Date: 22 June 2019
Originally published in: Irish Times (Ireland)
Written by: Shilpa Ganatra
The 1980s singer on UFO sightings, following Greta Thunberg on Twitter, and why artist Rose Wylie keeps punk alive.
Current favourite book
My dad gave me Beyond Top Secret by Timothy Good, one of the top authorities on UFOs. This book talks to military and civilian pilots, as well as Russian, American and European defence chiefs who confirm that UFOs exist. In 2009 I and other witnesses saw two lights over our garden, and it made the local newspaper a few days later. I’m convinced that it was extraterrestrial in origin. That incredible experience inspired my album Here Come the Aliens in 2018, and now you’ll often find me keeping my eyes to the skies in case they return.
Charlie Hides is an American-born drag queen, impersonator, actor and comedian. Check out his YouTube channel, you’ll find hilarious impersonations of stars like Madonna, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, and a sublime Cher. Charlie asked me to appear in one of his clips where he got me trimming a box ball whilst talking to Cher. He’s beautifully bonkers, original and very clever – everybody needs a bit of Charlie Hides in their life.
I loved London Road, directed by Rufus Norris at the National Theatre, London, even though the Ipswich serial murders are an unlikely subject for a musical. It’s written verbatim, so it’s exactly as recorded in the interviews at the time of Steve Wright’s trial, including the ums and errs. Essentially the musical focuses on a shattered community, and how they attempt to regenerate it together through fish’n’chip nights, tea and biscuits and gardening competitions. There’s a film version of it too.
Rose Wylie made headlines when she became the darling of the art world in her late 70s; she is now 83 and exhibits all over the world. I first became aware of her through my husband’s parents who are great friends of hers. Her first major solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery last year earned her five-star reviews and featured references to everything from Queen Elizabeth I to chocolate biscuits. I love her work for the same reasons I loved punk, Rose’s work has the same irreverence and energy. You either love it or you hate it.
I’ve been visiting Amsterdam, Holland, since my career began back in the early 80s, and as recently as 2003 Anyplace, Anywhere, Anytime – a duet with Nena – went to number one in the charts there. For the past five years, my band and I stay in Holland for a fortnight and tour their many wonderful music venues. And my oldest friend Clare lives there, so I get to see how the Dutch live, cycling everywhere and with a great love of horticulture – my other grand passion.
Unsung Heroes is a new podcast made by my Brother Ricky and actor Jake Wood, and it will launch on iTunes, Soundcloud and other places this summer. They talk to legendary songwriters, producers and other music industry professionals. I featured in the first episode, and other contributors include Graham Gouldman of 10cc, Nik Kershaw, Cathy Dennis and Mike Batt. I think it’s a unique insight into the creative world of songwriters and producers, and will be fascinating for music fans all over the world.
Social media profile
Greta Thunberg on Twitter (@GretaThunberg). Her speech at the UN Climate Change COP24 should be watched by everyone; I’ve never seen a tougher or more succinct speech before. There can be no doubt that humans have a terrible impact on the health of the planet we all share. It’s urgently time to clean up our act.
My daughter Rose got me watching RuPaul’s Drag Race one night a few years back, and I’ve loved it ever since. The show has gone from strength to strength and makes us laugh like drains. RuPaul has charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, and the amazing drag queens never fail to inspire.
I love sci-fi movies, and Arrival is one of the very best. The storyline – about a linguistics professor [Amy Adams] who has to find a way to communicate with extra-terrestrials – belies the sensitive and spiritual thread which runs through the entire film and has haunted me ever since. I believe that beings from outer space will make contact with us one day; I pray that I’m still alive when they do, whatever the consequences.
Kim Wilde appears as part of the Forever Young Festival at Palmerstown House Estate, Naas, Kildare, July 5th to 7th. Seeforeveryoungfestival.ie for more details.