Date: 21 December 2002
Originally published in: icBirmingham website (UK)
Written by: Jon Perks
Kim Wilde summed up her life perfectly when she took to the stage in Antwerp last recently. “I’m a mother, I’m a gardener, I am a lover…. but tonight, I am a rock chick” she announced to the crowd.
Kim, 42, may be best known for her string of chart hits in the 80s (which began with the number two Kids In America 21 years ago) – but these days she’s just as likely to be found tending her beloved Hertfordshire garden or looking after her two children, Harry Tristan and Rose Elisabeth.
For nine nights in December, however, Kim will be putting her domestic duties aside to go back to the old day job, when she joins fellow 80s icons Human League, Five Star, Altered Images, Dollar, Belle Stars and Visage for the latest Here & Now Tour.
“I think it will confuse my daughter a lot this year cos she’s old enough now to really understand it,” says Kim. “Harry was quite confused last time – he came in and I said: ‘what did you think darling?’ and he said: ‘that was my other mummy’
“We’ve got a very fast pace in the house, people coming and going – they’re very adaptable kids, they’re used to surprises.”
It’s Kim’s second stint on the hugely popular nostalgia tour, having first appeared with the likes of Carol Decker from T’Pau and Paul Young last November: “It had been a long time since I’d done anything – about seven or eight years – it was quite scary but it was great fun,” Kim recalls. “It did me a lot of good in lots of different ways; it just got me back physically into shape, back to being Kim.
“I’d spent the previous years having babies, now I was back feeling confident about how I looked and how I felt, it was just really good fun. It made me realise how much I loved singing and had missed it to a degree but I haven’t missed it that much,” adds the voice behind such hits as Chequered Loved, Four Letter Word, View From A Bridge, You Came and You Keep Me Hangin’ On .
“As much as I enjoyed it I would just as happily put it to bed again. I’ve spent this past year not doing anything to do with music but it’s great fun to be able to take it out once a year and shake it all down and have some fun with it.”
These days Kim is more likely to be found with a spade in her hand than a microphone, having re-invented herself as a gardening columnist/TV presenter, passing on her love of horticulture that she first developed as a child: “It was always latently there – I was brought up in Hertfordshire, which is beautiful – we lived on the doorstep of a lovely forest and all my mates’ mums and dads grew vegetables and flowers,” she explains.
“We were always going round their gardens; I grew up in that environment and always thought ‘if I ever have my own family that’s the way I’d like to bring them up’. As soon as I met Hal (her husband) and we had the children we set about making our own garden and it all took off from that.”
Now back in Hertfordshire and living in a converted 16th century barn, Kim and Hal have transformed their ‘strip of old farm land’ into ‘a Garden of Eden for our babies’, with wild flower meadow, vegetable and herb gardens as well as an area for herbaceous perennials and grasses. Kim is also planning a tropical zone and woodland area.
“It’s aimed at inspiring the kids; we put sculpture in the garden and lots of places for them to hide and play – it’s really a garden for big kids too,” she laughs.
Using her own knowledge and experience with advice from her peers, Kim is now a respected gardening expert, writing for The Guardian and Prima as well as appearances on ITV makeover show Better Gardens: “It’s a combination of my experience together with experience or lots of head gardeners I’ve met along the way,” says Kim. “If I’m not sure I always get a second opinion from people who have been doing it a lot longer than me, I have some good resources and contacts but I like to put as much as my own experience in to make it valid.
“It’s great to just connect with nature and be outside, to take all the focus off you and onto something that’s ultimately perfect – every plant in its own way is an expression of perfection and beauty,” she adds. “In the garden it doesn’t matter if you’ve put on some weight or haven’t got blonde hair or you’re not pouting as well or got a record out that’s in the charts – the plants don’t judge you, they just respond beautifully if you take care of them.”
Between now and Christmas, however, Kim will be putting on the make-up and black leather to return to her pop persona for the Here & Now tour – a trip down Memory Lane more for the fans than the artists themselves: “We’ve all got different things we talk about now,” says Kim. “Most of us are passing round photos of our kids and wives and husbands, there’s not much reminiscing, it’s more about what we’re doing now, but it’s great hearing the old songs again – they really have stood the test of time to everybody’s great surprise.
“I didn’t spend an awful lot of time getting to know eighties pop stars, I was too busy being one,” she admits. “I’m making 80s friendships now in the 21st century – it’s lovely getting to know people like Nick Heyward and Heaven 17 and Go West – long may it last.”