No camping for Miel

The therapist turned singer goes to Camp Bestival


Miel de Botton has never been to a festival before, let alone performed at one.

This weekend, that all changes, when she performs at Camp Bestival in Dorset. "It is very exciting. I don't know what to expect," she says. "It is all a new experience for me."

But camping, as such, is not for the 47-year-old mother of Zachary, 16 and Talia, 12. "Absolutely not," she insists. "I've managed a couple of nights with my kids but, before a performance, I would like a proper bed."

She's found a hotel near Camp Bestival. "And I have a small country place near Carfest in Hampshire, where I perform in August."

Miel de Botton was inspired by such singers as Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf and explains that "my music takes two forms. I perform and record traditional French chansons from the forties and fifties, which are passionate and romantic, with innovative arrangements, and I write songs myself.

"These, I would describe as soft, lyrical ballads with much emotional significance, which are meant to reach and move people in a healing way."

Singing and performing is a career change after 10 years as a family therapist but she says the worlds of therapy and entertainment are not wildly different: "They are both very absorbing. I don't think you can do both but they are very similar in the way they offer healing."

The daughter of banker Gilbert de Botton, head of Rothschilds Bank for many years, and sister of philosopher and writer Alain de

Botton, Miel says her career in psychotherapy was due in part to feeling neglected by her parents .

"There is always a wish to do better than your parents, not out of competition but out of love.

"As a child, I suffered in ways, like being sent to boarding school, which I hated. My parents were very busy people. They were dedicated to furthering my dad's career and there was the idea that children, growing up, should be seen and not heard.

Last year, de Botton made a documentary about her grandmother, a Egyptian Zionist who passed on military secrets in the years leading up to Israel's independence.

She said her father, a passionate Zionist, was always "very silent about his life in Egypt. He suffered a lot himself and was often left alone without anything to eat. He lived in an atmosphere of secrets all the time.

"It was actually when he died and we discovered his diaries that we found out a lot more."

And it was her father's sudden death from a heart attack in 2000 that, she thinks, triggered her own divorce.

"It was horrific. I lost my dad on the night I was moving back to London so I never got to say goodbye to him and it was very traumatic.

"Suddenly, the phone would not stop ringing. It just echoed with lawyers and I had my one-year-old and it was all so hectic. There was no quiet time to just grieve. I don't think we ever recovered."

She praises her brother Alain, who "has just written this book, The Course of Love, about all the skills needed for a long-term relationship.

"He says everyone has problems, so if you leave a person for someone else it is never going to be that much change. But I have a really romantic way of thinking and think, yes, we all have our problems, but they gel in a completely different way with other peoples."

Miel's debut single, Bad Men, is "a woman's rallying cry, slowly stripping layers off those debonair men who talk about 'forever' but can't seem to follow through."

Her latest single‘Come On Baby’ is available buy this summer.

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