Susan Boyle: this much I know
The Observer, by Megan Conner
The singer on her life-changing break, Britain’s unseen poverty and why she’ll never leave her family home
There are still moments when I walk on stage and I want to turn and run in the opposite direction. When I’m singing it’s like no one can touch me.
I think some people must forget that I’m a human being with real feelings. I’d be lying if I said the things I read about myself didn’t hurt or sting. You say that you brush them off, but every so often you get pangs of self-doubt and you remember the words and the wounds reopen.
People talk about my life as "before" and "after", like it’s some sort of Cinderella story. I don’t mind. It really has been like that. Before Britain’s Got Talent it was dark. I’d lost my mum. Now life is a lot brighter.
There is an abject poverty in this country that I feel is hidden. I don’t believe people really have a sense of the underbelly of the UK and the struggles people face every day. Before Britain’s Got Talent I lived off £30 a week, which would cover basic food from the reduced section. I saved for weeks to go to a charity shop or cheaper high-street store to buy shoes and essential clothing.
There is nothing worse than worrying about money. That is why I’m not a big spender. Despite the fact I have earned a decent sum, I never want to feel that gut-wrenching panic or misery again.
My mum taught me manners, morals and kindness. Every so often she would tell me to keep my mouth shut and just listen, and she was right. In my 20s I was a wild one, a cheeky wee thing. Now I know when to turn the cheek off.
The ritual of opening the gift is always better than the gift. Nothing makes me feel more special than jewellery. Simon Cowell once bought me a Cartier bracelet, but my favourite thing is the bangle my manager gave me from Tiffany’s one Christmas. It was the first piece of jewellery I’d been given, and from such an iconic shop. I’ll never forget untying the white ribbon and opening that blue box.
I’d like to think I have taught people something. I regret not becoming a teacher because that was the career I was interested in. But now, maybe with the position I am in, I have opened someone’s eyes to something.
I wouldn’t be where I am without my faith. Religion is my backbone and what gets me up in the morning.
My earliest memories are of trying to put on concerts for my teddies. I have been trying to play the piano since I can remember – and I am still learning.
It’s no secret that I have two houses: the Posh House, which is the new one, and the original [where Boyle lived with her parents for 44 years]. I still live in the original because of my neighbours. They look out for me, protect me, and have known me my whole life. I wouldn’t move away for anything.
I would like to go with a bang and blow the world away; leave in the same manner I entered this business.