Monthly Archives: May 2016

We’re Not Fans, We’re Friends

Fans. Supporters. Fanatics. Followers. Believers. Enthusiasts. Obsessives. Weirdos. Crazies. Groupies. Mad people. You get the gist. These are just a few of the adjectives used to describe people who enjoy the entertainment provided by music artistes, actors & actresses, footballers and celebrities in general. I must confess. I AM that person.

Ever since I can remember, I have been a fan of someone. From Madonna to Christian Slater. Pj&Duncan to The Stereophonics. There was always something or someone that I loved. Now, we’re not talking about an appreciation of music. Liking a song and possibly buying the album. Super fans would purchase every new realease on vinyl, cassette, CD and any limited edition items. Every magazine that our celebs appeared in would be bought regardless of whether they had a front cover with feature length article inside or a tiny snippet of ‘ so and so was spotted drinking a latte and eating a muffin at Starbucks on the river’. Saturday morning was spent in front of the TV recording videos and interviews. That pause button was a nightmare! Spare time would also be spent at the aforementioned Starbucks. They’d definitely return at some point right? We would attend every concert in our own city and also any other city within a 500 mile radius. Our hard earned cash saved from working jobs at Tesco, BT etc would be spent on standard hotel rooms in 5 star hotels where the room would be home to 4 of us splitting the cost so we could all get a chance to meet our favourite as we knew they too were staying there. And this was were it would get extremely exciting. Not only would we get that killer photo our heart desired, we would get invited to join them for drinks. Us? Drinks? Our idols? On us? Of course we bit their hands off. Tomorrows lunch money would ensure that Jake from Superboyz got a double JD and coke and we felt amazing for it. We knew exactly where they were performing, sleeping, eating, chilling, shopping. Whatever they were doing, we knew.

Some of the more extreme fans would go that step further and purchase clothes for their idols. Not cheap clothes either. Armani. Versace. Westwood. Whatever the designer brand of choice, these fans were on hand to ensure the were dressed in the latest trends and threads. They would beam with so must pride and happiness when a paparazzi shot was printed wearing the jacket they bought them. Of course they bought one for themselves also as that would make them somehow joined together. Have something in common. A bigger fan than anyone else. To be honest, that type of fan probably just p***** the rest of us off.

Today, when we meet celebrities, the moment is documented by a number of photos and videos which are then uploaded for the world to see within minutes. Everyone will soon be aware that you have breathed the same air as our chosen one. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You kids have got it so easy these days. Could imagine having to wait before knowing if the photo has even turned out? We had to take our camera film to a shop to get the photos developed. For an extra ¬£2.50, we could get them within the hour. An hour?! Not forgetting the actual photographs were taken hours if not days earlier. The anticipation was unreal. The excitement of what the developed photographs would look like. My goodness, I feel sick at the memories. What if I was looking away from the camera? What if they were looking away from the camera? If anyone has simulated bunny ears with 2 fingers above my head I will go mental. Just develop the god damn film! I reckon that around 8 out of 10 photos were spot on. So they should be, the subjects of the photos would stand as still as statues for about 10 mins waiting for the camera shutter to flicker and the flash to indicate the photo had been taken. The moment had been documented forever. (Losing our smartphones with all of our pics was a luxury we gladly didn’t have). I’ll tell you what we did have though, photo albums. Piles upon piles of photo albums. Each Boyband, singer or celebrity would have their own and they would be filled with memories.

So what was next? Oh yes, we still had to show the world our photos. Our prize for being a superfan .We couldn’t upload our pics but we did have the original FB. No,no no. Not Facebook. FB. Friendship Books. Pieces of paper stapled together to make a small booklet. Photos would be photocopied 10 times or so and your pic would make the front cover. Obviously you would draw fancy designs as a makeshift frame and maybe add some glitter to make it interesting. No filters was a reality. You would then send this onto one of your numerous pen pals who would then add their pics with name and address and so on and so forth until the last page was completed and it would be returned to you. These little booklets literally travelled the world. Royal Mail were definitely kept in business due to the massive worldwide pen pal network. Unbelievable. I’d come home to 4 or 5 letters a day! 

Back in the day, (was only a matter of time before this phrase appeared), we had to really work hard to meet the object of our affections and it was all done via post, land line telephone and the good old telephone boxes. Today’s super fans will NEVER understand or know the stresses of what was involved and do you want to know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. I have made lifelong friends who I’ve met at 2am outside hotels, have brilliant stories and memories and we weren’t doing anything wrong. The truth be told, the stars of the day probably felt way more famous than they actually were! 

Take That. 911. Ant & Dec. Boyzone. 5ive. Deuce. MN8. EYC. Gemini. Sean Maguire. Benz. Peter Andre. Steps. To mention but a few. Also not forgetting the Mizz models and Matt the Builder. We literally met them that much, we were more like friends than fans. In our eyes anyway haha. 

P.s I haven’t even touched on the endless number of times that the redial button was pressed to ensure we got concert tickets. There was no O2 pre sale. The hours spent outside radio and TV stations no matter the weather. Concert venues, houses, management offices, recording studios. The list goes on. 

Shed a Tear, Raise a Glass

Death.

What a horrible thing that has turned out to be.

Inevitable, but horrible.

What’s that saying… there is nothing surer than death and taxes. Something along these lines. Unfortunately, never a truer word said. We have all experienced the deep sorrow of sadness and loss. The mixed feelings of helplessness, regret, fear and of course the unanswered questions. But what happens when we do not personally know the sadly deceased? They are not a friend or family member, yet we still mourn them as though they were close to us. It is more than likely someone in the public eye. A Celebrity. A Superstar. An Icon. How do we grieve for them? Why do we grieve for them? In short, I have no idea, but we do.

Elvis Presley, James Dean, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and of course David Bowie and the recent Prince. Just a minuscule snapshot of the 100’s upon 100’s of local, national and international people who have passed before their time that none of us were actually friends with or knew on a personal level. Yet, we all felt a bit of grief and sadness when we heard of their untimely deaths.

In years gone by, fans would form a vigil at the deceased persons home, recording studio, place of death or any significant location and would leave flowers, poems, photos. They would write letters for them to take to the afterlife with a lit candle to ensure delivery and the fan community would come together and offer support whilst altogether feeling as though this person was a true true friend to them. However, they have never known this person but I can strongly suggest that this ‘star’ has helped them through something in life and influenced thoughts, decisions and actions.

‘Famous people’ are generally portrayed as ‘good people’, hard working and with a strong work ethic to’ better ‘themselves. Maybe that is why we support them. Adore them. Worship them. They remind us of,well, us.

Whilst the candle lit vigils still take place worldwide, the vast majority of mourners grieve vocally on social media sites. Good or bad, this cannot be ignored. there are numerous dedication sites, pages and groups accessible to anyone and everyone. As with the physical vigil, fans share their photos, memories and stories with people with they have never met. However, they all share the same thing. The famous person they love and adore. Complete strangers ‘like’ the song words from that particular song you have posted, the video clips are shared and loved and the conversations flow as if these people had been friends for years. Judging is very rare, but when it happens, it usually comes in the form of online trolls who have nothing better to do.

There are certain people who make it their mission to strongly word their opinions. This is not just specifically aimed at those fans and superfans but anyone who has anything to say. There is literally no subject too sad or happy for them to drop a clanger on. They look for a reaction and an argument. Anything where they can spout their vile remarks and hide behind the whole ‘I just say what others are thinking’ overused cliched remark. Phrases of choice include, Oh surprise surprise, someone has died and all of a sudden all my FB friends are their biggest fans, everyone is their no 1 fan now, who gives a f***, they wouldn’t have cared less if you died, get a grip. That last statement, in effect, is actually 100% true.

But who cares.

Correct, they wouldn’t have an opinion on it as we have not played an important part of their lives. We didn’t write an amazing life changing song. We haven’t given the most heart wrenching performance in their favourite film. God, we haven’t even written a sentence that they would take a second glance at. So what! We may not have known them personally or them us, but they have touched our lives in a way that nobody else has. Their films, poems, songs, art etc have helped through our happiest and hardest times. They have made us smile when we are sad and understood our dilemmas. That song that was playing in the car as we drove home after our first date. That¬†cinema date you had with your dad before he passed away. The poem that was sent to you by an unknown admirer who to this day remains a stranger. Everything is attached to memories. Great, amazing memories. Memories that nobody else will understand as they are personal to you. Nobody else needs to understand. These stories, films and words have lifted you up and possibly changed your views, opinions and ideals. Someone on God’s earth made these thoughtful pieces of work just for you. You are entitled to keep their memories alive. Take my advice, shed a tear or two for them. Raise your next glass in their memory of them.

Until we meet again x