Britain's heat-wave made me feel at home

GINA G
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The Independent Travel
GINA G used her Australian passport for the first time in 1990. Her boyfriend was planning to open a clothing shop in Melbourne and Gina flew to London with him to choose stock. She was excited to be coming to England, a place she had always wanted to visit, but the trip was a disappointment. The couple arrived in November, and Gina, who was brought up on the Queensland coast, thought London the most depressing place she'd ever seen. They were broke and forced to sleep on the floor of a friend's tiny flat. She returned to Australia after two weeks.

Back home she worked on her singing. She'd been songwriting since she was a teenager and fronted a dance band. In July 1994 her sister, who was living in England with her husband, persuaded Gina to come back to London. Gina had been trying to make it as a recording artist, and although she had made one single with her band, felt that she was getting nowhere. She didn't relish the thought of coming back to Britain, but she decided she needed to strike out on her own and try her luck over here. Obtaining a visa wasn't a problem. As her grandmother is Scottish she was eligible for a UK ancestry visa, which lets her live and work in Britain for four years. This time she loved London.

Life was a struggle, though. Gina worked all day as a sales assistant and went to clubs at night, hoping to make contacts. When she did get some sleep she had to share a bed with her sister and her husband who lived in just one room. She spent her earnings on studio time where she recorded the songs she was writing. One day she came across a pile of tapes that had been lying around in the studio for six months. She listened to one of the songs and thought: this is a smash. She teamed up with Simon Tauber who wrote the song and "(Ooh Aah) Just A Little Bit" became a UK number one. Overnight Gina became a household name. She's been all over Europe and is now conquering the States, and her passport is littered with stamps.

A few weeks ago in New York, she was running late and rushed to the airport to catch her flight back to Britain. With half an hour before take off she realised she'd left her passport and ticket in her hotel room. Her only identification was a promotional photograph of herself, but that was enough. She was whisked through immigration and even upgraded.

ROSANNA GREENSTREET

Gina G's new single "Gimme Some Love" is out on 3 March

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