The hor­rific break-up of my six-month mar­riage

Myleene Klass re­veals the truth about her dra­matic split

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE -

H ow bril­liant does Myleene Klass’s fa­ther sound? Some­how our con­ver­sa­tion — which charts a chaotic course around her ca­reer, her mu­sic, her kids, her hor­ror of a (soon-tobe-ex) hus­band, even her bikini body – al­ways comes back to her dad, Os­car, who sounds like just the sort of man you should have at your side in choppy wa­ters.

‘ He was a cap­tain in the Royal Navy,’ she ex­plains. ‘He’s re­tired now but loves wa­ter so much he’s re­trained as a plumber!’ It was Cap­tain Klass who steered the young Myleene — or ‘Leeney’ as she’s called at home — back on track when she re­belled as a teenager and de­cided she didn’t want to play the pi­ano any more, but wanted to hang out with boys and drink cider in­stead. ‘It was a big re­bel­lion, given I was sup­posed to be head­ing for a ca­reer in mu­sic. My dad’s way of deal­ing with it wasn’t to go on about the money he’d spent on lessons, but to agree with me and lock the pi­ano. It was a sure­fire way of get­ting me back to it. When your par­ents are sud­denly agree­ing with you it’s not so much of a re­bel­lion, is it?’

It was her fa­ther who in­sisted she get a proper ed­u­ca­tion rather than run­ning off to stage school, and who rammed home the im­por­tance of be­ing able to stand on her own two feet fi­nan­cially. Cu­ri­ously, it’s her fa­ther she cred­its for her ‘not-at-all-per­fect’ bikini body. While she gets her small frame from her Filip­ina mother, it’s his An­gloAus­trian parent­age she has to thank for her ‘Helga hips’. Most im­por­tantly though, it’s her fa­ther who pro­vides the an­chor to her life. It was in his arms that she wept when Dubliner Gra­ham Quinn, the fa­ther of her two chil­dren and her hus­band of just six months, told her their mar­riage was over on her 34th birth­day last year. Her mother pro­vided ‘life-sav­ing’ sup­port too (‘she makes food parcels be­cause she thinks I won’t eat prop­erly if left to my own de­vices’) but it was Cap­tain Klass who stopped her from go­ing un­der. ‘All my life Dad’s been there with his sea-dog analo­gies, like “Don’t be a rud­der­less ship”, or “Panic costs lives” — but they’ve never been so apt be­fore. There’ve been times when I’ve just cried and asked him what on earth I do now, and his re­ply is al­ways, “You pick a course and you hold your nerve and you go on. You’re the cap­tain of your own ship. You sort your girls out. You steer them out of this.”

‘My dad’s the most prac­ti­cal per­son I know. He thinks calmly. I’m not like that. I can be quite er­ratic and I act on my emo­tions a lot. He’s taught me to see the big­ger pic­ture. In this case it’s my girls. From the start he was adamant, “Get the girls through this and you’ll be okay.” He’s right. I have to be in charge of this ship. If I don’t know where I’m go­ing, we’ve all had it.’

It’s 18 months since Myleene’s world col­lapsed around her. With no warn­ing, and be­fore they’d even picked up the mar­riage cer­tifi­cate, Quinn — brother to Keith Duffy’s wife, Lisa — an­nounced their mar­riage was over. Quinn had been her body­guard dur­ing her Hear’Say pop-band days and is fa­ther to Ava, six, and Hero, two. Their hon­ey­moon pe­riod has been spent in the di­vorce courts, with him claim­ing a size­able chunk of her €13m for­tune. For le­gal rea­sons (‘and be­cause I refuse to wash my dirty linen in pub­lic, for the sake of my chil­dren’), she can’t talk about that side of the split. She did tweet re­cently, how­ever, about one of her big re­grets in life be­ing that she didn’t ‘get a pre-nup’, which she says she stands by to­day. She also says, ‘I be­lieve money is the root of all evil.’ Fi­nances aside, it’s been a ‘mon­strous’ time. ‘You know what an­noys me? When I read of some celebrity cou­ple split­ting up and it seems so neat. You read, “He had an af­fair; they’ve split; it’s over” and ev­ery­one thinks it’s that easy. Let me tell you: it’s not easy; it’s hor­rific. I’m still in the mid­dle of it. I’m still at that stage of think­ing, “Is this ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing? Am I in the mid­dle of a night­mare and about to wake up?”’

Out­wardly — as is so of­ten the case when it comes to the ex­traor­di­nary force of na­ture that is Myleene Klass — all seems rosy. She’s dat­ing again and has been pic­tured in the pa­pers in leop­ard-print dresses, ac­ces­sorised with a new man. She de­clines to name him to­day but con­firms that he is, as re­ported, Scan­di­na­vian. ‘I call him the Great Dane,’ she grins. She’s been see­ing him for a few months now, and says she’s as sur­prised as any­one to be ‘back in the game’. ‘I cer­tainly wasn’t out there look­ing — noth­ing could have been fur­ther from my mind. I was still lick­ing my wounds. It ac­tu­ally came as a big sur­prise. But it’s nice to ac­tu­ally think, “Okay, I’m a mum, but I’m still a woman.” My girls can see that I’m happy and get­ting back to my old self again, and that’s re­as­sur­ing for ev­ery­one. Be­lieve me, I never thought that would hap­pen. I thought I’d never smile again. I couldn’t imag­ine laugh­ing.’

It was her chil­dren, though, rather than any new love, who con­vinced her that life goes on. ‘The first time I laughed out loud was when Hero took her first steps. I couldn’t help my­self. We had her chris­ten­ing re­cently. It was the hap­pi­est time. I looked at all the friends and fam­ily around me and I gen­uinely thought, “I’m blessed”.’

Her ex wasn’t at the chris­ten­ing. Whether that was his choice or hers, she won’t say. What does be­come clear, though, is that her get­ting to the point where she calls her­self a sin­gle par­ent has been a longer slog than any­one thought. She tells me that, far from accepting that their mar­riage was over, she was in de­nial for a long time. ‘This wasn’t what I wanted for

my girls, or for my­self. My par­ents have been mar­ried for 38 years; that was my blue­print.’ She says that, far from mov­ing on im­me­di­ately — as some re­ports at the time sug­gested — she pleaded with Quinn to re­con­sider. ‘ I fought as hard as I pos­si­bly could. I thought it was worth sav­ing. I did ev­ery­thing. Pride? I didn’t have any. I don’t know if it’s fem­i­nist or anti-fem­i­nist or what, but I would have done any­thing, put up with any­thing, to keep my fam­ily to­gether.’ She still seems be­wil­dered about what ac­tu­ally went wrong. ‘Did I fail to pick up on some­thing? If I did I’d been do­ing it for a decade, be­cause that’s how long we’d been to­gether. Noth­ing had changed. We were do­ing ex­actly what we’d been do­ing for all those years.’

Yet all was not per­fect in the Quinn house­hold. For years they’d been hailed the ‘odd cou­ple’ of show­biz. While she was a per­ma­nently sunny soul, he was a shad­owy char­ac­ter who was fined and given a sus­pended prison sen­tence in 2005 for pos­ses­sion of heroin. In ev­ery in­ter­view she ever gave, she de­fended him. No more. I ask if her fam­ily and friends warned her Quinn was no good for her. She says, ‘I can’t even be­gin to go there, but ev­ery­one had an opin­ion.’ And was ‘ev­ery­one’ right about him? ‘Yes.’

Quite what role Gra­ham Quinn had in the fam­ily has never been clear. In in­ter­views Myleene has al­ways chat­ted about try­ing to com­bine child­care with work, and fa­mously al­ways pitched up at events with a child or two un­der her arm. She jokes to­day about how her friend, the pre­sen­ter and DJ Lau­ren Lav­erne, had to bully her into get­ting a cleaner ‘be­cause I was try­ing to do it all my­self. It’s the Filip­ina in me. I can’t stand the idea of hav­ing help.’ Where was her hus­band in all this? It’s un­clear. ‘Put it this way, I don’t feel in my home life there’s been that big a change. I did it all.’ So she was a sin­gle mother b efor e she was a sin­gle mother? ‘Yeah. In a weird way, the ad­just­ment hasn’t been too crazy.’ Her work ethic has al­ways been phe­nom­e­nal. To­day she’s pro­mot­ing her new bed­ding range, the lat­est in a long list of prod­ucts, from kids’ clothes to prams to scented can­dles, that bear the Myleene Klass name. Then she’s jet­ting off to Ger­many to play a pri­vate con­cert. ‘I pro­vide for my chil­dren. I want them to see that things carry on as nor­mal. I want them to be proud of me.’

She’s spent much of her ca­reer try­ing to cor­rect the im­pres­sion she’s smug, or that her life — or body — is per­fect. At one point she leaps to her feet to show me the stretch­marks where her back meets her bum. ‘I flip­pin’ earned these,’ she says. ‘I put on 4½st with my ba­bies.’ Mind you, no one thinks her life is per­fect any more, ‘be­cause they’ve seen it get hit by a bus. Now they think, “Oh, she’s nor­mal. S**t things hap­pen to her too.”’

She talks mov­ingly about the day it all col­lapsed. ‘I called my par­ents and said, “I need to see you” and I just went over. I took the girls and they picked up the pieces that no grown woman ever wants their par­ents to have to pick up. When you’re my age you want to be the one look­ing af­ter your par­ents, but as my mum says, “You never stop be­ing a mother.”’

The practicalities were huge. ‘I had to move house, get Ava into a new school — big, lifechang­ing things — all in the space of a few weeks. Then there was the job to keep go­ing. I still had com­mit­ments. Of­ten my man­ager would have to meet me at the school gates. At night I’d crawl up the stairs, feel­ing like I’d been run over.’ She won’t be drawn on what she’s told her girls about the split, or about whether they see their fa­ther at all, but it’s telling that when she chats away about Ava learn­ing to ride her bike, she says it’s grand­dad Os­car who’s teach­ing her. ‘They say it takes a vil­lage to raise a child, and I be­lieve that now — I couldn’t have done it on my own. In a funny way it’s been a bless­ing be­cause it’s made our fam­ily unit, the Klass fam­ily, strong again.’

What of her new re­la­tion­ship? ‘I’m a re­al­ist. I know I don’t need some­one else to heal me — I have to heal my­self. I’ve never re­ally been one of these peo­ple who thinks a part­ner is a sec­ond half of you. It’s my be­lief you have to be whole be­fore you go into a re­la­tion­ship. You have to learn what it’s like to be your­self again.’ Is it scary? ‘Yes, but it’s lib­er­at­ing too. I don’t need a man. I can sup­port my­self and my fam­ily fi­nan­cially. I’m in the priv­i­leged po­si­tion of be­ing able to look at things and say, “What do I re­ally want?”’

Mostly, she wants not to be de­stroyed by the events of the last 18 months. ‘I can’t let what hap­pened sour me against the world. I know how to love. I know how to trust. I’m not go­ing to turn against ev­ery man be­cause of one per­son’s ac­tion, or in­ac­tion.’ Nor does she want her daugh­ters to grow up think­ing men aren’t to be trusted. ‘I’m go­ing to teach them that there are some re­ally good men out there: they should look to their grand­dad for starters.’

Myleene’s de­but Home In­te­ri­ors Col­lec­tion is avail­able now

Myleene mar­ry­ing Gra­ham in 2011

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