Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ABL: Psyche

After Birthday Letters: Psyche

The earliest of my blogs comes from the 26th November 1996 when I was 13. I know the exact date and so many other details because I kept a Diary at this point of my life, filled primarily with pop culture references and my test scores [though how I managed to get such good grades given the state of my grammar and the fact that at one point I use the phrase 'well good' I do not know].

From my earliest years I can always remember being borderline obsessed with music - and pop music in particular. Given that I was also obsessed with Smash Hits you might understand why going to see the Smash Hits tour was a very big thing for me indeed. It marked my first ever 'gig' [if you can call it such], my first taste of non-stalking and lead on to me seeing practically every great [and not so great] pop band of the late nineties in that Arena. It was also the sumit of my infatuation with Ant and Dec; I confess that one day I'd like to bump into Dec, if only as a concession to my 13 year old self.

We're about 4/5ths of the way through the evening and I'm perched on my plastic flip down seat (Block 217, Row H, Seat 6 if we're going to be precise) and I can taste my excitment. I've seen such great pop luminaries as Louise, Sean Maguire, Kavana, Upside Down, Clock, Damage, Real 2 Real, 911, OTT, Brother 2 Brother, Alibi, Code Red, Livin' Joy and some American band that - even in this crowd - made so little of an impression that I can no longer remember their name. But the real reason I'm here is still to come.

The artists currently known as Ant and Dec.

I've loved Ant and Dec since the days they were PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove. So big is my penchant for collecting anything to do with them that their posters have crept on to my ceiling, I have their entire back catalogue (in all formats and including a signed copy of Top Katz) and videos of almost everything they've ever been on. I particularly love Dec - my birthday and Christmas cards for the last two years have come addressed to 'Corinne Donnelly' from girls bearing names such as 'Keating', 'Carter', 'Gately' and 'Pitt'. I'm vaguely not very impressed that he's now back with Claire Buckfield. But I've come to the realisation that I want him to be happy and therefore this is ultimately alright.

But now I am just moments from being in the same room as him. I might burst.

The lights flash, forcing me to squint.

And then there they are.

I wasn't quite sure what my reaction would be at this moment but it is apparent there is only one thing for me to do.

I scream.

I'm a little shocked at myself but I can't stop it. I scream again.

And then I hear the opening chords of 'Better Watch Out' and I'm singing and waving my arms in the air.

The next few minutes pass in a blur of arms and voices and screaming the words at the top of my lungs. 'Better Watch Out' finishes and we go into 'Stepping Stone' - a Monkees song that is a particular favourite of mine.

"I'm - not - your - stepping stone!"

Before I'm ready for it to be over Dec announces that this we're at the last song. It's 'When I Fall In Love', their most recent single.

I sing along, pulling out every syllable, every second.

Then they're waving and thanking the audience and the next thing they're gone.

I'm a little in shock as I sit back down, screams that are not my own reverberating in my ears.

Before I have time to process anything though, the lights are making me squint again. I hear the opening chords of Boyzone's 'A Different Beat'.

I'm on my feet again, this time to see Ronan - who is wearing tight black PVC trousers. It occurs to me just how lovely Ronan actually is.

And in this second I'm with all those Boyzone fans, matching the dance on stage.

By the time they've got to 'Words' they've won me.

I leave Sheffield Arena ten minutes later with a huge grin on my face.

NB: The title comes from the name of Ant and Dec's first album. Though I'd hope that you all know that.

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