The wonderful Aspects of life in Barnes

Michael Ball 45 is famous for his starring West End role in Aspects of Love - his version of Love Changes Everything earned him a silver disc. His latest album, Back to Bacharach is out on Monday and he opens in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre on Tuesday Oct 30th. He lives in Barnes South-West London with his partner Cathy McGowan.
~ The Times on Sunday - 21/10/2007 ~

"I was in West Hampstead and Cathy was in Barnes with her daugher Emma when we decided to cohabit. I'd lived in Cricklewood, Kilburn and Finsbury Park so was against South London. But I gave up my flat and moved into her house. Then we bought a place together in 1992 and I fell in love with the area.

Barnes is a proper old village with everything you might need. I know all the shopkeepers. We have a fabulous family butcher, a green-grocer, fishmonger and cheese shop. We also have White Hart Lane, a row of gorgeous shops in Mortlake. I love looking in The Dining Room Shop and Tobias And The Angel. There's a vast petition trying to prevent a Sainsbury's there and I've joined the campaign.

The only places you could call chains are Pizza Express, Starbucks and Londis, which is open late - useful when you want a few Cornettos!

Barnes has amazing open spaces. Cath and I have two Tibetan terriers. The grandfather of one won Crufts this year but ours aren't as poncey as that. For walks you've got the Common and Barnes Pond, then there's a reservoir hidden between Lonsdale Road and The Thames.

Nice areas of London are often surrounded by dodgy places, but Barnes isn't like that. I walk the dogs at night and never see any trouble.

It's quite an arty area. We live next door to Andy Bown from Status Quo and there are quite a few business types. There's a brilliant studio, Olympic, where I've recorded nearly all my stuff. It's so close I could run a microphone lead to it from my bedroom!

Our first house burnt down two days before Xmas 2001. An electrical fire started in my office at 4 in the morning. Cath woke up and luckily got us out in time. All our memorabilia was destroyed, but it didn't worry me because we were all right. After it was rebuilt, we just didn't want to move bvack in. So we bought a beautiful Victorian house instead, just off Castelnau in the middle of Barnes.

I like having people round, then going to Riva and walking back for coffee and a late night. It's our local Italian but happens to be one of the best restaurants in London.

The downside is Barnes does not have a Tube, but I normally drive or take the bus. If the traffic's not too bad I can be in the West End in 20 minutes. The only other drawback is it's on the Heathrow flightpath. But in North London we had knife crime so I'll stick with the planes.

We also have a house on the beach in West Wittering in West Sussex and it takes only an hour and a half to get there on the A3. I'll try to get down after the Saturday shows of Hairspray and wake up there on Sunday. But I laove coming home to Barnes as much as I love going there."

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