Interview with Paul Breen, Syd's brother-in-law

by Radio One DJ Nicky Campbell
October 27, 1988

NC: On the line from Cambridge, I have Paul Breen. Paul, thank you very much for taking the time to join us this evening. In what way are you actually related to Syd Barrett?
PB: Syd is my brother-in-law, my wife's brother in fact.

NC: So you're married to Syd's sister?
PB: Yes.

NC: Logically enough! A lot of people are interested. What is Syd doing now?
PB: Well, he is living in Cambridge and, contrary to public opinion, he's not living in a field in a barrel somewhere. He is living in a semi-detached house in a suburb of Cambridge city.

NC: And he'd be what - 43-years old?
PB: He's 43 or 44. I'm not quite sure at the moment - around that age.

NC: You could describe him as a recluse, couldn't you?
PB: I think the word 'recluse' is probably emotive. It would probably be truer to say that he enjoys his own company now rather than that of others.

NC: It's a long time since he played any music, does he still have a guitar or practise music or write music?
PB: No, he doesn't play any musical instruments any more. He's not interested in writing music. He concentrates his energies these days. He's started to develop an interest, yet again, in painting, which was originally his main interest back in the early sixties.

NC: Of course, because he came from an art school background didn't he?
PB: That's right, yes.

NC: And are lot's of the family still alive, apart from yourself?
PB: Yes. He's got two brothers and two sisters and his mother's still living in Cambridge. He leads a very normal life. He probably sees her about twice a week; meets her in town and does a bit of shopping with her - you know, a very very ordinary sort of lifestyle.

NC: Does he ever get recognised?
PB: Rarely, I think because since he was a significant public figure, of course, he's aged 20 years and the hair has receded a little. He would be recognisable to someone who knew him 20 years ago, but probably not to people who had just seen him on the album covers or on TV back in the heyday of Top Of The Pops and things.

NC: Does he have any contact at all with the other members of Pink Floyd?
PB: Not to my knowledge, no.

NC: And how does Syd himself view the sixties and his part in it and the whole thing?
PB: I think it's part of his life which he prefers to forget now. He had some bad experiences and, thankfully, has come through all the worst of these and is able - fortunately - to lead a normal life in Cambridge.

NC: So - it's a difficult one to answer, this, but one I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in knowing the answer to - is Syd happy?
PB: Yes. Yes, he is. There's a level of contentment now which he probably hasn't felt since before he got involved in music, in fact. He is developing new interests and particularly his painting - which has progressed as the years go by.

NC: Well, I know he doesn't speak to the press and I don't blame him for that but when you see him, Paul, pass on our very best wishes to him.
PB: I will do, Nicky.

NC: And tell him we're still very much enjoying the great music he made.
PB: OK, I'll tell him so.

Syd Barrett: Scattered Needles

Jay Whitten: