Westlife’s Mark Feehily: ‘I wish I’d come out sooner’

Not a lot of people know this but I’m very good at… baking. My grandmother used to win all-Ireland baking competitions and was the ultimate cooking perfectionist. I used to be at her farm all day every day as a kid as both my parents had full-time jobs. I would stand next to her in the kitchen and watch her from the start right up to the finishing touches and I learnt all about attention to detail. She made the most amazing food. Baking is an amazing way to switch off from the outside world and tap into your creative side. 

My best friend is… Rowen has been my best friend since I was a teenager. I’m godfather to one of his three gorgeous daughters, even though I love them all equally, of course. 

My nickname is… At school I was called fat lips. It’s like I had the lips of an adult but my face hadn’t grown into them yet so basically I had a very full set of lips.

The grown-up women used to say, “Ooh, I’d kill for your lips.”

The bravest thing I’ve ever done is… come out as being gay. In hindsight it was brave because silly former me thought the reaction from everyone was going to be one of shock and disappointment.

Little did I know it would be the opposite.

It was thrilling and the start of the rest of my proper real life as actual me. Terrifying at the time but emancipating and 1,000 per cent the right thing to do. I wish I had done it sooner. 

My favourite TV show is… anything Alan Partridge or Curb Your Enthusiasm-related. Or The Trip

My perfect evening is… getting dressed up and going to dinner, then to the theatre followed by a nice casino or jazz club, ending the night on the dance floor.

Dancing like nobody’s watching is the sign of a great evening out. 

My first kiss was… with a girl on French student exchange when I was about 15. It was over with quite quickly from what I can remember. 

The one thing I’d change about myself is… I’d worry less and do more. I can be the world’s worst procrastinator. 

The best thing my parents taught me was… to love and respect everyone. Also, being laid-back and friendly. 

The last time I cried was… during the Taoiseach’s [Prime Minister of Ireland] first live speech to the nation about social distancing and isolation.

It was particularly moving when he started talking about my parents’ generation staying at home and being cocooned away from us all. 

The first record I ever bought was… Bad by Michael Jackson on cassette. It was actually from Santa, so technically I didn’t buy it. 

My greatest weakness is… sugary food after a night out. It helps cure the hangover. 

If I could pass any law I would… decriminalise homosexuality and legalise gay marriage in every country worldwide. It is crazy that in 2020 people can be punished for being gay.

Love is love. 

I drive… Land Rovers. I like big cars. The extra space is even more important now that we have a baby. 

The shop I can’t walk past is… any Taschen bookstore. Their collection of art and design books is the best. 

The most expensive thing I’ve ever splashed out on is… a gorgeous old townhouse in south-west London that I gutted and refurbished. It was in 2006, eight years after Westlife started.

I finally felt comfortable enough to spend a large amount of money and buy something and I really needed a place of my own. 

The actor who would play me in a film is… Oh, this is too hard, although what I do know is that Martin Freeman (in Fargo) would play Louis Walsh for sure. 

The worst job I’ve ever done is… When I was about 16, I worked in a Burger King for a very short while and my boss was so rude and mean that one Saturday night when my mates came in during a night out, I quit and jumped across the counter and went off down the road with them to a nightclub. 

My perfect Sunday is… Get out of bed late, have a nice long walk in the afternoon with a coffee and then go to a food-pub-style place for Sunday lunch and chilled drinks.

Or, if I’m at home in Ireland, without fail I would go to my mother’s for her amazing Sunday dinner and homemade apple tart. 

My favourite place in Britain is… London. It’s the best city in the world. The art, the creativity, the mixing of all the classes and nationalities and demographics…

You can walk by a pub in Soho on a summer evening and you’ll see lawyers, grannies, drag queens, doctors and the postman all having a pint together on the pavement outside. 

My last holiday was… before our daughter was born. It was during a break between two legs of our Asian tour.

Myself and Cailean – who used to live out there – stayed and travelled around. We love Asia somuch. 

I’m currently reading… lots of books on babies and how they grow and develop – it is all very fascinating. Layla is our first child so we are learning as we go. 

The best day of my life was… hands down the day my daughter Layla was born. 

If I had half an hour left on Earth, I would… Half an hour isn’t much time at all. It would consist of a series of phone calls.

There is not much else I could do in 30 minutes apart from ring around all my nearest and dearest. It’s not very rock’n’roll. If you said 30 hours I could get more creative. 

Mark is supporting the Crew Nation initiative to raise funds for music industry tour crews who lost their jobs following the ban on concerts and gatherings because of Covid-19. His T-shirt in support of the campaign is available from westlife.com. 

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