It's three o'clock in the afternoon and I've never seen Kim Wilde's lips looking so red. It's as though she's just wrapped them around a gigantic gobstopper. Her hair, although pinned up, is as untamed as ever and wheedles its way through the clasps, exposing the darker roots underneath.
She's standing in the doorway of the Wilde family nerve centre in rural Knebworth. Behind her, wood-panelled walls buckle under the weight of gold, silver and platinum discs from all corners of the Continent. No wonder she's smiling.
Leading me through the recording studio which used to be her local doctor's surgery, Kim oozes a casual air of self-confidence and contentment. Things are going well for her at the moment, Another step, her duet with Junior, is snugly ensconced in the charts thanks to much telly-bashing (lots of TV appearances) and the future looks very rosy indeed. More rosy, in fact, than the lipstick she's wearing.
Lolloping on the luxurious leather seating, Kim Wilde talks more than I anticipated. She appears open and uninhibited until you ask her about something she clearly doesn't want to discuss and she promptly changes the subject. Here's a girl who likes to be in control of every aspect of her career, not just the music but everything, right down to the colour f her hair and the colour of her eye shadow. Taking slight advantage of her candidness, I probe int othe inner secrets of Ms Wilde and unveil quite a few interesting things...
she used to get hopelessly drunk on tour
"I always thought this was the thing to do on a rock and roll tour. I used to drink lots of outrageous drinks, because I was in very bad company benig with the rest of the band. I made myself very ill. Now I just don't drink at all when I'm working. I wait till it's over and then I get completely and utterly wrecked. It's frightening how quickly alcohol has an effect on the shape of your body. If I've been boozing for a couple of days, I notice that everything feels a bit tighter and it's difficult to apply make-up because my skin's gone blotchy."
She thinks her hands are artistic-looking
"I think my hands are probably my best feature. I like them because they're quite elegant but not too elegant. I keep my nails short because I hate flash talons and gaudy colours. The good thing is, they don't look so pampered that they don't do anything. They are quite practical and strong, and combine a lot of the qualities I admire in others. They're well-designed hands and not long ago I bought one of them a ring because I thought it deserved it."
She swells up
I hate the way my weight fluctuates at certain times every month. I tend to retain a lot of water and swell up. Sometimes I feel really bloated and my face puffs out. Although I haven't done any exercise for months, I find my weight a lot easier to deal with now than, say, five years ago when I was 21. Actually, I've made a pact with some friends to get fit before it's too late."
She's into her lips in a big way
"It took me a long time to get used to my lips. I didn't like them at all when I was growing up, because the lower lip was always something of an embarrassment. I thought a perfect pair of lips had to be even. I hadn't a clue what to do about them as I couldn't apply make-up properly. Anyway, now I quite enjoy them."
She won't talk about her bum
"It's a bit of a sore point, so the less said the better. I'm not a big fan of my arms either. I've had it indoctrinated into me in the last couple of years that women should have muscularly defined arms. Mine just hang there."
She loves to leer at men
"I admit it's something I've been doing more and more as I've got older. It's one of my favourite pastimes. Although I leer at certain men, it doesn't mean I fancy them or find them attractive. I don't ever feel the urge to get up to them close and smother them with kisses. Actually, I find very, very few men attractive. I could count how many I've found attractive in a sexual way on my right hand and still have some fingers left! I just don't go for the Adonis type. I haven't got anybody special at the moment, but I'm always on the lookout. What girl isn't?!"
She stopped dyeing her hair because it looked a mess
"I think I must've completely ruined it, so a couple of years ago I decided it was time I had it done professionally. Usually, I go to Vidal Sassoon and they colour and cut it for me, or sometimes my sister-in-law does it. I like to keep the dark roots these days because I think it adds depth. I've never gone for the platinum look myself. I've always worn clothes, make-up and dyed my hair to suit me and not any fashion or trend."
She wakes up with make-up on her pillow
"When I'm not working, I tend to get into very bad habits, especially if I get in late and I've had a few drinks. That's when the make-up stays on and I wake up the next morning with it sticking to my pillow. When I'm working, I cleanse my face religiously. I do the whole bit ever yday. I have to take care, otherwise my skin goes all patchy. My saviour lately has been facial scrub. It feels wonderful, like sandpapering all the crap that's clinging to your skin."
She hates "image"
"I've always been anti-image. I wear different clothes for different songs, but that's just me. I always wear clothes that I feel good in. I don't feel right in dead girlie things. I think they look cute on someone like Paula Yates - she's the most girlie person I can think of. I'm a bit more curvy and womanly."
Her fridge is always empty
"I don't eat a lot of food: I'm not very good at it. If thing are going well, I get very excited and there's so much to occupy my mind that I can't be bothered. Also, if I know I'm going to photographed, it's an added incentive to stay slim. I'm pretty good at eating the right things. I buy skimmed milk, because there's so much fat in milk and I gave up sugar in tea. It's so nice without, you know. It's also better to eat wholemeal bread because it has fibre.
"My favourite food is abagel filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese and onion rings. There's a deli round the corner from my flat which sells lovely things like dills (pickled cucumbers), pickled things, chopped herrings, salt beef. Mmmmmm! The only thing that's ever in my fridge is a bottle of Evian water. I eat out a lot because I enjoy being with people. The only problem about not stocking your fridge is when you wake up in the morning there's often no milk. That's really frustrating."
She hates make-up artists
"I know what make-up looks good on me and how to apply it, so sometimes i have to say to make-up artists, 'I don't care how good you are, or how good you say you can make me look - I'm not interested.' I know what's best for me and I'll apply it myself. Doing TV shows, we have all these girls hovering around just waiting to get stuck in, and I have to say, 'Go away'. There have been times when I've done photos and I haven't even recognised myself. It's ridiculous."