Karren Brady, 25, is managing director of Birmingham City Football Club. She lives in the countryside outside Birmingham with her two dogs, Zoro and Mugsy.
NIGHT is a time of fear for me. I've been mugged and attacked in the past, so the slightest noise makes me panic. The two dogs are meant to be my protection but they're a bit too small and certainly too fat to frighten off any intruder.
Zoro and Mugsy share my bed and we have baths together, too . . . they're really spoilt. My fiance Paul (Peschisolido, former Birmingham City player) was sold to Stoke during the summer and is away quite a lot. I feel safer when he stays with me but we both have our jobs to do. I'm quite used to being alone.
It was very difficult for me to move up to Birmingham, leaving all my friends and family behind in London. I lived in a hotel by myself and became a bit of a hermit. I still don't have any allies here. I can't be too friendly with my staff - go out and get drunk with them one night and come in and be the boss the next day.
If I do go out at night I quite often get hassled because I'm well known. There's always some bloke who's got an indispensable word of advice about the manager or the players. Then there's the type that says: 'Oh, you're that bird that runs the football club' in a sarcastic manner, thinking that's very cool and not realising he's making a total dick of himself.
The supporters do think I'm their property to a certain extent: I've had a lot of propositions. They send me necklaces or weird pictures of themselves and letters saying: 'I'll take you out for a bag of chips and show you a good time.' I always send a courteous acknowledgement. Sometimes it's a bit frightening - I had one man who would wait by my car late at night; he left notes saying he was going to kill himself if I didn't talk to him. I had to call the police.
I'm actually very shy in my personal life and that's one of the things I had in common with Paul when we got together last Christmas at the club party. We were both finding it difficult being alone and away from home (Paul is Canadian). Despite all the pressure - I was, in effect, his boss, and we had the press camping out in my front garden for ages - we've stuck together and he proposed to me a couple of weeks ago.
Though I'm very happy about my engagement it's no consolation for the fact that Birmingham City, now relegated to the Second Division, lost its first match this season. I haven't slept since. I am terrified of another run of disappointments and failures. Before matches I often dream we've won, that we've scored several glorious goals . . . then I wake with that awful sinking feeling as I realise it isn't true.
Most of my dreams are nice, though. The best one I have is that I've got a wonderful credit card that someone else is paying for and I can buy whatever I want in a huge department store. Another recurrent dream is that I'm walking down a dark street looking for something I can never find. I don't see this as symbolic. I think dream interpretation is a load of rubbish. Desperate people cling on to desperate things - when they can't find their own logic they turn to something which will make decisions for them: 'I dreamt I was scratching my foot - that means I should go on holiday' and such nonsense]
Insomnia is something I haven't really experienced before. If we win this week I'm sure it'll go. Usually I read for a while and then I fall asleep. I read business books and newspapers. I think everyone should read at least one quality and one tabloid a day - to keep up with what's going on. My bedroom has to be an open space. I can't stand clutter. My mother always had hundreds of china knick-knacks all over the place when I was a child and I was constantly in trouble for breaking them.
When I'm sleeping I take all the covers and hang on to them. I don't much mind about anyone else - I'm always freezing for some reason. Once I'm asleep I don't want to be touched or disturbed. It particularly bugs me if someone leans on my hair and pulls it. I take sleep very seriously because if I don't get enough I can't function and my job is tough - I work on average 12 hours a day.
It's always been my ambition to have a family. I made a conscious decision to be successful early on in life so that I could give up my career - if I chose to - by my late twenties. I seem to be pretty much on target.
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