In 2004, late singer/songwriter Christine McVie released In The Meantime, her first solo album in 20 years, and her first music since leaving Fleetwood Mac six years earlier. It was a change of pace: Instead of touring the world, she settled in a small village in Kent and stayed put.
"I’d had enough of living out of a suitcase," she told Classic Rock. "I missed my roots. Because I’m a Cancer, you know. We’re domestic bodies. We like to cook, and we like our nests. And I was aching for my nest."
So she nested. And as In The Meantime hit the stores, she told us about her new life.
"At about eight in the morning I take my dogs for the first of the three long walks I give them every day. I’ve got two Lhasa Apsos, which are like Pekingese, only with longer noses. I would like to say they’re a lot prettier than Pekingese, but I don’t want to offend any Pekingese owners. My dogs are twin brothers, both blonds. One of them is called Dougal, after the dog in The Magic Roundabout, and the other is called George. They run my life completely, and I think I’m starting to look more like them every day – it must be the shaggy blonde fringe and the ears!
“Recently I’ve spent a lot of time restoring my house. Had I known it was going to need so much work I probably wouldn’t have bought it. I live just a few miles outside Canterbury in Kent, and the house is a rambling red-brick building with thatched barns and lots of out-buildings, cottages and a little recording studio.
"Is it a stately pile? No! But I think it’s bigger than the local village, to be honest. The main part of the house dates from 1664, and I’ve been getting a lot of the wooden beams replaced. If there are any ghosts they must be very nice ones, because I spend quite some time here alone and that’s never fazed me in the slightest.
“Reading-wise I’ve just finished Robin Hobb’s massive fantasy trilogy The Tawny Man – three fantastic books, each of them practically the length of The Bible.
“I used to draw quite a bit, and I still flirt with the idea, but I’m one of those people who gets nervous in front of a blank sheet of paper. I start out thinking I’m going to create a masterpiece, and of course that always leads to disappointment. I have all the artists’ supplies and everything, but if what I’m creating doesn’t look brilliant from the outset I abandon it."
“I don’t have any famous works of art around the house – nothing by Renoir or Monet, I’m afraid. I do have lots of nice etchings and prints and nice landscapes, though. This house is very traditional and very English, so you can’t bugger about with anything too modern or it just looks silly. I have a flat up in London, though, and the decor there is more contemporary and eclectic.
“In the evenings I like a bit of telly, particularly crime dramas. I watch Law & Order almost every night, and I like Homicide: Life On The Street. Sitcom-wise I love Seinfeld. I must have seen every episode of that several times, and Jerry Seinfeld is probably my favourite comedian. I like Curb Your Enthusiasm, with Larry David, too, but that’s a little bit drier. I had to egg myself on to watch the first couple of those, and then I got really into it. It’s definitely a grower once you get used to the way it works.
“Cookery shows are good viewing for me, too, and I’m a big fan of ER; George Clooney was definitely the most handsome of the doctors, but I quite fancied the bald guy with the glasses as well. You know, the one who’s not in it any more, Dr Green [Anthony Edwards]. The other thing I watch is Have I Got News For You. That satirical humour is very English, and the banter between Ian Hislop and Paul Merton is usually very good.
“I love Italian food, and I’ve actually been on a few Italian cooking courses. And although I say it myself, I’m pretty damn good at everything, really! I’m not tremendously fond of making desserts like tiramisu, but I do them well. I’m happier preparing the main courses – a good risotto, a nice spaghetti with seafood, or a traditional roast with a bit of an Italian influence.
“I eat a pretty healthy diet, but I don’t work out as such. Three times a day around the paddock with the dogs, or just going from one end of this house to the other, is quite enough! I do ride a bicycle occasionally, but not those stupid stationary ones you see in gyms. I do have one of those, I must confess, but it’s quite literally a pain in the arse so I don’t use it."
“The only thing I collect is antique perfume bottles: art deco and cut-glass stuff, or any other odd ones that catch my eye as I hobble past antique shops or antique fairs. I try to get up to London a couple of days a week for a bit of retail therapy, and that usually has the desired effect.
“My most prized possession is an oil painting of St Cecelia, patron saint of music. It’s hanging up in my hall landing, and it was painted by a guy called Peter Frampton – not the rock musician, but a turn-of-the-century painter from 1904 or thereabouts. St Cecelia is playing the organ, and she’s surrounded by beautiful spring flowers. I don’t know if many people have even heard of Frampton, but he’s becoming quite collectable. I also love my grand piano. It’s still the same one I wrote Songbird on.
“I do own a computer, but as I don’t enjoy typing I don’t really surf the net. I’ll email Mick [Fleetwood] or Stevie [Nicks] from time to time, but other than that I don’t want to sit in front of a screen all day. The computer looks very nice on my desk, though [laughs].
“I used to be a late-night person, but these days I’m more of an early bird and so I go to bed about nine in the evening. Usually I’ll read for a while, but I’m always asleep by midnight. When I still drank, I’d wind down at the end of the day with a glass of good champagne, but now I find that a cup of tea and a chocolate Hobnob does the trick. Exciting stuff, eh?"
Christine McVie was speaking with James McNair.