In a candid revelation during an exclusive interview, Chris Lowe, one-half of the iconic British pop duo Pet Shop Boys, expressed his aversion to spiral staircases. This detail, shared for the first time, adds a personal touch to the story of one of the UK’s most influential musical acts as they celebrate the 40th anniversary of their debut hit, “West End Girls.”

The song encapsulates a moody exploration of London’s nightlife and marked the beginning of a successful four-decade career in crafting sophisticated pop tunes. However, before achieving fame as the Pet Shop Boys, both members had quite different backgrounds.

Neil Tennant, the articulate lead vocalist and principal lyricist, hails from Newcastle where he attended the rigorous St Cuthbert’s Catholic School, an experience that would later inspire their hit “It’s A Sin.” At 18, Tennant moved to London to study history and soon found himself working in an insurance office during the glam rock era, adopting an androgynous style influenced by David Bowie.

Reflecting on those days, Tennant shared an amusing anecdote about his work attire, which included a white tank top and women’s platform shoes, and the reactions it provoked on the Kings Road. His employer, a charismatic figure from the 1960s, often shared tales of The Rolling Stones over lunch and may have harbored a secret affection for Tennant, which he realized only in hindsight.

Meanwhile, Chris Lowe was pursuing an architecture degree in Liverpool, where he developed his distaste for designing spiral staircases due to their complex geometry. It was only after meeting Tennant in a Chelsea electronics shop that the musical partnership, which would become known worldwide as the Pet Shop Boys, was formed. This meeting marked the start of their journey into the music world, leaving behind their previous careers and embracing a new artistic path.