Love etc. What does life tell us about love? 
THIS WEEK: Toyah Willcox 

Singer, actress and TV presenter Toyah Willcox, 45, has been married to King Crimson musician Robert Fripp, 56, since 1986. She lives in London and Worcester, where Robert, who is based in Nashville, joins her as often as he can. 

My relationship with my parents before I was ten was idyllic. I would snuggle into bed with them on a Saturday with my Look and Learn magazine. I was a sickly child and would call for my father in the night, as he never panicked. It was a tactile relationship and he gave me great physical security. I was born with a crooked spine and it was my mother who gave me physiotherapy. She was terrified that my life would not be normal. When I was in hospital, I used to wonder why she was frightened. I didnít fit in with her idea of femininity. I dismembered my dolls and asked for guns and axes.

When I was 12, I didnít see my mother for two months after she nearly died of a bladder complaint. By the time she returned I was feral, coming and going until the early hours. Life became hellish because my fatherís joinery business went under. My older brother and sister had left home and all you could sense was tension. I was aggressive and my father did not want anything to do with me and pulled away. 

In my teens I rejected everyone. I feared that if I had a boyfriend, I would never have a career. I was a virgin until my 20th birthday when friends arranged for me to sleep with a man I was in love with. That was a fantastic initiation, but almost immediately I met Jem, a roadie. We lived together for two years and my parents adored him because he had a calming influence. He was my soulmate but I behaved appallingly. I had just become a star and everything revolved around me. If Iíd had my head screwed on I would have married him, but he was only my second partner and I became sexually inquisitive. 

Tom worked for me as a security man. Where Jem was calm and centred, Tom was young and virile. It was just lust. Our relationship was a huge mistake that lasted for five years because I became famous and needed the protective wall he put around me. The balance of power in the relationship changed. He wanted me to settle down and have a family but I wanted to evolve. I couldnít just walk out. I bought a penthouse, secretly moved things out, then went abroad as I was frightened of his reaction. 

When I met Robert, I thought he was a nice man but he had designs on me. He asked me to work with him and proposed before we had even begun a physical relationship, but I needed to get to know him first. He had 20 girlfriends on the go and I couldnít understand casual sex. I need to be in love, which is a bit of a disability. I am possessive even in my friendships. He explained that he wasnít married to them, so there was no need for monogamy. He thinks I am incredibly prudish. Everything I have learnt about sex has been from him. Now we chase each other around the garden naked and the neighbours have built their wall higher. 

This love has been a deep journey. He has a spirituality which has made our life richer. Our intimacy has never flagged because we spend so long apart. I have never been to Nashville, as I would feel like a spare part. I have my career, friends and an active social life. I donít fear that Robert is unfaithful, because his preferred world is an isolated one. I am never propositioned. Men see me as a battleaxe. 

Robert and I talk on the phone five times a day, deeply and intimately. I hope we will live together full-time when we are older, as I so love waking up with him even though he follows me round the house like a puppy.

I am the stronger financially, and I depend on him only for his friendship. I was sterilised as we didnít want children. I am phobic about giving birth. At seven, I was in the car with my mother when she went into labour. Blood seeped over me and she lost the baby, Fleur. 

My parents continue to bicker but canít live without each other. Robert talks to them as often as I do. They have erased the storms and say I was a delightful child. 

Relationships are about give and take, living in the moment, listening and adoring each otherís qualities. Robert is going into the next stage of his life. He is getting hairy and grey, and his bones ache, and I love him for it. He might be a bit creaky in the morning but he makes my knees go weak. 

Interview by Moira Petty 

Toyah Willcox stars in Calamity Jane at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, from June 26. Box office: 0870-906 3798. 

The Times 
18th June 2003