Stuck in the 90s

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 

‘Decision’ – Art Review

I made the decision to go to Carsten Höller’s ‘Decision’ as soon as I saw the pictures of the flying machine you could go on. Any exhibition that has something like that is my sort of exhibition. More on the flying machine later.

We began by walking through almost pitch black corridors, using our hands on the walls to navigate the surroundings. I found this bit really fun and was slightly sad when it was over and we reached the first room, but soon forgot about the corridors when I got to push a contraption with mushroom parts around in a circle.

mushrooms

After the mushrooms, there was a room with a pile of red and white pills on the floor that were dropping from the ceiling. One of the gallery assistants told us to take one, a woman asked him what was in them and he said ‘flour and glucose, it will give you energy.’ So we thought, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ and took one of the pills.

IMG-20150903-WA0026

After the pills, there were a variety of exhibits, including a bug, two engorged snakes,  a video about music in the Congo (with two screens, sometimes with differing perspectives of what was happening), a video of a forest on a 3D headset, twin beds, upside down goggles (which were incredibly disorientating) and a gigantic dice. This excited me, as I used to be so obsessed with dice that I would collect them. Unfortunately only children were allowed to climb inside.

dice2

Finally we reached the flying machines outside, where you are up in the air, flying round in a circle, and were told the wait was around an hour. I wished I hadn’t left my jumper and jacket in the lockers, but since it was the main reason I wanted to come, my stubbornness meant we had to wait. When watching other people on them (some of which seemed to really enjoy it, some not so much), I thought the rides should be shorter so that the queue wouldn’t be as long, but once I got up there I realised that you don’t want to come down; it’s strangely relaxing and you get into a sort of contemplative and meditative state. After doing a few fun poses for photos, of course.

flying

Last were the slides, which were like those water slides at swimming pools but with no water. I found out that I should have left my bag in the lockers, as the gallery assistant almost didn’t want me to go on due to health and safety and made me swear to accept responsibility for any injury. I’m not sure what she thought was going to happen as the slides were more than big enough to accommodate myself and my bag. It may have made me go faster though, I don’t know. The sliding felt like it was over way too quickly.

slide 1

The health and safety rules in the exhibition were generally peculiar. At the flying machines a woman came along with a headscarf and the gallery assistant told her she may wait for ages only to find out at the front of the queue that she would have to take her headscarf off to go on. I’m not sure why she wouldn’t be able to put the helmet on top, it’s not like she had a massive head or a Carmen Miranda style fruit display going on. She understandably didn’t look happy with this and decided not to wait. Yet there was no warning to diabetics not to take the pills earlier on (which turned out to be classic placebo sugar pills that didn’t make us larger, smaller, or noticeably different in any way).

The booklet says that ‘Decision’ is about ‘transporting people between different physical and psychological states’, bringing about ‘moments of not knowing’. This was definitely true, and made it stand out from other art exhibitions. I particularly enjoyed the interactive nature and would like to see more of that in general, as it evokes the idea of art not being finished until someone has experienced it. The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ vibe was a nice touch as well and made it feel like a mini adventure. It’s only on for one more day, so go tomorrow if you want to take random pills, fly through the air and slide back down to earth.

Carsten Höller, ‘Decision’, 10 June – 6 September 2015, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, £13.50 Standard Non Gift Aid Entry