Me and my library;Interview;Leo Sayer;Arts

30th July 1999 at 01:00
I wrote some of my early songs in the library in Worthing. I used to go there every day after college when I was doing a graphics course at West Sussex College of Arts and Crafts. It was next to the town hall, a lovely light building with classic, round windows and a flagstone floor that smelt of wax polish.

There were a few regulars in the reading room. One guy was a roadsweeper who wanted to educate himself, another man was swotting up to work at the British Museum and an Indian woman, who worked in a local shop, was reading about the history of Bangladesh. Learning was a labour of love for all of us.

At school I spent most of my time going backwards because I kept getting beaten up. I was a little boy and unfortunately there was another boy in the class who was the same size as me, and he used to try to prove what a man he was by hitting me. When I left school the only thing I was any good at was art.

My father was a great believer in the Encyclopaedia Britannica but I would never read it at home because I was a rebel. I read it at the library though, and there I also discovered that I loved Russian authors like Dostoevsky, and Russian history. I was also interested in architecture. I read all about Gaudi and was encouraged to go to Spain to visit the private houses he had built in Madrid and Barcelona.

I was desperate to learn. Going to the library every day to study was my secret. I usually sat at the same big wooden desk. Sometimes other people would join me. Occasionally I wrote poetry. I often stayed until the library closed, at about eight or nine o'clock, before taking the train home to Goring. It was only about three stops and if I could find an empty compartment, I used the time to practise playing the harmonica.

When I started writing songs I did research for the lyrics in the library. I worked on "The Innocent Bystander" and "The Show Must Go On" in Worthing Library with my rhyming dictionary, my book of synonyms and my dictionary of English slang. I got to know the staff in the library so well I married one of them - Janice, my first wife, to whom I was married for 14 years.

Last year, I did a show in Worthing, and went back to have a look at the library. It's a bank now.

I still love libraries. I usually visit them when I'm touring abroad because it's difficult here if I get recognised.

Leo Sayer has recently completed a UK tour and will be embarking on a world tour later this year. He was talking to Pamela Coleman

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