Gay Times – I interviewed Paul O’Grady – aka Lily Savage (Sep07)

One of three interviews I did for the Gay Times – Paul O-Grady. See also Peter Tatchell and Kristin Digby

“I’ve never known anyone make so much fuss about three light bulbs” Paul said as we laughed uproariously in his kitchen.  I’d pointed out that there were more lights in just half his kitchen than Peter Tatchell had in his whole flat.  Then I saw more lighting above the aga.  “Only one” Paul says.  So I peered underneath the mantel and discovered there were three!

Paul has a bit of a thing about light bulbs – particular energy-efficient ones.  He says they’re hideous and give out a horrible watery Dickensian light, like in a scribe’s back room.  I said that he clearly hadn’t tried one recently because the technology has improved enormously in the last few years.  The colour of the light is much warmer and you don’t have to get those dreadful wiggly bulbs – the ones I use are decorative bulbs that look very similar to incandescent ones.

“My mother would shout turn the bloody lights out” Paul says.  He thinks he’s turned into his mother because he never leaves the lights on.  I’m not sure I believe him because I managed to catch him out a few times!

One of the most prominent things in Paul’s kitchen is a socking great aga – it’s a six-door version.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that size.  To be fair 2 doors and the hob above are on a different system so they’re not on all the time. But I asked Paul if he knew how much oil the aga used.  “Not much” he said.  Actually that’s wishful thinking – agas are really energy guzzlers.  When I told Paul this he said that he’d only got it about a year ago and there was no way he was getting rid of it – he patted it affectionately.

Another thing that stood out in Paul’s kitchen was the large screen TV.  He chuckled when I mentioned it and said I should see the one in the sitting room.  It was even bigger.  And it had no fewer than 6 remote controls.  Paul admitted that he couldn’t work any of them – even the master control that was supposed to over-ride all the others.  The problem with large screens is that they use a lot more energy – setting up a mini-cinema at home is not eco-friendly!

“I never let a woman near my washing – they only have one temperature and that’s boiling” Paul says.  I thought this sounded rather encouraging because the most significant way to reduce the environmental impact of your wash is to lower the temperature.  When I told Paul this he said that he always washed at 30C.  Caught again – I pointed out that the thermostat was on 40C!  More laughing before Paul said that he washed his towels at 95C – he felt it was more hygienic.  I recommended using a bit of bleach for anything that needed extra cleaning oomph.

Then we went outside to have a look at the livestock.  There were a couple of delightful looking pigs that were clearly affectionate.  When I asked Paul if he was planning to eat them he said that he’d ‘sooner eat a human being’.  And he was just as fond of his sheep.  “Don’t get me wrong” he says, “it’s just platonic”.  Even his psychotic sheep, Christine who tried to butt us, wasn’t for the chop.  “She’s just mean – you can’t get rid of someone (sic) because they’ve got a bit of a temper”, he says protectively.

I’d didn’t get to meet Dot the cow because she’d wandered off, along with the other eight cows under Paul’s care.  A couple of them do provide milk periodically, some of which is used to make butter, but like the other farm animals they’re basically pets. Given that methane from cows and sheep are on a par with cars in terms of their global warming impact, keeping livestock for fun isn’t very green.

Paul then thinks of something I might approve of.  He says “I pee outside. Everyone does in the country, apart from Julian Cleary.  He thinks it’s disgusting”.  Having spent the afternoon looking around  I thought this might be Paul’s biggest eco-brownie point – saving water by doing his ‘number ones’ in the grass!

“She’ll have me in a hair shirt”  Paul said to the photographer.  I can’t imagine being that successful – but it was fun having a go!

5 Eco-tips for Paul

  1. Turn your aga off in the summer
  2. Try out the latest energy efficient bulbs.
  3. Stick to 30C setting for washing (even your towels)
  4. Start measuring energy and water bills and see if you can cut back
  5. Get rid of the farm animals!
–        Pees outside

–        Washes at low temperatures (mostly)

–        Hangs washing on the line

–        Gives waste food to pigs

–        Gets milk from his own cow or farmer down the road

–        Uses local farm shop

–        Doesn’t eat much meat

–        Clothes from his shows are given to charity shops

–        Grows his own vegetables

–        Has a small car – a VW Beetle

–        No energy efficient bulbs

–        Huge and numerous TV screens

–        Washes towels at 95C

–        Gas guzzling aga, which is on all the time

–        Gets through a lot of oil

–        Farm animals as pets

–        Lots of suits bought for his shows

–        Lives in a large house on his own (although has a lot of visitors)

–        Has no idea how much water or electricity he uses



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