Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

I was being interviewed last week, when the interviewer asked, “Did you have a happy childhood? Because if you didn’t, maybe that’s what drove you to become a comedian.” If I didn’t have a happy childhood, it was because we were poor. We didn’t have carpets in our house – couldn’t afford them. We walked everywhere because we couldn’t afford to take a bus or use the car. I didn’t wear brand new clothes until I was 18, when I bought a pair of jeans after working part-time at McDonald’s. Before then, all our clothes came from jumble sales. Those jumble sales were an adventure. I’d walk in and it would smell of dead women’s clothes.

As a child, I never understood why we were poor. Children don’t understand poverty. They just want Nintendo games and DVDs. Children of poverty are not necessarily unhappy; I had a lot of fun. When I look back, all the stealing I did for sweets that cost 2p was mainly because I was bored and naughty. Why else would a six-year-old steal a toilet plunger? But those experiences and funny stories gave me drive, ambition and lots of material.

The effects of a poor childhood also decide the way I value money now. I went to Selfridges’ new shoe department the other day and saw a pair for £900. I tried them on and they looked great; I could afford them, but on the way to the till I nearly wet myself. I can’t justify spending £900 on some slutty red heels. I need a new Hoover.