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Madonna Interview : Tatler

I ask her about her latest property acquisition in Lonson and whether she really is seriously considering a permanent move there. ‘Well, I bought a house there which I had to sell because I wasn’t really thinking when I bought it. It’s a beautiful house. It wasn’t on the market, but a friend of a friend told me the owner wanted to sell quickly – kind of an emergency situation. It was a good price and I figured I’ll take it and then I can always turn around and sell it. Real estate never goes down in London,’ she adds, with mock gravitas. ‘I did go through a period of trying to sort out how I could live in that house and make it secure, but there is very low wall and they are really strict about making architectural changes. I just didn’t like the idea of walking outside my door and being photographed. So I sold it.’
Given the reputation of British newspapers, does she worry about all the stories that will no doubt be written about her in the tabloids if she spends more time in London? ‘ There are so many trashy news publications in England and they make up the most outrageous stories. Nobody really believes them anyway so I’m not really worried about it.’ Even given all the stories that Diana, Princess of Wales, was hounded by them and chased to her death? ‘Yeah, but first of all she wasn’t even in England when she was chased, and second I’m not Diana. We have very different personalities. And I’ve had a lot more time to gradually get used to the press. I don’t think she really had an adjustment period. She was a child; she was thrown into it and suddenly she had a family – it was too much for her. And she was expected to be perfect and uphold some kind of standard; there was too much pressure. I’m allowed much more room to misbehave then the Princess of Wales was.’
In a few days’ time, Madonna will be returning to London, where she will carry on with her hunt for a house and get the chance to finish her latest album with Mirwais and William Orbit, who co-produced ray Of Light with her.
‘Everybody i’m working with lives in England,’ she declares. ‘I Love London; I’m having a major love affair with England. I used to hate it.’ I know this is true because she actually had the audacity to miss my wedding in 1995 because of her dislike of my home country.
‘It’s an exotic place for me,’ she says, attempting to explain her sudden affinity with a country famous for its dreary weather and its allegedly tasteless food. ‘I’ve lived in this country for 40 years. I grew up in Michigan and I’ve lived in Los Angeles, New York and Miami, and in a way you get a feeling, when you go to another country, that you sort of start again. I don’t want to say the word “reinvent” because that’s so boringly overused on me, but for me Britain is a different culture. It’s exciting. I like how formal everyone is.’ I’m beginning to wonder whether she’s being serious or not, but she is obviously quite taken with the particular topic. ‘Mind you,’ she goes on, ‘I probably couldn’t take it all the time because I wasn’t raised that way. I like the eccentricity that is bred with all that British repression and formality. It makes for good creativity. I feel really inspired when I’m there.’ She passes and adds impishly: ‘And I love to walk to a nice pub.’
Now I’m really confused. Madonna ‘the woman who nagged me for months to quit smoking, kicking back in a smoke-filled beery-smelling pub? ‘I know,’ she says, looking like someone who’s just conformed to something she has rebelled against for years, ‘Never in a million years could I have imagined myself sitting in a pub, drinking.’ ‘And what do you drink when you’re in a pub?’ I ask.
‘Apint, of course.’
‘A pint?’
‘Oh god!’ is all I can muster. ‘Well, I have to,’ she reasons. I perform the action of pulling drought lager: ‘You mean?’ ‘Yes,’ she says proudly, cutting me of. ‘What kind do you like?’ ‘Guinness,’ she responds simply. As I am picturing fashion icon Madonna sitting there with a mustache of froth on her elegant upper lip, she adds: ‘You can’t get a good glass of wine in a pub.’ What next, I wonder, the dog track? ‘I would never think of going down the street to a bar here and having a drink. It’s weird, but I love going to a pub in England and sitting there with friends and having a drink. There’s much more a feeling of community there.’
It was while recording the music for Evita in London that Madonna really fell in love with the place and made a lot of new friends. ‘What I love about it there is that most of my friends aren’t in the business. They are fashion designers and interior decorators and art dealers and writers – eccentric, strange people. We all talk about books and nobody talks about optioning something to make into a screenplay. There’s nothing I hate more than actors or singers or performers sitting down and talking about their work. I just find it deadly dull.