There was no food, so we had to eat crisps...
I wanted to be a professional footballer. I didn't think I was going to make it, because I didn't seem to be that good, but I really loved it. I know people don't equate football with transvestism but the fact is, there's got to be a lot of football players and football fans and people in the army, navy, airforce or driving forklift trucks who are TVs, because it's male tomboy. It's kind of like, male lesbians because we all fancy women as well. But if you embrace it, you get certain gifts from the feminine side.
I tried to get into plays at school but I couldn't because they were convinced I was crap. Maybe I was. I would audition but never get a role. I learned the clarinet for the wrong reasons. I was trying to play the piano but ended up playing this clarinet and I had to be in the school band. They put on a musical, Oliver! Or something, and I had to play the bloody clarinet. One kid at school's dad was a semi-pro actor and my big treat was I would hand him his hat and his cane. It was my big 'My God, I'm almost in the play' thing.
So from the age of seven I really wanted to act and I did really weird things to try to get into it. I did Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The choir at the school was doing it, and I wasn't in the choir, so I hung around them and lifted things and pushed things. And eventually I was in it, and I even managed to get a solo line out of it. We did a version of Beauty and the Beast when I was seven and I was a street urchin. The street urchins combined had one line - 'Oh Beauty, don't go' - which, when the line came up, I used to say really quickly before everyone: 'OhBeautyDon'tGo.' All the other kids would go, 'Oh...he's said it.' So I would make it my own line. Upstaging...Because the chorus at seven was bunch of dopey kids. 'There's a star...' 'Wha...?' 'There's a star...' 'Wha...?' 'you're a shepherd.' 'Am I? Oh yeah...'
There was a flu epidemic when I was seven so I was not only in Beauty and the Beast, I was a shepherd as well. So I was in two plays. I was a featured shepherd. After that the parts were very lean. I couldn't get into any of the big musicals - Pirates of Penzance, or any of that stuff.
They did Julius Caesar and I played Trebonius. Of all he conspirators against Caesar, Trebonius is the most boring. One, because his name sounds like trombone and two, because there's a line where they go:
See, Trebonius knows his mark, for look how he leads Mark Antony away so that Mark Antony will not be there when it all gets really tough with Caesar and we stick all the plastic daggers in with the syringe of blood attached. So that means Trebonius won't have a plastic dagger and a syringe of blood because he'll be standing in the fucking wings when it happens.
I wasn't on stage. I'm just in the wings with Mark Antony going, 'Ah, they're doing it with the old plastic daggers.' There's ten conspirators and nine of them are on stage stabbing Julius Caesar and there's one in the wings, going:
I'm not fucking there.
They used to take photographs in dress rehearsals and there's all these conspirators with their plastic daggers, except for one kid who's got the syringe full of blood facing the camera. One kid called Caldwell, who was...shot.
I did get into one thing, though. I always liked comedy, and when I was twelve I got my first laughs. We did this revue in a class taken by a teacher called Sam Grey. He was kind of different. Apparently he got married and he had this motorbike trip around South America planned so he went and did that instead of a honeymoon. Watergate was happening at the time and he used to read the tapes out to us. He told us how to say 'breast' in French.
And Sam Grey did this revue, and we were doing all these sketches we'd written and I got distinct laughs on a solo bit. It was a mime thing. This guy was bowling to me and I was supposed to be a cricketer and I was batting the ball away with supreme confidence and arrogance, looking for the ball in the distance then realising I'd smashed the wicket. I remember thinking, hey, I've got laughs here!
And then I discovered Peter Sellers. My dad had his records and I remember trying to do the accents. Trying to do an Indian accent before I thought, this actually gets me into a difficult area, because if you do different ethnic accents from around the world it can look like you're taking the piss. I do a routine about the Welsh guys carving Stonehenge and I try to make sure I'm not taking the piss. There's these rather effete druids and the Welsh guys are going, "You fucken basstards!"
So I was at St Bede's and...yeah. I was very fit then. I did a lot of running about. The sea is at the bottom of the school and the Downs are at the side. We used to get up at seven o'clock in the morning and walk through the sea to the reef. It would cut our feet to shreds.
You'd hear large booms in the middle of the night, where an old World War Two mine had hit the cliffs. The School chef was a coastguard and he used to have to go out and make sure there were no others. When I was there, a searchlight would pass across the bedroom window every night from Sovereign Lighthouse. I used to go to sleep with wshhh - this flash of light going past the window. Which you got used to.
We had the coal strike as well, which was great. Lessons would end and there was no food, so we had to eat crisps. We were making tents and putting candles under the bedclothe