Me & Mark Owen, little orange green man

(Originally published on MySpace circa 2007)

Foxymoron (noun): Woman who claims her all time favourite band are Fugazi, whilst simultaneously harbouring love for Take That (and possibly sexually objectifying Howard).

So, I turned my calendar over from rainy July to chilly August and Little Mark Owen’s eyes sparkle as he strums his guitar in an open neck shirt. Possibly the only sunshine I’ll get for the remainder of this month. And I was thinking, not long ‘til December and the next magnificent Take That tour. Only I won’t be going to any of those shows cos I couldn’t get bastard tickets even though I legged it home from the school run to ring two ticket lines simultaneously from two phones for 45 minutes from the second they opened. And then I went on the internet and £40 tickets were already on Ebay for about 3 million pounds each and I realised I just can’t compete with these wankers and I will die unhappy in the knowledge that I never got to see Take That live.

As those who know me know, I like my serious music, but I also love my cheese, and Take That are top of my pops. You can’t beat a catchy tune with harmonies accompanied by a funky dance routine (and Howard in chaps). It’s fantastically gay and I adore it. And it doesn’t get better than Take That. Five were short-lived fun, and I even took my friend’s daughter to see S Club 7 (there was miming involved), but Take That have always given a knowing wink of acknowledgement to the box they’re in. I once met a writer who said he was very reluctantly sent to review a TT show back in the early days and he came out singing their praises (and still straight).

But not all boy bands can be placed on the same pedestal. Boyzone and Westlife are bloody boring twats with bloody boring songs and bloody boring dance routines, including rise-from-the-stool-power-grab key changes, who take themselves far too seriously and, quite frankly, offend me with their smug boringness. TT have always had a bit of an edge to them, in a boy band sort of way. Jason can really dance, even if there’s no evidence to show he can sing; Howard doesn’t get to sing enough, but it doesn’t matter cos he’s got a fabulous bottom; Gary could have ended up in Westlife so probably thanks his lucky stars every day, and Mark is just so small and cute and clearly loves his music (as the failed ‘indie’ career shows). And they do proper shows with themes and dance routines and costume changes. Gigs are all well and good, but sometimes you need a proper show in your life!

So, no TT live for me. I have to make do with concerts on telly and memories from the time I met Little Mark Owen, which I shall share with you now.

MO2

In 2004 I’d managed a music and video project with a group of Refugee families when Eureka, the museum for children asked if the kids (aged 4-10) could perform at the opening of a new exhibit thingy. Adrian, our musician couldn’t make it, so the kids had to make do with me leading them on the Djembe. The lady at Eureka told me very excitedly that there would be a special popstar guest. When I told the girls this they were very giddy. They were praying it would be Gareth Gates. I was holding out for the cute, punk one out of Busted.

The girls sat on their chairs looking glum as I dragged the rest of the drums in. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “You told us Gareth Gates might be here and it’s just some rubbish bloke off Big Brother”. I hyperventilated on the spot. What? Who! No, it can’t be… Not Little Mark Owen from Take That? “Yer, him off Big Brother. He’s not even a popstar” (the Legend of Take That was lost on these youngsters in 2004). I couldn’t believe it. I should’ve worn better clothes! So, we did our little gig and I could hardly contain myself as Little Mark stood just metres away doing his little speech.

“Can we go home now, Maria?”

“What?!” I shrieked. “But you can go round the museum for free, you’ve got passes…” “But we’re bored, we don’t want to,” they whined. I got serious “You ain’t going nowhere. YOU’RE MY TICKET TO MARK OWEN.” And they were. Oh, they tried to get away, and most succeeded, but little nine year old Parvana felt sorry for me and did a grand job of pretending to want to meet someone she’d never heard of just so I could. Good girl.

RW 2004 2

So, I got to meet Little Mark, who is indeed very little and was also very orange (glad to see the fake tan has worn off now). He was also very sweet. My friend Taramati, a wonderful older Indian lady who has on occasion taken to the stage to sing lullabies in an Elvis wig, didn’t have a clue who he was, and quizzed him like old ladies do. She got his autograph first then asked “And who are you?” “And what do you do?” He handled this very graciously.

So, these are the memories I will take to my death bed. No TT prancing about in hot pants, but at least I got to have my picture taken with a genuine popstar, even if he was orange. And sensibly dressed.

There will always be a place in my heart for cheesy boy bands. And, bloody Nora, in my photo album.

Postscript, 2016: I totally went off Take That when they turned out to be tax-dodging bastards. Apart from Jason Orange, he seems alright.

MO3

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Retroactive Distractions

heart bum edit

Pic by Jan Wells

 

Ten years or so ago I had a MySpace page where I spewed love-hearts and vitriol for different aspects of pop culture. It was a way of re-visiting my fanzine making days, but with uploads instead of Pritt stick. When you landed on my page ‘Art Bitch’ by CSS played automatically, and I spent most of my time there searching for music and friends I hadn’t seen for years. It’s weird that enough time has passed for early-days social media and all its naivety to feel nostalgic. MySpace was actually pretty ace until they re-branded it, the home page took 3 minutes to load, and everyone’s stuff got deleted (including classic blogs by my brother like ‘Soap Dodger Ruined Our Christmas’). Then we all fucked off to Facebook, Twitter and various blog platforms. I don’t really understand how MySpace carries on, but it does.

Finding myself in something of a muddle just recently, and in dire need of distraction, I was rummaging (in the computer sense) through old photos and files, and happened upon drafts of a few blogs I’d posted on there. They’re all rather trite and random, from a review of the film 300 (which I can barely remember seeing) to a confessional piece in which I apologise to Jamie Klaxon for drunkenly abusing him (but abuse him again in the process of apologising). Oh, and how I bullied a group of children into helping me meet Mark Owen (before we knew about him and Gary being tax-dodging bell-ends).

I figured in the next few days, weeks, whatever, I’ll re-post some of these old blogs. This will serve as both personal, indulgent distraction and reminiscence, almost certainly peppered with a good deal of cringing.

To think The Klaxons are retro, nostalgic fodder now. Who saw that coming?!*

(*answer: EVERYONE. They made one good album then tried to turn Bacofoil into a fashion accessory).