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Nicola Streeten passed me on to Sophie Kamlish. Kamlish is Streeten’s niece: “I like to think that I’m her favourite niece…” she says. The two of them have shared interests – even though she’s about to compete in the Rio paralympics Kamlish tells me that her main life goal is to be an illustrator. Later this year, after Rio, she will go to Kingston University to study illustration and animation.

Paralympics

 Photographer: Clare Green Copyright: Northcliffe Media Ltd/Western Daily Press

There is a lovely description on her mother’s website Rosie Flo which describes how Kamlish played her part in her mother’s business: “The Rosie Flo colouring books evolved through hours of sitting and drawing with our daughters when they were small. They gave me instructions as to what I must draw and each time I promptly obeyed. Dresses were the most popular items demanded of me and Sophie would then do the faces, arms and legs.”

Sophie Kamlish is the youngest of the Pass Me On alumni to date, being 19 years old. She’s a sprinter that will be competing in her second Paralympic games in Rio in September this year (they follow the Olympics) and, because of the funding she receives, she is expected to bring home a medal. She’ll be competing in the T44 100m event – that classification is “Single below knee amputation or an athlete who can walk with moderately reduced function in one or both legs.” A couple of silver medals have come her way already, one in the IPC Grand Prix in Dubai this year.

Kamlish had her right leg amputated when she was nine years old. She had been born with a deformed right leg and spent a year in a wheelchair before the operation. To some degree she thinks that if that had never happened to her, she wouldn’t have gone on to compete: “If had been born with conventional feet I would have been that kid that only ran on sports day when forced to and would never have realised that I’m a sprinter. I’m more grateful for the fact that I’ve been born differently.”

She thinks she ended up being a runner because, “I don’t work well in a team. There’s too much pressure. If you mess up your whole team is going to be upset with you.” Kamlish had tried other sports but swimming was ruled out because “you have to train two or three times a day and really early and I’m not that kind of person.” Other sports were eliminated because of more basic practicalities. Wheelchair basketball, which she initially enjoyed, was “too boys-y, too rough and competitive. Also I wear glasses and I’d always keep getting hit in the face.”

Sophie-Kamlish

The running is hard on her. She trains six days a week for two hours at a time and also has physio and massage sessions on top of that, which seem vital given the state her body is in.

Since she started competing she has had MRI scans that have revealed that she has missing bones in her back and her pelvis. On top of that she has congenital deformities in her left foot and also suffers from arthritis. Part of the problem is the blade that she wears to run. “The blade tips all of your pelvis around. When I’m walking in it I feel really wonky but when Im sprinting I should be fairly even because of the compression that it goes through.”

Despite this she says that the blade is fun to run on.”You go from running on a day leg which is like a brick to running with something that is more natural feeling.” A lot of her funding goes on the blade – they can cost between £4000 and £8000. “Every amputee has a different kind of stump and it takes a while to get the fit right. They’re not like shoes.” Athletes are funded through the National Lottery.

Kamlish seems an unlikely candidate for an athlete, not because of her disability, but because of her bookishness. There’s a video interview with her on Youtube after she’d won silver in the International Paralympic Committee Grand Prix in 2015 where she says “I’ve always thought of myself as more of a nerd than an athlete.”

She confirms this both in her Twitter bio (she describes herself as a bookworm) and when we speak. Given that she is 19 years old I had asked her if, because of her strict training regime, she ever feels like just going out and getting drunk with her mates. She tells me she couldn’t anyway because they are scattered around the country at universities, “but I’m not particularly bothered about that sort of thing because I prefer to just read or something. I’m like a typical nerd.” Author Dave Eggers is apparently a favourite at the moment, as is Emily St John Mandel.

Also on her Twitter bio is the word feminist. She says she thought it was important to distinguish herself from those who say they just want equality but also because: “If you start being sexist towards me on Twitter, I won’t stand for it.” I’d noticed that someone had trolled her for a different reason on Twitter. Earlier this year she had been told by Bath council that she couldn’t have a bus pass, despite turning up to the council offices to prove she only had one leg.

Someone on Twitter responded “if you can run you don’t need a bus pass do you (sic)”, which Kamlish retweeted. Although there is a media officer from British Athletics she can lean on should she need to, she seems pretty relaxed about such challenges: “I’ll either ignore it or I’ll retweet to show the stupidity and the ignorance that we come up against all the time.” For those wondering if there is anything in that Twitter jibe, “I run 100m – that’s what I do. But standing on a bus, or just standing up for a long time is painful or uncomfortable and I will fall over on a moving bus.”

In fact, Kamlish seems pretty relaxed about most aspects of her life. When I ask her when she will find out if she is definitely going to Rio, she says she thinks, “it might be June or July…” When I remark upon her laid-back attitude she tells me that she’s always been like that, whether it’s taking exams or competing. She’s quick to confirm that she really wants to go to Rio but is pragmatic where other athletes offer hyperbole or clichés: “I can only decide my fate by how fast I run.” A beautifully simple way with which to end an interview with a Paralympian.

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Simone Lia passed me on to Nicola Streeten. Streeten knew Lia’s work and they had a kind of mutual acquaintance. Lia came to speak at Streeten’s speakers forum Laydeez Do Comics and their relationship has prospered over time. Streeten says that she finds Lia clever and funny and when I ask if they are friends she replies: “Definitely – she’s in my top ten.” Nicola_Streeten_RESIZED_245x0__false_nocrop_true

Streeten is an illustrator but it’s as a comic book artist that she’s best known. This is because of ‘Billy, Me and You’, the book she wrote about her son dying – Billy was two when he died. His death followed surgery to correct congenital heart deformities which had been diagnosed ten days before.

The subtitle of the book is ‘a memoir of grief and recovery’ and if you’re anything like me, you might approach the book with a degree of trepidation. But that’s kind of the point. Nothing prepares you for the death of anyone that you love. We don’t talk about death until it happens because it’s considered to be such a morbid subject and who wants to intentionally make themselves miserable, right?

The best sort of writing is often honest though, and it is this quality that will keep you gripped to ‘Billy, Me and You’. Although we’re afraid of what we might find, there is also an irresistible curiosity about the book because there are so many questions. How will it affect Streeten? How will she cope? Perhaps most importantly of all, will she get over it, will she be alright? We want to know if she makes it through because we want to know if we’ll be ok when it happens to us, which, unless we go first, it probably will. It was 13 years after Billy’s death that she rediscovered her journal and other items she had kept from the time; it started her off on the journey of writing and drawing the book.

Streeten says that her aim was “to make it something that people ask questions about”. She did a degree in social anthropology and she tells me it was this side of the experience she was interested in. In it we see her (and John) go through desperate grief, anger (both at the unfairness of the situation and the reactions from people around them), some healing and some joy.

One particular part of the book that stands out is when Streeten scores the responses of other people out of ten. The scene manages to be comic and awful simultaneously. People saying sorry or asking her what happened scored highly; those who said nothing or told her they could imagine what she was going through didn’t go down so well. She had friends who weren’t sure if they should come to the funeral and what becomes clear is that there is a lot of confusion when somebody dies, because very few people know how to handle it. IMG_2753

In particular, she objected to people using the inappropriate euphemism when they said that she and John had ‘lost’ Billy. ‘Billy wasn’t lost, he was dead’, she writes, ‘It was John and I…as the people we’d been just one day before…who were now lost forever (but not dead)’. Although she complains about her memory during our conversation, she certainly remembers the transformative effect the death had on her and indeed, even sounds somewhat grateful for, if not the event, then maybe the legacy.

The day it happened, John and I – it completely transformed our vision of the world. We couldn’t look at parents that didn’t want their children to have sugar, all those little neurotic things about schools… that doesn’t matter. You just think ‘fuck you’ about people who’ve had nothing wrong. People who’ve had no trauma are a bit boring. Sometimes I think the death of my child was the worst thing but the best thing that’s happened to me because of that switch in how we viewed the world. It sounds shocking and wrong to say it but in terms of developing as a human, when someone dies, you learn a lot.”

The first quality I encounter of hers is not misery or bitterness but generosity; not only does she pick me up from the train station for the half hour drive back to her wonderful converted chapel in the village of Wellingore but there is homemade soup ready for our lunch. As we are strangers we swap condensed life stories on the way. I’m a city dweller who wonders about a more rural tranquil alternative and I want to know how she took to the quiet and the isolation (the answer is it’s good for artists). She probes me about grown up stuff like fostering and pensions, as well as the possibility of moving to Brighton. The empty winter fields appear to be slumbering on either side of us, waiting for spring to bring them back to life, as we approach her home.

We agree that the most famous of clichés about death is also the most truthful. “When I’m talking about it now, I’m not talking about my deep feelings, it’s not opening up a deep wound. It’s almost like it’s not even true. Also my memory is shot to bits, I’m 50, I can’t remember anything anyway. So that cliché of ‘time heals’ which you hate at the time, is true. I came to write the book 13 years after Billy died so what shocked me was that in my diary I’d written stuff I could not remember. I couldn’t believe I’d cried every day.”

This misery is tangible as you read, perhaps the most awful page being where she remembers how much touch there is involved with raising a child, followed by a page where she has drawn herself looking exhausted and unwell, arms outstretched. ‘My arms were empty’ she writes, looking bereft. She notices other parents playing with their kids and yearns to have Billy back so that she can do the same. IMG_2752

Streeten had been adamant with her publisher, Myriad editions, that she didn’t want ‘Billy, Me and You’ to be a self help book but can’t remember why she was so vehement now and is welcoming of the letters and emails she receives telling her that the book has helped them through their own bereavement. What’s it like when she meets people – do they feel like they can approach her and talk about it?

“Yeah and I love that. It’s great for collecting gossip about people!”, she says, jokingly. “People always do ‘my story is this’. That’s what conversation is, it’s sharing stories, it’s fascinating and relevant.” I wondered if she minded being so much associated with death and in response she tells me the story of a man who had got in touch after his wife died. “He wrote to say he’d like to make a graphic novel about his wife’s death. I asked him if he’d read my book and he said he hadn’t but he’d spoken to someone else and they’d said that I might be able to advise him and I thought, ‘really… you should have done your research!”

Again, she’s laughing when she says it. For all her light heartedness about the subject, she also takes care of the people that come to her; in the case of this gentleman by spending some considerable time talking with him on the phone. Perhaps surprisingly, given the subject matter, there is humour too in the book, most notably when they go to a bereaved parents group where the parents end up laughing at their own crazy actions, including keeping headstones in their bedrooms and then having friends making confused faces when they visit. How can somebody laugh during grief? “It’s the relief theory of humour. In that group I have never ever laughed so much. I’ve talked to other bereaved parents who have had that experience and they have said the same. I think the humour is from the absurdity. It is healing to laugh in the way that crying is healing.”

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It seems a good time to ask the question I’m most hesitant about. Eventually Streeten fell pregnant again and had a daughter, Sally. Would she have been as ok as I find her if she hadn’t had another child? Streeten says that was important but more important was the sense of perspective she got after Billy died: “I needed to have another child and I would have adopted if we hadn’t been able to – I had to have a child in my life. I really did think that I wouldn’t survive without another child.”

“My trajectory was to be a school teacher because I loved being a mum and I wanted something that fitted in with having children. What I was doing was putting my child’s needs first at that time but after Billy died, I put my needs first. I was so lost; I wasn’t a mum and that was my identity. So I had to be fulfilled in my work or what I do. I might have become a primary school teacher but I don’t think I would have been fulfilled in the way I am, doing what I do.

“A lot of women have children and throw their lives into the project that are their children and then their children leave at 18 and then they wonder what they are going to do with another 30 years.”

It turns out that quite a lot of perspective can be gained when someone you love dies. My time is up and a train back to London needs catching. Before I leave I ask Streeten what she thinks experiencing death can teach us? “It really sounds a cliché but you just have to do stuff while you can. You have to live your dreams now. Because you could die tomorrow, even if you’re fit and healthy. You should be doing what you need to do all the time. You shouldn’t compromise. I know we have to sometimes but you should be aiming to do the stuff you want to do.”

If you’d like to see more of Streeten’s work, you can find it in the show that runs at the House of Illustration until 15th May. It’s called Comix Creatrix: 100 Women Making Comics

 

Naomi Alderman passed me on to Sophie Hannah. The two met at a Society of Authors awards ceremony. Naomi had recommended Sophie’s book Little Face in ‘The Bookseller’ so Sophie introduced herself. Afterwards they started conversing on Twitter, became friends and meet up regularly. Hannah_HC_72-1

Her novels keep readers wide-eyed and tense, the answers to her perplexing scenarios calling them onward through the pages like a siren’s song. But perhaps the biggest mystery about Sophie Hannah is this: how did a poet come to be one of the UK’s most popular crime writers? If you asked me, I’d say Agatha Christie had a lot to do with it. Hannah tells me that she read all 66 of Christie’s novels as a teenager and revisited them all again as part of her preparation for writing the new Poirot novel ‘The Monogram Murders’, published in September last year.

Christie is the best selling author of all time, her books having only been outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare. Why, I ask Hannah, would we need another Christie-brand novel out there? Hannah points out that continuation novels are no longer a strange idea. Literary reboots of James Bond and Sherlock Holmes by Sebastian Faulks and Anthony Horowitz, among others, have proved successful. Maybe it was time for Hercule Poirot to make a comeback.

‘Overwhelmingly, the Christie Estate’s motivation was that they wanted to ensure Agatha’s books were discovered by new generations of readers. Now, with children having so many more activity options such as Xboxes and Playstations,  it’s more of a struggle to get them to read at all. The Christie family felt that the online generation of teenagers might mistakenly think that Agatha belongs to another era. It was time to remind everyone that her stories are timeless, that you can enjoy them now just as much as you can enjoy Benedict Cumberbatch whizzing around being a contemporary Sherlock Holmes.’

Hannah didn’t need the gig; her novels were doing pretty well for themselves. The enduring popularity of her detectives Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse has meant that she’s published a novel every year since 2006. Her books typically start with a mysterious situation that doesn’t seem to make sense. A mother who swears that the baby in her house is not hers, despite her husband being adamant that it is, for example. Or a man who says he killed a woman several years ago and that the police are mistaken if they think she’s still alive, which they certainly seem to.

Aside from her enduring love for Christie, Hannah was drawn to the Poirot project because she had a firm idea of how she’d want to treat the moustachioed Belgian. ‘The Christie Estate were very reassured when I said that I absolutely wanted him to be Agatha Christie’s Poirot. I didn’t want to modernise him, I didn’t want him Googling anything. I just wanted to write a traditional Poirot, and the element of novelty would come in the form of the case that he had to solve.’ Duly reassured, the estate gave the green light and, according to Hannah, the new book has done the trick. Even before the book was published, the media buzz breathed new life into sales of Christie’s Poirot novels.Monogram-Murders_612x952

Although she started at the age of six, and despite having an author for a mother, Hannah tells me that she never thought about making a career out of writing . She owns up to doing the bare minimum at school to get by, relying on her ability to knuckle down in sufficient time to pass exams. She got into Manchester University, which led to an MA in novel writing. After that? ‘I deliberately got a job as a secretary: the easiest, quietest job I could find. What I wanted was a dead easy secretarial job so that I could get on with my writing and save all my mental energy for that, and I never expected to become a professional writer, or for it to earn me any money. I just loved it and it was the only thing I was willing to put any effort into.’ Sophie lived in Moss Side at a time when guns and drugs were ravaging Manchester. Despite the burglary of her house,  being held up at gun-point and mugged, she was content. ’It was always my boyfriend (now my husband) who would say “I don’t much like living here” and I would say “I love it here – we’re so near to loads of brilliant Indian restaurants!’

An early collection of poems, The Hero and the Girl Next Door (Carcanet, 1995) got her noticed, and that led to a lucky break – patronage from Trinity College, Cambridge (and later, Wolfson College, Oxford). Sophie loved Cambridge, and told me she felt ‘like little orphan Annie ending up in the home of Oliver Warbucks.’ Trinity College paid her more than she’d been earning as a secretary and sorted her out with a flat. ‘It made me think that I’d had a very lucky break, and it just fell into my lap. For the first time, I realised that I could be a proper writer rather than someone who just writes a bit. So I thought I would use those two years at Trinity to become a writer so that I didn’t have to go back to another job’.

Hannah thinks her writing grew out of a desire for a freedom – the kind of autonomy children and teenagers don’t have because they have to live by their parents’ rules. During her teenage years, she counted down the days until her 18th birthday. In response to her father wishing her ‘Happy Birthday’ on this landmark day, she promptly responded ‘Thanks.  Now, just so that you know, I’m never doing what you tell me ever again.’ Laughing as she recounts the tale, she dismisses the notion that this was pretty standard teenage behaviour. She tells me that she was always too scared to rebel overtly, in the way some teenagers did.  ‘I accepted whatever strictures were put in place, while privately yearning to be subject to no rules, and I was quite cowardly – too scared to challenge anything, so I went along with what was expected of me and tried to pacify and smooth over wherever I could. Often I’ve heard that the people who become writers are those who can’t satisfactorily express themselves or have any power in real life. My desire for autonomy came out through my writing. Having done that through my childhood, why would I give it up? It was how I best communicated with the world.’

It is this last line that makes me think that this dual life she maintained as a teenager has continued into her adult years. Though she’s excellent company, delivering insightful, considered answers to my questions, I would love to know how the Sophie Hannah unrestricted by social convention would have answered my questions. Not because I’m a paranoid hack who felt he was being indulged by someone intellectually superior to him (although, now you come to mention it…) but because we go on to talk quite a lot about how she considers herself to be a people pleaser. If one dinner guest has unwittingly upset another one, she’ll be the one wondering how she can smooth things over.

So what we end up talking about is freedom. The construction of the worlds in her books are up to her; she can have her characters say what they truly feel. That freedom is something she says she doesn’t have in the real world because there are always strategic decisions to be made in order to keep the peace. ‘Writing allows me to describe the world in the way that it is. That’s the thing my real life won’t allow. You try describing your own experience of life and someone will come along quickly to tell you that you’re wrong or you’re being contrary, or you’re getting on your high horse. When you’re writing a novel, though, you can create a fictional world that expresses whatever you want to express. That allows for proper freedom, which day to day life just doesn’t.’

Hannah’s more than happy to admit that the repressed stuff often finds its way out of the mouths of her female leads.  ‘My heroines stand up for themselves.  I really enjoy writing characters who do that. They’re not bad people, just people who sometimes don’t take much shit. I find that a hugely attractive characteristic, because I’m someone who’s always taken way too much shit.’ The success of the Zailer and Waterhouse series would seem to confirm readers also like it.

Aside from the dilemmas thrown up by the tricky navigating of other people, Hannah assures me she knows how to enjoy life. She’d earlier told me she hated saving for a rainy day, because that’s a way of life that’s based on worst-case scenario thinking. We meet in the Langham Hotel and she includes this in her list of indulgences. ‘I eat out all the time. I drink nice colourful fizzy cocktails. I eat really strong curries. I stay in posh hotels. I go swimming in beautiful swimming pools and lakes and the sea. I’ve got a dog now, so I go on nice country walks with my dog. I make time to do all those things.  I’m a bit of a hedonist, really.’

I leave her with half an hour to kill before she has to head over the road to the BBC and I’m halfway down the road before I remember that I didn’t offer to pay for my tea. If her next book starts with a generous author taking revenge on a journalist for being a tightarse, you’ll know where she got the inspiration.

Danielle Lineker

Posted: March 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ok, so to come clean, this interview was the first one in the series that has become ‘Pass Me On’ – it was what gave me the idea.  It was originally posted over on Can I Write For A Living.  It’s now here as, given that Danielle was the first, it seemed a bit unfair not to have her included.  That and because Mark Bright told me off about it when I was talking to him.  If I was more techy I could probably get it in order but I’m not so there.

Now it has to be said, Danielle is pretty easy on the eye.  The paparazzi, noticing this, started training their long lenses on Gary and Danielle when they went on holiday.  From there it was only a hop and a skip to coming third in ‘Hell’s Kitchen’, presenting a show on step-families for the Beeb and apparently guesting on ‘Loose Women’ (although I never get to see that as I’m always at work).    Now she’s jumped into acting, currently touring in ‘Calendar Girls’, the stage play about the Yorkshire WI women who stripped off for a charity calendar.  She gave me a ring on a Friday night and we ended up talking about the buzz of acting, fame, booby dresses and Shakespeare.

-So how’s it going?
I don’t think my first night was the finest performance I’ve ever done in my life but…Gary’s looking at me as if to say ‘Dont talk shit’!
-When we met before I asked you how you would feel about speaking in front of a crowd.
I was nervous but the girls have been great. Jennifer Ellison, Lisa Riley and Bernie Nolan have been like sisters to me throughout the tour. They’ve been looking after me and suggesting that I try this or try that. You worry when you walk into a group of girls and you’re the new girl but they’ve been really welcoming.  We were all nervous – even these girls who have been out there doing it for 10 years were nervous as well. Lisa gave me some Kalms for the nerves but I think you’ve just got to get out there and get through your first night.  Performing in front of an audience was a real buzz and I think that’s what people get addicted to.
-So a lot of adrenalin going on?
Absolutely. It’s very intoxicating.
-In the Calendar Girls film there’s a lot of trepidation about stripping off in front of the photographer. Do you have to do that onstage?
My part is the only character who keeps her clothes on. I don’t think I could have dealt with that, being naked on my stage debut, no way.
-What made you want to act?
Its been a feeling since I was six years old. I was always performing as a kid and then I got to my teenage years and I got alopecia and completely lost my confidence, got very introverted and shy and that’s what held me back.  I loved all the musicals, Mary Poppins, the Wizard of Oz, Annie. One of my fondest memories is dancing round my living room with my brothers and sisters and then I always loved Drama and English literature as a teenager. I was 16 when I lost my hair and it was about a year before it grew back. I got to about 28 and so many people had said to me that I should do it..(stops to talk to Joe McGann, who’s walked into her dressing room)
-Do you have a favourite actor?
I tell you who I think is really good, Vincent Cassell who is in Black Swan at the moment. I think he’s fantastic.
-I saw it the other night, it scared the bejesus out of me.
I know everybody’s going on about that but I thought it got a bit ridiculous when she was growing feathers. It’s great but when she looked in the mirror and the feathers started growing out of her arms I just thought ‘Oh come on!’ I thought it got a bit ridiculous then. It’s shot beautifully though. Natalie Portman is one of my favourites too. She plays it well.
-You haven’t had any freaky hallucinations while appearing in Calendar Girls?
No, I’ve had dreams where I forget my lines and can’t speak on stage. It wakes me up. For about a week I kept dreaming I was stood on the stage and couldn’t speak.
-You’ve been in the show for a couple of weeks now so is it becoming easier?
The first couple of shows I just wasn’t present on stage and now there are times when I’m really enjoying it and I’m, oh I hate to say ‘In the Moment’ because it sound actor-y and wanky but there are times when I know I’m completely in the moment and that’s when you get the buzz of performing live. I’m hoping that the more I perform that’ll happen for more than a moment or a minute and it’ll be for the whole time I’m on stage.
-The WI ladies had a taste of fame so I wondered how you felt about it.
For me, its weird, I don’t see myself as a famous person, I’m just married to someone who is very famous. There are obviously lots of advantages. I know I wouldn’t be in this play if I wasn’t Gary’s wife. There are lots of things I’m thankful for. The modelling contract with La Senza came as a result of me being photographed in Barbados with Gary. I find it hard to look on the bad side. You get the press intrusion but you learn how to deal with it.
-Is it scary when you come out of restaurant and you’ve got a bunch of photographers waiting for you?
Completely and I was very naïve. People might believe me or not but when I first met I knew he was a footballer so because of the celebrity side to it, I wasn’t sure about dating him.
-Had you thought about the level of press intrusion there might be?
Absolutely not. Once we’d got pictured together it was like ‘Oh My God what’s happened to my life?’ The intrusion was everywhere, people I went to school were approached by journalists, people tried to see my brother in hospital saying they work for the Mirror or the Mail – they didn’t, they were just freelancers trying it on, trying to talk to nurses to get stories. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and went to the doctors in the end to give me something to help me out. I knew he was a footballer, I knew there would be some interest but nothing like the interest that there was.
-Did it ever make you think ‘Is it worth it’?
I remember Gary coming to see me just after we’d been pictured in the News of the World and I told him ‘I can’t understand this, its not like you’re Brad Pitt or anything’! I knew he was really special but there were times when I thought I couldn’t handle the celebrity side of it.   He’s had it for a long time so he just helped me through it. If the relationship hadn’t had been as strong as it is, you probably would split up in that early stage because its really difficult.
-So in a way it reaffirmed that the relationship was a good one?
It did yeah.
-When you went out in ‘that dress’ did you think that you might see yourself in a few of the papers?
No. We were getting ready to go out. The dress was really draped and you couldn’t see much. I asked Gary if it was ok, it wasn’t booby – I wasn’t going to go out with my boobs out with his son and all his best friends! We drank so much as it was his 50th birthday and I think throughout the night the corset underneath had slipped and the drape of the dress had gone down. I remember I was so concerned about not appearing drunk I hadn’t even thought about the dress.
-You looked pretty together but Mr Lineker looked like he’d had a few.
Well it was his 50th
-Do you hope being in ‘Calendar Girls’ might lead to other things?
I’d love to do some more theatre, some Shakespeare, like Portia in Julius Caesar.
-That sounds like quite a heavyweight role.
It is. I’ve had two years of training and my coach was very classical.  My Director in Calendar Girls has said to me ‘You’re so serious Danielle, you need to lighten up.’ It’s the way I’ve been taught, Stanislavski method, so I’d love to put some of that training into practice.

(In Stanislavski’s system, actors deeply analyse the motivations and emotions of their characters in order to personify them with psychological realism and emotional authenticity). It’s very difficult in the acting world. I think people would look at me and say ‘Oh she’s a bit commercial’.

-It would be a very unexpected move for you and in a way, the knives would be out – you’d be up for that kind of challenge would you?
Yeah. The part that I’m doing at the moment is comedy and I think making people laugh is harder. I would love to do a Shakespeare part.

-You should get your PR to have a word in someone’s ear.
They’d say (adopts luvvie type voice) ‘I don’t bloody think so! DANIELLE BLOODY LINEKER!’