I was born in Hackney, East London, on Christmas Eve in 1956. The hospital where I was born catered mostly to Jewish mothers so no one would have been mad excited about a Christmas baby. I’m the second of four daughters.
My father was a black-cab driver and my mother was a homemaker for many years until she ran a kindergarten for a while. We were very much a home-based Jewish family living among lots of other Jewish families. Led by my elder sister, we put on shows for people who visited or people in the block of flats where we lived, on the Old Kent Road.
We were not from a strong academic background. In the wider family, people were involved in the rag trade [making and selling clothes] and there was no expectation that I would go to university. It turned out by accident that I was bright and did well at school.
My parents had aspirations and in the mid-1960s we moved to Ham, in Richmond, West London. We went from playing outside the block of flats to having bicycles and cycling along the river.
The article was originally published on South China Morning Post