Victoria Mary Clarke
Monday, 7 December 2009
Victoria Mary Clarke spent her childhood in West Cork with hippy parents, no running water and no TV. At 16 she moved to London, and met the singer Shane MacGowan. After years of the rock'n'roll lifestyle, she gave up smoking and started practising yoga. Her relationship with Shane over the years was very up and down.
They have now been together for over 20 years. In 2001 she released a book A Drink with Shane MacGowan. The book was in question and answer format and was divided into eight acts in various places such as Ireland, England and the US. When Mary and Shane broke up - she was in a mess. She was nearly 40, exhausted and sick of being known as Shane's girlfriend. She asked Angels for help. She got the help she needed and she wrote a book Angel in Disguise. Victoria is a regular journalist in the Sunday Independent. Victoria appeared on Celebrities go Wild in 2007. She is friends with Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Bono and Pete Doherty to name but a few.
Where did the idea of growing your own veg come from?
It was inspired by Michelle Obama. I saw her digging up the White House garden and I thought it was a nice thing to do. I went to a production company and they first said it was too late but then they came back and said they would like to do it. We have a tiny back yard but I knew that in the city of Havana that there are 3,000 kitchen gardens there and I thought I'd start off with some tubs. I hadn't any real experience of gardening - once I threw a potato out the window and then a few weeks later I noticed that loads of potatoes were growing on my flower bed in London. It was amazing. It was so easy.
Did you have any experts giving you advice?
I decided deliberately that I didn't want any expert advice. I find that whole route so boring - personally I think they intimidate you. I decided to ask friends and family for advice. The best advice I got was from my sister's mother in law - she said put a potato anywhere and it will grow - they are designed to grow.
I wanted to see how much I could grow and how easy or hard it was going to be. I wanted to see did I have to weed the area or was it just going to grow regardless.
You can get away without doing any weeding - I tried to weed it but I lost interest after 10 minutes.
Was it hard to get motivated?
It wasn't hard to get motivated. I found being outside was good. Shane had a bit of an interest from childhood but my parents grew vegetables too but I had no interest at all.
You can grow things in such small spaces which is outrageous. You can grow a whole load of potatoes in a dustbin. You just have to keep layering it up. I have loads of things growing on my kitchen table - tomatoes, lemons, peppers - you could have them all over the house.
Potatoes are such a satisfying vegetables to grow. You can dig down and find them. There are no pesticides and they taste so lovely. Maybe it is more psychological that you think they are nicer because you have grown them. I grew amazing leeks and I challenge anyone to grow better ones.
Did you have to be very organised?
They tell you that you have to be organized but I don't think that is true. I grew them randomly and they all grew for me. Some of the stuff I only planted them at the end of August and they said on the back of the pack that you had to have planted them months ago but they all grew for me. But maybe that is just the optimum time to do it.
You used to be a hard partier but now you practice Yoga and eat well - do you miss your rock n roll days or are you still a rock chick?
I got into writing when Gerry Conlon was having a relationship with Shane's sister and I asked her could she get me an interview with him. And she did. I was doing a journalism correspondence course at the time. I think it was the first interview he might have done. After that it was quite easy to get interviews.
Journalism was my first career job. I had a shop when I was 16 selling second hand clothes. I used to go to London to buy the clothes and bring them back to Ireland. Then it became easier for me to live there and send the clothes over to the shop.
Are you still in contact with angels?
I am still very much connected to angels. They inspired me to do the programme and weirdly enough the guy who was filming the show interrogated the angel so I spoke to the angel for him like 'why are you making a gardening programme' and the angel said 'it helps people relax and distress and come into the moment'. It is like a meditation and teaching you patience. I was sad that they edited it out of the programme.
Can you see the angels?
I don't really see them but sometimes I think I do. They are always able to send messages to me.
You have interviewed so many celebrities - do you keep in touch with any of them?
I still keep in touch with a lady called Kathleen MacGowan - an author who was so supportive of me. She read my manuscript and she wanted to give it to her agent. She even gave me a Gucci purse.
I got to know Johnny Depp through Gerry Conlon. He was thinking of playing him in a movie. He came over to London and hung out with me. We even got refused from a nightclub in London as the doorman hadn't recognised Johnny - at that stage he had only done Edward Scissorhands. We laughed about that. He has come to Ireland a few times. He was also in one of Shane's video's. Unfortunately now he can't go out as much now as he gets mobbed. Even at a private party even his supposed friends hassle him for pictures and autographs.
I met Kate Moss through Johnny Depp when they used to go out. She was so quiet and shy with mousy brown hair. I used to go to clubs with her and she might even dance with some friends of mine and they wouldn't have recognised her and I'd tell them the next day who they were dancing with. They wouldn't believe me.
So it's this time of year again - do you have a favourite Christmas song?
Of course my favourite song is Fairytale of New York and I think there isn't a better one.
My favourite song of Shane's is Rainy Night in Soho but unfortunately it's not about me but sometimes I pretend it is. He wrote 'Victoria' and 'That Woman has Got Me Drinking' (Johnny Starred in the video) about me. They aren't very flattering songs. Hopefully he will write me a nice romantic song one day.
You have been engaged for ages ... when's the wedding?
We have never got married - we got over the idea of a wedding very quick but we'll see. It got a bit boring thinking of a wedding.
Victoria & Shane Grow Their Own
-Tuesday 8th December at 10.15pm on RTÉ One