BBC RADIO 4
BBC RADIO 4
RICHARD COLES: Do you remember the safety pin divas, the short and sweaty summer of punk? Siouxsie Sioux, the late lamented Poly Styrene, Laura Logic and occupying a slightly different place the actor and singer Toyah Willcox.
Today she is well known as a writer and television presenter too, perhaps the only person to have presented both the "Good Sex Guide" and "Songs Of Praise." Back then as Miranda she rattled and lisped her way through Derek Jarman’s marvellous punky version of the “Tempest” and it was she who skipped up and down on a spot in pixie boots singing “It’s A Mystery” on Top Of The Tops. Well, mystery no longer for here she is in confessional mood.
(Toyah is being interviewed at the her house by JP Dewlin, a regular of the BBC Radio 4 “Secret Life” spot.
TOYAH: My “Secret Life” collection is meteorites. I’ve had a romantic passion about them all my life. This is about two inches in length and an inch wide. This is my very first meteorite. And I absolutely adore it. I didn’t actually give it much thought or attention when I first had it. It was in recent years when the satellite was sent out to photograph the light at the beginning of our universe.
Which is about 360 000 light years old. And then you start to think - wait a minute – this meteorite has travelled through this time! Which I just find utterly exhilarating. And it frees me from fear of death, fear of boredom, fear of the trivial. The mundane price of baked beans information every day and I actually look on these stones as an escape!
JP DEWLIN: So you wouldn’t know the price of a can of beans?
TOYAH: Well, actually yes I do. But it’s not the reason I get up in the morning! I’m going to pick up one that is radically different to the other lumps of rock we are surrounded by.
JP: It’s shinier!
TOYAH: It’s shinier. This is a common chondrite stoney meteorite. Chondrite are the oldest class of meteorites and represent chunks of material that condensed within the solar nebula around 4.6 million years ago. I had to read that! (both laugh)
JP: Don’t spoil it!
TOYAH: I don’t want people thinking I’m that intelligent! (laughs) But what I love is it actually looks like a piece of metal that has been chewed in a very strong mouth. But you can see it’s been melted by an incredible force. Fans kind of realise what I’m interested in because a lot of my lyrics are about the relationship we have on this planet and I’m far more interested in the relationship we have with the sky than relationships we have with aunts and uncles. Grandparents -
TOYAH: Oh totally! I’m not connected to family at all.
JP: Why do you think?
TOYAH: I am just not interested in the kind of things – which sounds awful - if someone said to me tomorrow "would you like to be on the mission to Mars that never returns?" my immediate answer would be yes. I just don’t feel connected. Not at all.
JP: Is that why you’ve never had children?
TOYAH: It was probably one of the reasons (laughs) I mean I just – I suppose if you feel no connection to that kind of life cycle and possibly yes, that is the reason. (Picks up another meteorite) This is incredibly small. This is almost like a small smooth black pebble.
JP: A piece of rabbit dropping perhaps?
TOYAH: If my rabbit passed that he’d be in pain! But there is a kind of aeration on the top which means that chemicals burned off entering the atmosphere and it feels almost volcanic and it’s so much lighter (bangs it against the table). Now here’s an interesting one. This actually looks like a metallic leaf. It’s leaf shaped like a holly leaf.
JP: It’s very flat –
TOYAH: It’s flat. But again it’s metal, it’s melted, it has arrived in incredible heat.
JP: Can you walk past a New Age shop without going in? (Toyah laughs)
TOYAH: I can walk past a New Age shop but I do collect crystals. I have rooms full of the most amazing –
JP: What’s that all about the crystals?
TOYAH: For me a crystal is just a beautiful formation of a chemical. Do you want me to go and get you some?
JP: No! I think we have enough with these here
TOYAH: OK! I mean they are astonishing and crystals resonate. Everything resonates. You resonate, I resonate –
JP: Do I ?!
TOYAH: Yeah, we all vibrate. It’s all the nature of light, light vibrates. That’s how we see the rainbow. It’s all vibrational.
JP: Hmm, well, if I’m resonating it’s probably my restless leg! (Toyah laughs)
TOYAH: My meteorites for me are romanticism of the universe. I believe the universe is a very big violent thing that we will never grasp. But when I look these meteorites I see the potential to go beyond what I am. Because there is so much to learn from …
JP: I suppose the universe, it’s a mystery isn’t it?
TOYAH: (not impressed) That’s really bad! (laughs) But I don’t know, they are a mystery! Yes, I do admit I’m quite bonkers! But these meteorites they’re everywhere and it’s just a wonderful wonderful connection with this very baffling thing called the universe.