The Year was 1999, I was 15-16 years old and in my final year at comprehensive school. It was our registration forms turn, to take over the morning assembly, and show the whole school what ‘Fabulous’ actually meant..
For the life of me I cannot remember what the other forms did. If If I even attended to watch them? Probably not. Whatever they did, it could not have come close to what we did.
As a collective we chose to do our rendition of ‘Stars In Your Eyes’. This TV programme, twas a Saturday night entertainment show, where normal members of the public would be transformed into their favourite pop stars. They would walk through a set of sliding doors as themselves then return back through them as their idol through a cloud of smoke. This show was before ‘Pop Idol’ and ‘X Factor’ were a thing, before ‘Saturday Night Takeaway’ and even before the rise of the Internet.
As crude and un-practised our performances were, I can honestly say I look back and smile at all of us. I had many roles in the show. I was Mel B, aka Scary Spice of the Spice Girls, I was Benny form ABBA, I was also a member of the 90’s alternative rock band Chumbawumba. Not bad for 30 minutes work.
I remember dressing backstage. Being nervous of course, as we all were, but with a bubbling brew of confidence. With each garment and costume change I turned into someone else. With each performance the audience got louder and louder.
I fantasied of actually being that band member. Imagining I was performing at Wembley stadium, performing to an audience of 30,000 as apposed to 4-500.
I remember feeling fearless, I didn’t care what people thought about me, I didn’t care I was bullied everyday, In that moment I was being me. I could do anything, achieve anything, be anyone. I was doing the one thing I loved and that was performing, putting on an act. Pretending to be someone else, where their lives were glossier than mine.
While getting ready to be Mel B, someone gave me their glasses to wear because Mel B at the time wore glasses. She received the prestigious ‘Spectacle Wearer Of The Year Award 1997’, some nonsense concocted up by our tabloids.
Well with these bloody glasses, I could not see past my nose. I could not see the audience, I could not see the other members. I can honestly say, I don’t think it mattered much. I knew the ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ dance routine like I knew the back of my hand. Not being able to see the audience probably helped me along. Girl Power at it’s best.
The presenter Matthew Kelly presented the show on TV, our presenter took on many names. Katthew Melly, Matthew Smelly, Matt’Big Belly, to name but a few.
Our performance wasn’t the stand out performance though, Scott managed to win the show with his rendition of Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’. You can always count on a classic Tina number to please an audience. Heels with a shimmery dress and the classic Tina wig, always a winner!
There are photos of the performances around somewhere, If you have them email them me!
We didn’t have the luxury of digital photography back in the day, (I sound so old) we had to buy a film, take 24 pictures, take it to a shop to be developed, hand over money, wait several days, go pick up the developed photographs and finally see them. Half of them were always blurry with an oval sticker on them to tell you they are blurry. (No Shit) No instant selfies, no filters, no editing. Seems so amazingly archaic now. But this was only 20 years ago.
This picture of me is on that very morning on the way to school. Oh god look at me!!! My hair was made that way to be Scary Spice and a member of Chumbawumba, I’m wearing a typical 90’s tracksuit, classic Adidas. Not forgetting my classic ‘stick your tongue out’ Scary Spice look. I don’t remember dying my hair, but clearly it’s bleached. And not very well either!
The gorgeous young lady next to me was a close friend at the time, Emma. Emma was always cool to me. I remember us learning the routines to S Club 7’s ‘Bring It All Back’ and Billie Piper’s ‘Because We Want To’ in her bedroom. Ha, sorry Em 🙂
It’s really nice to look back and remember these events, If I could say something to my younger self today I would say this:
“This is just the beginning, things will one day be better.”
“Keep shining your light as bright as you can, don’t let anyone or anything distinguish it.”
“You have incredible resilience, harness it.”
“And for god sake man, get yourself a stylist.”
I’m going to leave it there this week.