First Impressions: Barbara Dickson
BARBARA RUTH DICKSON OBE is a Scottish singer. Her hits include January February and I Know Him So Well; 15 of her albums charted in the UK and she was the first Mrs Johnstone in Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers.
What are you working on at the moment?
A new album for recording early next year with my colleague Troy Donockley. The CD is to be released to coincide with my 2013 concert tour, the first in almost three years... I can't wait.
When were you at your happiest?
Philosophically speaking, now. I am much more sanguine about the world, but I worry about my children. What's new – a mother who worries about her children?
What is your greatest fear?
That I die before I complete my work, vocationally. I have lots of music to create and perform. I find playing and singing very liberating and energising.
What is your earliest memory?
Sitting in the kneehole of my grandfather's desk. I must have been about two or three years old. A treat was a chocolate Vienna biscuit from grannie's tin, which she kept on the top of a cupboard.
Who has been your greatest influence?
Archie Fisher, the Scottish folk singer, was my mentor and I still admire him enormously. Chris Bond, the director who made me an actress in the 1980s.
What do you most dislike about yourself?
My inability to concentrate for long.
What is your most treasured possession?
It's a toss-up between my Martin J-40 acoustic guitar and my grand piano.
What trait do you most deplore in others?
Rudeness and insincerity, which abound nowadays.
Do you have a fantasy address?
Abercromby Place in Edinburgh's New Town. I adore New Town.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Being almost 65, it's tough loving your looks, but I feel I must try, for the sisterhood. No tricks allowed for me... just groovy old-lady acting.
What is your all-time favourite book?
The House At Pooh Corner, and Paradise Lost by Milton.
What is your favourite film?
The Searchers by John Ford followed by The Godfather Parts I and II.
Your favourite record or piece of music?
Bruckner's Palestrina, The Beach Boys, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Byrds, folk and world music. The best song I've heard for years is Chris Wood's Hollow Point.
Your favourite meal?
Asian seafood with spices.
Who would you most like to come to dinner?
Danny Boyle. I was a fan of Slumdog Millionaire and Frankenstein but the Olympics opening ceremony just did me in. I love him. He's a genius.
Which historical character do you most admire?
Jesus of Nazareth. I am a Christian and would love to have held the hem of Jesus's robe for a minute.
What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
The most bitchy thing was that I was a 'boring fat frump' (said about me in print by Julie Burchill in a magazine years ago). I've been very lucky because it's rare for me to be dismissed in that sort of way, as I never really sought publicity.
Do you believe in aliens?
No. I can't see it is possible that there is a duplicate life force anywhere out there. I think we're a one-off.
What is your secret vice?
I don't have any secrets in the vice department, as I have thrived on guilt all my life, but I love malt whisky after a show... not on tour though as I play virtually every night. When I finish the first night of the next tour, I'll treat my band to a glass of 15-year-old Speyside malt whisky.
Do you write thank-you notes?
I always write thankyou notes, but not after putting my bag down in the hallway on my return, which is traditional. Sometimes I'm a bit tardy, but I love getting acknowledgements myself, so I think it counts to other people.
Which phrase do you most overuse?
It would have to be 'that thingummybob over there'. I can never remember what things are called.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
I'm fairly sure that £5 million to buy that town house in Edinburgh would be a treat. I'd have some change over to do some other stuff too. I'll send you my bank details.
What would you like your epitaph to say?
She tried her best. Although she sometimes got it wrong, her heart was in the right place. How about that?
Barbara Dickson is appearing at London's Bloomsbury Theatre on 22 September, alongside John Shuttleworth, to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer: 020-7388 8822, www.thebloomsbury.com
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