These were written for The Worthing Herald, from the present day dating back to about 2009. Before 2009, my parents clipped them out of the paper and kept them in a box file.
After 11 years I've finally decided to bring this column to an end, and so am VERY INTERESTED in a new weekly gig. If you'd like me to write for your paper, magazine, website or pamphlet, please let me know.
As I type this, literally right this cotton-picking minute, I am being confronted with a truth. It is a truth that I have been fervently denying for several weeks now, but may finally be forced to accept. I should point out that I am also watching X Factor, on which JLS are performing. They are singing on floating platforms, in a range of carefully-styled ‘urban outfits’. They are walking down steps in unison. They are doing a dance routine with strategic knee-dips on the key changes. They are spelling out, in a sparkling trail of diamond ear studs, the truth that we all knew was coming, but only Louis Walsh wanted to hear. Boybands are back.
Of course we have no right to be surprised at the sudden return of the white-suited warriors. Their shadow has long been lurking in the background of this year’s ’90s revival*. Partially obscured by a big pile of leggings and scrunchies and Ed the Duck memorabilia, perched on stools, the boybands have been waiting.
After all, they had their signal ages ago - when the nation welcomed Take That back into its hearts like a band of overcoated prodigal sons, it sent a subtle top-C soundwave running through the musical stratosphere, and boybands-in-hiding everywhere pricked up their ears. But the problem was, Take That were back not as a boyband, but as a manband. They have facial hair. They look like they might walk over hilltops, not for a ballad promo, but for leisurely fun. And they had a secret weapon, slowly matured for housewives’ delectation - Jason Orange, who knew?
Barlow et al also had the advantage of having ducked out of the industry just before it all got really ugly. They had the earthy end of the 90s. When played next to the likes of 5ive and 911, Never Forget sounds like the kind of music that you should stand on a bar to dance to, out of respect. It has majesty.
But now (and in no way a damning forecast to you, ma’am), majesty is no longer relevant. There is a place in music once more for pretty boys can do harmonies and lend panache to a silver shellsuit. We have a Blue reunion on the cards, Westlife reminding everyone they still exist, and two brand new boy bands lined up for launch early next year. Unpleasant and unnecessary, yes. But I recommend staying positive - If Another Level decide to come out a retirement, we can pretend Jordan and Peter never even happened!
Yes, hair gel manufacturers better get the gloves back on. The boy-ballad is back. Stephen Gately would be so proud.
*Yes, that is “’90s revival” – not, sadly, the 1890s (however much Mutya Buena and I do for championing the cause with rear-padding, fashion just won’t embrace the return of the bustle), but the 1990s. That decade we did already, like, ten years ago. The one with all the cropped tops and Anthea Turner. The one your hair is probably still doing. That one.
Because fashion, and anyone still holding onto a pair of high-waist bellbottom jeans will know this, likes to change its mind pretty quickly. Which means now we’ve mimicked every era that our parents and grandparents could remember, we have to start on the ones we lived through ourselves. Cue the massive sweatshirts, shimmer lipstick and cycling shorts. Extra points for anyone who can find their Tamagotchi.
Mr Murphy and Mr Sod have been at work again, and this time they have taken my whole house down with them. It was the work of a fool, I realise now, to spend last week in raptures at the thought of getting the internet back. But oh, reader, I just couldn’t help it!
I guess I knew deep down that the moment I committed those words to print, it would suddenly become a lie. Now, for reasons neither the grunts of the installers or metallic drones of the helplines seem to be able to explain, we have to remain in the void until the 17th of ruddy blooming gosh-darned-it November.
I am angry. It would be unprofessional to name and shame our shoddy service provider, but let me tell you this – I’m never riding on his trains or using one of his mobiles again.