A life in front of the camera

By Tina Calder

@TinaCalder

 

Former Vogue model Patience Bradley has had a life that people only dream of.

From rubbing shoulders with celebrities in the high echelons of London society life as a teenager and having love affairs with some of the most famous names of the time.

But there was a darker side to the industry, behind the glitz and glamour Patience was a young woman trying to find her way in the world.  Battling dyslexia, anorexia and the psychological effects of emotional abuse, Patience carved a successful career that continues today.

Earlier this yeah Patience released her memoirs, Where Do You Go To My Lovely (Excalibur Press).  The book, which is filled with pictures from her time as a model and dancer, is an account of the good times and the bad showing Patience for what she truly is – an honest survivor.

Working with writer Jane Crosbie, Patience tells a series of jaw-dropping stories of drug-fuelled parties, sex orgies and being surrounded by people drinking to excess.

In the late 1970s the teenager, then known as Patti Lawrence, 14-year-old Patience arrived in London at the behest of Vogue magazine.

By her mid-late teens she was rubbing shoulders and partying with the biggest names in showbiz.

Despite being surrounded by temptation Patience never gave in and stayed sober the whole time, something she’s eternally grateful for.

For Patience — who now lives with her husband Ivor and their family of Chihuahuas in Holywood, Co Down — it wasn’t hard to abstain from two out of the three temptations that the 70s presented her with.  Having seen a young 14-year-old male model die at a party within weeks of her arrival in London, Patience was determined not to end up like him.

While everyone around her was drinking to excess, experimenting and abusing drugs and playing fast and loose with their sex lives, Patience was stone cold sober and watching it all from the sidelines.

“When I first arrived in London, I shared a flat with some other models.  I was by no means the only teenage model in London and some behaved as if they were children let loose in a sweet shop.

“There were a lot of ‘substances’ available.  Within a week or so of my arrival there was a party in our flat and a young male model, the same age as myself [14] died of an overdose on the sofa in the living room, surrounded by spaced out strangers, who by the time they realised there was something wrong were too late.”

In some ways Patience is thankful for that experience so early on in her career as a model.  It was just the scare she needed to ensure she wouldn’t get caught up in the dangerous side of the business.

But deep down Patience believes there may have been something else at work helping her to steer clear of temptation.  Her faith.

She explained: “My mum had unbelievable faith and I always had this feeling that there was something wonderful there looking out for us – you only have to look out into the world and see that there is something or someone in the background making miracles.

“The thing is I used to say that I certainly believed in God but I had terrible trouble with Jesus.  And what I meant by that was that because I could never read because of my dyslexia, I never read the Bible, and I used to go to church and just listen to ministers of different churches from Methodist to Church of England.  My mother was also a Quaker although I have never been to a Quaker church.  When I was listening I used to think that it just wasn’t right how they were pounding on about one man who was killed the same way as was the way in those days – so he wasn’t going through anything different than the two men beside him.

“Then just over four years ago I realised that he wasn’t just going through what they went through.  He was carrying everybody’s burden and that’s how I see it now.

“During my life it’s not that I had lost faith or stopped believing, it just never got any stronger or any less until four years ago.  If I went to church with mummy it was because I was being dragged along, it wasn’t because I wanted to be there.  There were times over my younger years when I joined churches because of friends or boyfriends for example but at that time there was nothing inside me.”

For Patience finding a deep faith came after a huge turning point in her life.  After a troubled few years she was lost and searching for something cling on to.

“I had been very ill, things were bad for me,” explained Patience.

“It was just before the new year four years ago and I was sitting, like I always do, with my journal and pen and I was about to write my new year’s resolutions which I always keep.  I was thinking about what I wanted that year and I realised that I wanted to find out more about me and who I am and why I’m here.

“I also felt that I wanted to help people and I had done some things that had made me feel really good.  After that moment my life started to change dramatically, I started to see people differently the next day.  People started to seem a lot nicer to me and the world around me was different.

“When I came back I spoke with a friend who was very religious but who had never really pushed it at me.  But suddenly things she was saying meant something to me, either I hadn’t heard these things or hadn’t taken it on board.

“I can’t describe it, it was just amazing, it was as if my life had been taken over.  I had remembered people talking about ‘being saved’ and I used to think ‘what on earth are they talking about’.  I didn’t understand how people could be ‘born again’.

“I actually thought people were insane.  And in fact the last church I ever thought I would go to or be involved with was a Baptist church.  But a lady I knew from one of our dance classes told me there was one having a six-week course on Christianity Explored and would I like to go.

“At that time I was very ill and so she invited me to join them on Sunday and I did.  My husband Ivor was in shock.

“Over the next six weeks the most amazing thing happened.  I found a Bible at the Salvation Army hall I use for my dance classes and for the first time in my life I was able to read two lines clearly and it said something along the lines of ‘if you’re unsure just go with me’.  So I went off to find the Major and he talked about the passage with me and gave me the Bible.  He then brought a promise box for me and asked me to look through it.

“From that point my life turned around and so did my attitude.  Then a few weeks later I was out in Bangor and there were people giving out tracts. I never refuse them, but I never read them either.  One of the things we had discussed in the classes was the idea of asking God into your heart and they would say to me ‘all you need to do is say you’re sorry and ask God and Jesus into your life’.  But I never felt I could, it didn’t sit with me.

“So when I got the tract I rang my friend Margaret about asking Jesus into my heart and she told me that I wasn’t to try, that if I had to try I wasn’t ready.  That night she left me with the thought that my mummy had great faith and that I should consider that if there is an afterlife would I like to spend it with my mummy.

“I invited Jesus into my life and it was like a light was switched on.  I have that friend now no matter what and nobody can take him away.

“If you ask me to put into words I would say I was saved and if you asked me to describe my life before and after being a Christian I would absolutely say I was born again.

“There’s a lot of things I wouldn’t necessarily agree with in terms of faith and religion but the essence of my life has changed.  I care more deeply about people.”

 

 

Where Do You Go To My Lovely by Patience Bradley is published by Excalibur Press and available on Amazon and www.excaliburpress.co.uk/sotre/products

 

 

In her memoir book Where Do You Go To My Lovely one of Patience Bradley’s most favourite memories is her friendship with Superman actor Christopher Reeve.

The dancer and model hit it off with superstar Reeve over their mutual love of horse riding.

In her book she writes: “Many years ago I had a chance encounter at a party with a very handsome young American actor called Christopher Reeve.  He was charming and oh so handsome.  He was also in London making a film where he played the lead role – Superman.

“We had a mutual love of and interest in horses and when, over the years, we were at the same events, he would always make a point of coming over to chat with me.”

As the world grew to love Superman, Reeve himself made an impact on the young model.

She explained: “During that time I would have encountered a lot of people who were incredibly false.  Everything to them was about image, looking for the next big break.

“This wasn’t the case with Christopher.  He was a genuinely charming man.  The charm was not an act, it was simply who he was.

“Christopher was genuinely uninterested in his looks.  He was simply a very nice person.  But why shouldn’t he be.  He had a beautiful wife, a great career and three beautiful children.”

Patience even remembers fondly the moment she met the Hollywood superstar after his widely publicised accident that left him paralysed.

“After he fell from the horse during a show jumping competition everything changed.  He was left paralysed from the neck down, unable to breathe without the aid of a ventilator.  No-one would have blamed him if he had just given up” said Patience.

“What we all learnt was that he didn’t just act like Superman, he really was a super man.  Instead of retreating from society he embraced it.

“It was a few years after the accident that I found out I was going to be at the same event as him.  I’ll be honest, I was nervous about how I would cope with meeting him again.

“I took a deep breath and walked over to see my old friend.  We chatted and he introduced me to his son Will.  The same charm was there, the blue eyes still held you mesmerised and suddenly all pity was gone.  In its place was an overwhelming sense of admiration and pride for such a wonderful individual.”