BBC RADIO HEREFORD & WORCHESTER
WITH TAMMY GOODING
TAMMY: A singer songwriter now living in Pershore – actress too – Toyah Willcox in is involved with this (A Brand Name High Street Funeral Care over 50's Bucket List) and I started out with something you probably shouldn't do … I asked her her age …
TOYAH: I'm 58!
TAMMY: Are you?!
TOYAH: Yeah …
TAMMY: Flipping heck! How did that happen?!
TOYAH: I'd like to know! It's a surprise to me as well! (Tammy laughs) But I don't feel I'm old and I don't feel I'm slowing down and I want to remain engaged with life and I would like my chosen career to still need me. So I think it's kind of important we re-assess. We discover who we are and what we want through something like a bucket list. I mean how many times do you sit down and write what you want? We think we know what we want but when you physically write it down and have to perhaps do a short list it does define who you are and I think it's a great exercise.
I'd aim for things that you know you can do rather than things that are just pie in the sky. On my list I've got drive both coasts of the Americas. I'd like to go back to old Tibet. I've been there once and loved it. I'd like to see Iceland. But also I'd like to make pottery and be given a chance to travel with a diamond as it comes out of the ground on its journey to which ever city it's going to be cut in and to cut it and just experience what brings a diamond into the world.
TAMMY: Oh wow!
TOYAH: Because we value a diamond as something eternal and I would just like to see how that happens and perhaps be involved with it.
TAMMY: How very very interesting. And you've talked about kind of knowing who you are and when you write this list it creates you and your future and what you're about. And I've always had the impression - when I was a little girl ... that you almost always knew that because I remember my big sister singing “I Want To Be Free”, she had the record, she put it on my mum's radiogram and she used to play it and play it and play and I always looked as this woman who knew what she wanted and what she was about. Was that the case?
TOYAH: In my 20's I knew exactly what I wanted and made absolutely no plans for 30 onwards. And I hit 30 and I thought what have I done? I've got another 70 years to live if I'm lucky. And I'd made no plans. I'd not daydreamed about the future after 30. And I say the word daydream because I think it's a very valuable thing to do. You explore who you are. So I'm now 58, I want to stay working.
I'm definitely achy in the morning when I get up and I'm physically nowhere as strong as I used to be but I'm still vital, I still have daydreams, I still have desires and ambitions so I want to live to live. I want to live every day as special day.
TAMMY: Hmmm. That's brilliant.
TOYAH: And I mean that even in the mundane of shopping and cleaning. You know, make it special, make it part of who you are. We live in a world where we are increasingly pulled into technology and twitter and facebook and our heads are kept down looking at small objects. I think my bucket list would be about escaping that and viewing who I am in this world. Another thing – being 58, I have an idea how much time I have. I want to use that time properly.
TAMMY: OK. OK. And you're using that time properly in down the road in Pershore aren't you? You still there? You still living in Pershore?
TOYAH: I'm not talking about where I live. I'm a local girl. (Tammy laughs) I love where I live!
TAMMY: What took you there? What took you to Worcestershire because you grew up in King's Heath – not far from where I grew up in fact.
TOYAH: Yeah, I was born in Birmingham and we had a boat on the river Avon at a club called the Wire Mill Club and a caravan. I'd been going to that area all my life at weekends from Birmingham. And when my parents needed to retire I bought them a cottage in a village called Wyre Piddle. And it became evident they needed someone to look after them so I bought the next door cottage which allowed me to personally take care of them of the last ten years of their lives.
TAMMY: Oh wow!
TOYAH: My husband fell in love with the area so we now live in the area. It's the most fantastic place. I think it's the best place in the UK. The people are wonderful, the shopping experience is great. I've done all my Xmas shopping on my High Street.
TAMMY: Good for you! Excellent!
TOYAH: Absolutely and I'm a big believer in supporting the local economy. So I just think (it's) living in paradise.
TAMMY: You mentioned your husband there, Robert Fripp (below with Toyah) who was in King Crimson with Greg Lake. I hope you don't mind me mentioning because obviously he passed away recently. Did you know Greg personally yourself? What was he like?
TOYAH: The thing is Greg was in the original King Crimson and then Greg went on to have massive success with other bands so I can't say I was best buddies with him but yes, we knew him. Yesterday at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre I was awarded a star on the Walk Of Stars on Broad Sreet and I gave a concert and I sang Greg Lake's “I Believe In Father Xmas” as a tribute to him.
TAMMY: Oh wow!
TOYAH: So, yes, he died too young. I think anything under 80 is too young these days.
TAMMY: I'm with you, yeah.
TOYAH: So it's a sad loss but a great life.
TAMMY: Congratulations on that honour on the Walk Of Stars in Birmingham. What was it like getting some recognition just down the road where it started really, at the Old Rep?
TOYAH: It meant everything to me. The Birmingham Council have been so respectful and honourable and they're sighting the star where my father's old antique shop was on Broad Street -
TAMMY: Oh wow! That's amazing!
TOYAH: Jasper Carrot (below with Toyah) has made this all possible, the comedian Jasper Carrot and I just cried all day ...
TAMMY: Oh! Bless you! Bless your heart!
TOYAH: I had such happy memories of drama school and we're trying to produce a film in Birmingham that will be shot in that theatre over the summer so the connections to Birmingham are well and truly alive for me.
TAMMY: Good stuff, And what about the punk thing? Because me - when I was a kid growing around that area and you'd go into town and you'd see people all with the coloured hair and I thought it was fantastic!
TOYAH: It was really exciting.
TAMMY: It really was! And how did you get into that thing because I know growing up life wasn't always easy for you health wise and stuff and as you became a woman you seemed to be a woman who knew what she wanted and what she was about?
TOYAH: I was just a part of that generation that was different. When I was 12 years old I started making my own clothes because I couldn't buy what I wanted in shops. And then I started dying my hair because I was a hair model for a very famous department store in Birmingham by the age of 14. And then one day someone said "you should go and see this band play called The Sex Pistols."
This about 1974 or 5 and I went into a nightclub called Bogart's on New Street and it was full of 300 kids that looked just like me and I thought I was alone in the world. They all had brightly coloured hair and they'd all made their clothes. So the way I look at it is we were a generation born very differently from everyone else.
TAMMY: Yeah, fantastic. And looking back over a career that spans over more than 30 years now – Top 40 singles, 20 albums, books, stage plays, films including “Quadrophenia”, loads of telly. Highlights for you?
TOYAH: My highlight is today. I've got six movies coming up - I'm not the lead in any of them but I'm working on them all for many many weeks with kind of healthy character roles. (Toyah in costume for one of the upcoming films "Hound", below) I'll have a hundred shows booked with Toyah band next year including Glastonbury again. So my highlights are happening today.
Live for now. I've had a really great career and I'm still out there doing it. And I'm really really grateful for that because I can enjoy it now. Forty years ago when my career began I was very nervous and not very confident. Today I don't have the pressures of having to release album after album on my shoulder. So I can enjoy and I am enjoying it to the full.
TAMMY: Good for you! And you've got an 80's Invasion Tour coming up in March as well?
TOYAH: Yes, in March! We're going to be playing the Birmingham Town Hall. It's myself, Paul Young, China Crisis, Martika. It can all be found on my website. Just remember to put two L's in Willcox – all the tour dates are written down there. Birmingham is probably the closest we're coming to your area but it will be great.
TAMMY: How are you enjoying Xmas? In Pershore will you be?
TOYAH: We're going to be home with my sister and her husband and just can't wait! Xmas starts now!
TAMMY: Fantastic. It's been a real pleasure talking to you. Merry Xmas to you Toyah!
TOYAH: And Merry Xmas to you and your listeners and thank you!
TAMMY: Thank you very much!