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English to Bulgarian: Victoria Beckham "Learning to Fly" The Autobiography General field: Art/Literary Detailed field: Music
Source text - English Dedication
I dedicate this story of my life to my family: Mummy, Daddy, Louise and Christian. Over the last six years (the last eighteen if I’m being honest) I have turned your lives upside down. And I don’t just mean having to live behind security gates. As difficult as it has been for me, it has been even more difficult for you – not just coping with my personality, with its ups and downs, but your whole lives have been changed.
While I have fame and the money that comes with it, all you have, apart from being proud, is the upheaval. So Learning to Fly is an attempt to try to make sense of it all, to give a little bit of insight, I hope, into the people who made it all possible. It happened to me, but it happened to you, too. Perhaps this will help you understand.
And then there is my new family who have given me a depth of love and support that I never imagined possible.
Without David I wouldn’t have had the confidence to even think that my life would be interesting to anyone else. He gave me the courage to just do it. And as for Brooklyn, what can I say except that every day he gives me a sense of real worth and real values. So here’s to you, my two boys: I love you lots and lots and I’m very proud of you both. And Brooklyn, when you’re old enough to read this book, you’ll see that Mummy and Daddy were really famous once.
I would like to thank everyone at Michael Joseph who made writing this such a pain-free but therapeutic experience: Tom Weldon, Lindsey Jordan, Martin Bryant, my agent at William Morris, Stephanie Cabot, and my friend Pepsy for coming up with the title.
At the Outside Organization, Alan Edwards and Caroline McAteer, whose constructive criticism was greatly appreciated, in spite of jogging my memory on certain things I tried hard to forget, and Lucy Barnicot who had all my press cuttings (even the nasty ones) safely filed.
All at Spice HQ: Julie, Julia, Jo and Jamie, especially Rebecca Cripps who has been with the Spice Girls since the beginning and whose memory I tapped into all the time, not forgetting the lady who makes the Victoria Beckham machine run, Nancy Phillips, who kept me sane and made sure I kept to my deadlines. And Nancy – now the book’s finished, maybe I will have that day off.
Andrew Thompson, Mike Brookes, Gordon Williams and Charles Bradbrook, who guided me through the intricacies of the law and other hard-to-grasp matters.
My mum for always being there at important moments with her camera and for her amazing collection of press cuttings, not to mention her incredible memory and for the sheer stamina of standing for thirty hours at a photo-processing machine getting copies of the pictures for this book. Thank you. I love you.
And of course Melanie B, Melanie C, Emma and Geri. Five girls said they’d conquer the world and we did.
the famous five
Maidenhead was another try- out; Chris explained when he called me, but this time longer. We would work on our voices and routines during the day and live together in this house to see how we got on together.
I still didn’t know if I’d got the job, none of us did. It meant we could never really relax: we knew that at any time we could be told, ‘Sorry, but it just hasn’t worked out.’
Vocally we were still all over the place, but Pepe had told Bob and Chris that with a little more time she thought she could knock us into shape. She hinted that everything hinged on getting our voices to blend. There was no mention of how long we were going to stay in Maidenhead. ‘A few weeks,’ Chris had told me on the phone. ‘A month or two,’ Bob had told Geri.
The house belonged to Chic. It was on a typical sixties estate, a bit rundown, but it had recently been decorated, so at least it was clean. The two Mels and Geri were oohing and aahing every time a cupboard door was opened as if it was the Ritz, although the house
was really very small compared with anywhere I had lived. I think this was the first time I realized how different my background was to theirs.
There were two and a half bedrooms; I shared the biggest with Michelle. It had a light blue carpet and a yellowy floral wallpaper, white wardrobes and white sideboard. Nice, but not matching quilts. The two Mels had to share a double bed. We called it the ‘sex room’ because it had pink walls, a reddy coloured carped and Mel B put a red bulb in the main light.
No lampshade. Geri had a room that was a little more than a cupboard. It didn’t even have a proper bed, only a mattress. There was only one bathroom and Mel B used to irritate us all because she hogged it, lying in the bath for hours singing Zhane songs such as ‘Groove Thang’. She had at least two baths a day. And there again I was different. She`d be in there having a bath and she’d never lock the door and the other girls would go in and have a wee. I was the only one who would lock the door. But towards the end I was just the same and used to wee in front of them all. That’s how close we actually got.
The thing I liked about the house was that it was light. It had big windows. I still have this thing about light. Light and sunshine can make everything seem better if you’re feeling a bit sad.
Somewhere to live and somewhere to rehearse- what more could a girl want? Well, a bit of money to live on, actually. For a few weeks we survived on the dole- none of us wanted to be pushy and ask for money at this stage. It was only after about a month that we said we had to have something. They agreed on £60 a week.
Nobody was saying how long this would go on for, but I decided it was crunch time for Persuasion. I knew I was where I wanted to be. Sorry, Steve.
We worked a five- day week. Up at eight, in Trinity Studios by ten. Two days a week Pepe came for four hours, the other three days we were on our own. The guy who owned Trinity Studios was called Ian. He was forty- five and balding on top with a beard and not like somebody who was in the music business at all- more like your uncle, very uncool but a nice enough bloke. He loved us being there because we were the first people to use it as studios- I think it once might have been an old school- and he was trying to transform it into a professional recording studio. He had a dream. We had a dream and he really picked up on that and got a real buzz out of watching us rehearse. Even Bob and Chris had a dream. There were so many people who were working together.
By this time we had found out a bit about Bob and Chris. We weren’t their first project- it turned out they had discovered Bros, but just when Bros were going to make it big they’d signed with somebody else.
Chic never stopped telling us how he had managed the Three Degrees, the seventies all- girl group. Because of the Three Degrees, he knew everything there was to know about the pop world. What we had to have was a set. A set? What about getting us on Top of the Pops?
‘Don’t you effing forget,’ he said, ‘I managed the Three Degrees and the Three Degrees ‘ad an effing set.’ But then he’d light up another cigarette, wave it in the air and with a twinkle in the eye say: ‘Well, gehwls, I fink we’ve got somefing ‘ere,’ and ask us down to his house in Bray to have a swim in his pool. No one really knew where he made his money. We decided it was better not to ask.
Tracy, his wife, was a really nice person, very pretty and much younger than Chic. They had two beautiful little kids- really well brought- up. Chic was a real romantic- he had their initials T and C entwined in mosaic at the bottom of the pool.
It was when we were swimming at his house that he first had a go about my weight.
‘Do us a favour, Vic,’ he said, giving me the once- over in my swimming costume. ‘Lose a couple of pounds, will ya?’
I wished I could just disappear, I felt so terrible. But anyway, I told myself, I wasn’t any bigger than Mel C was I? A few days later, Mel C told me he’d said the same thing to her.
For our ‘set’ we had these three songs to learn from a tape recorded by a session singer. They weren’t crap but they weren’t great either.
It didn’t help that we didn’t have a lead singer, everyone said. Everyone except us. We didn’t want a lead singer. We were like, Why? We all wanted to have a go. That’s how we started and that’s how we’ve stayed. We’d sing a line or two each, then we’d blend together for a chorus, then somebody would- say- do the first part of the verse, then back to the chorus, then someone else would sing the bridge.
Our problem was still blending. Basically it was back to the drawing board, learning to use our ears, Pepe said. Listening to what everyone else is singing is really important, listening to their tones, to their timing. And it’s really quite difficult, you have to be very disciplined, learning to push forward for the solo, then to pull back and blend when somebody else is at the mike.
The dancing came easily to me and the two Mels, but for Michelle and Geri it was uphill all the way. Michelle had a real problem with rhythm. Nothing we did seemed to make it easier. So when we were dancing we’d be shouting at her, and clapping at her legs.
‘Five, six, seven, eight.’
‘Pick. Your. Legs. Up’
‘Listen to the bloody music, Michelle.’
But it was hopeless: she had less rhythm than a cement mixer. She had an all- right voice, but it wasn’t poppy- it was what you might call cruise- ship operatic.
In a way we were a bit cruel to Michelle, but then she set herself for it. When things got tough, instead of knuckling down, she’d remember her tan needed a top- up and go out into the garden. Also it didn’t help that she came from a very different background from the rest of us. My family might have been better off than the other girls` families, but basically we had a lot in common. Michelle was different. She lived in Oxford and had a place at university. She didn’t think the same way we did. She didn’t have the dream.
Geri had the dream but she didn’t have the training- to be honest, she didn’t know what she was doing most of the time and would just wing it, hoping that no one would notice. What she did have was more ambition than the rest of us put together, she was totally focused, totally single- minded. Sometimes you just wanted her to shut up, but that was just Geri.
Melanie C was fantastic, so patient, spending hours after rehearsals really helping her, and Geri did work really really hard. Back at the house, when the rest of us just flopped down in front of Home and Away, Geri was going over and over the dance routines. Yes, it was frustrating knowing we could have moved on more quickly if we hadn’t been held back by two of the group, but we could forgive Geri- at least she was trying. Whereas Michelle just couldn’t be arsed.
First we talked about it amongst ourselves, but in the end we decided we had to say something to Bob and Chris. By now we knew that although Bob could look quite stern, a flutter of eyelids and he’d turn to jelly.
They agreed. The sun- worshipper, as we called her, would have to go.
Michelle left during the summer break. She had a place at university to go to, so we didn’t feel too bad, though I wish I’d had the chance to say goodbye. I felt particularly shitty- after all, I had been sharing a room with her for something like two months- but in fact getting rid of Michelle made us feel more like a gang. And it wouldn’t be the last time that losing someone brought the rest of us closer together.
We knew we had to find somebody else. Even though Michelle hadn’t worked, five felt right. Michelle had looked the part but inside she had been wrong. What we needed was somebody like us- loud, gutsy, ruthless workaholics- but blonde.
Did we know anybody like that? No we didn’t. But Pepe did. A couple of years back she had taught s girl called Emma Bunton. And during the break she got hold of her address from the school where she’d taught her, and asked her to get in touch. Then Emma met Bob, Chris and Chic. They asked her to come and spend some time with us to see if she fitted in and if her voice sat comfortably with the rest of us. Finally it was Us. Or ‘Touch’, as Bob, Chris and Chic had decided we should be called.
We’d been on and on at them to give us a name.
‘But there’s no point in having a name,’ they said.
‘You’re not doing anything yet.’
I quite liked Touch.
We decided we should meet Emma at the station, so we all piled into Geri’s car. It was a really sunny afternoon and Geri had on hot pants, and this tight little white and red stripey top that she still wears now, her hair up in pigtails, black and white stripey socks and big platform shoes.
Anyway, typical Geri parks on a double yellow line and says she’ll run in and get Emma while we stay in the car to fend off traffic wardens.
It’s funny now to think that’s where the five of us first met. I can see it now: Emma walking towards us with her mum, wearing a little white dress, white knee- socks and trainers, blonde shoulder- length hair, really clear skin and a really big smile- like she’d been to stage school, and she had: six years at Sylvia Young. And she looked so young. In fact, she was the youngest, although she had more working experience than the rest of us put together. She’d done Grange Hill and EastEnders. Within a few hours of meeting Emma we all gelled. A few looks, a few nods. We knew this was right.
When Emma moved to Maidenhead it was the first time she’d lived away from home. She and her mum were very close- the first time I saw them that time at the station they were holding hands. She took over Michelle’s place in my room. Like me, Emma found it hard being away from her family and we both used to go home every weekend. As she lived in Finchley I always gave her a lift.
That was the only bad thing about being with the girls- it meant I couldn’t be with my family. At least during the week. I sold the jeep and bought a Renault Clio. It was black and it was automatic- a lot more sensible for long journeys.
Me and Geri were the only ones with cars and every day we used to pile into her beaten- up old Fiat Uno to go to work because Geri liked driving and I didn’t, especially when I had Mel B in the front telling me what to do and everyone singing and being generally loud. I couldn’t handle it. Also I was very proud of my new car, cleaning it all the time, and didn’t want any mess. Any mess in my car used to drive me potty.
How we ever got anywhere, I don’t know, because Geri is the worst driver. She has no concentration whatsoever and the amount of times she used to bang into things and have crashes you wondered how that car ever got through the MOT.
Even more tidy than me was Melanie C. She was very house- proud (the David Beckham of the Spice Girls). At the beginning she used to do all the tidying and cleaning. We ended up having a rota: who would do the clearing up, who would sweep the stairs, who would do the hovering and who would clean the toilets, and we would take it in turns, although Mel C always ended up doing more than anybody else. If she saw that the washing- up needed doing, she’d just do it, even though it wasn’t her turn. She couldn’t stand mess.
The fridge was covered with posters, pin- ups from Smash Hits or Top of the Pops magazine. Mel C was a massive Take That fan and she had stickers and fridge magnets of Robbie Williams while I had Jason Orange. Geri was George Michael mad.
We went shopping once a week at Tesco’s but we never really cooked communally because we all liked different things- like I’d live on cheese and packets of crackers and I went through a stage of liking bagels with honey. Emma lived on babyfood. Seriously, Geri seemed to live on nothing.
Me and Emma never thought of the Maidenhead house as home, it was more a Monday to Friday thing. For Geri and the two Mels it was different. Geri, being the oldest, had lived on her own for years and the other two came from up north- too far away to go home at weekends, though Mel C would often go to Sidcup in Kent where she still had friends at college- so Mel B and Geri used to spend their weekends together and were very much partners in crime. In those days I thought they were both quite mad. If they decided they wanted to go to a club at two o’clock in the morning they’d be up and off.
I used to come back after a weekend at home and find all my clothes lying around that had been borrowed and not put back. I didn’t mind if they borrowed my clothes- we all borrowed things from each other- but I just wished they’d take care of them, not leave them with make- up smeared all around the neck, or the sleeves baggy from being tied in a knot. Just because I had more things than they did didn’t mean I didn’t care.
In those days when Geri was really thin and I was much bigger, she used to lend me her bras because we had the same size bust. Geri was always so completely styled, she never wore anything normal, and she was the one who started the baby T- shirt thing.
‘Who the hell does this bloody bra belong to?’ my mum said when she found one in my washing. Geri’s bras were really frumpy- looking- all frayed and grey. ‘It’s like one left over from the Second World War.’
She was right. These bras were complete passion killers, which was just as well as passion was something I was trying to avoid. Going back home for the weekend was always a bit uneasy. I wanted to go because of my family, but there was a dark cloud over everything, called Mark. He was still living there- in my room. I kept saying that I thought he ought to get a place of his own, but he would then turn it round and say I wanted to get rid of him. As much as it was the truth, I was so terrified of not having a boyfriend that I would say, no, no.
But what’s the point of having a boyfriend if you never go out? Mark’s excuse was that we needed to save. And he certainly was saving- my mum and dad were always offering to pay and Mark never seemed to have a problem about accepting. So what was he saving for? A romantic holiday for two? No. New wheels and a bigger exhaust for his Escort R S Turbo. After all, he couldn’t afford to lose face with the other boy- racers at the Sunday meet down at Southhend.
But I did go out with the girls during the week. There was a nightclub we went to in Maidenhead called Avenue and Wednesdays was student night when you could get in for a pound. And I remember once Geri going up to the DJ and getting the microphone and shouting out, ‘Just to let you know that tonight Touch are in the house’- as if we were a top band people had heard of.
We were all so wired. The rest of us would be on the dance floor and Geri would be up on the podium dancing. Or rather jigging, which continued to be her speciality. We danced until they chucked us out.
At the time Emma had a boyfriend called Chris who was Greek, and on Friday nights going home in the car we’d talk girls’ talk: me about my problems with Mark, Emma about her problems with Chris and she’d be chatting away about this club and that DJ and I’d laugh and pretend I knew what she was talking about. But I didn’t. All I knew was the Harlow Mill and Quiz Night.
‘Don’t you want to know what we thought of him, Tor?’ the girls said when Mark came down to see me one time.
I had a good idea. They treated him as if he were like somebody on Harry Enfield.
‘He’s a prat.’
You couldn’t accuse the girls of not being honest, particularly Mel B. She would always say what she thought and sometimes that would get her into trouble- like getting expelled from college.
‘Now listen to me, Vic- keh.' She was the only one who called me Vicky. Usually I hated it, but somehow even this didn’t matter. Any of us could do anything and it would be all right.
‘That dickhead totally suppresses you. Just get shot of him. Give him his P45 and get back a bit of your self- respect.’
Then one of the others would join in.
‘I mean, Vee. Take a grip. Armani shoes don’t make up for that nose you know.’
Mark didn’t have the best dress sense and they all used to take the mickey, particularly the way he’d wear his trousers pulled up really high.
‘So, what chest size are your jeans, sir?’
Then they’d all collapse with laughter.
But as much as I knew they were totally right about him, that he did suppress me, he was still my boyfriend and I felt that I had to stick up for him. In fact, I was now quite embarrassed being with him. He’d always been really skinny and gangly but I was finally beginning to see how everything about him looked awkward. He had no coordination and when he danced he looked like Herman Munster. What made it worse was that he was so cocky and thought he was the world’s best dancer.
Even though I was still quite reserved, now that I was one of the girls, I was gradually getting on their vibe, but when I was with Mark it was just like I hadn’t met them- I was Mrs Just- Sit- There- Shut- Up- and- Do- as- You’re- Told.
Our three- song ‘set’ was now a five- song ‘showcase’. The idea was that Chris and Bob would invite people like record producers and writers and publishing companies to see what an amazing talent we were so they’d be desperate to work with us. So that’s what we were rehearsing for, week after bloody week.
‘If we’re going to do this showcase, let’s do it,’ we’d say.
‘Not till you’re ready,’ was always the reply. We never got much encouragement- in fact, the reverse. But we were getting bored with the same old songs, the same old routines, and we knew we didn’t want to get stale. As well as rehearsing till we were as slick as hairgel, we still had Pepe twice a week with her scales and breathing. Didn’t she realize that it wasn’t being able to sing scales that got you to the top, it was hitting the right groove?
The kind of singing we wanted to do we did back at the house. Not having a lot of money, we’d mainly sit round and entertain each other. And Geri would say let’s do a Madonna medley, and someone would start ‘Like a Virgin’, then we’d all sing along, then someone else would segue into the next one- ‘Papa Don’t Preach’- and then someone else might say Tina Turner or Bros or Stevie Wonder. It was great practice. Mel C even had a Take That video and we used to put it on and copy their routines. We had this big full- length mirror in one of the bedrooms that we brought down and stood up in one half of the lounge, so when we were practicing we could all have a go at looking in the mirror- we’d have to take turns because it was a long thin thing and you could only see one person at a time.
The two new songs we’d been given for the showcase were just as boring as the original three- bottom- drawer stuff that we reckoned a writer had given to loads of bands and no one wanted. We’d tried to improve the lyrics of one of them but this didn’t go down very well. However, if they thought by knocking us back they’d make us easier to deal with, they had another think coming- it just made us stronger. If that’s how they wanted it, we’d just have to write our own songs.
It became like a mission. Geri had a little Casio and I remember us all sitting on this old wooden table in the other half of the lounge- and I mean on- and we’d start humming melodies and writing down lyric ideas and keyboard ideas and we’d be up till really early in the morning trying to write stuff ourselves. None of us could really play, but the Casio kept us in tune. Our first song was called ‘Just One of Those Days’ and we wrote it on that old table.
‘We want to do our own songs,’ we told Chic on one of his rare visits. We might have been speaking Hindustani. He just raised his hands.
‘And we don’t like the name Touch.’
‘So what’s wrong with Touch?’
‘It’s not us.’
Touch, like the name of Bob and Chris’s management company, Heart, was too touchy- feely, we had decided. We wanted something with edge.
What about High Five? Plus Five? Five Alive? One sounded druggy, one sounded extra- large and one had copyright problems as it was a fruit juice. But the idea stuck. Later Bob and Chris went on to manage a boyband: 5ive.
It was Geri who had the brainwave. She and Mel C had just come back from the gym- Mel C was a fitness fanatic and Geri was a thinness fanatic. Geri came bursting in through the lounge door.
‘I’ve got it.’
Was this a knock knock joke?
‘Our name. Spice. It’s got five letters and it’s us. One word for five different tastes. So? What do you think?’
Our showcase was set for late November back in Nomis Studios in Shepherd’s Bush. Chic gave us £50 for outfits, so Geri and Mel B went to Camden Market and came back with matching Adidas T-shirts to wear with our own jeans and trainers. We didn’t want to dress the same- we didn’t in real life- but Bob and Chris said we had to, just like we had to sing their songs.
When you’re performing you’re so concentrated, you don’t notice the audience until it’s all over- and we did it like a proper performance with mikes and lights and proper playback. People came throughout the day so we must have done the showcase about four or five times. I don’t know how many people saw us, but it could have been as many as a hundred- with twenty or thirty there every time we did a show. And I remember at the end when we took our bow, as it were, feeling quite surprised that they genuinely seemed to like us, clapping and making quite a bit of noise. Afterwards, when we sat on the edge of the little foot- high stage, everybody was coming up and telling us we were great. We didn’t know who any of them were, but you could tell they really meant it.
When they did the bit about has anybody any questions, I just sat there and said nothing because I felt embarrassed that my questions were going to be crap. Geri was very outspoken and totally fearless. And that’s where she was good. Good for all of us.
Since the autumn and Emma joining us, we’d been on and on at Bob, Chris and Chic, trying to get some kind of agreement or contract out of them, but they always put us off. None of us had even been told that we were in, that we had the job. We just got our £60 every week, and that was that. Now that they saw other people were interested, it was a different story. Suddenly it was, ‘Shit, we didn’t get them to sign.’ Whereas for us it was, ‘Shit, thank goodness we didn’t sign.’
‘Wait till I’ve talked to my dad,’ I told the others when, a few days later, legal envelopes landed on our doormat.
What I haven’t mentioned yet is that I wasn’t the first one in my family to have a dream. My dad was actually in a couple of groups in the sixties, called the Soniks and the Calettos, and knows all about contracts from bitter experience. Somehow or other the Soniks got an introduction to Joe Meek- Joe Meek was to London what Brian Epstein was to Liverpool. He was a manager and a writer- he made most of his money from a huge hit called ‘Telstar’ by the Tornados in 1962. Anyway, he auditioned the band, and said he wanted to sign my dad. Not the band, just the singer, Tony Adams. So of course he signed. His first demo was a song called ‘Redder on You’ and he recorded it with a group called Riot Squad. My dad was rehearsing the B side when he heard the news that Joe Meek was dead. Joe Meek’s studio was in a converted bedroom above a leather goods shop in Holloway that his landlady owned; and in actual fact my dad had been there the night before.
Nobody knows exactly what happened but Joe Meek kept a shotgun in the flat, which was owned by another of his pop stars called Heinz who sang with the Tornados. He had it because he was having trouble with fans showing up at all hours. Joe Meek must have had an argument with his landlady- my dad says it was more like a mother/ son relationship, they were always giving each other presents- and when they argued that night he shot her, then went upstairs and killed himself.
Now because my dad had signed the contract with Joe Meek- even though Joe was dead the contract didn’t end- he couldn’t sign with anybody else. Tony Adams couldn’t do anything until the end of the contract- and it was a five- year contract. Another band who had the same problem were the Honeycombs. Their girl drummer Honey wanted to go solo, but she was in exactly the same position as my dad.
If he hadn’t auditioned for Joe Meek, who knows what might have happened. The Soniks even played the Lyceum and had a booking in Hamburg just like the Beatles. But one of the band hadn’t wanted to go- he was the only one with a proper job, he worked at the post office. So that was that. They never got to Hamburg, which was why my dad auditioned for Joe Meek and why after Joe Meek died he went into the electrical wholesaling business.
A couple of years ago my dad told me that somewhere he still had the tapes of that original demo. My mum said she thought they were in the attic, and (without telling my dad) I found these tapes and searched through reel after reel and actually found ‘Redder on You’ and put it on to a CD as a surprise for his birthday. It’s really crackly and very old and poor quality, but at least he has it, which he is really happy about. The Soniks still get together now and then to do charity dos.
So what did my dad say about Bob and Chris’s contract?
‘It’s like throwing hundred pound notes on the fire. Forget it.’
The whole point of the showcase had been to introduce us to writers and other people in the industry who would be interested in working with us or writing songs for us. We were still telling Chic, Chris and Bob that we wanted to do our own thing, but they took no notice- but that didn’t stop us working on our own stuff most nights. Matt and Biff were two writers who came to us via the showcase and they were different from the others in that they seemed happy to work with us, rather than just writing for us. Their real names were Matt Rowe and Richard Stannard and they had worked a lot with East 17- proper pop stars. We got on really well from the very first meeting. They picked up very quickly where we were coming from- didn’t tell us what to do, but listened to what we wanted to do and didn’t think our ideas were crap. Nobody had treated us like that before. And for them we were really something different. Until we came along, there were boybands, there was grunge, there was Madonna, and there was Kylie, but that was about it. We were five wild women, equal but different. And we were going to conquer the world.
Their studio was called The Strong Room, in Curtain Road- right in the centre of the City. To get there from Maidenhead we had to drive across London and you could feel the sense of excitement in the car. It was a quite scruffy looking building from the outside, and the studio itself was small, totally different from places we would work in now.
Biff (Richard) was mainly lyrics and melody. Quite camp, blond hair, always smiling, always happy- the kindest person you could ever want to meet. At first he comes across as quite shy but is really good fun when you get to know him. He’s a really lovely guy; we’re still great friends and he came to our wedding. Matt was the musical side and he’s fantastic on piano. In looks they are quite different; one’s short and tubby, and one’s tall and thin. Matt looks like Postman Pat without the glasses. (Sorry, Matt, I love you really.) That’s the trouble with having a baby, you begin to see the whole world through their eyes.
So how did it work? Working with Matt and Biff was a bit like brainstorming and things haven’t changed much since we first met them. We got into the studio and they put on the music that Matt has been working on, a backing track if you like, which sets the key, the rhythm, chord structure- things like that. Then we’ll start humming melodies. What about this? Yeah, someone else will say. Sounds good? OK, so into the dictaphone. We’ll all have pads and pens for writing ideas, words, images- whatever. Then somebody might say, What about this? - and sings a line. It might be just a phrase, something setting the mood perhaps. With seven of us around, it could get really buzzy.
In those early days I still felt a bit left out. I knew that I wanted to be part of the mix, but the others were so much more confident than me: Emma with years of work under her belt, Mel B being so totally fearless, Mel C taking a melody and making it really sing, Geri I’m- all- girl- look- at- me- she was even flirting with Matt. It was so intimidating- like standing in a room with no clothes on. And particularly during the early sessions, I didn’t have as much input as I did later. In fact with ‘Wannabe’ I missed most of it.
We’d been working with Matt and Biff all week, but by the time Friday night arrived it was only half done- so everyone agreed to carry on over the weekend. But I had a problem. Some relation of Mark’s was getting married and he put so much pressure on me to go to this bloody wedding. I said to the girls that I really didn’t want to miss anything, but they said, ‘No, no, no, you must go.’
‘I’ll call you,’ Geri promised. (Geri and I had just bought these mobiles, which were so big that they could have done duty as coshes.) ‘Don’t worry. I’ll let you know exactly what we’re doing. You won’t miss out on anything.’
But I did. The wedding was somewhere near Torquay and from the moment Geri calls me I’m thinking, What am I doing? It wasn’t as if it was anything to do with me. It was Mark’s bloody family.
She was great, calling me every five minutes saying, ‘What do you think of this idea, what do you think of that idea?’ But I just couldn’t bear not being there. Because whatever they said about how it didn’t matter, it did matter. Saying ‘Yes, I like that’ or ‘Not sure about that’ down the phone is not the same. I could have cried. I did cry, later. Because I knew, we all knew, that this song was so perfect. That ‘Wannabe’ was us.
And it did make a difference, because by the time it came to recording, performing and singing it, all the parts had been divided up between the rest of them. Yes, I did a few backing vocals but nothing major. And every time we performed it I just felt like a gooseberry standing at the back not doing anything.
And I used to say to my mum, ‘God, they’ll say I’m the one who doesn’t sing.’ And she’d say, ‘Don’t worry, Victoria, no one will notice.’ But they did notice. And to this day it’s what always gets thrown at me: Posh Spice, the one who doesn’t sing.
From the time we’d signed with Virgin in July 1995 we’d lived on ‘wages’ which Simon gave us of £250 a week plus expenses. He’d warned us that the real money wouldn’t start rolling in until we started selling real records. But with two number 1s and an album that had gone platinum within five days of going on sale, Spice Girls earnings were no longer financial projections, but a cash reality.
At the time Simon was also managing Gary Barlow of Take That- the beginning of his solo career- and at a party for Gary, Simon took us into a little side room and handed us each an envelope. I thought it must be an early Christmas card but inside was a cheque for £200,000.
This was more money than I could even imagine, but I still couldn’t help feeling guilty. Although my mum and dad look as though they’ve got a lot of money, they’ve never had anything like £200,000, and what they’ve got they’ve worked for and most of that they’ve spent on us.
Simon had promised us three weeks off for Christmas, and the one thing I could do as a thank you was take the whole family away on holiday. Unlike the other girls in the band, foreign holidays were something we had always had in my family. The first time I went abroad I was sixteen months old and we went to the Canaries, and there was trouble because we’d left my special bit of blanket behind. I’d been to Florida, to Disney World, and to Spain where my parents had a house, and skiing in Switzerland. But we’d never been to the West Indies, it was just too far and too expensive. Until now. The other girls had the same not- so- original idea and we all ended up in the Caribbean, though on different islands.
But first I had to do what every pop star does with their first mega cheque. Go shopping. Where? Where else but Bond Street. All the hype about me wearing nothing but Gucci and Prada was just that. I did have my Prada handbag, which I bought with my Bertie money, but none of the other stuff was the real thing. How could I have afforded it on £250 a week?
The original little black dress actually belonged to Geri, but she never wore it. She had hundreds of things she never wore. We shared everything from clothes, to knickers, to shoes, to make- up, to hair products. Not boyfriends.
The first time I wore it was out to dinner with Stuart and everyone had said, ‘God, what a lovely dress, it really suits you.’ But it was only Miss Selfridge or Top Shop or something- none of us had any money to spend on clothes. Anyway, because Geri was smaller than me at the time, it was a bit too tight so I had it copied by a dressmaker who still lives in Goff’s Oak called Violet. The original shoes that went with the outfit were black patent and came from a cheap shop in Carnaby Street and one of the heels kept falling off so I was always having to glue it back on. That dress, the one everybody said was a little Gucci dress, was never a little Gucci dress. The material and paying to have it made cost no more than £20.
Second on the more- money-than- sense pop star’s shopping list was obviously a sports car. So what was it to be? A Porsche? A Ferrari? Not for Mrs Sensible. I went down to a dealer my dad knew in Waltham Cross and bought an ex- demonstration M G F. This is typical; even when I’ve just been handed more money than my grandparents earned in a lifetime, I don’t buy new, I buy an ex- demonstration model and save five grand. But I’d always been careful and I wasn’t about to stop now. After all, it could all just disappear. Anyway, I just loved that car, bright purple metallic, nice wheels, all the extras and a roof that went down at the touch of a button.
Everywhere that Christmas was wall- to- wall Spice Girls. Which Spice Girl do you fancy? Which Spice Girl do you want to kiss under the mistletoe? Who is the world’s favourite Spice Girl?
That was the funny thing. There were Bob and Chris wanting us to look the same, but the Spice Girls worked because we all brought something different to the party- and not just the fantasy thing for men- though it’s probably fair to say that when the Spice Girls were at their peak, every man in the country probably fancied one or other of us.
It went right across national prejudices. We were huge not only in Europe and in America, but in Japan and India and Indonesia and Malaysia and South Africa. There wasn’t a single country that didn’t have a Spice Girls hit and everybody had their favourite. There was something for everybody and that was attitude- wise as well, not just the way we looked.
Any time I feel sorry for Chris and Bob and Chic having missed out on the pop phenomenon of the nineties, I have to remind myself that if they’d had their way we’d all be dressed the same, and one of us would have been the lead singer. The Spice Girls were so huge precisely because we didn’t do any of that. Now you only have to watch M T V to see that everybody’s doing it. But what made the Spice Girls different and will always set us apart is that we were the first, like Elvis, like the Beatles, like the Sex Pistols. The ones who do it first make it possible for everybody else.
By Christmas ‘Wannabe’ had sold three million and was number one in twenty- seven countries. I don’t think I could even name twenty- seven countries without looking at an atlas.
Out first week in the Carribean was on Grenada, the second on St. Lucia. It was a real family holiday with everyone, even Louise’s ex- boyfriend, Sharky, who I still really liked, and Stuart. For me not to think about what I was wearing or what I looked like was a holiday in itself. I can’t stand wearing make- up in the sun; the most I’m prepared to do about my appearance is to shove my hair into a ponytail and slap on the suntan oil. It was quite funny really, because everything there is tied in with what’s happening in the States, and I kept hearing ‘Wannabe’ being played- it was released there on 1st January. Soon there was a rumour going around about a Spice Girl being at the hotel. Before long cameras were snapping. I knew I looked vile, but these were just kids and I didn’t really care. It wasn’t till we got back that I saw just how lucky I was. Poor Emma and her mum had been photographed by the Daily Mail going into the sea, just showing their bottoms.
We’d conquered Britain, now came America. This was the big one, as Simon never stopped telling us. However big you make it in the UK, if you make it big in America, it’s like gold- plating. It gives you credibility. There’s this glamour thing attached to America, the land of dreams, the land of opportunity. If you’re successful in England, you’re famous, but if you’re successful in America, you’re a superstar.
The next six weeks were like a nightmare version of a kaleidoscope I remember getting one Christmas when I was little. Mad colours, changing at a twist into a different pattern, but somehow staying the same.
It was everywhere you went. All over the world. You’d go to countries you hadn’t even heard of and you’d get mobbed. People would know everything about you, not only your name, but your parents’ names. It was weird. I still couldn’t really believe how massive it all was. One day I was walking along the beach somewhere in a bikini with my dad and there’s this man collecting coconuts to sell to tourists. And instead of trying to sell us a coconut, he says, you wouldn’t be a Spice Girl would you? And you wouldn’t think this man even had a wireless, let alone knew who the Spice Girls were.
‘Wannabe’ had gone straight into Billboard Top 100 at number 11, the highest entry for a debut single ever, British or American. As ‘Wannabe’ rose in the chart, so too did our daily quota of interviews. America has literally hundreds of radio stations and every one of them wanted the Spice Girls. Now. Fortunately, because it was radio we did the interviews down the line sitting in a New York studio. But being witty and wacky on air can be difficult without the visuals. Sometimes the only thing to do to spice things up was to say outrageous things.
I’d been looking forward to a bit of New York shopping- all those names, Barneys, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s. Not to mention Tiffany’s. Fat chance. It was interviews, photo- calls and more interviews. Good morning, America.
Right from the beginning I said I wanted to be as famous as Persil Automatic. Why stop at selling records? As long as we were careful about who we signed with, we’d decided, then what harm could it do? Now we were famous, we could sell anything. But there were casualties- the first was the Diet Coke that I lived on. The massive deal we’d done with Pepsi, who became our major sponsors, put paid to that. Another deal that came through early on was with Mercedes Benz. In return for doing the launch of the new MacLaren F1, each of us had the use of a tiny little Mercedes S L K convertible for a year. We didn’t actually get them for another six months: they were delivered on the last day of shooting of our film Spice World- the Movie which we shot that summer.
The MacLaren launch was on St Valentine’s Day, when we had just heard that ‘Wannabe’ had hit number 1 in the American Billboard Hot 100. The news had come just as we were wrapping on the set of the ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ video, our fourth single.
Simon Fuller’s brother Kim, who was one of the writers on the film, was a friend of Lenny Henry, one of the founders of Red Nose Day and Comic Relief. We had all agreed that the royalties of our fourth single would go to Comic Relief. For Red Nose Day itself, there would be a spoof video.
We knew that there were already lookalike bands doing the rounds but the Sugar Lumps would be the only ones to get our seal of approval. And guess who they had doing Posh- Dawn French. I was incredibly flattered because she is the most fantastic comic. As she had to give the impression of being me through mannerisms rather than how she looked, it was really interesting watching her get into character. The whole thing was a real laugh. But, Dawn, do I really pout that much?
Jennifer Saunders was Ginger, Kathy Burke did Sporty, Llewella Gideon was Scary, although in actual fact Melanie spent ages trying to get Lenny Henry to play her. Lulu was Baby. The first time I met Lulu was in a shoeshop in Oxford Street. I was out shopping with my mum, Louise and Christian and I must have been very young because Christian was still in a buggy. Anyway, we went over and asked for her autograph. So she did one ‘To Victoria’ and then one ‘To Louise’.
‘So, do people call you Lulu?’ Lulu asked my little curly- haired sister.
And my mum, who hates shortening names, came back quick as a flash, ‘Not bloody likely.’ By the time she realized what she had said it was too late.
Although I sometimes see Lulu- she’s a very good friend of Elton’s- I’ve never dared tell her that the rude woman in Saxone and the two little girls was my mum, Louise and me. My mum, of course, is still embarrassed.
For all our success in America, and Simon telling us how important this show was, or that show was, the big one for us on a personal level was the Brits. We’d had other awards and would get other awards but the Brits is the equivalent of the Oscars. It’s voted for by the music industry. And they’re the hardest bunch to impress.
A year before, just being at the Brits as guests of Virgin, getting bladdered in such oh- my- God- look- who- that- is company had been so exciting. Twelve months later, not only had we been nominated for five awards, we were opening the show with a big production number of ‘Who Do You Think You Are’.
The big day was Monday 24th February. The previous week Simon had asked me if I wanted to go to a football match on the Saturday before. Ashley Newton, our A&R man at Virgin had tickets, he said. Both Ashley and Paul Conroy were massive Chelsea fans. And that week they were playing Manchester United, and as they knew Simon was a massive Man United fan, they’d asked him if he wanted to go along as well.
So I said OK. It wasn’t as if I was doing anything else: Stuart would be working. Saturday is the biggest day of the week for flower shops.
Simon had been trying to get me to a football match ever since I could remember. He was always saying I needed a famous boyfriend. And I’d say, ‘What are you talking about? I’m with Stuart, remember?’ And he’d say don’t worry about Stuart, I see you with someone famous, somebody like a footballer.
I wasn’t impressed. All the footballers I’d ever met were complete wankers who hung around the Epping Country Club shagging any nice Essex girl who walked through the door. They were a very immoral bunch.
‘So what should I wear?’ I asked Melanie the day before. For ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ at the Brits I was wearing a white bikini top and a white skirt- more like a pelmet, my dad said- covered with chainmail. I told her I was thinking of going in that. And I think she really believed that I might.
I can’t remember anything about the game, the main reason being that I didn’t have my glasses on, so it was all a blur. After the match we were taken to the players’ lounge, where the VIPs get to meet their heroes. So I’m standing there holding a glass of champagne and there’s this man who’s really annoying me. He’d had far too much to drink and was swaying all over the place. I tried to ignore him but he kept lurching towards me, saying things like ‘Do you come here often?’
‘Look,’ I said, when he nearly knocked my glass flying, ‘I don’t talk to people who are drunk.’
Not for nothing am I called Posh.
I was just about to escape to the toilet when Simon came up and put a hand on this piss- head’s shoulder. I thought he was about to do his minder act and tell him to piss off. But instead he began smiling and laughing with him. I stood there, staring into space.
‘Friend of yours, is he?’ I said, as the piss- head finally lurched off.
Simon told me he was a namesake and was surprised that I hadn’t recognized him- Simon le Bon.
If he’d thought this would impress me, he was wrong. The pictures I had in my room around teen- time were Bros. (I know. I know. Don’t even say it.) I was never interested in Duran Duran, so my knees didn’t exactly turn to jelly.
By now the players had come up from the dressing rooms.
Simon took my arm and pointed over to one of them who was standing by the door.
‘Who is he?’ I asked. He said it was David Beckham.
He said the name again. David Beckham. And that I had said I fancied him.
I was completely mystified. How could I fancy somebody I had never heard of? What was he talking about? As for this David Beckham person, I supposed he must be a footballer, but whether he had played or not, whether he was Chelsea or Manchester United I had no idea. When it came to footballers Simon was completely starstruck and he was obviously determined to meet this Beckham and was using me as an excuse. I couldn’t even see who he was on about. Everything was a blur at the other side of the room. He could have been talking about a hatstand.
By then we were there. Simon said hello to David and stretched out his arm in a manly handshake. He told him that he managed the Spice Girls then introduced me. At that moment I remember thinking that it was an absurd situation.
I smiled, said hello to the boy with the lank- looking brown hair. Then Simon started on his great- game- nice- pass- shame- about- the- score routine. I just stood there feeling stupid and trying to clock this footballer I was supposed to have fancied as he talked free- kicks and corners. In fact, I decided, he was quite nice- looking. Occasionally he glanced at me with a shy smile, as Simon carried on with what he would have done if he’d been out there on the pitch. Then he left and we stood there, neither of us saying a word.
‘Good game,’ I finally managed.
‘Glad you enjoyed it, Victoria.’
I liked the way he said my name. Yeah.
I smiled. He smiled.
I looked around for Melanie C to help me out but couldn’t see her. What were you supposed to say to a footballer? I was just so embarrassed. But the embarrassment was more than just feeling stupid. It was that shy feeling that comes from instant attraction.
I left soon after.
The next day was a heavy rehearsal day at Earls Court. While the crew were doing the technical for ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, Melanie C came up to me. This was unusual. Even though we were only miming, Melanie always gets her voice into shape doing vocal exercises that drive me completely mad and make me so tense it’s never worth going near her.
‘So, what do you think of him in the flesh then, Tor?’
In the flesh? What was she on about?
‘David Beckham. I saw you talking to him yesterday. Remember? He’s the one you picked out for 90 Minutes.’
And then suddenly it all came back to me. Not David. I still didn’t remember him, but the whole business.
Simon, being this obsessive football fan, had organized for us to do an interview with a football magazine called 90 Minutes. This is not a magazine that features on the hit list of most pop groups. It was about three months before, for their Christmas issue, with a picture of us all wearing football strip. Emma supported Tottenham, so she wore that. Geri wore Watford, because that’s where she’s from. Melanie B wore Leeds, same reason, and Melanie C wore Liverpool because she’s obsessed with Liverpool. Her family have been Liverpool supporters for ever. If anything I should have been Tottenham, I said, because my parents are from Tottenham, and about a year before they had a party where one of the guests was a Spurs footballer called Ian Walker. And then of course my nan used to have Tottenham footballers as lodgers. So I said all this. But it was no good. Emma already had Tottenham, so Simon, being this massive Manchester United fan had said why didn’t I wear that?
‘Depends what colour it is.’
‘Red and white.’
I wasn’t over the moon as red and white aren’t my favourite colour combination. But the stylist had thought it was a good idea. So that was that. Of course all this had been decided long before the shoot because they had to get the kits in. Although they’d got the smallest sizes for us, we all looked totally ridiculous. The red was horrible and I particularly didn’t like having S H A R P plastered all over my chest. Everything had to be rolled up (shorts, sleeves) or rolled down (socks) to make it look a bit sexy. It was really very funny with Geri and Emma shrieking, ‘Can’t you get platform boots? We need to look taller.’
After the shoot we did the interview, which boiled down to which famous footballer did we fancy. To help us, the woman doing the interview had a pack of flash cards with photographs of famous footballers on. The two Melanies were the only ones who had any idea. Melanie C I remember went for Jamie Redknapp. I said that if Jamie Redknapp came and slapped me round the face with a haddock I wouldn’t know who he was.
I had never had any interest in football. But I had to choose someone or else it would spoil it, the interviewer said. So I was going through these flash cards and I couldn’t see anyone I liked the look of. The other girls were going Cor to all of them.
Then I stopped at one I must have missed before.
‘He looks nice,’ I said. ‘What’s his name?’
The woman interviewer took a look, then said: ‘That’s David Beckham.’
I was always happiest when I had something positive to do on stage, and Priscilla, our choreographer, had put together a big production number for our Brits opener. After months of zap- `em- in- three- minutes TV spots and how- banal- was- that- question radio interviews I was back to doing what I’d spent all those years training for. Dancing.
We had worked with Priscilla Samuels since before ‘Wannabe’. When I first met her at one of the flash music industry parties Simon used to give, I recognized her from Top of the Pops where she was often one of the dancers, the kind of dancer that made you think, Wow, I would love to do that.
Priscilla gives the impression of being taller than she is, because she’s very slim with this amazing body and she is literally the most amazing dancer I have ever seen. Completely self- taught, she’s absolutely fabulous, dynamic and sharp. If you put Priscilla among a group of dancers in a room and gave them the same dance routine, she’s the one you’d watch.
So days of rehearsals over, it was time. Standing at the back of the stage with our backs to the audience we all held hands and looked at each other as we waited for our cue from Ben Elton.
‘Yes, we all want to be their lover, we are all more than happy to be their friend. Then get with them, friends. They are, of course, Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Baby and Posh. The all- conquering Spice Girls.’
Then the first bars of ‘Wannabe’ segued into ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. We turn round and GO. Hips and shoulders pumping like pistons, we sashayed and strutted down the ramp between purple silk flames to whistling and cheering like I had never heard before. The Oxford Street crowds had been huge, but up to now audiences for our P As (personal appearances), like Top of the Pops, were basically kids. This was the music business in all its cigar- puffing, coke- snorting tacky splendour. This wasn’t a studio in Elstree, this was Earls Court. Can you hear me at the back? Let me shout it. EARLS BLOODY COURT.
There are certain moments in your life that you remember for ever. There aren’t many of them that stay as important and as vivid as they were at the time. This one did.
My dad is a great walker and was always getting us to go up mountains. And you’d reach what you thought was the top, only to find there was another bloody hill to climb. You never got to the top, ever. But now here we were on top of the world, the sun was shining and there were no clouds on the horizon.
Simon was always drumming into us how the music business is a very cut- throat world and you’re only as good as your last hit. But that night it was as if I could see the hits stretching out for ever. Nominated for five awards, we came away with two: Best Video and Best Single. Who do we think we are? We’re the Spice Girls. Zig ah zig ah.
As she so often did, Geri got us on to the front of every newspaper, both tabloids and the posh papers, the next morning with her home- made Union Jack outfit.
Divide and rule was one of the few things I remembered from history at school. The teacher explained it with a bunch of sticks. Tied together you couldn’t break them- he brought in a bunch and we all tried. But when they were separated, each one broke easily. And as much as we still ate together, worked together, lived under the same roof, and even our periods were coordinated, that’s what I felt Simon had in mind. Together we were strong, we had proved that- we had literally conquered the world. There was no way we were going to let Simon come between us.
Simon would get us on our own and tell us things that showed people had been talking. One example- me and food. He made no secret of the fact that he knew exactly what I was eating and not eating. It might have been for my own good, but that’s not the point. Someone was grassing me up. But who? Security? The cook? The PA? The only people we could trust were each other and I became convinced Simon was trying to destabilize us. Because in an atmosphere like that you end up trusting no one.
Yet we were all so vulnerable away from our families and none of us wanted to jeopardize what little freedom we had, and Simon kept us on a short leash. One way he did this was by having favourites, the Spice Girl who at that particular time could do nothing wrong. But the favourite could suddenly change and you never knew why. He had total power over what we could and could not do. He made sure we knew that anything- like a weekend seeing our families or boyfriends- could be cancelled ‘in the interests of the group’. He’d promised I could meet up with David- which I did, in Paris- but until I was on that plane, I was terrified he’d turn round and say I couldn’t go.
That time in France was one of the most unhappy experiences of my life. Perhaps Simon could sense our unease. For the first time he said that our families could come to see us in Istanbul. At the Prince’s Trust concert in Manchester, our first live performance in England, the woman sitting next to my mum recognized her and asked if she was going backstage after the show to see me. Oh no, said my mum. We don’t go backstage. Oh, this woman said, Simon Fuller said I could go. And this woman was Sandra, David’s mother. It was the first time they had met. So for our first live performance in England David Beckham’s mother was invited backstage and my mum wasn’t. It makes me so angry now I’m a mother myself. How must she have felt?
Cynics said we chose Istanbul for our first live concert because we hadn’t the balls to perform somewhere mainstream. Not true. It was Pepsi’s decision: from the start they were our major sponsors and as they were sponsoring the entire thing they called the shots. It had to be somewhere where Pepsi was bigger than Coke, which narrowed it down a bit. But in Turkey, Pepsi is big. And again, Istanbul was good for our image- the whole East/West thing, and not US- UK focused, something unexpected and a bit radical. And from a business perspective it was a really good deal- Pepsi would pay for everything, including the sets, which we could then use again for the world tour.
(As it turned out, somebody totally ballsed up- they built the set all right, but not in a way that it could be moved and reused. The whole thing had to be totally reconstructed for the tour.)
The best thing about Istanbul was having our own live band. And after all the tension of Spice Camp, performing live on stage felt like freedom. Like I said, we are all performers and this is what we did best, being out there and giving it everything. And the audience loved us. Even the critics were soon eating their cynical words and coming up with the best in English tabloid puns: ‘Istanbul’, ‘Fab 5 Turk `em by Storm’ and ‘It’s good to turk’.
Spiceworld, our second album, was about to be released worldwide, so promotion was a word we couldn’t ignore: soon it was back to the same old routine: plane, limo, hotel, studio, studio, limo, plane. Singapore, Thailand, India, Hong Kong and Japan. Looking back I don’t know how I didn’t crack up. David was wonderful. He was always there at the end of the phone, never too tired to talk. We talked eight, ten times a day. Though often I would just cry.
Breaking out of prison isn’t that easy, particularly if you can’t talk to the other inmates without a guard being around. And that’s how it felt with Simon. He never let us out of his sight. He literally came everywhere with us. The press used to call him Spice Boy and that’s not far off the mark. Coming back from Japan, when we checked in at the airport they told us they only had five first- class seats. As part of our record deal we always flew first class: it wasn’t a luxury, it was a total necessity with all the long- haul traveling we were doing. Now you would imagine that in those circumstances the band- the five girls- would travel first class and the manager would settle for business. No. One of us got kicked out of first class so that Simon could sit there. And who was the one who got kicked out? Me.
It was very rare that we were all five together without our hands- on manager busying around. No wonder we didn’t talk.
At the end of October we were back in England for the UK launch which, as always, involved back- to- back TV and radio promotion. At least it was home. On our way back Geri had said that before we did anything we ought to talk to the lawyers. Did I want to do it or should she? I said she should do it.
I was only at home for a couple of days and then it was off again. We couldn’t stop the tax- year- out clock ticking and I didn’t even bother to unpack.
You don’t have a life, you have a schedule.
This time it was South Africa and a charity concert for the Prince’s Trust. If I’m being totally honest I knew hardly anything about Nelson Mandela and what he had achieved before I met him, which is awful I know. My excuse is that I come from a generation and a country who take freedom for granted.
We went straight from the airport to take tea with the Pre
Translation - Bulgarian Посвещение
Посвещавам този разказ за моя живот на моето семейство: мама, татко, Луис и Крисчън. През последните шест години (последните осемнадесет, ако трябва да съм честна) аз преобърнах живота ви наопаки. Нямам предвид само това, че се налага да живеете зад охранявани врати. Колкото и трудно да е било за мен, за вас е било още по- трудно да се справяте с личността ми, с моите възходи и падения- вашите животи бяха напълно променени.
Докато аз имам слава и парите, които следват от това, всичко, което вие имате, като изключим това, че сте горди, е коренната промяна. Затова “Да се научиш да летиш” е един опит да осмисля всичко, да дам поне малко яснота, надявам се, на хората, благодарение на които се случи всичко това. Случи се на мен, но се случи също така и на вас. Това навярно ще ви помогне да разберете.
Освен това си имам и своето ново семейство, което ми даде такава дълбока любов и подкрепа, каквато не съм мислела, че може да съществува.
Без Дейвид не бих имала увереността дори да си помисля, че живота ми би представлявал интерес за някого другиго. Той ми даде смелостта просто да го направя. А що се отнася до Бруклин, какво бих могла да кажа, освен че всеки ден благодарение на него осъзнавам кои са нещата, които наистина имат значение и стойност. Това е за вас, моите две момчета: обичам ви толкова много и съм изключително горда и с двама ви. И, Бруклин, когато порастнеш достатъчно голям, за да прочетеш тази книга, ще разбереш, че мама и татко някога са били наистина известни.
Бих искала да благодаря на всички от “Майкъл Джоузеф”1, които облекчиха процеса по писането на тази книга, като в същото време го превърнаха в терапевтично изживяване: Том Уелдън, Линдзи Джордан, Мартин Брайънт, моя пълномощник в “Уилям Морис”2, Стефани Кейбът, и моя приятел Пепси, който даде идеята за заглавието.
От организация “Аутсайд”3: Алън Едуардс и Карълайн Макатиър, чиято конструктивна критика бе високо оценена, въпреки че върнаха спомените ми за неща, които упорито опитвах да забравя; и Луси Барникът, която грижливо съхранява всички изрезки за мен от периодичния печат (дори и най-неприятните).
Всички в щаба на “Спайс Гърлс”(Spice Girls)4: Джули, Джулия, Джо и Джейми, особено Ребека Крипс, която е със “Спайс Гърлс” още от самото начало и чиято памет върнах назад във времето; да не забравяме и дамата, която кара машината наречена Виктория Бекъм да работи – Нанси Филипс, която ми помогна да запазя здравия си разум и да не пресрочвам крайните срокове. И, Нанси – сега, когато книгата е готова, може би най-после ще си взема онзи почивен ден.
Андрю Томпсън, Майк Бруукс, Гордън Уилямс и Чарлз Брадбруук, които ме преведоха през лабиринтите на закона и други трудни за разбиране въпроси.
Майка ми, задето винаги е била до мен във важни моменти със своя фотоапарат и заради невероятната й колекция от изрезки от периодичния печат, да не говорим за изумителната й памет и за очевидната издръжливост, с която прекара тридесет часа стоейки до уред за размножаване на снимки и правейки копия на снимките за тази книга. Благодаря ти. Обичам те.
И разбира се, Мелани Би, Мелани Си, Ема и Джери. Пет момичета казаха, че ще покорят света и го направиха.
Мейдънхед5 бе още една проба, както ми обясни Крис по телефона, но този път за по-дълго. Ще работим над гласовете си и танците през деня и ще живеем заедно в тази къща, за да видим как се разбираме.
Аз все още не знаех дали съм получила работата; никоя от нас не знаеше. Това означаваше, че никога не можехме да сме напълно спокойни: знаехме, че във всеки един момент можеше да ни кажат, “Съжалявам, но просто не се получи.”
Що се отнася до гласови данни, все още звучахме хаотично, но Пепе бе казала на Боб и Крис, че след още известно време смята, че ще ни вкара във форма. Тя намекна, че всичко зависи от това гласовете ни да се съчетаят. Нищо не се споменаваше относно това колко дълго ще останем в Мейдънхед. “Няколко седмици”, ми беше казал Крис по телефона. “Месец, два”, Боб бе казал на Джери.
Къщата беше на Чик. Типичен имот от шестдесетте, порутена на места, но декорирана наскоро, затова поне беше чиста. Двете Мел и Джери охкаха и ахкаха всеки път щом някой отвореше вратичка на шкаф, сякаш това бе Риц6, макар че къщата беше наистина много по-малка, от което и да е място, където съм живяла. Мисля, че тогава за първи път осъзнах колко различна бе моята среда от тяхната.
Имаше две спални и половина; аз делях най-голяма с Мишел. В нея имаше светлосин килим и жълтеникави тапети на цветя, бели гардероби и бял бюфет. Хубави, но неподхождащи покривки за легла. Двете Мел трябваше да делят двойно легло. Наричахме тази стая “стаята за секс”, защото стените бяха розови, килима червеникав и Мел Би сложи червена крушка в централната лампа. Без абажур. Стаята на Джери беше малко по-голяма от бюфет. Дори нямаше истинско легло, само дюшек. Имаше само една баня и Мел Би ни дразнеше като я окопираше, лежейки във ваната с часове, пеейки песни на “Джаней”(Zhane)7 като ‘Groove Thang’. Тя се къпеше поне два пъти на ден. И аз отново се различавах. Докато се къпеше, тя никога не заключваше вратата и останалите момичета влизаха, за да пишкат. Аз бях единствената, която заключваше вратата. Но към края и аз бях същата и пишках пред всяка от тях. Толкова много се сближихме.
Това, което ми харесваше в къщата беше, че е добре осветена. Имаше големи прозорци. Все още изпитвам нещо особено към светлината. Светлината и слънцето могат да направят всичко да изглежда по-добре, ако си тъжен.
Място, където да живее и място, където да репетира – какво повече би могло да иска едно момиче? Е, всъщност и малко пари, с които да живее. Няколко седмици живеехме с помощи за безработни – никоя от нас не искаше да се прояви като нахална и да пита за пари на този етап. Чак след около месец се осмелихме да кажем, че трябва да получаваме по нещо. Те се съгласиха на 60 лири седмично.
Никой не казваше колко дълго ще продължи това, но аз реших, че е време да сложа край на “Пърсюейшън”(Persuasion)8. Усещах, че съм там, където искам да бъда. Съжалявам Стийв.
Работехме по пет дни в седмицата. Ставане в осем, в студио “Тринити” в десет. Два пъти седмично Пепe идваше за по четири часа, през останалите три дни бяхме сами. Собственикът на студио “Тринити” се казваше Иън. Той беше на четиридесет и пет, оплешивяващ в най-горната част, с брада и изобщо не приличаше на човек от музикалния бизнес-по-скоро на чичо ти, доста неприятен, но достатъчно симпатичен човек. Харесваше му да сме там, защото ние бяхме първите, които използваха помещението като студио–според мен някога може и да е било старо училище и той се опитваше да го превърне в професионално звукозаписно студио. Той имаше мечта. Ние също имахме мечта и той наистина се запали по това и се въодушевяваше докато ни гледаше да репетираме. Дори Боб и Крис имаха мечта. Толкова много хора работеха заедно.
До този момент вече бяхме понаучили малко относно Боб и Крис. Ние не бяхме първия им проект – оказа се, че те бяха открили “Брос”(Bros)9, но точно когато “Брос” щели да успеят, подписали с друг.
Чик никога не спираше да ни повтаря как е бил мениджър на “Трий Дигрийс”(Three Degrees)10, изцяло момичешката група от седемдесетте. От опита си с “Трий Дигрийс” той знаеше всичко, което можеше да се знае за света на поп музиката. Трябваше да имаме набор от песни. Набор от песни? Какво ще кажеш да ни помогнеш за ‘Top of the Pops’11?
“Не забравяйте, по дяволите, че бях мениджър на “Трий Дигрийс”, казваше той; и “Трий Дигрийс”, по дяволите, имаха набор от песни.” Но после палеше поредната цигара, размахваше я във въздуха и с искрящ поглед казваше: “Е, момичета, май имаме нещо тука,” и ни канеше в къщата си в Брей, за да поплуваме в басейна му. Никой не знаеше в действителност откъде той има пари. Решихме, че е по-добре да не питаме.
Трейси, неговата съпруга, беше наистина приятен човек, много хубава и значително по-млада от Чик. Те имаха две красиви малки дечица- наистина много добре възпитани. Чик бе истински романтик- първите букви на имената им “Т” и “Ч” преплетени бяха изработени от музайка и се намираха на дъното на басейна.
Именно по време на едно от посещенията на басейна в неговата къща, той за първи път заговори за теглото ми.
“Направи ни услуга, Вик,” каза той, оглеждайки ме критично в банския ми. “Отслабни с няколко килограма, а?”
Искаше ми се просто да се изпаря, толкова ужасно се почувствах. Но, както и да е, казах си, че не съм кой знае колко по-дебела от Мел Си, нали така? След няколко дни, Мел Си ми каза, че и на нея казал същото нещо.
За “набора” ни трябваше да заучим три песни от касета записана от наемна певица. Не бяха за изхвърляне, но и не бяха нещо особено.
Всички казваха, че това че нямаме водеща певица не ни е от полза. Всички освен нас. Ние не искахме да имаме водеща певица. Реагирахме с “Защо?” Всяка от нас искаше да се изяви. Така беше от самото начало, така и остана занапред. Всяка изпяваше по ред, два, после гласовете ни се сливаха за припева, след това някой казваше- изпей първата част на куплета, след което отново идваше припева, после някоя друга изпяваше свързващата част между куплета и припева.
Съчетаването на гласовете ни си оставаше проблем. Пепе казваше, че трябва да почнем пак отначало, като се научим да използваме ушите си. Да слушаш какво пеят другите е наистина важно, да слушаш гласовете им и как синхронизират. И това наистина е доста трудно – трябва да си много дисциплиниран, да се научиш кога да излезеш на преден план за солото си, а после да се оттеглиш и да се съчетаеш с останалите, докато някой друг е на микрофона.
Танцуването се отдаваше на мен и на двете Мел, но за Мишел и Джери бе истинско мъчение. Мишел наистина имаше проблеми с ритъма и нищо, от това което правехме не помагаше. Когато танцувахме й крещяхме и пляскахме до краката й.
“Пет, шест, седем, осем.”
“Вдигни. Крака. Нагоре. Ти.”
“Слушай проклетата музика, Мишел.”
Но беше безнадеждно: тя имаше по-малко усещане за ритъм и от бетонобъркачка. Гласът й не беше лош, но не беше с поп звучене – можеше да се определи като глас на оперна певица на екскурзионен кораб.
В известен смисъл бяхме малко жестоки спрямо Мишел, но в крайна сметка тя беше там по своя воля. Когато нещата загрубяваха, вместо да наведе глава, тя се присещаше, че тена й се нуждае от подновяване и отиваше в градината. Също така не помагаше и факта, че тя бе израстнала в съвсем различна среда от нас останалите. Моето семейство може и да е било по-добре финансово от семействата на другите момичета, но всъщност между нас имаше много общи неща. Мишел беше различна. Тя живееше в Оксфорд и беше студентка. Не мислеше по същия начин като нас. Тя нямаше тази мечта.
Джери имаше мечтата, но и липсваше подготовката – ако трябва да съм честна, през по-голяма част от времето не знаеше какво точно прави и просто импровизираше с надеждата, че никой няма да забележи. Но това, което имаше тя бе повече амбиция от всички нас взети заедно, тя бе напълно съсредоточена, напълно всеотдайна. Понякога ти се приискваше да млъкне, но такава си е Джери.
Мелани Си беше страхотна, толкова търпелива, тя прекарваше часове наред след репетиции, за да й помага и Джери наистина работеше много, много упорито. Когато се прибирахме в къщата и останалите просто се сгромолясвахме да гледаме “У Дома и Далеч”12, Джери преповтаряше танците. Да, беше разочароващо да осъзнаваме, че можеше да напредваме по-бързо, ако не бяхме дърпани назад от две от момичетата, но на Джери й беше простено – тя поне се стараеше. За разлика от нея, Мишел изобщо не се трогваше.
Първо го обсъдихме помежду си, но в края на краищата решихме, че трябва да поговорим и с Боб и Крис. Вече знаехме, че макар Боб да изглеждаше доста твърд, едно пърхане на клепачи и омекваше като желе.
Те се съгласиха. Обожателката на слънчевите лъчи трябваше да си ходи.
Мишел напусна по време на лятната ваканция. Тя си имаше място в университета, затова не се чувстваме толкова гузни, въпреки че ми се иска да бях имала възможността да се сбогувам с нея. Почувствах се изключително гадно – в крайна сметка бях делила с нея една стая близо два месеца, но всъщност това, че се отървахме от Мишел ни сближи като група. И не за последен път това да загубим член на групата сближаваше нас останалите.
Знаехме, че трябва да намерим друго момиче. Въпреки, че с Мишел не се получи, усещахме че трябва да сме пет. Мишел изглеждаше като липсващото парченце, но като характер не беше подходяща. Нуждаехме се от някоя като нас – шумна, смела, безмилостна работохоличка – но руса.
Познавахме ли някой, който да отговаря на това описание? Не. Но Пепе познаваше. Преди няколко години тя бе обучавала момиче на име Ема Бънтън. И по време на ваканцията се сдоби с адреса й чрез училището, в което й е преподавала и я помоли да се свърже с нея. Тогава Ема се срещна с Боб, Крис и Чик. Те й предложиха да дойде и да прекара известно време с нас, за да види дали ще се впише и дали гласът й пасвaше с нашите. Най-накрая това бяхме Ние. Или “Тъч”(от англ.“touch”-докосване- бел.пр.), както Боб, Крис и Чик бяха решили, че трябва да се казваме.
Ние не спирахме да им повтаряме, че трябва да ни дадат име.
“Няма смисъл да имате име,” казваха те.
“Все още нищо не сте тръгнали да правите.”
На мен “Тъч” си ми харесваше.
Решихме, че трябва да посрещнем Ема на гарата, затова всички се наблъскахме в колата на Джери. Беше един доста слънчев следобед,а Джери беше с къси панталонки и прилепнало горнище на бели и червени райета, което и досега носи, косата й - вързана на две опашлета, с чорапи на черни и бели райета и обувки на високи платформи.
Както и да е, типично за Джери тя паркира върху двойна жълта линия и каза, че ще изтича да доведе Ема, докато ние стоим в колата да предотвратяваме евентуални глоби.
Сега е странно като си помисля, че именно там ние петте се срещнахме за първи път. Дори в момента мога да си го представя: Ема заедно с майка си върви към нас облечена в къса бяла рокля, три-четвърти бели чорапи и маратонки, руса коса до раменете, с много светла кожа и много широка усмивка- сякаш е учила в театрално училище, което всъщност бе точно така: шест години в “Силвия Янг” (Sylvia Young). И изглеждаше толкова малка. Всъщност тя беше най-малката, макар че имаше по-голям трудов опит от всички нас взети заедно. Тя бе участвала в ‘Grange Hill’13 и ‘East enders’14 . Само няколко часа след запознанството ни с Ема, ние вече се разбирахме. Няколко погледа, няколко кимвания . Усещахме,че избора е правилен.
Когато Ема се премести в Мейдънхед, за първи път й се налагаше да живее далеч от къщи. Тя беше много близка с майка си- когато ги видях за първи път на онази гара, те се държаха за ръце. Тя зае мястото на Мишел в моята стая. На Ема й беше трудно да бъде далеч от семейството си, както и на мен, и двете с нея се прибирахме у дома всяка събота и неделя. Тъй като беше от Финчли, аз винаги я карах с колата.
Това беше единственото лошо нещо на това да съм с момичетата- означаваше, че не мога да съм със семейството си. Поне не и през седмицата. Продадох джипа и си купих ‘Renault Clio’. Беше черно и автоматик- доста по-разумно за дълги пътувания.
Аз и Джери бяхме единствените с автомобили и всеки ден се натоварвахме в нейния разнебитен ‘Fiat Uno’, за да се придвижим до работа, защото Джери обичаше да шофира, а аз не- особено когато Мел Би седеше отпред и ми казваше какво да правя, а всички останали пееха и в повечето случай вдигаха шумотевица. Всяка бъркотия в колата ми ме побъркваше.
Как изобщо стигахме до където и да било, не зная, тъй като Джери е изключително лош шофьор. Тя няма никаква концентрация, а имайки предвид пътите, в които се е натрисала в разни неща и е претърпявала сблъсъци, човек би се очудил как колата й някога е минавала на годишен технически преглед.
Дори по-прибрана от мен беше Мелани Си. Тя беше голяма къщовница( нашия Дейвид Бекъм). В началото тя беше тази, която чистеше и подреждаше. Накрая съставихме списък на задълженията: кой ще подрежда, кой ще мете стъпалата и кой ще чисти тоалетната. Редувахме се, макар че в крайна сметка Мел Си винаги свършваше повече работа от всички ни. Ако видеше, че има съдове за миене, тя ги измиваше, въпреки че не беше неин ред. Не понасяше безпорядък.
Хладилникът беше целия в постери и плакати от списанията ‘Smash Hits’ или ‘Top of the Pops’. Мел Си беше изключително запалена почитателка на “Тейк Дет” (Take That)15 и имаше лепенки и магнити за хладилник с Роби Уилямс, а аз с Джейсън Ориндж. Джери пък беше луда по Джордж Майкъл.
Пазарувахме веднъж седмично в “Теско”16, но не си готвехме общо, защото обичахме различни неща- например аз го карах на сирене и пакетчета с крекери и преминах през фазата на гевречета с мед. Ема се хранеше с храна за бебета. А Джери, буквално, не ядеше нищо.
Ема и аз никога не възприехме Мейдънхед като дом. За нас беше по-скоро нещо като работа от понеделник до петък. За Джери и двете Мел беше различно. Джери, като най-голяма, бе живяла самостоятелно години наред, а останалите две бяха от северна Англия- твърде далеч, за да се прибират за почивните дни, макар че Мел Си често ходеше до Сидкъп в Кент, където все още имаше приятели в колежа- така че Мел Би и Джери прекарваха почивните дни заедно и вършеха щуротии. По онова време смятах, че и двете са доста луди глави. Ако решаха, че им се ходи на клуб в два часа през нощта, просто ставаха и отиваха.
Обикновено се прибирах след почивните дни и намирах всичките си дрехи разхвърляни на пода- взети назаем, но без да бъдат прибрани след това. Аз нямах нищо против да взимат дрехите ми- всички взимахме разни неща една от друга- но просто исках да се погрижат за тях, а не да ги оставят с петна от грим по врата, или пък с провиснали ръкави от това, че са били връзвани на възел. Това че имах повече неща от тях, не означаваше, че не ме е грижа за вещите ми.
В онези дни, когато Джери беше наистина много слаба, а аз бях по-пълна, тя ми заемаше сутиените си, тъй като имахме една и съща гръдна обиколка. Джери винаги беше изключително стилна. Тя никога не обличаше обикновени неща и именно тя даде примера с детските блузки.
“Чий по дяволите е този сутиен?” попита майка ми, когато откри един от тях в прането ми.Сутиените на Джери изглеждаха доста старомодно-целите оръфани и сиви. “Сякаш е от времето на Втората световна война.”
Тя беше права. Тези сутиени бяха истински страстоубийци, а страстта беше нещо което се опитвах да избегна. Да се прибера у дома за почивните дни винаги беше леко неловко. Исках да се прибера заради семейството ми, но имаше и един черен облак надвиснал над всичко и той се казваше Марк. Той все още живееше там- в моята стая. Аз винаги казвах, че според мен трябва да си намери собствено жилище, но той обръщаше думите ми и твърдеше, че се опитвам да се отърва от него. И доколкото това да беше самата истина, същевременно аз се ужасявах от мисълта да нямам гадже, затова винаги казвах, не, не.
Но какъв е смисълът да си имаш гадже, ако никога не излизате? Оправданието на Марк беше, че трябва да спестяваме. И той определено спестяваше- майка ми и баща ми винаги предлагаха да платят, а Марк никога не се притесняваше да приеме. И така, за какво спестяваше той? Романтична ваканция за двама? Не. Нови джанти и по-голям ауспух за неговия си ‘Escort RS Turbo’. Все пак не можеше да си позволи да се излага пред другите състезателчета на неделната им среща в Саутенд.
Но през седмицата аз излизах с момичетата. Ходехме в един клуб в Мейдънхед, който се казваше “Авеню” и всяка сряда беше студентско парти, тоест можеш да влезеш само срещу паунд. Спомням си как веднъж Джери отиде при диджея, грабна микрофона и изкрещя, “Само за сведение- тази вечер ‘Тъч’ са в клуба”- сякаш бяхме някаква преуспяла група, за която хората са чували.
Бяхме толкова наелектрезирани. Четирите танцувахме на дансинга, а Джери се качваше на подиума и танцуваше. Или по-скоро подскачаше, което си остана нейна запазена марка. Танцувахме докато не ни изхвърлят.
По онова време Ема имаше гадже на име Крис, който беше грък и в петъчните вечери, докато се прибирахме към дома, си говорехме по женски: аз споделях за проблемите си с Марк, а Ема за нейните с Крис и ми разказваше за този клуб или за онзи диджей, а аз се смеех и се преструвах, че зная за какво говори. Но не беше така. Всичко, което знаех бяха “Харлоу Мил” и “Куиз Найт”.
“Не искаш ли да знаеш как го намираме Тор?” попитаха ме момичетата когато веднъж Марк дойде да ме види.
Аз знаех много добре. Те се отнасяха с него сякаш беше някой от “Хари Енфийлд”17 .
“Той е кретен”.
Човек не би могъл да обвини момичетата, че не са откровени, особено Мел Би. Тя винаги казваше каквото мисли и това понякога й навличаше неприятности- като например да я изключат от колежа.
“Виж сега, Вик- иий.” Тя беше единствената, която ми казваше Вики. По принцип мразех да ме наричат така, но дори това нямаше значение. Всяка от нас можеше да направи каквото и да било и всичко пак щеше да е наред.
“Този идиот те потиска напълно. Просто го разкарай. Връчи му оставката и възвърни част от достойнството си.”
Тогава някоя от другите се включваше.
“Искам да кажа Вий. Стегни се. Обувките “Армани” не компенсират за този загубеняк, нали?”
Марк нямаше най-правилния усет за дрехите и всички те се занасяха с него, особено относно начина, по който носеше панталоните си високо запасани.
“Та, каква е гръдната обиколка на панталоните ви, сър?”
После се скъсваха от смях.
Но дори да знаех, че са напълно прави относно него и че той наистина ме потискаше, все пак ми беше гадже и аз смятах, че трябва да се застъпвам за него. Всъщност сега вече се срамувах, че съм с него. Той винаги е бил висок и кльощав, но сега аз най-накрая започвах да осъзнавам, че е толкова недодялан. Нямаше никаква съгласуваност на движенията и когато танцуваше приличаше на Херман Монстър18. Това, което правеше нещата още по-зле беше самонадеяността му и това, че се смяташе за най-добрият танцьор на света.
Въпреки, че все още бях доста сдържана, сега когато вече бях една от момичетата, постепенно се вписвах в атмосферата, но когато бях с Марк все едно никога не ги бях срещала- бях г-жа “стой- мирно- мълчи- и- прави- каквото- ти- се- казва”.
Нашият “набор” от три песни се беше превърнал в “шоу” състоящо се от пет песни. Идеята беше Крис и Боб да поканят хора като музикални продуценти и текстописци, и издателски компании да видят колко невероятно талантливи сме и после щяха да се надпреварват да искат да работят с нас. Точно за това събитие репетирахме седмица, след седмица.
“Ако ще изнасяме това шоу, то нека го направим”, казвахме ние.
“Не и докато не станете готови”, бе винаги отговора. Никога не ни насърчаваха кой знае колко- всъщност бе точно обратното. Но на нас взеха да ни омръзват все едни и същи песни, едни и същи танци и знаехме, че не искаме да станем безинтересни. Освен че репетирахме докато всичко не стане гладко като гел за коса, Пепе все още идваше два пъти седмично за нейната нотна стълбица и упражнения за дишане. Толкова ли не разбираше, че успехът не се корени в това да можеш на вземаш високи ноти, а в това да създадеш правилното настроение?
В къщата си пеехме, така както искахме да пеем. Тъй като не разполагахме с много пари, обикновено сядахме и се забавлявахме една друга. Джери казваше: “Нека изпеем букет от песни на Мадона” и някой запяваше ‘Like a Virgin’, след което всички се включвахме, после някой друг преминаваше на следващата- ‘Papa Don`t Preach’ – а после някой друг понякога предлагаше Тина Търнър или “Брос”, или Стиви Уондър. Беше чудесна тренировка. Мел Си дори имаше видео касета на “Тейк Дет”, която си пускахме и имитирахме танците им. Имахме огромно огледало, на което се виждахме в цял ръст. То беше в една от спалните и ние го свалихме долу и го поставихме в едната половина на всекидневната, така че докато репетирахме можехме да се гледаме. Трябваше да се редуваме, защото беше дълго и тясно и можеше да се вижда само по един човек.
Двете нови песни, които ни бяха дали за шоуто бяха също толкова скучни, колкото и първите три- застояли материали, които сметнахме че някой текстописец е давал на множество групи, но никой не ги е искал. Опитахме се да внесем подобрения в текста на една от тях, но не се получи много добре. Ако обаче са си мислели, че като ни ощетят, ще им е по-лесно да се справят с нас, то много са грешали- това само ни направи още по-силни. Ако така искат да бъдат нещата, то просто ще трябва сами да си пишем песните.
Това се превърна в мисия. Джери имаше мъничко “Касио” и си спомням как седяхме върху старата дървена маса в другата половина на всекидневната- и като казвам върху имам предвид точно това- започвахме да тананикаме мелодии и да си записваме идеи за текстове и музикални идеи, и стояхме до ранна утрин в опити сами да пишем песни. Никоя от нас не можеше да свири в действителност, но “Касио”-то ни помагаше да не сме фалшиви. Първата ни песен се казваше ‘Just One of Those Days’ и я написахме точно на онази стара маса.
“Искаме да пеем наши си песни”, казахме на Чик по време на едно от редките му посещения. Сякаш говорехме на хиндустани. Той просто вдигна ръце.
“И името ‘Тъч’ не ни харесва.”
“Че какво му е на ‘Тъч’?”
“Не е като за нас.”
“Тъч”, както и името на компанията на Боб и Крис- “Харт”- беше твърде сантиментално според нас. Искахме нещо зашеметяващо.
Например “Хай Файв” (“Дай Пет”- бел. пр.)? “Плюс Файв” (“Плюс Пет”- бел. пр.)? “Файв Ълайв”(“Пет в действие”- бел. пр.)? Едно звучеше наркоманско, друго беше твърде дълго, а с трето пък имаше проблеми с авторските права, тъй като беше име на натурален сок. Но идеята си остана. След време Боб и Крис станаха мениджъри на една момчешка група: “Файв” (5ive)19 .
Прозрението беше на Джери. Тя и Мел Си тъкмо се бяха върнали от фитнес залата- Мел Си беше ревностна почитателка на фитнеса, а Джери беше ревностна почитателка на това да бъдеш слаб. Джери влетя през вратата на всекидневната.
Това някаква игра на думи ли е?
“Името ни, Спайс. Състои се от пет букви и отговаря на нас. Една дума описваща пет различни вкуса. Е? Какво мислите?”
Шоуто ни беше насрочено за края на ноември в студио “Номис” в Шепърд Буш. Чик ни даде 50 лири за дрехи, тъй че Джери и Мел Би отидоха до “Камдън Маркет”20 и се върнаха с подобни една на друга тениски “Адидас”, които да облечем към дънките и маратонките си. Ние не искахме да се обличаме еднакво- и в живота не го правехме- но Боб и Крис казаха, че трябва да го направим, също както трябваше и да пеем техните песни.
По време на изпълнение си толкова съсредоточен, че не забелязваш публиката, докато всичко не приключи. Нашето беше истинско изпълнение с микрофони, осветление и съответно плейбек. През целия ден идваха различни хора, така че трябва да бяхме изпълнили шоуто около четири, пет пъти. Не знам колко точно хора ни гледаха, но може и да са наброявали стотина- като всеки път докато изнасяхме шоу имаше по двадесет, тридесет човека. Спомням си, че когато накрая се покланяхме, например, бях доста очудена, че те наистина ни харесват, тъй като ръкопляскаха и викаха окуражително. После, когато сядахме на края на малката и ниска сцена, всички идваха при нас и ни казваха, че сме страхотни. Нямахме представа кои са тези хора, но си личеше, че наистина мислят това, което казват.
Когато идваше ред на частта с въпросите, аз просто стоях и мълчах, защото се притеснявах, че въпросите ми можеха да прозвучат глупаво. Джери беше много директна и изключително смела. И именно в това беше добра. Толкова добра, че да компенсира за всички ни.
От есента насам и откакто Ема стана част от групата, не спирахме да досаждаме на Боб, Крис и Чик с опитите си да уредим някакво споразумение или договор с тях, но те винаги го отлагаха. На никоя от нас дори не й беше казано, че е в групата, че е получила работата. Просто получавахме по 60 лири седмично и това беше всичко. Сега когато видяха, че и други хора се интересуват от нас, нещата взеха да се променят. Изведнъж всичко беше: “По дяволите, защо не ги накарахме да подпишат.” Ние от друга страна си казвахме: “По дяволите, добре че не подписахме.”
“Изчакайте първо да поговоря с баща ми”, казах на останалите, когато няколко дни след шоуто разни юридически документи пристигнаха за нас.
Това, което не споменах досега е, че аз не съм първата от моето семейство, която има мечта. Баща ми, в действителност, бе участвал в няколко групи през шейсетте, на име “Дъ Соникс” (The Soniks) и “Дъ Калетос” (The Calettos) и от собствения си горчив опит знае всичко за договорите. По един или друг начин “Дъ Соникс” били представени на Джо Мийк- Джо Мийк беше за Лондон каквото и Брайън Епщайн беше за Ливърпул. Той беше мениджър и текстописец- спечелил по-голямата част от парите си от една изключително хитова песен- ‘Telstar’ изпълнена от “Дъ Торнейдос” (The Tornados) през 1962. Както и да е, той прослушал групата и казал, че иска да подпише с баща ми. Не с групата, само с певеца, Тони Адамс. И разбира се, той подписал. Първият му демо запис бил песен на име ‘Redder on You’, която записал с групата “Райът Скуод” (Riot Squad). Баща ми репетирал песните за страна “Б”, когато чул новината, че Джо Мийк е мъртъв. Студиото му било в приспособена за целта бивша спалня, намираща се над магазин за кожени изделия в Холоуей, собственост на хазайката му; и в действителност баща ми бил там точно предната нощ.
Никой не знае с точност какво се е случило, но Джо Мийк държал пушка в апартамента си, която била собственост на друга от неговите поп звезди- Хайнц, който пеел с “Дъ Торнейдос”. Той имал пушката, защото си имал неприятности с фенове, които му досаждали по всяко време. Джо Мийк трябва да се е скарал с хазайката си- баща ми казва, че взаимоотношенията им били повече като между майка и син, винаги си разменяли подаръци- и когато онази нощ се скарали, той я застрелял, след което се качил горе и се самоубил.
И така понеже баща ми бил подписъл договора с Джо Мийк- въпреки, че Джо бил мъртъв, договорът не приключвал- баща ми не можел да подпише с никой друг. Тони Адамс не могъл да направи нищо, докато не изтече срока на договорът, който бил петгодишен. Друга група със същия проблем били “Дъ Хъникомс” (The Honeycombs). Тяхната барабанистка, Хъни, искала да се развива солово, но била в същото положение като баща ми.
Ако не е бил на прослушването за Джо Мийк, кой знае какво е можело да стане. “Дъ Соникс” дори свирили в “Люсиъм”21 и имали ангажимент за концерт в Хамбург точно като “Бийтълс” (Beatles)22. Но един от членовете на групата не искал да отиде- той бил единствения със стабилна работа в пощата. Та така стоели нещата. Така и не отишли в Хамбург, което било и причината баща ми да се яви на прослушване за Джо Мийк и след смъртта на Джо Мийк да се прехвърли в бизнеса за продажба на електроуреди на едро.
Преди няколко дни татко ми каза, че все още пази някъде ролките с оригиналния демо запис. Майка ми каза, че според нея са някъде на тавана и (без да казвам на татко) ги открих и ги прослушах лента по лента и в действителност намерих ‘Redder on You’ и я презаписах на компакт-диск като изненада за рожденния му ден. Доста е стара, с шумове и лошо качество, но поне си я има, което го прави много щастлив. “Дъ Соникс” понякога се събират за благотворителни изпълнения.
И така, какво каза баща ми за договора с Боб и Крис?
“Като да хвърлиш банкнота от сто лири в огъня. Забравете го.”
Целта на шоуто беше да ни представят на текстописци и други хора от музикалната индустрия, които биха се заинтересували да работят с нас или да пишат песни за нас. Все още повтаряхме на Чик, Крис и Боб, че искаме да правим нещата по наш си начин, но те не ни обръщаха никакво внимание, което не ни спря да работим върху нашите си неща почти всяка нощ. Мат и Биф бяха двама текстописци, които се запознаха с нас посредством шоуто и се различаваха от останалите с това, че казаха, че биха се радвали да работят с нас, а не просто да пишат песни за нас. Истинските им имена бяха Мат Роу и Ричард Станард и бяха работили доста с “Ийст 17” (East 17)23 – истински поп звезди. Още от първата ни среща с тях се разбирахме много добре. Бързо схванаха откъде идваме- не ни казваха какво да правим, а изслушваха нашите идеи и не ги смятаха за глупави. Никой досега не се беше отнасял с нас така. И за тях ние наистина бяхме нещо различно. Преди да се появим ние, имаше момчешки групи, гръндж24 , Мадона, Кайли и това беше всичко. Ние бяхме пет пълни с енергия жени- равноправни, но различни. И щяхме да покорим света.
Студиото им се казваше “Дъ Стронг Руум” на Къртан Роуд- точно в центъра на града. За да стигнем дотам от Мейдънхед, трябваше да прекосим цял Лондон, а в колата се усещаше чувството на вълнение. Сградата изглеждаше доста занемарена отвън, а самото студио беше малко, съвсем различно от местата, в които работим сега.
Биф (Ричард) беше предимно по текстовете и мелодията. Доста женствено изглеждащ, русоляв, винаги усмихнат, винаги весел- най-милия човек, който някога би могъл да срещнеш. На пръв поглед е доста срамежлив, но е истински забавен, когато го опознаеш. Той наистина е чудесен човек; все още сме много добри приятели и той беше на сватбата ни. Мат отговаряше за музикалната част на нещата и е истински талант зад пианото. На външен вид са доста различни; единия е нисък и закръглен, а другия е висок и слаб. Мат прилича на “Пощальонът Пат”(‘Postman Pat’)25 без очила. (Извинявай Мат, знаеш че те обичам.) Така е когато си имаш дете- започваш да гледаш на ю
света през неговите очи.
И така, как точно стана? Да работиш с Мат и Биф беше като игра на асоциации и нещата не са се променили кой знае колко от първата ни среща насам. Отидохме в студиото и те ни пуснаха музиката, върху коята Мат бе работил- съпровождаща музика, която дава тон, определя ритъма, структурата на акорда- ей такива неща. После започвахме да тананикаме мелодии. Какво ще кажеш за това? Мда, казваше някой друг. Добре ли звучи? Добре, записва се на диктофона. Всички имахме бележници и химикалки, за да си записваме идеи, думи, изображения- каквото и да е. После някой понякога казваше: “Как намирате това?” и изпяваше ред, два. Може да бъде дори само един израз, нещо което навярно да ни насочи в правилната посока. Когато бяхме седмината заедно, понякога наставаше голяма шумотевица.
В онези дни все още се чувствах леко изолирана. Знаех, че искам да съм част от цялото, но останалите бяха толкова по-уверени от мен: Ема, която имаше години наред опит, Мел Би, която беше напълно безстрашна, Мел Си, която подхващаше една мелодия и я изпяваше чудесно, Джери, с нейния сексапилен подход- тя дори флиртуваше с Мат. Беше толкова смущаващо- като да стоиш гол насред някоя стая. И най-вече по време на първите ни записи, аз нямах толкова много принос, колкото по-късно имах. Всъщност пропуснах по-голямата част от ‘Wannabe’.
Работихме с Мат и Биф цяла седмица, но когато дойде петък вечер, песента бе наполовина готова, така че всички се съгласиха да продължим и през почивните дни. Но аз имах проблем. Някакъв роднина на Марк се женеше и той настояваше толкова упорито да присъствам на проклетата сватба. Казах на момичетата, че наистина не искам да пропускам нищо, но те казаха: “Не, не, не, трябва да отидеш.”
“Ще ти звъня”, обеща Джери. (Джери и аз си бяхме купили едни мобилни телефони, които бяха толкова големи, че спокойно можеше да послужат и като палки.) “Не се тревожи. Ще те държа в течение за всичко, което правим. Нищо няма да пропуснеш.”
Но пропуснах. Сватбата беше някъде в близост до Торкуей и от мига, в който Джери ми се обади, аз започнах да си мисля: Какви ги върша? Това дори няма нищо общо с мен. Засяга проклетото семейство на Марк.
Тя беше чудесна- звънеше ми на всеки пет минути питайки: “Как намираш тази идея, как намираш онази идея?” Но аз просто не можех да се помиря с мисълта, че не съм там. Защото колкото и да казваха, че няма значение, имаше значение. Да кажа “Да, това ми харесва” или “Не съм сигурна относно това” по телефона не е същото. Идеше ми да заплача. И после си поплаках. Защото знаех и всички ние знаехме, че тази песен е толкова съвършена. Тази песен, ‘Wannabe’, ни олицетворяваше.
И наистина имаше значение, защото когато стана време да запишем песента и да я изпълняваме на живо, всички куплети бяха разпределени между останалите момичета. Да, включвах се на моменти като бек вокал, но нищо значително. И всеки път когато я изпълнявахме на живо, аз се чувств
English to Bulgarian: ECO FIRE NUGGETS Safety Instructions General field: Other Detailed field: Safety
Source text - English Safety lnstructions: Keep away from children's reach!
Never leave a fire burning without supervision, always start a fire in a secure environment away from any flammable materials, make sure your fire is properly extingiushed when done, wear heat protective gloves or other protective means as necessary.
Do not add ECO FIRE NUGGETS to an existing fire or remaining embers. The nuggets might not ignite but create unnecessary smoke.
Make sure your ECO FIRE NUGGETS have been completely burned through before adding food on the BBQ grill. Do not use any other inflammable products together with your ECO FIRE NUGGETS.
ECO FIRE NUGGETS CONTAINS: recycled wood chips and food grade paraffin wax.
Regulation (EC) No 127212008 environmentally friendly,
Non toxic (Without Formaldehyde) Easy and safe
Translation - Bulgarian Инструкции за безопасност: Пазете далеч от деца!
Никога не оставяйте горящ огън без надзор. Винаги палете огън в безопасна среда далеч от запалими материали. Уверете се, че огънят е загасен правилно, когато приключите с него. Носете ръкавици за топлинна защита или други предпазни средства, ако е необходимо.
Не добавяйте ECO FIRE NUGGETS към вече горящ огън или към жарава. Късчетата може и да не се разгорят, но могат да създадат ненужен пушек. Уверете се, че вашите ECO FIRE NUGGETS са изгорели напълно, преди да поставите храна върху скарата на барбекюто. Не използвайте никакви други запалими продукти заедно с вашите ECO FIRE NUGGETS.
ECO FIRE NUGGETS СЪДЪРЖАТ: рециклирани дървени стърготини и хранителен парафинов восък.
Наредба (EC) No 127212008 екологичен продукт.
Нетоксичен (без формалдехид). Лесен и безопасен за употреба.