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Life and Family: Why I'm no match for my twin sister; TV star Lowri Turner on what life's like with another `you' out there.

Byline: HANNAH STEPHENSON

TV presenter and writer Lowri Turner knows more than most about sibling rivalry -- but admits she is no match for her identical twin sister Catrin.

``She has always ruled the roost, '' she says. ``She's a lawyer in the city and she keeps asking me when I'm going to get a proper job.

``My mother had had two boys and then we came along. Catrin and I were like identical china dolls. My mother was very into clothes and went a bit mad when we were born.

``I remember identical outfits in yellow seersucker with broderie anglais petticoats and aprons -- awful! The first thing I ever bought myself was a pair of jeans because I'd spent so much time in dolls' clothes. ''

The 39-year-old presenter of DIY and dating shows, including Would Like To Meet, has always been the boss of the relationship even though they have quite similar personalities and do look alike, says Catrin, who is the eldest by a few seconds.

``Taxi drivers say to her, `Are you Lowri Turner or are you the twin?' She signs autographs for me, because if she says she's not Lowri Turner, people think it is me just being snotty. We were Caesarean births but she is still older and that's very important. She has always been in charge. ''

Lowri also has a non-identical triplet sister, who is autistic.

Arguments are a rarity between Lowri and Catrin, whose father hails from Flint, where many relations still live. But when they do happen they are of earthquake proportions, she says. ``We have a once-a-year major spat where Catrin refuses to talk to me. The only way to get back on track is for me to apologise, even if I think I'm in the right, '' she says.

Lowri's second novel, Switchcraft, centres on identical twins with very different personalities who agree to swap lives to see if the grass really is greener on the other side. The book is partly dedicated to Catrin, who helped her out with a lot of the single girl material. ``At one point, I had my first son and my twin was single with no children. We lived completely different lives. She now has a baby who's a year old, so now we're both in the same boat. She's divorced but she has a partner who's the father of her baby. ''

Much of the book is autobiographical, although situations are much exaggerated. ``We once went to a party, went into another room and swapped clothes to see if anyone would notice. Her boyfriend noticed, but other people didn't. ''

They never swapped boyfriends though.

``That's such personal territory, '' she says.

``When you are a twin, your own territory is so important because you have to share everything. We don't even talk about sex to each other because it's too close.

``We don't seem to go for the same kind of men anyway. Her boyfriend is blond, Danish. I don't think I've ever been out with men with blond hair. ''

Yet both of them are divorced from men who were much older than them. Lowri's ex-husband, former newspaper executive Paul Connew, is 18 years her senior and had five children from previous marriages when they got together. ``I think it's interesting there were 20 years between my parents, then my sister married a man 18 years her senior and then I married a man who was 18 years older than me.

``If you are a bit insecure about the way you look, which I was as a teenager, there's safety in going out with an older man because you've got your youth as a weapon. You don't have to be the most gorgeous thing, you can just be the youngest. You are a trophy, there's no doubt, with an older man. ''

Lowri left Paul when their son Griffin was two and she was nine weeks' pregnant with their second child, Merlin. Initially she went to live with her mother but later moved in with Catrin. ``That tested the relationship, '' recalls Lowri. ``I had a new baby and a two-and-a-half-year-old and she didn't have any children at that point. But she was brilliant and I couldn't have coped without her.

``She saw up close what it was like to have a child and thought, `maybe I could do this'. She is very maternal. ''

Lowri went back to work 10 days after having her first baby -- Catrin took six months' maternity leave.

While Lowri's career flourished, her husband gave up his lucrative job to become a house husband and look after Griffin. She admits she was away a lot of the time, but won't be drawn into whether she thinks her heavy work schedule contributed to the breakdown of her marriage -- although her ex was bitter enough to brand her a ``cold, callous, cynical, self-obsessed bitch'' in one interview. Nowadays, she has the children during the week and he has them at weekends.

``I don't know anybody who has had an amicable divorce, '' she says.

``People's feelings are hurt. A truce is declared and you have the doorstep hand-overs which are really awkward. ``Only a fool would say children aren't affected by divorce, but they would be affected by being in a bad relationship as well. You just do your best. ''

Now she has slowed down enough to enjoy her children and her life. ``I think I'm a much calmer person than I was four or five years ago. I have to be careful about what I take on and whether it's worth doing a few days away both financially and whether I want to do it enough. ''

At the moment this include a series for Five called How Much Are You Worth? and she is also looking to move from her beautiful four-storey, five-bedroom house, admitting she really doesn't need the space. But one thing's for sure, she won't be moving too far away from her twin sister.

n Switchcraft, by Lowri Turner, published by Headline, pounds 6. 99

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Lowri Turner (above left) with identical twin Catrin. She's used her relationship with her sister to create her second novel, Switchcraft
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 18, 2004
Words:1023
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