Health & efficiency

A hi-energised Motown cover has bounced Kim Wilde back into the charts. William Leith dons his tracksuit to play mind games with the self-conscious star.

Kim is nervous. After all, she’s shy. I feel like I’ve just burst in and caught her on the lavatory. She sits right back on the sofa and hugs her cup of tea close. I’ve just been asking her about her problems. I should have been asking her about studios and producers and tours and chart placings. But I’m far more interested in her personal life than in the fact that a pout and a well-chosen cover version and a few flashy guitar-twirls have shot her into the Top Ten again. So I ask her about her problems. What is it, Kim?

‘Well. Well, it’s the lighting man, actually.’
Has he been giving you trouble? ‘Well he’s… he’ll just have to go. I’m just going to get rid of him.’
Have you told anyone else about this? Does he threaten you?
Threaten me? What do yo umean? No, it’s his lighting rig I can’t stand.

But I can sense that something is up. Kim is obviously under stress. She tells me about her strange life, how for a couple of years she couldn’t go out without being mobbed and how it gradually subsided until she was almost normal again and now it’s starting all over again. She tells me how she sometimes just tells people she’s a girl who looks like Kim Wilde.

Look, she says, I could make things really good by working really hard or I could run away from it. And I don’t really want to do that but sometimes I feel like it. A lot of times I feel like it. Very often if somebody offered me an escape route I’d go down it.

So she is under a lot of stress. The reason for this is because she’s far nicer and more sensitive than all those people – Madonna, Prince and so on – whose showmanship she admires.

‘I just don’t think I could be like that’, she tells me. ‘I don’t think I could just switch off and act the part all the time because I’m too self-conscious’. But she’s bearing up. Most of her nerves and anciety-attacks and minor disasters take place off-camera. And she looks great. She’s right about looking like she looks like Kim Wilde rather than Kim Wilde herself. And she’s got a bit of a tan left over from somewhere. Significantly, the next person in line to interview her after me is the woman from Fitness magazine. How can you put up with this weird way of life, Kim? Doesn’t it damage you?

‘It really doesn’t stop me doing anything I wanna do. I mean I do have to be a late supermarket-person. Can’t do it during the day. And I’m scared to shop alone. I need somebody along with me to give me support. I find the world quite hostile.’

But what Kim really wants to be is a songwriter. She tells me that after a few years of singing songs you didn’t write you feel a little strange, perhaps a little guilty. You get defensive. Certainly not the state of mind to be in, for instance, when Fitness magazine interview you. For Kim, songwriting will be a way of clearing her conscience. I can tell.

She tells me: ‘I want something to show my kids so they’re proud of me. I don’t want them to say ‘Oh, mummy wanted to be a songwriter but she didn’t do anything about it’. ‘

Kim Wilde will play London – in a rubber dress, perhaps – on December 8.