I spurned the love of Peter O’Toole
Barbara Taylor Bradford
Barbara Taylor Bradford, novelist
1. I only have one number in my mobile phone — my husband Bob’s! I only use my mobile out during the day and the only person who I ever need to contact is Bob. There is no need for anyone else to know where I am. I’m not interested in putting hundreds of contacts into my mobile as most social calls are done in the comfort of my own home on my landline.
2. As a fledgling reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post I was constantly dodging another reporter on the Yorkshire Evening News, who was forever chasing me and asking me out. I wasn’t interested, but some years later I saw him again — starring in Lawrence of Arabia. Peter O’Toole hadn’t looked like that back in Leeds, although he’d had those great blue eyes. That night at the cinema, looking up at the screen, I wondered why I had spurned him.
3. I’m a secret interior designer and love creating rooms. I have even decorated homes for friends — for free! Few people know I wrote four books on decorating before becoming a novelist. I even had a syndicated design column in 200 newspapers in the U.S.
4. I have almost total recall and a prodigious memory. My husband warns people not to tell me something that they might want me to forget later, because I won’t. I can still quote back to him the first words he ever said to me 51 years ago: ‘Jeanne sends her love.’ Jeanne was a mutual friend who had suggested we meet as she thought we would hit it off — and we did.
5. I have a fear of water and will only swim in a pool where my feet can touch the bottom. I think it’s due to almost drowning when I was two years old.
Barbara spurned the advances of a young Peter O’Toole (pictured in Lawrence of Arabia) while they were both working at the Yorkshire Evening Post
My aunt and uncle had taken me for a day out to the River Nidd near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. While my aunt was knitting and my uncle was fishing further down the bank, they lost sight of me. When they finally found me it was with my head popping up and down, drowning in the river. By the time they reached me the hem of my white dress had caught on a tree — saving my life. On returning home, they confessed to my parents and my mother never let them take me out again.
6. While I have some fabulous jewellery from my husband, two of my favourite bracelets were given to me by Joan Rivers, who was a great friend of mine for 20 years. They were from the collection she designed for the QVC shopping channel and made of turquoise enamel banded in gold. At one particular dinner, Joan was admiring my jewellery and said it was too valuable to wear on holiday. Two days later, two shopping bags arrived full of earrings, bracelets and a watch. In private, Joan was genteel, decorous, elegant and never vulgar.
7. I got my skincare routine from my friend, the late Evelyn Lauder — who was the daughter-in-law of Estee Lauder and helped develop the company’s skin care and make-up, including coming up with the Clinique brand. While her business was selling products, her big tip was ‘don’t use one cream all the time’ as your skin gets used to it. I’ve taken that advice since and my dermatologist recently remarked that I had one of the most fabulous skins she had ever seen, which made my day!
Barbara Taylor Bradford’s The Cavendon Women is out March 24, 2015 (HarperCollins £16.99).
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