I wish I could find the right words to express how it felt completing my first two live shows, as I stepped back on stage for gigs at The Vortex and PizzaExpress Jazz Club over the last month. After the dark year of recovery from cancer, I had returned to health to fulfil my lifelong dream... and at the age of 72.
It's no exaggeration to say that I grew up on the Spice Girls, and I doubt that I'd be an entertainment journalist now, if it weren't for the introduction to all things pop - and heady dose of girl power - that they gave me. As we celebrate 20 years since the birth of one of British pop culture's greatest phenomenons, here's what the ladies themselves taught me over the years...
There has been much written about mortality, but there are no handbooks to help the sufferer cope with the darkness that engulfs them through their treatment and after. I went through 10 months of life without colour or everydayness.
Although hard to comprehend right now, when things feel at their worst, these pleas won't make Zayn return to One Direction. It will just make him feel really, really bad. Imagine, at twenty-two, feeling responsible for a segment of your fanbase indulging in self harm...
Do you know who runs the world? Well, if you are to believe the gospel of Beyonce (and many people do), it's girls. Socially and economically, this thesis is slightly flawed. In some circles though, this could be considered true. In fact it is, and I've experienced it.
Love her or loath her, you cannot ignore the numbers and Beckham has some impressive ones. With the fall opening of her first shop in London's Mayfair, Victoria Beckham's fashion business grew from £1 million pound turnover to £30 million since its launch just five years ago.
Fancy a game of X Factor Live Show bingo? Here are 40 things that happen every time the billion or so hopefuls are whittled down to the final handful. Spot them! Tick them off! It might make the end come quicker! Although probably not!
t's an odd statement. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have been able to understand why anyone would put those words in that order. I was a teenage boy when the Spice Girls were around. When the Spice Girls were singing Wannabe I was not paying attention.
Kate Bush remains sexy in a way that few girls on today's pop catwalk might properly understand. Hers is a power that comes from within, based on self-belief, power of vocal expression, and an internal keg of passion almost mystical in its creation. With the word bandied around these days to describe anyone who looks half-decent on Instagram, Kate Bush really is a living, breathing goddess.
Today - if the evidence of Nelson Mandela's sad passing is anything to go by - the focus is now on the me, me, me. I've listened to, watched and read celebrities blithely talking about 'When I met Nelson he instantly recognised me'... Well I really don't care about you. Sorry, but I don't.
I've come to the conclusion that female celebrities scare the bejesus out of me. Because when it comes to showbiz, many women have a shelf life that men don't. And because of this sexism and misogyny, their fame-clock is ticking louder and quicker than a man's, making her more ambitious, more determined and more awkward to interview.
The truth is, the vast majority of the allegedly professional critics in question wrote their Viva Forever! reviews based on the Girls' admittedly less than extensive back catalogue rather than the hard work of the Viva Forever! team
Fortunately, the world premiere of the Spice Girls' musical certainly had its moments of high drama which kept the audience glued. Unfortunately, none of it was happening on the stage. Everyone in the theatre was watching the Spice Girls (four of them), who were themselves staring at Victoria Beckham, sitting two rows behind with her family, and gazing at the floor. Perhaps she knew something the rest of us didn't.
Did you ever have a dream? Maybe becoming a famous footballer, or a successful pop star? Some might say its foolish to dream, a childish fantasy and you should get a proper job, well just imagine if it came true.
"The past", explains one of the characters in LP Hartley's classic novel 'The Go-Between', "is like a foreign country". The rate at which our professional and personal lives have changed in the space of only less than 20 years makes it seem like a very distant land indeed.
I may live in the Royal Borough Of Greenwich but the part I live in is more rough than Royal and every other day can feel like Halloween. People demanding treats with menaces is a weekly occurrence, it just happens to be that my neighbours call them bailiffs.