Chapter One: Humble Beginnings In South Africa
“When people think of Meg Mathews, they just picture a shopaholic causing mayhem on Bond Street, who was once married to Noel Gallagher. But that’s not the real me. I was actually born in Guernsey to working class parents and raised in South Africa on a farm. My parents emigrated there to make a better life for themselves and sent me to school on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. As a family, we did lots of travelling all around Africa – to places like Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Angola. We basically lived in a Land Rover for at least two years, which is not something a lot of people can say they’ve done.
“The problem was, if you wanted to stay in South Africa beyond five years, the government asked you to give up your British passport – which was not something my parents wanted to do. We came back to England and I was sent to a Quaker school in the Cotswolds with people like Guy Ritchie and his sister Tabitha – they are still two of my best friends to this day. My parents couldn’t really afford it at the time, but they knew it was the right place for me.”
Chapter Two: Hitchhiking My Way To London
“After leaving school, I hitchhiked my way to London on a dairy truck and basically lived on the streets because I had no money. I was a punk with shaved hair and put on a Cockney accent to try and disguise my South African twang. Thinking back, it scares the living daylights out of me but, at the time, it was exciting because London was the only place I wanted to be.
“I eventually got a job in a fish and chip shop because I wanted to buy some amazing wooden shoes from Vivienne Westwood. They cost about £180 but that’s probably closer to £500 today. It was around this time I met people like Lee McQueen, who ended up making my outfit for all those trips I took to Downing Street. Noel and I used to go there for industry events when Tony Blair first came to power, but I’ve actually been there about ten times now, mainly for events to do with my environmental and animal rights work. It always surprises me when I see tomato ketchup on the kitchen table in Number 11!”
Chapter Three: Getting Into Music, PR & Meeting Noel
“Most people assume Noel and I met because I was a groupie, but I actually had my own music and PR company in the 1990s – so you could say our relationship was inevitable. I’d signed about three or four bands to Sony and represented people like Betty Boo. People like to say I was out partying, met Noel, got married and that was that. But I actually worked a lot with London Records and [Radio 1 DJ] Pete Tong when he was repping bands like Salt ‘N’ Pepa on those iconic remixes. It’s not something I talk about a lot, but at the time it was pretty much the only remix to come out of the US that made it big in the UK. It was an amazing thing to be part of. I also helped artists like Ice T get his only top 20 UK hit and promoted Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels with Guy [Ritchie] – it was an amazing time.”
“After I met Noel in 1994, we decided to get married in Las Vegas about three years later, and he said he wanted me to stop working. He was really keen for us to have a baby, which was not something I was that into at first – I didn’t want to be pregnant, I wanted to be on tour with Noel travelling the world, but we ended up having our daughter Anaïs in January 2000.”
Chapter Four: Raising A Child In The Public Eye
“When I had Anaïs, my whole life changed. I was acutely aware of the pressure that came with raising children in the public eye, so I made a real effort not to. Her privacy and giving her a normal childhood were so important to me, and I never wanted her to be known just as ‘Noel Gallagher’s and Meg Mathews’ daughter’.
“She’s not a spoilt rich-kid in any sense of the word – she’s her own person and has been from day one. She’s never been given an allowance by me or Noel, so she’s learnt the value of hard work and how to support herself since she was young. She was on a television show from about the age of 12, filming up to five episodes a day. People always label her a model, but she’s much more than that. She loves art, history (the Tudors are her thing) and she’s always going to interesting events and museums. It stuns me how intelligent and well-informed she is.”
Chapter Five: Navigating Love, Life & Divorce
“I’ve been engaged three times since Noel and I got divorced, but the tabloids always tend to focus on the negative. The way I look at it is all these people came into my life for a reason and have helped me grow. I’ve been very lucky to have many loves in my life – remember, love can be for a lifetime, a season or a reason. Noel probably wasn’t the love of my life (the man before him was really) but our relationship was a moment in time.
“Looking back, I probably fell in love with the rock’n’roll lifestyle as much as I did with Noel – if not more. When Noel and I got divorced [fellow GOLD interviewee and ex-wife of Ronnie Wood] Jo Wood was a massive support to me – she had such perspective and told me to keep as many of my girlfriends as close as possible during that time. It was such good advice and something I’d tell any young girl going through a breakup. That said, the young women of today are so mature and self-aware compared to how I was then – so maybe they don’t need my advice!”
Chapter Six: Surviving The Menopause & Launching My Business
“There’s been a lot written about my recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, but my past lifestyle couldn’t be more different to how I live now. To be honest with you, I’m a bit sick of talking about my experience with the menopause – only because everyone does it now. It’s quite a fashionable topic all of a sudden. It’s great to see more women coming out and talking about it, but when I did about five years ago, it was still a very taboo subject. I felt like a lone voice out there and I didn’t have millions of social media followers to back me up. At the time, there was also a lot of scepticism about the potential side effects of HRT, but it saved my life. It’s that simple – and if you want more information go to MegsMenopause.com.”
“That said, my work on the menopause did give me a platform to do things like write my book and launch my product line. So much work and research went into making the products organic, plastic-free and all the rest of it – again, at a time when none of this had the marketing appeal it seems to have now. It does make me proud when my daughter tells me how impressed she is that I was one of the first. It feels like a long way from the days of Ice T and Salt ‘N’ Pepa, let me tell you!”
Chapter Seven: The Next Chapter
“Who knows what the future really holds? So much of my life hasn’t been planned – you’ve just got to go for it most of the time. I’ve done so many different things, so I don’t like to put limits on myself. Right now, my main focus is Megalou & Me, which is a bit of an exclusive. We’re planning to launch it as an online shop, and plan to expand into various countries with different locations selling art, homewares and clothes. Everything is going to be very me – I’ve been collecting pieces since 1985, so it’s all going to be unique, and a mix of old and new. We’ll probably start with a location in Cornwall, which is where I live.
“Moving to Cornwall was such an unexpected development. I had come here once in the 80s, but my life was always very much London-based. Then, in March this year, someone out of the blue offered to buy my house and I thought, ‘This is meant to be.’ My best friend, who already lives in Cornwall, offered to bring me down here on my birthday.I’ve since bought a property and it all feels very much like fate – especially when you consider my work with organisations like Surfers Against Sewage. I can really make a difference down here; everything finally makes sense.”
Follow @MegMathewsOfficial_ on Instagram. Visit SAS.org.uk.