My Secret Life: David Gray, musician, 41

Interview,Charlotte Philby
Saturday 05 September 2009 00:00
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My parents ... moved from Manchester to Solva, a fishing village in Pembrokeshire, where they started a company called Cottage Clothes. It was the 1970s, so everything was a quilted Liberty fabric.

The home I grew up in ... There were lots of them. I hold the one in Solva most dear. It was a tiny two-up, two-down fisherman's cottage. My happiest memories are from that time.

When I was a child I wanted to ... play for Manchester United.

First time I ever got drunk ... I remember going to the local disco at the city hall in St Davids. I'd been though my mum and dad's drinks cabinet and took various potions with me to the disco; one was a jam jar full of crème de menthe. Someone else bought cider and gin, which we mixed together, and then we polished off the crème de menthe. Unsurprisingly, it was a noxious cocktail.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I'm spoilt for choice. I wish I were a more patient man. Get me behind the wheel of a car or trying to get my family through an airport and I am liable to fly off the handle.

You may not know it but I'm very good at ... making soup. I have a natural ability to boil things; there I am on the culinary chart.

You may not know it but I'm no good at ... speaking French. I always build myself up to it but I don't know why I bother, it always ends up being a farce. I am the classic idiot English person abroad; there are many incidents that have come back to haunt me.

At night I dream of ... I have lots of performance-related ones: concerts going horribly wrong, and people leave or start booing. I've performed a few of them as well.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... is a bit of a red nose. I maybe drink too much wine, so have a touch of the Alex Ferguson. But I do think that I'm looking better now than I did 10 years ago. I'm doing all right.

My favourite item of clothing ... I've become a bit obsessed with clothes recently. I've got an unusual grey herringbone pattern Paul Smith suit, which I have to say is my favourite thing at the moment, worn with cherry red JM Weston brogues.

Wish I'd never worn ... I'm constantly despairing at the way I looked when I got famous – my style lapsed a bit for that period. I had a liquorice allsorts-patterned jumper that someone knitted for me when I was 14. For some reason I really liked it, and it crops up in various photos.

Movie heaven ... Werner Herzog's 'Little Dieter Needs to Fly'. If there are more like that out there, then I want to watch them.

A book that changed me ... An anthology of Latin American poetry, which I picked up in a charity shop in Liverpool. It opened me up to poets I'd never heard of; Pablo Neruda in particular had a great effect. There is something much warmer in his work than that of other heavyweights.

My home is ... a big house in Hampstead, north London, which I've just moved into. It opens on to a big garden, through big glass doors. I have the mansion on the hill now, I've finally made it.

The last albums I downloaded ... 'Only the Lonely' by Frank Sinatra and 'Slave to the Rhythm' by Grace Jones.

Greatest regret ... I don't really carry regrets: I'm like Edith Piaf.

Ten years time ... I've got everything I could possible dream of having. I hope I'm still living in the same house, maybe have a place with a swimming pool in Umbria or Tuscany, and still playing music – hopefully still with people coming to watch.

Life in six words ... It's great but not enough time.

A life in brief

David Gray was born in Manchester on 13 June 1968. He started playing in pubs with his band the Prawns before being signed by Polydor in 1991. His album White Ladder produced several hit singles and his latest album Draw the Line is out on 14 September. He lives with his wife Olivia and their daughters Ivy and Florence in Hampstead, north London

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