Interviews & Articles


"Testament of Youth"
September 1982

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(This article was taken from Andrew Marvick's The Garden.)

[The following article, apparently written by Kate, appeared in FlexiPop magazine in September 1982. I say "apparently" both because the first statement in the article is factually incorrect (Kate was born on July 30, not July 17), and because of the unlikelihood of the article itself--that Kate should write of her most personal childhood experiences to FlexiPop magazine, and remain so uncommunicative about it elsewhere, is surprising. One or two other deviations from Kate's usual style (which may simply be the result of an editor's revisions) increase my uneasiness about the attribution. Until Kate is prevailed upon to explain the article, however, it must be taken to be authentic. Edited by Andrew Marvick.]

Testament of Youth

Closet hooligan Kate Bush talks about her formative years

I was born on the 17 July in Bexley. I don't know if it was a dream or not, but I remember somebody looking over into my cot going something like "googgy wooogy woogy wooo". I might have been one, maybe two years old.

My father was a doctor and my mother a nurse. Now she works on the phone for my father, taking calls.

I remember my first day at school and somebody calling "Bye bye, Catherine" to me. And I turned and said "Bye bye," only the person wasn't talking to me, but to another girl called Catherine. It seemed a bit odd.

I found the idea of school rather exciting. I liked the idea of wearing a uniform. It was a convent school, so the teachers were nuns.

I missed school for about six months because I went to Australia with my parents. I was only five or six. I met a kangaroo, and that was really beautiful. And my brother met an emu. He walked straight into it. The emu freaked out.

My strongest memories were of the seatrip to Australia--I was seasick on the way out and had measles on the way back.

There were two very important things in my childhood that shaped my attitudes subsequently. One: my father had a piano in the house, and without that I'd never have got round to playing music. And two: my brothers were very into traditional music.

When I was very little, I was quite extravert. Whenever there was music on the telly, I'd always dance to it. And I remember one day, I was dancing around the room, and somebody started laughing at me. Suddenly I became very self-conscious, and just stopped doing it. Inhibitions start coming in as you get older.

Everyone's aware of the physical changes that happen as you get older, but I was more aware of the mental ones. I found it very frustrating being treated like a child when I wasn't thinking like a child. I felt I was being patronised, right through until I was eighteen or nineteen. From the age of ten I felt old.

I became very shy at school. It laid some very heavy inhibitions on me. I wasn't exactly bullied, but there were people who picked on me and gave me a very hard time. I was very thin, and younger than most in my class, so I was rather like the runt of the litter. I'd get hit occasionally, but nothing that heavy. And I never fought back.

I was aware of a lot of my friends being into things that I wasn't into. Like sarcasm. It had never been a part of my family--they still don't use sarcasm. I don't actually think it's nice. I think sarcasm is a very cheap and negative way of trying to get laughs and make yourself superior.

It was a very cruel environment, and I was a loner. But I learnt to get hurt, and I learnt to cope with it.

My friends used to play this game whereby they'd send you to Coventry. My friends sometimes used to ignore me completely, and that would really upset me badly. I still tend to be vulnerable, but I'm much better at fighting back if people are nasty to me today.

I felt weak a lot of the time, but I think I was much stronger than I realised.

The school was obviously quite religious in nature, being a convent school. I started getting concepts on God very early on. I remember saying to my father that maybe God was a circle, because I'd been told that he never began and he never finished. To me that was a circle. A lot of Catholicism is still in me deeper than I can see. But I don't follow that religion at all.

I wasn't an easy, happy-go-lucky girl, because I used to think about everything so much, and I think I probably still do. I was writing songs from the age of ten--and I was never really into going to discos and dances and stuff. Obviously, I used to like to go and meet boys, but I mainly just liked playing with the piano. I never told anyone at school that I did that, because I feared it would alienate me even more.

I was too shy to be a hooligan, but inside I had many hooligan instincts. But I never even gave any lip to the teachers. And in return, none of them picked on me.

I first started getting interested in boys at the age of eleven. My first boyfriend was called John, and he lived just round the corner.

It was great. I really liked boys. I always will like boys. I was popular with them. And my level of involvement wasn't just a sexual one, whereas for a lot of girls it was.

I used to get the most terrible crushes on boys, always much older than me. And it was terrible. I used to think they were so beautiful. But I'd never get anywhere with them. Just the old fantasy trip of getting off on someone, was what it was about.

My life as a teenager was interesting and difficult. And it was important, because it stirred up all sorts of things in me. But I was very lonely. And even after I left school, there were times when the loneliness became desperate.

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"The pull and the push of it all..." - Kate Bush

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Marvick - Hill
Willker - Mapes
Grepel - Love-Hounds