“THE WORD RETIREMENT DOESN’T REALLY FIGURE”
Soprano LESLEY GARRETT, 62, lives in london with her husband peter christian, a gp. they have two children, jeremy, 24, and chloe, 22. she is a contestant on the new series of Celebrity MasterChef.
I’m planning a girly holiday with three friends – you can’t beat getting away from it all. i have a cottage in the south of france, so we’ll go there and walk, cook, lie by the pool and just talk. i enjoy nothing more than a put-the-world-to-rights conversation.
Peter and I have recently got fitbits and they’ve changed our lives. we’re both competitive and determined to outdo each other with steps! so i now walk everywhere and it really is the secret to life. i won’t say i feel “younger” because i don’t think we should look at it like that, but i’m so full of energy.
What do i now know about marriage? there always has to be the possibility of a fresh start. we all say things we don’t mean and do things we shouldn’t, but you should be able to talk about the things that are troubling you and the mistakes you feel you’ve made – and draw a line under them.
I’m a great one for asking for help – i don’t like suffering in silence. i’ve had a lot of bereavement in recent years, i lost both my parents, and i did get very down about it, so i sought counselling. it’s made a huge difference. people shouldn’t be afraid to seek help like that.
Right now, i have a house full of young adults and i’m really enjoying it. i’ve my own children, jeremy and chloe back at home having graduated, the children of a dear friend of mine who died a couple of years ago, and my girlfriend’s son, steffan, from italy – all between the ages of 22 and 25. it means i’m spending all my spare time cooking with them – or joining their very long game of thrones sessions!
I don’t use the word retirement – it doesn’t really figure. i recently had a bit of a break from opera… but it wasn’t intentional. people just stopped offering me work, so when i went up to see friends at opera north, i said, “why are you not offering me anything any more?” and they said, “we thought you’d given it up!”
i hadn’t, of course. i’m now working with composers, developing new operas. i’m back in the thick of it again and i’m finding that in my sixties life is opening up in a way i didn’t realise it could.
I’d had a fantasy about being on celebrity masterchef for years. i’ve always been a huge fan, but i’ve never been a grand chef – before i signed up, my signature dish was fish fingers three ways! so i went into it thinking, “i might struggle here” – but it’s been incredibly empowering.
CELEBRITY MASTERCHEF starts on BBC One this month. Lesley will be performing at Lady Taverners 30th Anniversary Gala Concert on 24 September; lordstaverners.org
“IN MY SIXTIES LIFE IS OPENING UP IN A WAY I DIDN’T REALISE IT COULD”