Strange, eccentric and painfully reclusive are some of the ways Mike Oldfield is usually described. Now he unlocks the doors of his Oxfordshire mansion for Classic Rock, and tells us what he gets up to in there.
BY JERRY EWING
"I do different things on different days. The weekdays are different to weekends, like they are for most people. I wake up at seven, get the newspapers, have a cup of tea and read the papers. And I feed the cat; the cat drives me wild until I feed him. Then I have breakfast, my girlfriend usually joins me for that.
"I try to do some sort of exercise every day, I'll take my mountain bike up the road and go for a ride around the lanes here for half an hour. Or if I don't do that I'll go jogging around the garden. There's a nice seat out there under a tree where I always try to do some meditation. I'll take a walk round the garden first then I'll jog round. It's about 800 metres all around so that works out about a kilometre and a half. I do this every day, rain or shine.
"I try to balance out all the smoking and drinking - it's conscience work. Then I'll take a dip in the pool and swim a few lengths before I have a bath - I do like water! After that I normally have about an hour to myself in the studio before the engineer turns up, so I'll play around with some music or something for the new virtual reality project I'm working on. Then we'll normally spend all day working in here, either on the virtual reality thing or on music, or on both.
"I've become a lot better at delegating things over the years. There's a big barrier between the house and the studio and that area is my personal area and this is the workspace. I'll usually work until about seven in the evening
"Every evening we do something different. Monday is pint of Guinness day - so we go to our local pub in Amersham and have a few pints of Guinness and then we'll have a Chinese. At the local Chinese I have crispy duck, and then I go to bed at about ten o'clock.
"Tuesday starts the same as Monday but I also go to see my son at the local boarding school. I normally go and see him about quarter to four and take him out for tea. I'll always have a toasted cheese sandwich and he'll have a big plate of fudge cake covered in chocolate sauce. After that I drive to the squash court and play squash with Jeremy, my assistant. In the evening it's eating at home day, we get some food in and cook. I don't cook on Tuesdays, I normally cook at the weekend. And then we'll sit down and watch satellite TV.
"Wednesday is Thai dinner day. There are a few decent Thai restaurants in the area and sometimes we'll go up to London where there are a couple that I'm particularly fond of, like the Thai kitchen. The better ones do tend to be further away so sometimes we go to Oxford.
"Thursdays is lamb pie at the local pub. The rest of the day is spent the same as the others but in the evening we pop down the road to our local pub where they do this excellent homemade lamb pie. So I'll have that and a few more pints of Guinness. So you can see where the need for the early morning exercise comes from! I'm out there whether it's snowing or blowing a gale, rain, all kinds of weather.
"On Saturdays we eat here. And I'm likely to spend the whole day in bed watching TV. I'm a terrible Trekkie. I can quite happily watch it all day long on Saturday, I love it big time. I've watched every episode from every series. I want to know what's happened to Voyager? Deep Space Nine's finished too and I'm desperate for my fix. I'm not getting my Star Trek fix these days, ha ha!
"I love Saturdays, it really is a day off for me. And in the evening we'll have a take away order some food in, which will probably be Chinese or Thai, or sometimes a curry or even a Mexican. I love spicy food or anything with chillies. I think it was Kevin Ayres [70s singer/ songwriter] that I developed this love of hot and spicy food. I had my first curry with him when I was about 16 and he sat there with this big plate of Dal and eating it properly with a chapatti. I think that was my first taste of hot food and I think the idea that food could be painful really appealed to me, ha ha!
"Sunday is also a kind of a day off. In the morning I might play a bit of tennis and then I'll come into the studio and doodle around. Not really working but just messing around. Sometimes I might listen to what we'd done in the week. Sunday afternoons are cinema time, we'll pop down to the local cinema and see what's on.
"I'll watch anything that's science fiction and I like anything with special effects. If I have to, I'll go and see a movie like Captain Corelli's Mandolin (grimacing), but only because there's nothing else on to see. I love the food they serve at the cinema too, I always have a hot-dog and inevitably I'll dribble ketchup down the front of my T-shirt. Well, they make them so big that you can't get them in your mouth, so the ketchup always ends up down the front of me!
"Oh, before we go to the cinema we go down to Tesco to get the weekly shopping and food for the Sunday dinner. We get back from the cinema about six and I'll cook. I'm still trying to perfect my ultimate roast potato. I just can't get it right at the moment though I think I'm nearly there. And then I'll spend Sunday evening fussing over dinner and having a sip of wine. While it's cooking I'll usually pop in the studio and fiddle about. And then we'll have dinner and then I'll pop down to Blockbuster and rent a video. Science fiction again. And then we're back on Monday...
"Every couple of months or so we'll have a weekend away somewhere. I don't really like long holidays. So that's my life at the moment, although it's all about to change. I've found another house that I'm probably going to buy. I won't tell you where it is, but it's by a river. I'll be keeping this one on, but it's becoming more of a workplace now."
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