Byline: JON WILDE
Patsy Palmer should be easy enough to spot in a semibusy seaside cafe. After all, on the strength of a six-year stint on EastEnders in the Nineties, her face is among the most instantly recognisable from British television. Yet it takes me a minute or so to pick her out from the midmorning latte-lappers. Not because she's been physically transformed in any way. She doesn't look different so much as completely renewed.
The old Patsy was known to introduce herself to interviewers with lines such as, 'I always feel so unattractive' and, 'I have no idea what happiness is like'. This morning she opens the conversation by beaming, 'You know what? I no longer feel ill at ease with the world and ill at ease with myself. After all these years, I finally feel sane.' You half expect her to follow that up by declaring that she's found salvation in the Lord. But it's not religion that Patsy's found - it's herself. Not least, the confidence to express herself, at the age of 33, as a strong, independent, highly sexual woman - as the photo above attests.
'There have been times in my life when I haven't felt remotely sexy,' she says with a disarming frankness that she sustains throughout the interview.
'In fact, I've felt like that all my life. Until recently, that is. Five years ago, even a few months ago, I wouldn't have been confident posing for photos like these. I would have looked at 17-year-old girls in magazines or Sharon Stone looking so fabulous at 48 and think, "I wish I could have that kind of confidence, but I'm a mother of three and I can't be shown that way."
Then it dawned on me that it was more than OK to feel …