Instead, I found someone who looked like a wistful French waif, but who is a woman of the world, speaking at least two languages fluently and singing in half-a-dozen. A confident, international entertainer. A European.
"In England, an artist is terribly isolated," said Petua, as we walked along the terrace with a blue swimming pool in the background. "If you are successful, success is confined to England."
"Over here, if you go over big in Paris, Rome wants you, Berlin becomes interested. Madrid starts making offers. An artist can earn much more working on the Continent than ever she can if she confines her activities in Britain."
Petula was precipitated into the international song market almost by accident five years ago when she met a handsome young Public Rleations man, Claude Wolff, in Paris.
"Claude didn't speak any English and I didn't speak French," smiled Petula. "But two years later we decided we wanted to get married. The big question was whether we were going to live in Britain or France. We decided on France, because it was easier for me to change my act than for Claude to start his career all over again in England.
"It was an alarming prospect, pulling up roots and restarting life in another country. and I didn't like Paris much when we
Claude does some tile repairs as Petula watches at their Riviera home.
settled down there. I thought
the men were full of hot air and the women too pre-occupied with their appearance. Everyone seemed completely insincere.
"Paris is so much more sophisticated than London, but now I feel at home in France. I don't think I could go back to England and settled down again. I would feel like a foreigner."
France has left its mark on the girl ffrom the village of Losworth in Sussex. The brittle British accent has been softened by French overtones. Ocasionally she forgets English words and has to use French. She has learned to take an interest in cooking--and to eat well.
"In England, when I was on tour, I used to live on eggs-on-toast and tea," she said. "Now when I go for a meal, I spend four hours over it. It's much better for the digestive system."
They have brought a 35,00 house in the most attractive part of the cote d'Azur. And an apartment in Paris. They have brought two beautiful Anglo-French babies, Barbara and Katherine.
They have brought her the kind of stardom that can command 6000 an appearance--and 5,000 a week. They have made her as much a celebrity in France, Spain and Italy as she is in Britain. And they have brought infinite variety to her life.
On Monday, she might be singing in the early hous of the morning at an open-air party in spain. On tuesday, she could be working at a beer festival in Germany. On Wednesday she may be doing a cabaret spot in Rome. And, on Thursday, she could be siging in an old Roman arena in France--af few hours after they have been staging bull-fighting there.
But the international round can be wearing. "A few months ago, I went on the stage at Hamburg after plane-hoping half-way around Europe," she said. "When I opened my act, I went straight into Spanish! I simply couldn't remember what language I was supposed to be performing in!"
"In a few years I shall have to start cutting down the number of shows and spending more time with the children..,.And I suppose, they will grow up taking it for granted that they have a house on the Rivera and an apartment in Paris. But I never shall. We have worked much too hard for what we have ever to do that."