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!

A LIFE IN BRIEF

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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower