I started my secret life as a diva early. It was the 80s and my first memories include begging my parents to buy me the sound track to Flash dance. I don’t think I wanted to become a welder.

As my sister and I tied towels to our heads and jumped from the couch to FAME every week it became clear in my head that I was destined for showbiz greatness. I told everyone I wanted to become a Doctor but in my head I wanted to be Whitney Houston. And so the journey began. I began my hatred of Mariah Carey because she was trying to steal Whitney’s crown. I did dance classes at Mrs Catchpole’s every Saturday. My poor mother had to sew army, penguin and clown outfits for our regular performances. I would steal the words from Album sleeves and take them to school so that I could memorise them.

But then real life took over and I forgot my diva dream. Whitney married Bobby and started making REALLY bad movies. Madonna was on the same path and Cyndi Lauper disappeared. Oh I loved the greats such as Shirley Bassey and Aretha Franklin but I couldn’t copy their fashion as easily.

But then when I was 15 it was like the universe chose to remind me of my Diva Dream. As I was shopping with a friend in a Home Counties mall (ie we still had an Our Price) we came across a singing competition. The first prize was £100 to spend at the leather goods store. £100 !! The Whitney Houston I get “So Emotional” jacket was £99. I would still have £1 to spend on twixes which in those days meant 3.

I took the prize money to be a sign and sang my heart out in my heat to easily make it to the finals. That jacket was mine! I ignored my friend as I practised “The Greatest Love of All” in my head. I considered doing a faster number but, it had been a while since Mrs Catchpole’s dance classes and I didn’t think Hockey moves would be as effective.

Then the final round came. My big competition was a 9 year old Michael Jackson dancing kid who didn’t know the words and just spun on the spot. What a joke. But, in a pre X factor twist the DJ decided that the audience was going to decide the winner? I sang like I owned that mall. I engaged with the audience, I connected emotionally with the song and ……

The cute Michael Jackson idiot won and I learned that there is no leather jacket for 2nd place. Strangely my mother was in the black hair shop nearby and had heard my singing. She told me that I was a little flat. And so ended my Diva Dream. But for one day and one day only I shall relive the magic. I’m planning a group sing a long at Respect la Diva in London for 3 weeks from 7th September. And if you see a woman jump on the stage in a pink leather jacket then, wave my precious and sing along!

For Discount tickets use the code DIVERCITYDIVA at http://www.nimaxtheatres.com/garrick-theatre/respect_la_diva