Inside the head of… Kim Wilde

How a whelk eating toddler and failed barmaid ended up painting herself in the nude, falling flat on her face on stage and singing Kids In America at 43,000ft.

What’s your earliest memory?
I grew up in Greenwich, south-east London and we weren’t particularly well off as Dad [Marty] was a musician. Living near the Cutty Sark, I recall wandering around the boat, eating whelks with my grandparents and I remember the ‘Big Freeze’ of ’62-’63. I must have been about three years old and I’ve had this love affair with snow ever since.

What sort of child were you?
It was always very musical in our house. Dad would play the guitar and we would join in and sing along. When I was about five I remember speaking to Lulu, who was working with my parents at the time. My mum put her on the phone to say hello to me.

Tell us a secret about yourself
I once saw a UFO in my back garden. It was the day after Michael Jackson died and I thought, ‘He is coming back to haunt me!’ [Kim was the support act on Jackson’s Bad tour in 1988]. It was on a Friday night and I saw two lights in the sky that were static and silent. I stood watching them above my garden from about 11pm till one in the morning. It had a profound effect on me. It makes me think that somebody is looking after us.

What’s the worst job you have ever done?
Working as a barmaid in a pub. I only lasted a night. I have never been able to add up and I didn’t pass my maths O-level. I am terrible with numbers. I remember taking a calculator thinking that might help but then it got beer in it and it all went wrong. I couldn’t work out how much change everyone was owed. I was fired after the first night.

What is your biggest regret?
I am an art student and one of my regrets is not painting more. I did a nude self-portrait when I was 30 by standing in front of a mirror and painting myself. I put it up for auction to raise funds for the breast cancer unit at the Wilde Cancer Foundation that my brother and sister-in-law set up – she was affected by breast cancer.

What is your most treasured possession?
I have a box of poems from my husband and one of them I adapted as the song Burnt Gold on my last album. The poems that I have start from the very first hand-written poem that Hal [Fowler, her actor husband] gave me after our first date, which was dinner at The Ivy.

What has been your most embarrassing moment?
About ten years ago I fell flat on my face when I was performing at a gig at the famous Paradiso in Amsterdam. I was in knee-length leather Gucci boots and tight jeans looking like a rock chick but then I went flying.

What is the worst thing anyone has said to you?
Even before I became famous, I remember someone saying to me that I was a prima donna, which was strange as I am very down-to-earth. Then the other day I saw an old interview with me from when I was about 20 and I came across as being really aloof. I didn’t recognise myself.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
If I come up with anything profane it will be in the car. I can really surprise myself when someone is in front of me and I start swearing under my breath. You have to be careful because people lip-read so I swear in my head.

What has been your biggest achievement?
I’m still chuffed that I got a gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2005 for my Cumbrian Fellside garden – a homage to the Lake District. I also hold the record for the highest gig ever performed. Two years ago, Go West, Bananarama, Tony Hadley, Shane Richie and myself went up in a jumbo jet for a Comic Relief concert. I performed Kids In America at 43,000ft!

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
When I look in the mirror and I haven’t got my lipstick and black eye liner on I look different and older.

What are you scared of?
Heights. My son [Harry, 18] got me on a fairground ride a few years ago and I didn’t realise how high it was. I endured the whole thing screaming. I was shaking like a leaf when I got off.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I love Rose and Violet chocolate fondants by Charbonnel et Walker.

Who would be your dream dinner date?
I am a huge fan of American singer songwriter Todd Rundgren. I’ve never met him but he has been one of the most influential songwriters in my life.

How do you relax?
I love to garden in our two acres of mature woodland behind our house.

If you could go back in time where would you?
I would go back to the Sixties to see Jimi Hendrix and festivals like Woodstock.

Last film you saw?
An old rom-com called Serendipity with John Cusack. I watched it with all my girlfriends and we all decided he was a bit of all right!

Last book you read?
I love Monty Don’s gardening books such as Around the world in 80 gardens.

Last gig you went to?
I like Metallica – I have seen them at Knebworth.