Sandie Shaw at the Xperia Access Q Awards at The Grosvenor House Hotel on October 22 2014 in London

Sandie Shaw, 67, is known for hits such as “Always Something There to Remind Me” and “Long Live Love”. She was the first British act to win the Eurovision Song Contest, with “Puppet on a String” in 1967.

What was your earliest ambition?

I wanted to be somebody who had adventures and travelled, so I thought of the army, dancing, football — though that was out because I wasn’t a guy — and singing.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Grammar school: Robert Clack School in Dagenham. I was anxious to leave and get on with my life.

I worked for six weeks at Ford — and then I became a star.

Who is your mentor?

Daisaku Ikeda, the leader of a Buddhist organisation called Soka Gakkai International.

How physically fit are you?

I don’t exercise. I’m pretty fit — I’ve got good skin and good bones, I’m very bendy so I can do most things yoga fanatics can do, without trying. It’s a freak of nature, I don’t work at it. And I wouldn’t work at it — I’m lazy.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

It’s about how you define success.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

I must have done, I passed my 11-plus — that’s an IQ test of sorts, isn’t it?

How politically committed are you?

I’m not committed to any party. They don’t seem to be interested in any of the things I’m interested in.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes. I’ve got four waste disposals and I scream if anyone puts anything in the wrong one. I’m a bit OCD about that.

Yachts at a dock in Grenada
Homes: I have three, one in Grenada
Do you have more than one home?

Yes, in London, Oxfordshire and Grenada, West Indies.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

Time. I reckon I’ve got about 20 years left, 10 where I’m fully functional. I’d love to have more time fully functional.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

My rose garden. It’s so beautiful I can’t tell you, and it smells amazing. I used to think a rose was a rose and they all smelled the same. Now I know different.

In what place are you happiest?

I love being in my bed when it’s got lovely fresh white Egyptian cotton bedding on it. I wake up with my husband lying next to me and can’t believe my luck.

What ambitions do you still have?

To have a rose named after me and to appear on Holby City.

What drives you on?

Hope. And boredom. If I get bored I want to move on to something new. And anger is a great fuel. I like to fight injustice.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

Maintaining my Buddhist practice for so long — since I was 30. I’m proud of that. It’s hard to be consistent. It’s hard to keep improving yourself, it takes a lot of honesty: facing up to fears, doubts, shortcomings — and your greatness.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

I’ve turned them all around so they don’t count, or made some use of them.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

When you’re 20 you don’t think there’s any life after 25 worth having. She’d think I was a genius for keeping life interesting.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I’d try something new. I’ve lost everything before — you just come up with something else.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Easing death happens all the time but I don’t like the word suicide — it’s a very emotive tag.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

No. I believe that life is eternal.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

It depends on what day! On two days this week zero, on two other days 10, on three days five.

‘Riot Pictures’, the new single from Davidge featuring Sandie Shaw, is out now on 7Hz Recordings.

Photographs: Getty Images; Dreamstime

Get alerts on FT Magazine when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article