Monday, 27 November 2017

Childhood Idols and the Clothes They Wear...

Thirty years ago I was nine years old. I lived in a noisy, crowded house and wished I was older so I could leave home and surround myself with calm and quiet. I had a clear idea of what I would be like as a grown up. I would have pierced ears; ('If God had wanted you to have holes in your ears, he would have made you with holes in your ears'.) I would drink Coke even though it had caramel colour in it; (Caramel colour and a load of other artificial additives were banned at home.) And I would dress like Bananarama.

Bananarama were my style icons. Massive hair, head scarves, and leggings to the shin. They looked AMAZING. As a self-aware nine year old, I knew I couldn't dress like that for real outside. (Ya think?) Instead I'd play dress up when I was bored. I'd wrap bits of material around my head and use my Mum's clip on plastic earrings to aim for a similar effect. It never really worked. I assumed this was because I was a child. When I was an adult I'd be able to source actual black leggings for real, instead of fashioning my own from a pair of too-small stripy PJ bottoms. When I was a grown up I'd be able to go out with spiky gelled hair and a fluorescent head scarf everyday of the week, rather than do it 'just for fun' in my bedroom on a Sunday afternoon. I had big plans.

Obviously those plans came to nothing. Mostly because my personality lacked the flamboyance and inclination needed to 'work a look'. When I finally had the autonomy to pierce my ears, drink Coke and dress how I liked, it was the nineties. I wore jeans and t-shirts and felt all the more comfortable for it. (Albeit with pierced ears and a glass of caramel colour nearby.) My outer self remained as androgynous as a euphemistically curvy body can allow. I let my raa raa skirt dreams fade away to nothing.

Earlier this year, Bananarama tour tickets went on sale. All the original members (Sara, Keren and Siobhan) were back and ready to gig. I wasn't going to bother at first. I was no longer desperate to leave home, I could drink as much Coke as I liked and at the last count, I had seven human-made holes in my body. Learning lyrics from Smash Hits and practising dance routines in my bedroom were no longer the key achievements of my weekend. (I actually achieve a lot less these days.) I thought I'd let this must-see gig pass. As the on-sale date approached, however, I thought again. After the untimely death of George Michael last year, I knew not to procrastinate in seeing my idols live. I sat in an online queue and eventually got a ticket

Last week I saw the gig. God, it was fab. I'd mentally berated myself on the way to Manchester, that I'd not had time to reacquaint myself with the music in the run up to seeing them. Ha. As soon as the first line of the first song was sung, it all came flooding back. As did the dance routines. I sang, danced and screamed like no one was watching. It was joyous.

There were several moments that made me smile. A woman arriving to sit next to me, sat down, fanned herself with her bag and said, 'I wonder how Bananarama cope with their hot flushes.' She was on her feet dancing away with everyone else though. Not even the menopause was going to stop her enjoying her night out. Then there was the point when I caught myself doing the synchronised 'swing from the elbow' arm movement during I Want You Back. I'm sure I wasn't the only one. And then there was the bit when Keren and Sara sang Stay With Me, the Shakespeare's Sister's song - the band that Siobhan left Bananarama for, back in the day. It was moving and lovely.

I don't think I've listened to Bananarama songs, seen Bananarama on the telly, or thought about about Bananarama much since I was at Primary School. I've certainly never fulfilled my childhood dream of dressing like them in every day adult life. But standing in the crowd at the Manchester Apollo and belting out Shy Boy along with everyone else, it was as if I were nine years old again. It was utterly wonderful. 

This doesn't count because
it was a fancy dress party. Plus,
the eye make up is less
Bananarama and more Brenda
 from Watching.

Have a lovely week, folks.

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