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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Susan Boyle: £300k mansion? I prefer my old council house

It has five bedrooms, a gated driveway and extensive gardens – and it’s just about the only luxury Susan Boyle has spent her ­money on.


But it is very clear that the ­singing sensation’s heart lies elsewhere.


A mile down the road to be precise, at the council house where she grew up with her parents and nine brothers and sisters before her breathtaking rise to fame.


Today Susan, 50, reveals that she has only ever spent one night in her £300,000 new-build home and will never leave her old house, with all its warm, happy memories.


“I know with my status people would expect me to live in a mansion and have all the trappings that go with it, but that’s not me,” she says. “Why would I want to live in a castle? It would get draughty. I did try and sleep in this place once but I woke up and it felt wrong.”


The only change is that where once she survived on benefits and rented the small ­terraced ­property on Yule ­Terrace in her home town of Blackburn, West Lothian, she now owns it.


Susan's new house


In fact, she could probably have bought the whole street with the interest from her fortune (£11million and ­rising).


“Yule Terrace has a lot of memories,” she says, with a broad smile. “I have my friends, my sense of community, my neighbours. I know I can knock at their door if I need them and they will be there. It is the seed from where I was grown and where I believe I will stay.”


So the gleaming ­detached home – the “Posh House” – is only used for rehearsing.


At one time, Susan’s decision to head for the sanctuary of her childhood home might have raised ­concerns. After finishing runner-up in Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 she was admitted to the Priory clinic ­suffering from stress.


But you only need to spend a few minutes with Susan to see she is calm, confident and finally comfortable in her own skin.


The singer spoke exclusively to the ­Sunday Mirror ahead of the ­release of her third album - Someone to Watch Over Me.


Next week she will land in Australia to sing for millions of fans on TV – the latest chapter in the incredible SuBo story


In three years the I Dreamed A Dream singer has become a global mega-star, selling more than 15 million albums and even singING for the Pope.


Not bad for a woman who, two years ago, lived alone with her cat Pebbles and had never sung to a crowd of more than 500. But Susan scoffs at the idea fame could change her. She says: “Me ­become a diva? Forget it. Listen, when I fly away I only have one demand – that I can take a wee stuffed grey cat called Pebbles with me. I pop it in my bag and then if I ever feel tired or a bit stressed I cuddle it.”


In the past that jetset life led to a number of meltdowns. At one point she was seen in a VIP lounge at Heathrow swearing while singing into a mop. But Susan says such incidents are now behind her.


“I have calmed down a lot,” she says. “Basically I just grew up. There was a sense of being scared and not knowing what to expect. Now I am used to it and love every second of life.”


Despite her amazing success she is still plain old “Susan” to her neighbours. During our interview several shout over, joking: “Hey Susan, where you off to next?” In their eyes Susan is still “one of them” and they love the fact she still shops at Tesco for clothes and jumps on the bus, just as she always did, to watch the world go by.


“Initially after Britain’s Got Talent I couldn’t get on a bus because it would be crazy and I’d get mobbed.” she says. “But everyone around here has got used to it now. They forget the celebrity side and treat me as one of them.


“I never have to hide or put a hat on. I can just be myself. If I didn’t have that I would lose sense of where I am and where I have come from.” Susan has made just a few modest changes at Yule Terrace. The old carpet has been replaced with shiny laminate wood flooring.


And the lounge – redecorated with snazzy wallpaper and green silk curtains – now has a 50-inch TV in the corner.


A top-of-the range Sony stereo has replaced her old radio. And a fridge magnet bears Susan’s motto “behind every great woman is a cat... and a fridge full of chocolate”. Her beloved pet ­Pebbles – aged 13 – is absent, though. On Susan’s instructions, she now lives in ­London where someone cares for her round the clock.


On the walls are ­photos of her parents Bridget and Joseph as well as pictures painted by her mother. Bridget died four years ago aged 91 so she did not live to see her daughter’s success.


In the garden Susan has created a fitting memorial, a seating area complete with a plaque in her parents’ honour.


“It is a special bench for mum and dad. It is a place I sit and get comfort and peace, ” she says. “My parents looked after nine of us in this place and it is very special to me. I miss them very much every day and it is my way of saying here’s something to you.


“I often sit here and think they would be amazed at what’s happened – and proud. The title of the new album ­Someone To Watch Over Me is very much about Mum. Even now she is the driving force behind my success. I feel she is watching over me all the time.”


But has famously-single Susan ruled out meeting “someone special”?


“Never say never,” she says with a smile. “What will be will be. But I do believe it is possible to be alone and happy – I am proof of that.”


A close-knit family is crucial to Susan. Until recently her fame had led to ­tensions, with some relatives expressing concerns about the way her career was being managed. But she says those rifts how now been healed.


“It is a relief – and not before time,” she says. “My family are calm and ­supportive now. There are no problems. They realise their wee sister is being looked after properly and that I am with people they can trust.”


CHALLENGE


And Susan has been keen to reward that loyalty to family and friends. She has helped many of her siblings. And she has also donated to local charities, plus the Scottish International Relief and to the Wee Box Campaign.


“You get so many offers it is ­impossible to say yes to everyone but I have helped a lot of good causes including the local children’s gallery here,” says Susan, a devout Catholic. “Local people have helped me so much and I want to put something back. I still volunteer. I still go to church. I feel it is important not to lose touch with the people who matter. They are the people who put you where you are in the first place.”


As she approaches the end of ­another life-changing year Susan reveals there is a big challenge ahead in 2012.


She will star in the story of her life, SuBo: The Musical, appearing at the end of each performance to sing. It is part of a plan to prepare her for a worldwide concert tour which her management team believe will sell out stadiums.


Because she is still learning the ­music business, her team feel it is important to give Susan lots of time, despite eye-watering offers for private gigsand concerts.


“This musical is a rehearsal for ­concerts,” Susan reveals.


“It is a gentle introduction to get me ready. I’ve sung in front of big ­audiences. I played to an arena of 60,000 at China’s Got Talent, and the show was broadcast to an audience of half a billion more so I know I am capable.


“I used to talk of taking baby steps each day but now I am taking toddler steps. I feel so happy and many exciting things lie ahead. In a way I feel this story is just beginning.”

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