Thu, Dec 12, 2013 - Page 9 News List

Singer Susan Boyle’s offbeat career

As her extraordinary career continues, the Scottish sensation has revealed that she has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. She talks frankly about her personal struggles, sibling jealousy and duet with Elvis

By Catherine Deveney  /  The Observer

Her mother, she believes, helped her fulfill the promise.

“Spiritually, she’s with me all the time. She has had a word with someone upstairs, because I wouldn’t have had this otherwise. There has been some sort of intervention in some way. I do feel that,” Boyle said.

Despite building what she called “the posh house” close by, Boyle has now let her niece live in it and continues to live by herself in her mother’s home, in public housing. It wasn’t so much the building that drew her back — it is an ordinary terraced house in a neat but gray housing scheme. It was the memories, the sense of her mother’s presence. She struggled when Bridget died.

“I felt as if the cord had been broken emotionally and I didn’t know what to do. My weight went down and my house was a bit of a mess. I had to get social services in. I couldn’t cope at all,” she said.

Was she frightened? She nodded.

“Very frightened,” she said.

She has also lost a brother and a sister, Kathleen, to whom she was particularly close. Kathleen, died 13 years ago.

“You never think of a brother or sister dying. You think they will be there for you. When they’re not, it’s not only a shock, but you have a sense of unfairness about it all. It made me a bit angry, lashing out at people. It’s something that even today I still struggle with, not just Kathleen’s death, but other people who have been close to me. It doesn’t do a lot for your security,” she said.

Security seems to be a key concept for Boyle. Asperger’s syndrome often creates anxiety in sufferers.

“I struggle with relationships,” she said. “I never know if people are genuine. I would say I have relationship difficulties, communicative difficulties, which lead to a lot of frustration. If people were a bit more patient, that would help.”

Growing up, when people let her down, music was a companion. Her house rocked with Elvis and rolled with the Osmonds. She spent teenage years swooning over Donny and watching footage of her performing with Osmond, the overawed teenager is still strikingly evident in the middle-aged woman.

She lives alone but once had a boyfriend when she was in her 20s. Her father, Patrick, ended the relationship. Patrick Boyle was a miner, and while Susan loved him, their relationship was different from the gentle one she shared with her mother.

“My dad was the boss and not a great one for showing his emotions. He had a lot of hurt over events in his own life. He was a sergeant major in the army in the Second World War and he must have seen a lot of things. When he came home from the army he would sit and cry for no reason and there were just some things we couldn’t talk about. People beside him being killed... that must have been traumatic,” she said.

Asked if she resents her father’s decision, the question sparked defiant loyalty.

“I was sad because I lost my boyfriend, but my dad was right,” she said.

Was he?

“I just told you,” she chided gently. “He was being protective towards his daughter. He didn’t want me getting hurt.”

She would still like to meet someone and, even at the age of 52, insisted, “There’s plenty of time.”

What kind of person?

“I’d look for someone young. Someone creative. Someone who would make me laugh. Someone I’d get along well with, who’d take my music further, perhaps. Someone gentle. Someone accepting,” she said.

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