WHEN Clare Grogan was a young girl she would watch films with her mum on Saturday afternoons. All the while she was thinking about how she’d love to be on stage or in front of the camera just like the stars on her screen.

To her surprise, she achieved both of those things before she had barely left her Glasgow school.

“I will never understand why that happened to me,” she told the Sunday National.

It’s been more than 40 years since Gregory’s Girl hit our screens and Altered Images were first heard blaring out our speakers.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed, though, with the singer winning the living legend prize at the 2022 Scottish Music Awards on Saturday.

Asked how it felt to win the award, Grogan said: “It feels a bit crazy bananas. It’s a lovely thing.

“It’s an unexpected moment and it’s really difficult to describe. Over the years, I’ve tried to get better at taking a compliment, but I think when you grew up in Glasgow, you’re always throwing it back at someone.

“It’s a tricky one but I am absolutely delighted. It’s a glorious thing to happen.

“Whether I deserve it or not is another matter. I’m just going to say thank you.”

The award coincides with Altered Images’s first album in nearly four decades. Amid the 39-year wait for new tunes, singer Grogan is keen for people to hear the new music.

Asked what took so long, Grogan said “life got in the way”.

It wasn’t until lockdown whenshe thought about re-entering the r ecording booth.

“That first lockdown, I think we all just thought, ‘och, everything will be fine in a few weeks so let’s just open the wine and enjoy a boxset’,”

she said.

“But when I realised this was something different completely, it made me re-evaluate everything.

“And the thing that I kept coming back to was just how much I missed performing.

“I’m always running around doing stuff and I think when I stopped, I realised I’d really like to write some songs. I became overwhelmed with that idea.

“I’m really fortunate I’m married to an amazing songwriter and we’ve written many songs over the years.

“It started with just one song. We thought let’s just write a song together. And then we wrote another and another.”

It was at that point Grogan drafted in Mercury-nominated Bernard Butler and before she knew it, she had five songs and then enough for an album.

“Timing is everything,” she says. “And for whatever reason, the timing for me was absolutely right at that moment.”

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Despite a career spanning four decades, Grogan was fairly modest in her answer when asked what she was most proud of.

“I think my biggest achievement is the fact that I kept going. That might not sound glamorous, but for me, that’s my determination to keep performing in some way.

“It’s a tough old business, and I’ve taken a few knocks along the way, as everyone does, but I have had some incredible times.

“It’s the sheer determination to keep going when it gets tough, so for me, I suppose this award is more about survival and endurance in many ways, and I think: ‘what a brilliant thing’.

“For someone to recognise that is very special.”

Of course, among the things that kickstarted Grogan’s career was a visit by none other than director Bill Forsyth to the restaurant 17-year-old Grogan was working in after school at the time.

It’s a tale she’s told throughout her career, but one she’s only recently found out was not entirely true.

She had told fans it was Forsyth who had asked for her number but was told in recent years by the director himself that it was, in fact, his friend who had asked.

“It just makes me laugh so much that I’d been telling the wrong story forever because that was my memory of it,” she said.

The National: Clare Grogan. Pic: David ScheinmannClare Grogan. Pic: David Scheinmann

“I wouldn’t give them my number because I was brought up not to hand my phone number out to strangers, particularly strange men – and they ticked that box.”

Grogan’s friend assured her that Forsyth was indeed a director, urging her to take him up on his offer.

Grogan, who stays in London now, says there’s still a big hole in her heart for Glasgow but said she visits too much to miss the city.

She said: “I think Glaswegians are of a type. I bring my daughter up so she understands where I come from.

“The first time I brought her up, she said: ‘does everyone know each other here? Everyone smiles at each other’. ‘That’s just what we do here’, I said.

“And I get so much support here when I come back to Glasgow – it’s extraordinary. I never want to let them down.”