Middle-class friends sneer, music vultures circle, and you can't sleep for pride and fear: Lucy Spraggan's mother reveals how it feels to have a daughter on The X Factor
22:42 GMT, 10 October 2012
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Surprised but proud: Anstey Spraggan never expected daughter Lucy to go on The X Factor
On Saturday my little girl stood up in front of an audience of millions and brought the house down with a rendition of her song Mountains. Sitting watching her performance at home, I couldn’t have been more proud — or more bewildered by the world into which she and our family have been plunged.
Because, the thing is, we just are not X Factor people. Until Lucy stood on that stage, I’d hardly watched the programme.
I am a writer; my husband (Lucy’s step-father) makes violins. We don’t watch television on a Saturday night, so the X Factor was something we knew nothing about. Strange to admit that it’s now the first thing I think of when I wake up.
When Lucy first told us she was going on the show, we didn’t know how to feel. I wanted to be supportive, of course, but what if she did well Would I have to be one of those mothers who screams and leaps up in the air Worse, what if she didn’t do well, and her dreams were very publicly smashed, right in front of me
Brought the house down: Lucy's performance was praised on Saturday night's show
Of course Lucy wants to go all the way and I’ll be right behind her. Yet I can’t say I am completely enjoying the ride, because it is an unexpectedly difficult one.
I have no doubts about my daughter’s musical talent, but I worry about her ability to handle success, when so many can’t.
'I worry because the showbiz world is littered with talented, creative young people who go off the rails because they can’t handle fame'
She could end up with a great deal of money, and no proper job to get up for in the morning. The showbiz world is littered with talented, creative young people who go off the rails because they can’t handle fame.
I am grateful for the fact that she is a strong and resilient character, which I hope will see her through.
From the moment she was born, Lucy established herself as a force of nature: headstrong, fearless and determined to do things her way, whatever the consequences. She was a risk-taker, far more boisterous than her brother and sister.
Tense: Lucy, far left, nervously awaits to hear if she is through to next week on Saturday's show with her fellow finalists in the girls' category and mentor Tulisa. Lucy's mother knows it will be a difficult ride for her daughter to make the final
When she was little, this meant lots of trips to A&E. At the age of five, she said: ‘Oh good, I love stitches’ as the nurse gave her some after yet another fall.
I came to delight in my daughter’s attitude to life, particularly proud of the fact that she will take risks, forget failures and try anything at least once. It is an attitude I hope she will retain if her singing career blossoms.
'Our friends have been
critical of Lucy even appearing on the show. One said, “How sad, I can't
believe she'd stoop that low”'
The level of fame Lucy has already achieved is something I find quite breathtaking. Almost 15 million people have watched her X Factor audition on YouTube, and 220,000 people follow her on Twitter.
That has consequences. It’s early days, but already it’s clear that people have reasons — financial or personal — to make themselves a part of what my daughter has. As a parent, I want to protect her.
In fact I am fast discovering that there is a lot to protect Lucy from. One of the biggest shocks has been learning what strong views people have about The X Factor, and everything it represents. The world and his wife have an opinion, and it isn’t always flattering. Some of our own friends have been critical of Lucy even appearing on the show. One said, ‘How sad, I can’t believe she’d stoop that low’.
The internet can be vicious, and there is widespread resentment towards The X Factor singers. I don’t want Lucy to read what’s on there but I know that’s unrealistic so I’ve made her promise she won’t get upset over tweets, posts or comments unless they are properly spelled and grammatically correct. I reckon that will eliminate more than 90 per cent of them.
Talent: There have been almost 15 million hits on YouTube of Lucy's first audition where she sang her own song
Lucy’s X Factor journey has been more controversial than most. She had recorded an album of her songs and uploaded them to iTunes a year previously. The album sold 192 copies in a year. But after her audition aired, she was selling around 10,000 copies a day, which posed a problem for The X Factor people.
They were worried that having contestants’ material in the public domain would give them an unfair advantage and asked Lucy to take the album off iTunes, which she agreed to do. I’m so impressed by her maturity. It was a difficult decision, but she has seen the bigger picture. She feels she stands a better chance of long-term success with the might of The X Factor machine behind her than on her own.
'There's an immense joy in having the
world discover something you have always known – that your child has a
I can’t help wondering how things will change if this interest continues. Will she cope with public scrutiny Will we still be able to go out for lunch as a family
I never thought there would come a day where my daughter seemed fazed by anything, but perhaps it has finally dawned. She has been asking my advice recently — and listening to it for the first time. She knows how huge the scale of this is.
The work involved is staggering. The contestants have difficult decisions to make — which songs they will sing and how the music will be arranged, then getting used to the scenery and lighting their mentor and production crew choose. It’s exhausting.
Sadly, for Lucy, things took an awful
turn when her grandmother died. It is the kind of news you need to be
with your family to deal with.
mentor, Tulisa, managed to arrange for Lucy to leave rehearsals and be
driven to Kent to be with her grandfather and his family.
X Factor is a positive experience. There’s an immense joy in having the
world discover something you have always known — that your child has a
Getting used to fame: The X Factor finalists were mobbed by photographers and fans when they visited Radio One this week
The most frequent thing I hear these days is ‘You must be very proud’. I am, but I am proud of all my children, and I was proud of Lucy even when others didn’t ‘get’ her.
When she came home, aged five, and announced she wanted to be called ‘Max’, I was unperturbed and let Lucy go to school the next day wearing her brother’s boxers.
Some might regard this as a clue that Lucy was gay. She is, and told me so one day when she was 14.
We were walking through the garden and she began shouting ‘I’m gay, I’m gay, I’m gay’.
I didn’t enter into a discussion about it — I didn’t mind, but it’s awkward to think about your child’s sex life, whatever their sexuality.
Lucy remembers this differently — she claims we talked about it quietly, although I struggle to recall her doing anything quietly.
'I don't mind Lucy's gay, but it's awkward to think about your child's sex life, whatever their sexuality'
Schooling was one issue on which we clashed — as Lucy could be headstrong and badly behaved — and as an ex-teacher, I was always glad Lucy wasn’t one of my pupils.
Some teachers were supportive, others found her unteachable. It would have been easy for them to kick her out. Instead, she was excluded from certain classes but allowed to take her exams —emerging with good grades.
She was lucky to be at a comprehensive — Buxton Community School — which cherished musical ability and allowed her to shine.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that two of the school’s ex-pupils reached X Factor boot camp this year. Curtis Golden, who was only knocked out at the last stage of boot camp, was three years below Lucy.
I discovered long ago that you can’t impose your choices on your children. Would I have chosen for Lucy to go on X Factor It doesn’t matter. I’m glad she’s on it when she is 21, not 16, but I’m not sure I could have stopped her then anyway.
There is an old saying that you have to give your children ‘roots and wings’. I hope Lucy’s roots are firm enough to hold her safely, and that her wings will take her far.
Her family will be behind her whichever way it goes, although I reserve the right to worry about her until the end. That’s a mother’s prerogative.