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Flagellating honesty of a soul's journey
on 8 October 2000
I never expected to be enthralled by anything written by or associated with Ms Willcox. I never liked her music or the persona she imposed on us at the height of her fame. And now I know why. This is an autobiography written with flagellating honesty; who could ever admit to punching and slapping their mother, or being so mean spirited as to publicly and maliciously disparage the character of an undeserving fellow actor simply because her immense ego would not allow her to be generous.
At one point Ms Willcox says "I have never been a person to have that deep, deep kind of intellectual thought..." I disagree. Here is a woman who has developed amazing insight, who has battled with demons both literal and metaphorical, admittedly of her own creation, who clawed and fought to become the best that she could be. She makes no excuses for her bad and often violent behaviour, no she points it out, flags it up and is woman enough to apologise to those she made suffer unnecessarily.
Ms Willcox learned to put her ghosts to rest and engendered humility and respect for human life. She has displaced her darkness and rage for light and joy. She speaks about her disabilities, especially dyslexia, with a positivism that makes me wish I had it; "Dyslexics can absorb abstract and complex patterns. Our memories are frighteningly detailed and encyclopaedic. While people are thinking you are thick, dyslexia is in fact giving you a head start. Their greatest mistake is to underestimate a child with dyslexia". And when she speaks of her psychic and spiritual experiences you don't feel she is pandering to the latest fade or fashion. We know she has lived it.
For me the 80s was a confusing time, so many changes were happening all at once; Punk, New Wave, New Romantics, Gothic. The rules were being broken and barriers broken down. Ms Willcox puts them into a context of virulent creativity, competition and change.
Being a fellow Brummie and contemporary of Ms Willcox I did not like her or the people she surrounded herself with. I can understand why she felt Birmingham was too small for her and I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when she left. But after reading her soul's journey I would invite her home to take a second look and see the shining souls she could not see before.
Ms Willcox is an inspiration for all of us, but especially for those who are troubled, that if we stop and look at our lives in sobriety and honesty we will see the light and not all tortured souls end up like poor Paula Yates. Above all "Living out Loud" is a darned good read.