LARA: Apparently new research shows 50 is the new 25. The average 50 year old is now living the life of someone half their age. Well, I’ve been talking to Toyah Willcox about this. Yeah, you’re probably thinking why? Well, because she is happy at being fifty and fabulous.
TOYAH: I’m enjoying my 50’s. For me I started to really enjoy life 40 onwards and I think it’s because I got kind of self confidence developing. When you’re in your 20’s you have impossible aims and quite difficult ambitions. Sometimes impossible ambitions. You have everyone telling you what you should be doing, how you should look, how you should be thinking.
And as you get older you kind of gain a freedom and a self discovery. For me that has helped me enjoy my life immensely. And I'm now 52. I’m not really doing anything different now that I didn’t do in my twenties, I’m still out with my band and I’m still acting and stuff like that but I’m really enjoying life.
LARA: Yeah. You know when you talk about being in your 20’s because then you were one of the biggest pop stars of the 80’s! Did you always have people bombarding you with the advice telling you what to do?
TOYAH: Oh gosh, yeah! You always had to be slim, even in the 80’s that was going on. Always being told who you could talk to, who you couldn’t talk to, what you should say, what you shouldn’t say, where you should be seen, what you should wear. I mean everyone tried to control you. I was in an exceptional position because I was a very famous pop star but I’m sure it’s not that different for any other 20-year-old in that people always have an opinion.
Really you should live life through your own opinions and your own experiences. So by the time you hit 50, you’ve been there, you’ve done it, you got the t-shirt. I find that other people’s opinions don’t weigh on me anymore which is very liberating.
And I like to think that I’m a kind and decent human being. But also there’s this freedom. And I suppose for many women who reach their 50’s - and men as well – the children have left home and it’s never too late to learn something, do something you’ve always wanted to do, to start a new career perhaps. You know if you’re empty nester. 50 should, I think, give you a new lease of life.
LARA: It’s so true when you say that you tend to relax into yourself a little bit more, don’t you?
LARA: When I hit 40, I’m 42 now, I was sort of oh no, I don’t like that. And being in my 40’s. But actually now as the time goes on you think actually it’s quite nice.
TOYAH: Was part of that because you were told you wouldn’t like it?
LARA: I think so. It’s so true, this conception about what age is and what being old is, maybe we look differently on that now?
TOYAH: I think it’s very cultural and I like to think that every decade we deserve to have a role model that belongs in every decade. And life is a journey, it’s not an ending. I do feel quite sad when you see newspapers treat age as if it’s a full stop to everything when you hit 30. It’s just not true.
I think also people in their 50’s they are the ones with the cash and they’re spending it and they’re wise about it. They’ve experienced dept, they’ve experienced having to problem solve so generally more measure than more balanced. But also because of technology I find I’m busier than ever because I’m more accessible.
LARA: Sure. It is easier now isn’t it?
TOYAH: Life is easier on that level –
LARA: Social networking and all that?
TOYAH: Yeah, definitely.
LARA: I was having a conversation with one of my mates and we were saying I don't want to end this mortal coil just yet, when you get to 60 that’s old, and I said to her, well the thing is when we get to 60 we won’t see ourselves as being old, we'll be ever happier with ourselves!
TOYAH: That’s true. It’s how we perceive, isn’t it? I mean for me I would say that I dread being really old because I look after my mum who’s 81 and you know she’s got a lot of aches and pains but you can invest in that future now. 20-year-old's can invest in being 50-year-old by cutting out the drink, cutting out the processed foods, exercising, eating well. You can do that and you save money by doing it. I think we are never told how to invest in our future health wise.
For me my fear of the future is to do with health because I love work. I’m defined by my work. I don’t want to stop working, I don’t want to retire, what I do is hugely enjoyable. So I’m investing in my future the whole time. And I think that’s another reason why we need role models so that people can go “hmm, in 20 years time I’m going to be 50 and I want to be able to still be going to the gym and running.” Well, you invest in that when you’re in your 20’s.
LARA: Yes, of course, yeah. It’s funny isn’t when I think I was in my 20’s I didn’t –
TOYAH: I didn’t –
LARA: I’m sure, you being a pop star you would’ve not done that!
TOYAH: I was into dangerous sports, I was breaking bones, I was drinking too much, I didn’t eat enough. See that’s another thing, you know, if you’re not eating enough you’re not making your bones grow strong so it’s all about balance. It’s all about nice maintained healthy balance and a good attitude to life.
LARA: It certainly is. Show those 20-year-olds something, eh?!
TOYAH: Hopefully, yes! (both laugh)
LARA: What are you up to at the minute, then Toyah? Apart from feeling great about life, what are you on at the minute?
TOYAH: I’m doing exactly what I was doing in my 20’s. I’m touring with my band, I’m playing in lovely clubs, I’m doing festivals, I’m playing stately homes, I’m enjoying that immensely. I have an avant garde rock band which kind of satisfies the avant garde songwriter in me and that’s called The Humans.
New album is launched in October and we’re touring in February and March of 2011. I have a comedy drama out next week on Living (TV) with Harry Hill and Ainsley Harriot which was huge fun to shoot! Called "Gale Tuesday The Comeback."
LARA: Can you give us a bit of a –
TOYAH: Gayle Tuesday is created by the comedian Brenda Gilhooly (below with Toyah) and she plays Gayle Tuesday, this Page 3 girl who makes a comeback by doing a reality show. And it’s just lovely. It’s delicious and it’s wicked and it’s funny.
LARA: Was it great fun doing it?
TOYAH: Oh, we didn’t stop laughing for ages, Ainsley Harriot is a brilliant actor.
LARA: Is he? I didn’t know that!
TOYAH: He’s really good! Excellent!
LARA: I just though he could cook a bit!
TOYAH: Well, he can do that as well!
LARA: And Harry Hill did you say?
TOYAH: Harry Hill’s in it playing himself.
LARA: He is just the best! I cry with laughter.
TOYAH: Just love him! Brilliant man.
LARA: That’s fabulous. Loads and loads of stuff for you on the horizon then?
TOYAH: Lots going on.
LARA: Great. That’s brilliant. Oh, it’s great to hear. So nice to talk to you Toyah, thank you ever so much for coming on.
TOYAH: That’s a pleasure, Lara. Thank you.
LARA: That’s Toyah Willcox