When did you first become aware that your uncle was a famous ex rock star?
I was only fairly young, and while Pink Floyd as a band were truly HUGE, it wasn't really music I was into, being 9 or 10. I knew of the bigger songs such as some from The Wall - as they were on the radio and television a lot, but it took a while to realise that Roger (Syd) was linked to the band.
Did you see him a lot as a kid and how did you get on with him? Some people have said of how good he was with kids...
We saw him quite a lot as children as he lived for quite a time in my Grandmother’s house, and we visited her regularly as you would expect grandchildren to do. Rog just happened to be living in the house as well. I wouldn't claim that he was VERY sociable but always really pleasant to be around - and would often pop downstairs to say hello.
Do you think Syd got more comfortable with his life as time went on and perhaps became happier than ever, finding a kind of contentment with his art and general day to day life?
I think the reality of his life, was much more mundane and relaxed than most stories would have you believe. It is not for me or anyone to say how happy or content he was, but I think that for the bulk of his life he was pretty happy. He always had the freedom to create his art, and just potter around, and that’s something that not many of us have. There were plenty of annoying distractions that kept him from truly relaxing though. There was ALWAYS the drip drip distraction of fans doorknocking, and that would have tested the patience of a Saint. Readers may not be aware, but as he never moved from his house in Cambridge the address became common knowledge, and fans would visit from all over the World. There were many that would travel from Italy just to hang around while they plucked up the courage to knock on his door. What response they were expecting I have NO idea!
Did he ever speak to you about his music days, or was it something he never really spoke of?
No. This question is often asked, but it just didn't happen. The musical part of his career was what precipitated his breakdown and withdrawal from show business and it had a lot of bad memories. While I am sure he was very proud of the music he created it wasn't a time he had any desire to revisit.
Did the fact he was your uncle get you a lot of attention and did you tire of it?
I would be a liar if I claimed it has been a hindrance. One thing I have to thank Roger’s legacy is that it has eased me into SO many friendships. Friendships that have lasted for many years. There have occasionally been people who use my friendship for their own ends, but that's their problem - not mine. There are SO many people who have such affection for his music and art that they just LONG to hear some news. But there never was any. There was a Syd Barrett fanclub but it was closed down many years ago. The reason given was, and I quote - 'LACK OF SYD.' I think it's partly because he distanced himself so totally from the music business fans have clamoured for ANY information about him. The one thing that is almost unique about Rogers withdrawal from music was that he stopped - and NEVER RETURNED. There are plenty of musicians who have had breakdowns, such as Roky Erickson and Arthur Lee for example, but they both returned to music and kept on recording and performing. Roger stopped making music, and never played a note on stage or on record again. After a Melody Maker interview in 1971 he never once spoke to the press. That is rare!
Where do you think he stands, legacy-wise?
As for Roger's legacy, I'm beginning to think I am too close to actually assess that well. I was talking to a good friend of mine who is also a big fan of Roger’s a while back, and he was trying to emphasise the importance of what he created - and also that it's a legacy that is growing. I really don't think I understand it, and that’s not meant in a negative way. It is just hard to appreciate how the man you visited and chatted to can be so revered by so many. And for so LONG! It is more than 40 years since he played a note!
How would you sum up the man you knew in a few words?
Inspiring. Inspired. Misunderstood.
Also, how did Syd view his own art and were you a fan of his paintings?
I love his art, and I think it is important to view his art as his first love, rather than the music. While the music is fantastic, he viewed himself first and foremost as a painter. He was already at Art College in London when the Pink Floyd started, and is art was always running parallel. It is impossible to know but I suspect he resented his musical success for taking away the time to paint. I'm sure he would have loved more time to devote to art, but the band were SO successful and in demand it just wasn't possible. That is why it has always annoyed me when people view his later absence from society as the act of a 'recluse' At that point he had the time to do what he loved, and in partial peace. Does that REALLY make him a recluse? There was a large art exhibition in London last year that gathered as many existing paintings as possible. I was lucky enough to attend the launch party and was gobsmacked by how busy it was. The gallery was packed with people keen to check out the artwork of someone with mythical power to them. In a sense, there is little evidence of his career, but what there is keeps resonating down the decades….. I love painting myself, and while I devote most of my time to my jewellery I also love painting - mainly watercolours. It is a relaxing way to wind down.