so I've been seeing a voice coach to get into shape.

My greatest regret... is that I have none.

My life in seven words... I'm a poseur 'n' I don't care!


Born Marian Elliott-Said in Bromley, Kent, in 1957, Poly Styrene was the lead singer of the British punk band X-Ray Spex before releasing a solo album, Translucence, in 1980. Her mother was a legal secretary from Hastings, her father, a dispossessed Somalian aristocrat. Poly Styrene is well-known for her outrageous outfits, anti-Establishment lyrics and for joining the Hare Krishnas. She has a daughter and currently lives alone in St Leonard's in East Sussex. Poly Styrene will perform at London's Victoria Park on 27 April and at a one-off gig at the Roundhouse in Camden, London on 6 September

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own