On Wednesday I turned 32. Which I always remember is the same age Brittany Murphy was when she died. Which makes me want to clean my shower properly, so I don’t get toxic mold poisoning. But I hate cleaning. Or do I? More on that later.
When I was a teenager I thought that 32 was super old. I couldn’t imagine being that old. Or if I could, I thought by 32 I would be ‘settled’, probably married with children. I guess because that’s what you assume when you are a kid. That’s the narrative you’re sold, especially as a girl, and especially when I was younger and we didn’t have Frozen to teach us that true love can come from your sister, not just from a man.
Although I didn’t have a sister, so that would probably have just pissed me off. I couldn’t understand as a kid why my mum couldn’t just give me a sister, because I didn’t know that some things do need to come from a man.
But anyway…anyone who knows me or follows me on any social media knows that I am obsessed with the ’90s, which is ironic because we didn’t have social media in the ’90s. I didn’t even have a hotmail account until 2001.
It confused me when I was younger why my mum was obsessed with the ’60s and would still listen to The Beatles and The Supremes – I was like ‘ listen to some new music, mum!’ before slamming my door and putting on the Spice Girls.
But as we all are doomed to turn into our mothers, despite our best intentions (HEAD DESK), now I basically haven’t moved on since circa 1999. I still wear shag bands and chokers, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on a regular basis, and recently sang Jennifer Paige’s song Crush at karaoke (while on a Tinder date which I realise is not very ’90s).
So I thought, what better way to spend my birthday evening with my mum than to go and see ‘2 Become 1’. A 90s themed musical (with real 90s songs). It opens with one of the characters Jess sobbing into her landline after a break-up, and singing All Saints Never Ever (All Saints was the first concert I ever went to) before her 3 friends persuade her to go to a speed dating event.
It had everything I had hoped for and more – Shania Twain, butterfly clips, hilarious facial expressions, audience interaction, Titanic, 3 Spice Girls songs, dance routines, Britney, Gina G Ooh Ah Just a Little bit, and not one – but two Buffy References! They even managed to mix ‘I’m Horny’ and ‘Genie in a bottle’ together. It totally embodied the sense of fun that the ’90s were all about.
And there were free badges! I am now the proud owner of a badge that says ‘No Scrubs’ on it.
I loved that there were some references to the way some men see women (‘he wants you to suck his cock, but pretend like you’re doing it for the first time’), and the crap that we read in women’s magazines. There was also some dramatic irony about how online dating will never catch on because it’s better to meet someone in real life, and the character Molly imagining a terrible world where we don’t have a Labour government and there are loads of cuts to the NHS, and the arts.
It was basically a wonderful trip down memory lane for me, even though it made me a bit sad that I never had a Tamagotchi. (Belated birthday present anyone?)
I do feel sometimes like the 90s was a better, more innocent time, sure we had lads mags, but there was something more tongue in cheek about it, plus we had Girl Power to balance it out. And I’m sure loads of bad stuff was still happening (I remember the war in Kosovo) but we didn’t hear about every bad thing all the time because no one had Twitter. The 90s was a time when a Union Jack dress was nothing to do with Brexit and a troll was a toy you would collect.
There was so much hope! (Before the ultimate disappointment when your cassette tape got tangled and even a pencil couldn’t save it). Especially with New Labour. I loved Tony Blair so much at one point that it was my dream to become a politician. Not even joking. Can you imagine? I mean I do have the legs for it.
Maybe 2017 can be the new 1997? The small optimistic part of me wants to believe that on the 9th of June we can tell Theresa May to talk to the hand ’cause the face ain’t listening. And if not I plan to get drunk and listen to Nirvana. Actually I will do that either way.
Although the 90s resonate with me and I love them, I don’t necessarily love who I was then. It’s easy to idealise the past, but I’ve changed so much and I much prefer the person I am now. And yes I’m not where I thought I would be at 32. But I discovered that I don’t want a conventional 2.4 children life, and also more recently that sometimes I hold myself back because of self-fulfilling prophecies I have about myself.
I spent years telling myself I couldn’t be good with money, or tidy, or good at cleaning, or able to achieve certain things but that’s just me limiting myself when there should be No Limits, and now in the words of Ultra Nate, I’m free to be who I want to be.
I also think I’m starting to get the balance of simultaneously living for the present and planning for the future. As Buffy would say ‘seize the moment ’cause tomorrow you might be dead’.
So yes, I am stuck in the 90s, and I think that’s okay as long as it’s musically and fictionally, not mentally. I do have to accept that it’s not 1997 anymore, and that’s a good thing. Maybe I’ll even start listening to some up to date music. While I clean my shower. I just need some 90s nostalgia to Spice up my Life sometimes.
P.s. If you’re reading this before Edinburgh Festival 2017, go and watch ‘2 Become 1’ before you regret it like I regret never seeing the Spice Girls live (which was going to be the band I hadn’t seen on my list of ten bands, except I don’t do bullshit Facebook fads like that).
2 Become 1, written by Natasha Granger and Kerri Thomason, was at King’s Head Theatre Islington, 12th April 2017 – 29th April 2017 and will be at The Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14) Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017 – Tickets here