'I didn't want to just be seen as Mrs Shane MacGowan' – Victoria Mary Clarke

Your wedding is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. I wouldn’t be the type of person to believe that. I don’t expect things to turn out well, in general. When people ask me if I am excited about going on holiday, I say no, I hate flying and it might rain. So when me and Shane got married a year ago, I was really just hoping to get it over with and go home and watch Netflix.

We waited 32 years to take the vows. I had been entirely mesmerised by Shane from the very first moment that I saw him in a dingy north London pub, when I was just 16.

He was not handsome, but he was remarkable looking, very tall, luminously pale with ears that stuck out and blackened tombstone teeth and enormous blue eyes that seemed to challenge you not to be interested.

He had charisma; he knew who he was and where he was going and he was quite clearly going to get there. And he was cheeky. He didn’t know me, but he walked over and demanded that I buy drinks for him and his friend.

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I told him to f*** off.

It was a Mr Darcy moment.

We got together when I turned 20, but even though we got engaged we both held back from actual marriage.

There were reasons why I hesitated. I didn’t want to just be Mrs Shane MacGowan. I get stopped by strangers in the street who say things like ‘Aren’t you Shane MacGowan’s…?’ Like I am his car or his jacket.

I always wanted to have an identity of my own. Not having a sense of your own worth or purpose is a very tricky business, particularly if you have a famous partner, because the high that comes from getting attention and approval is like a hit for a junkie: you feel as if your life depends upon it. I spent years and years raging at Shane – because he was the one who was successful and he was the VIP.

It drove me crazy – I actually ended up in a mental hospital, suicidally depressed because I thought I was worthless without success. Getting married at that time would have been admitting that my only role was a supporting one.

Another reason to not get married at that time was the loneliness. I was terrified of it. I couldn’t bear to be alone. And I didn’t want to get married out of fear, fear of not being able to cope by myself.

I didn’t know if it was possible, but I wanted to try and stand on my own two feet, to try and find a sense of being enough. So I left Shane and went to live by myself in a grotty bedsit.

It was a total nightmare. Most of the time I couldn’t even get out of bed, I didn’t wash, I didn’t get dressed. I truly could not see any point in being alive, I couldn’t see that there was any possibility of happiness and I could see nothing in my future worth living for.

I have always been into self-help and manifesting your own reality, the law of attraction, creative visualisation and angels and guides. I had read all the books, done the affirmations and the workshops and as far as I could see, nothing had worked, so I felt stupid and frustrated.

But I had to have one more go before I gave up entirely. I asked the angels to help me and to fix my mess. And they answered.

They started talking to me, through automatic writing, they life-coached me until I began to feel hopeful and optimistic, until I completely changed my attitude, and got myself back out there, working, writing and even doing a book of angel advice.

Doing angel channelling for other people was the first experience I ever had of feeling really, really good about something that I could do. I was able to help people, and they were happier as a result and it had absolutely nothing to do with Shane.

Even Marian Keyes, after I channelled angels for her, wrote that she felt “safe and cherished, restored to myself, happy to be the person living my life”. Which was ironic because I was hideously jealous of her success as a writer, and I couldn’t believe that bestselling books didn’t make for a perfect life.

When two people are drowning, at least one of them has to get a life raft if they are going to survive. Shane had been having his own struggles with addiction and depression. It is not easy to live with someone who never wants to be sensible, or play it safe or take advice. Shane is a rebel and he won’t be changed or fixed or improved, no matter how hard anyone wants to try.

If you love someone like that, you have to have a lot of inner strength and faith, and you have to accept them as they are, or go your own way. But we were both getting stronger, and we both knew that we loved each other and that we had never seriously believed that we would find anyone else that we loved so intensely.

Love can be the most painful thing you ever experience; it is tempting to hold back from it in case you get hurt. But we decided to get married, as a way of committing to each other and taking a chance on love being bigger than anything in its way, as Bono says.

We wanted the wedding to be quiet and quick, with minimal fuss, so we chose Copenhagen, where we didn’t know anyone. Perhaps because neither of us is very good at letting people in. But people managed to get through, and they came to the wedding.

I am not the best at organising things. I hadn’t even organised the venue for the party, but we accidentally found a place which was like a Disney movie, in the Tivoli Gardens – the oldest funfair in the world.

It was a sparkling, freezing, gloriously bright day, there was snow and fairy lights and Christmas trees and mulled wine and a massive pirate ship, and Johnny Depp was the wedding singer, and he sang Astral Weeks, which is our favourite song. My mother and sisters brought flowers and a cake, and Bella Freud gave me a gorgeous red dress.

I couldn’t sleep the night before from the nerves, and I couldn’t speak because I lost my voice.

But the love that we both felt from our friends and families and from the media and the public was unimaginable.

You open your heart a bit and there is potential for pain, but there is also potential for joy – the heart is a two-way valve.

I would never have put money on this happening, but Shane and I are really enjoying being married; instead of feeling trapped, we both feel more supported and more loved.

Shortly after the wedding, Johnny Depp gave us one of his paintings, and when we went to stay with him, I saw how much happiness he was getting from painting just for the sake of it, just to experience creativity in a new way.

He inspired me to start painting as well, and I began to paint angels.

I liked it just as much as I liked writing to them, and every morning I painted an angel, as a kind of meditation.

In the old days I would not have even picked up a paint brush, I would have said to myself ‘what’s the point of painting? You won’t be any good, nobody will want to see them and you’ll be wasting your time.’ Hopelessness was my default setting.

One day, I turned an angel into a design for a scarf, and I went online and found a place who would make the scarves in silk, hand-rolled like the Hermes scarves.

I would have told myself I was mad to try the scarves because I could only imagine failure and disappointment. But if you take a chance on things and just ignore the inner critic, you can surprise yourself.

People seemed to like them, and to want them. Lots of great artists that I admire wanted them – and not just Shane. Paul Simon asked for one, as did Nick Cave and Chrissie Hynde, Imelda May and Johnny Depp.

But what is even more special is the real people, the total strangers from other countries who have been ordering them. A lady from Sweden bought two and then sent me pictures of herself wearing them.

People are telling me that wearing the angels is giving them hope and helping them to focus on the positive and to feel good about themselves, which is exactly what they did for me and what I would want them to do for other people. You can’t get better than that.

I will be doing a pop-up shop at the Good Food Store, George’s Street, Dublin on December 4, 5, 12, 17 18 and 19 from 4pm.

www.victoriamaryclarkeangels.com

 

Beauty, fashion and Pilates: just some of the businesswomen who got married to famous husbands

Dustin Hoffman and Lisa Gottsegen

 

Dustin Hoffman married Lisa Gottsegen in October 1980. At that time he was a three-time ‘Best Actor’ Oscar nominee (he later won it twice), while she was a graduate in psychology from the University of Colorado. 

Four children later, she released a line of beauty products under the brand Lisa Hoffman Beauty. She is the founder and current president of Lisa Hoffman Beauty, which specialises in fine fragrance products.

Model Aoife Cogan and rugby player Gordon D’Arcy were both booked for a photo shoot to promote bottled water.

He asked her out and she said no. But when he asked again some months later if she’d like to go and see the Bristol trip hop outfit Massive Attack, she relented. They married three years later.

Apart from having two children, Aoife has also founded Form School, a pilates studio, that offers a range of workout options set in an artistic space.

Ali Stewart met Paul Hewson at school in the early 1970s. By the time they married in 1982, he was known to most people as Bono, and she was planning on becoming a nurse.

But the demands of nursing were such that she instead decided to study social science, politics and sociology at UCD. (The first of the couple’s four children was born two weeks before she sat her final exams.)

After those four kids, Ali went on to co-found two ethical businesses — the Edun fashion line, and Nude Skincare products. French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH has made substantial investments into both companies.

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