THE LATE SHOW
BBC RADIO SHROPSHIRE
WITH KEITH MIDDLETON
THE LATE SHOW
BBC RADIO SHROPSHIRE
WITH KEITH MIDDLETON
KEITH: My next quest is a very firm friend of the show, I've spoken to her on numerous occasions because she is so so busy. Basically got fingers in lots of pies and as busy today as - well, since the 1970's, mid 80's when she was a megastar in music scene. And in my opinion still is. Toyah Willcox, hello!
TOYAH: (on the phone) Hello! How you doing?
KEITH: I'm good! Welcome back to the show!
TOYAH: Thank you! I was giggling because you said 1970's but I suppose yeah, I was a punk rocking rock singer in the late
70's wasn't I?
KEITH: Absolutely! With all the big hits! We'll talk about those in just a sec. And we're also talking about "Hormonal Housewives".
TOYAH: Yes -
KEITH: It's like a doctor's phone-in, isn't it?
TOYAH: Well, yeah, it's a very rude doctor's phone-in (Keith laughs) It's a very funny piece!
KEITH: Alright, we'll get onto that in just a sec but local girl, as in local Birmingham, King's Heath?
TOYAH: King's Heath, Birmingham and I'm still kind of local, I live in Worcestershire now and I pop into Birmingham very very regularly.
KEITH: Is the house still haunted?
TOYAH: Yeah, I think it always will be. It's a very old house, it has five storeys. It's had a lot of history, it's been a judge's house, a tea room, it's been apartments, it's now one house. I think it will always be a bit haunted.
KEITH: Do you know what it's haunted with or who or by?
TOYAH: Well, yes. One very very widely believed idea is that it's two sisters who ran it as The Willow Tea Room from 1920's up until about the 1950's. No, wait a minute, it must've been the 1960's because my mother brought me here when I was 3 years old to have tea and the sisters were still running it then.
So quite a few psychics have been in and I've never told them the history or what we think those are in here and they've all picked up on the two sisters.
KEITH: Crikey! Is it – are they friendly?
TOYAH: Everything in this house is friendly. It's wonderful. Even the humour. There's things happen in this house that make me laugh. It's very hard to explain when you don't live here but there's things that go on that just put a smile on my face and give me faith in everything. I have a white rabbit that lives in the house. It's six years old, it's beautiful, very tame bunny rabbit and he's faced with things we can not see all day long.
KEITH: What's the bunny rabbit called?
TOYAH: WillyFred (above with Toyah) (Keith laughs) And we always know when there's a presence because he's playing with it. He's running around, he's up the stairs, his ears are going like a little radar and he is seeing something that we don't see. But there's something that happens which your listeners might find quite disgusting or quite thrilling.
Because rabbits do hard little pellets -this hasn't only happened to me and my husband, this has happened to my band - suddenly a formation of pellets will appear on the kitchen table, on top of the beds (Keith laughs), on our AGA cooker. My keyboard player, who's complete atheist, doesn't believe in anything, he was having Sunday lunch here one time and he suddenly screamed.
I went "my goodness, what's the matter?" and he just pointed to this formation of pellets and straw that appeared on the AGA as he was making tea (Keith laughs) And I said "oh yeah, that happens all the time here" and he went "my goodness!" That's the most incredible thing he'd ever seen! So it converted him.
KEITH: Wow! Have you seen any manifestations yourself?
TOYAH: Oh, it happens all the time, we all see them. Even our friends that come for supper say "what's that woman doing outside?" There's no-one here, you're just seeing things.
KEITH: Wow! Fantastic!
TOYAH: But Pershore is supposedly one of the most haunted towns in England and every house here has experiences. Some to the point where it's quite hard to sell the houses. But we've actually – my husband and I can actually be walking down the street and we'll see something in a window.
But you get places like that. Where I live in France you get fireballs and you'll be walking around the old city and you'll see these fireballs going through these really tight streets. So I think you just get pockets where strange things happen.
KEITH: Could be it you who's sort of perceptible?
TOYAH: I don't about that because so many friends come to this house and have experiences. I actually think we've chosen this house because we actually love it and as soon as we walked in we knew we were going to be living here although it was incredibly inconvenient to move.
So perhaps on that level we're happier being in a very active house. But atheist friends have incredible experiences here and I like it because it just shows that in this human body – OK, we live in this dimension, we have five senses, we experience everything in a physical way that I think there's so much more to this incredible universe.
KEITH: I think you're right. We do a lot of physic stuff on the show. We've been deeply into it. I think you're right.
TOYAH: Well, I'll tell you more stories then. One of the most incredible things that's happened here is a little boy suddenly appeared. And I came across him because of the rabbit. He was staying with the rabbit. He'd obviously just passed over and the children don't always know when they die. They're very clear physically obviously when they're alive but when children die, as spirits they're almost solid so this little boy appeared in the house and he wouldn't leave the rabbit so we didn't disturb them.
He was here for about two weeks and slowly they start to fade as they realise they're returning back to the spirit world. It was just the most lovely two weeks of this little boy and bunny just befriending him. My first experience of the little boy was – I was in the bath and he suddenly appeared and he was looking with utter horror at me because I was naked in the bath and I realised he'd just passed over.
And the bunny came into the bedroom and took him out so I just left them to it and eventually the little boy moved on. We have quite amazing things here but we know that we're on an old funeral path. Now the thing about the funeral paths – in medieval times people knew how to carry a body in the tradition of taking it to the spirit world and the funeral path came through this house so we get a lot of activity here.
KEITH: Fascinating! Wow! Can I come to your house for coffee and stories?
TOYAH: Of course!
KEITH: Fabulous! (Toyah laughs) In a career spanning ... loads of years, 13 Top 40 singles, 20 albums, you've written a couple of books, you've been in over 40 stage plays, you've made 10 movies, presented television programmes like “The Good Sex Guide”, “Watchdog” and “Songs Of Praise”.
TOYAH: Yeah -
KEITH: You've been busy!
TOYAH: Yeah, I'm 55 and I don't think I've ever stopped working in my 35 year career so I have been busy. I enjoy working, I'm always actively looking for work. I think after “Hormonal Housewives” I might take the summer off because I really feel my age this year. It's been a cold winter. But I tend to always work.
KEITH: I know because I'm 55 too!
TOYAH: It's funny isn't it – it hits you like a sledge hammer! (Keith laughs)
KEITH: Yeah! You walk up the stairs, you get to the top and you go “ugghhh”
TOYAH: Yeah! "Auch!"
KEITH: Yeah, "auch!" And you're the "High Priestess Of Punk"?
KEITH: You've been called some stuff in your time -
TOYAH: I think it's just a convenient title for the newspapers to use.
KEITH: Why punk? Why did you go down the punk route and not a sort of pop star route?
TOYAH: Well, I think it's my age. I was a teenager when the punk movement started, I wasn't terribly experienced in music, didn't know a lot about music and punk allowed people like me to voice our ideas without having that in-depth knowledge of what music was. You had an idea - you had a place in the world.
But I think I developed into a pop singer because my hits were in the early 80's, right up to the middle 80's, late 80's. So I just think I was on a very broad learning curve.
KEITH: If you weren't a performer, what would've you been Toyah, if you've got to choose a proper job?
TOYAH: I don't think I could've been anything other than a performer. I'm very attention deficit, I like a lot going on and I like it to be very different and for it to move very fast. So I just don't think I could've done a proper job. I like to think I would've been a sculptress because I love doing things with my hands and sculpting has always appealed to me.
But I think I've had the only career that could've done because I work on a job sometimes for one day, sometimes for three months. But I have lots and lots of fingers in the pie all the time and that just suits who I am so see myself as a presenter, singer, actress, writer - because of my attention deficit but I'm still in the world of entertainment in whatever I do.
KEITH: Onto the current production – tour?
TOYAH: I'm touring “Hormonal Housewives” which is a big tour – we're doing 67 dates in the ten weeks. So we're doing one night stands everywhere. It's a very funny comedy piece, three-hander, we're on stage all night, it's very relevant, it's very rude, it's not feminist in any way but it recognises the wonderful nature of women and what we identify with, the crazy situations we get ourselves in.
The one-upmanship we play at the school gates, how we go to these crazy lessons like self-defence, how we go through waxing. (Keith laughs) It's the acknowledgement of the truth of women.
KEITH: From the press release - it says: “Covering everything that makes today's women tick or ticked off, the joys of teenagers, challenges of IKEA, the madness of holiday reps and the insanity of DIY.
TOYAH: Yeah, it's all of that. We all play ourselves but we go in and out of character to portray certain situations and certain scenes. I like to think of it as Chaucerian because it's so rude, it's not obscene but it's kind of nudge nudge, Carry On rude. It's very delightful.
KEITH: Is it a bit like the “Vagina Monologues”?
TOYAH: No. See, the “Vagina Monologues” was making a very definite feminist and political statements. We don't have the kind of serious message, there's no talk of rape or abuse in what we're doing.
Everything we're doing is fun fun fun but also recognition of women, it's very very supportive of women and what women talk about, what we go through, how we are so biologically different to men. But it's certainly not political.
KEITH: How about the guys who want to come and see the show? Should they walk in and sit down in fear?
TOYAH: No, I think they should walk in and sit down because they like women. There's no point in a man coming to see this if he doesn't like women or he is irritated by women's dialogue. This is a fantastic show for gay men and for gay women. And it's a fantastic show for men who love female company.
And we're not badgering men. We do a few jokes that take the mickey but it's incredibly affectionate towards them. We're always talking about desire and sexual attraction.
KEITH: OK, sounds good. (Reads of list of the tour venues) How do you cram them all in? I mean - as a performer like that, you know, you've got to go on stage and if you don't feel 100% - how do you get through it?
TOYAH: Well, with this – because it's a three-hander and we're very supportive of each other – I'm really looking forward to it because I'm normally on the road fronting my band which is like 160% at hundred miles an hour. With this because it's scripted and it's considered and we're using each others timing – I'm really looking forward to it.
I think it's going to be a very different experience. And it's comedy so in a way the audience is the fourth member of the group. So I'm not feeling any concerns at all really about energy. I think the audience will contribute a hell of a lot of energy back to us.
KEITH: And who are the other members?
TOYAH: Well, Julie Coombe (above on the right next to Toyah), the writer and she's very much the star of this because she's a true comedic actress, does great characterisations, she's great at stand up, whereas I'm coming in as Toyah and I'm a good actress and a good singer and I can do comedy but I do comedy in my way. And the other actress is Sarah Jane Buckley, (above, top of the photo) who again is a singer and very good actress. So we all bring three really different elements to what the production is.
KEITH: Brilliant. Toyah, it's been fantastic catching up with you again! Break a leg, will you?
TOYAH: Thank you! I'll try not to, I'm so accident prone I'm really going to try not to break a leg!
KEITH: And regards to all the family and especially WillyFred the rabbit.
TOYAH: Oh, thank you!
KEITH: Not a problem. Toyah, thank you.
TOYAH: Thank you!