Excerpt from The Woman I Was Born to Be
My name is Susan Boyle. A year and a half ago, if you weren't from Blackburn, the village in West Lothian, Scotland, where I have lived all my life, you would almost certainly never have heard of me. Today you've probably heard all sorts about me, some fact, some speculation, some pure invention, so I'm writing this book to tell my story from my point of view, and I hope you'll enjoy reading it.
Every story has a beginning and maybe mine started when I was in my pram forty-nine years ago. Whenever my mother put on a record, she noticed that I would sway slowly in time with the ballads, and jiggle faster to the rhythm of the quicker tunes. Or maybe it started with the toy banjo she bought me when I was a wee lassie. I used sit in front of the television mimicking Paul McCartney when the Beatles were on Top of the Pops. But I'll go back to all that a bit later.
For you, my story probably started on 11 April 2009 when I first appeared on television, but it was actually a couple of months before, on 21 January, that they recorded the Glasgow audition for Britain's Got Talent. I've been on quite a journey since then, and it was actually quite a journey getting to the audition itself…
I'd had one of those sleepless nights that seem endless when you know you should be resting but you can't find a comfortable position. Your stomach's all butterflies, then, just as you've nodded off, it's time to get up and you're in a rush. It was still dark outside and my bedroom was cold. Any other day, I might have been tempted to close my eyes and cosy down in the warmth of the duvet, pretending I'd overslept, but I had a bus to catch, and there was no way I was going to let this chance slip away from me.
The air in the bathroom was so chilly my breath steamed up the mirror as I stood there barefoot on the cold lino, trying to make myself beautiful. My hair has never done what it's told, and that day it looked like a straw hat. When I tried to style it with a hairdryer, I ended up resembling a fluff ball. I could hear the rain sheeting down outside, so I was going to have to wear a headscarf anyway. There was nothing to be done about it.
At least I had a nice frock, even it was a wee bit dressy for six o'clock in the morning! Gold lace, with a gold satin ribbon at the waist, I'd bought it for my nephew's wedding the previous year. I'd found it in a shop in the nearby town of Livingston and it had cost a tidy penny, but it was a special occasion and I thought I looked good in it. At the reception, I'd worn the dress with a white jacket, white shoes and natural coloured tights, but the morning of the audition—I don't know what possessed me—I decided to pull on black tights. Black tights and a gold dress with white shoes, for God's sake, Susan, do not match! But I didn't know that then. I put my head round the living-room door to say goodbye to my cat, Pebbles, but she was sensibly fast asleep in the hearth. Just before leaving the house I touched the gold chain round my neck that has my mother's wedding ring on it. Wearing it makes me feel she's close. 'Here we go then,' I said, closing the front door behind me.
Sometimes when I look back at that moment, I feel there must have been some sign that my life was about to change, but if anything it was the opposite. There was nothing auspicious at all about that rainy, grey dawn. In fact, it felt like one of those days when the sun never seems to come up. They call this part of Scotland the Wet Valley because we get more than our fair share of rain. Some people say the next generation is going to be born with webbed feet! Sling-back, peep-toe white shoes are certainly not the most suitable footwear on a rainy winter morning and the water was seeping in through all the gaps.
There were one or two lights on in the neighbours' upstairs windows, but it was still too early for most people to be up and about. A dog that had been out all night shivered in the dripping shelter of a doorstep. I saw a couple of men leaving their houses for the early shift, their coat collars up, lunchboxes under their arms. They didn't take any notice of me, which was just as well because, teetering along on heels like stilts, I was in quite a mood.