Month: September 2018

Cold Women of the North

“Oh, you’re bloody joking, aren’t you. You’re the third person that’s told us of a different way to get in!”

We were attending the closing ceremony of the Great Exhibition of the North at Gateshead Quays. No body – security, stewards – seemed to know any of the right information. Usually the case when it’s a large scale public event.

“You’re not allowed in Zone A, in the better, front of stage seats with these tickets. You are in Zone B. Do not move out of it!” barked a steward.

Of the three ways to get to our ‘Zone’, the correct way was up a steep hill, not the best seeing as Mum is asthmatic. The doors were ten minutes late in opening.

“People are like vultures,” I said as people pushed, shoved, rushed to seats. “That woman there has a walking stick and is now making a run for middle of the row seats.”

The setting was an open plan, open air car park, staggered down two sets of stairs.
The stage was already lit, as was Gateshead’s famous Millennium Bridge.
It all looked impressive.
We got seats. On the front row of Zone B. No one else was sitting near them. The end of row seats too. Maybe because they were furthest away from the stage?

“What we sat here for?” asked Mum. “We won’t be able to see a bloody thing!”

“We will.” I say. “Plus we’re sitting next to the exit ramp – we can make our escape any time we like”

“Thank god!”

It was fri***n cold and quickly getting dark. Mum’s face was tripping her up.
Giving me the evils, blaming me for the situation, as it was my idea to attend the event.
Just the forty minutes to go until the show started then – this should be fun…

Then I spotted someone taking their seat directly behind us.  It was Brenda Blethyn, the wonderful actress in too many fabulous things to mention and currently in ITV’s ‘Vera’.

“Hello,” I said, turning around.

“Hello,” she smiled.

We started chatting and Mum sat stony-faced facing ahead, trying to adjust her coat collar to keep the wind-chill out. Eventually she turned around and upon realising it was Ms Blethyn, broke out into the biggest smile I’d seen all evening. As we continued chatting, Kenny Doughty (Vera’s trusty Sergeant) came and sat down.

“We write a blog,” I began, explaining what it was, “could we get a selfie?”

Ms Blethyn and Kenny were very accommodating and bloody lovely.The show, The Great North Star, began just after nine via a teenage girl dancing atop the staircase descending to Zone A and the stage. She was enthused, going for it, fantastic!

A woman audience member started up the stairs to go to the toilet at exactly the same time. The girl was giving it her all, dancing up and down the steps, as the woman continued toward her and had to squeeze past. Talk about timing!

“Bet she wishes she’d crossed her legs,” I whispered to Mum.
“Or wore a Tena lady.” She replied. “Shame for the lass, when she was having her dance solo.”

The theme of the music and dance celebration performance was past and present achievements of great northern women. Female performers of stage and screen explored the empowerment of women. Volunteer performers took on the chorus and crowd roles. It was a wonderful event!

“What was your favourite bit of the closing ceremony?” I asked Mum.

“The end,” she said.


She continued: “No I mean, because it was a real finale. Done in style. Music pumping, everyone dancing. Fireworks. Plus we were clapping which kept me hands warm.”

All in all a great way to celebrate the North!

[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”4″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”0″ thumbnail_width=”240″ thumbnail_height=”160″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”20″ number_of_columns=”0″ ajax_pagination=”0″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”1″ slideshow_link_text=”[Show slideshow]” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]


Geordie Spice!

“Who’s your favourite Spice Girl?” I ask Mum as we head toward the Manchester Central Convention Centre to attend SPICEUP is the biggest touring exhibition of Spice Girls memorabilia in the world.

“I don’t have one,” replies Mum.


The Spice Girls were the biggest thing in the world in the late nineties.
Scary, Sporty, Baby, Posh and Ginger – so much to choose from.
How can someone not have a favourite?

“Then why did you want to come to Manchester and see this exhibition?”

“Free trip.”

Honest, I suppose.I, on the other hand, was excited. Giddy almost.

Still, that may have been having only just arrived at our nearby hotel at five pm after having taken the wrong slip road on the M60 once the sat nav decided to die, having no lunch plus a heatwave descending on upon us in the car so that we were sweating like a couple of nuns in a cucumber patch.

I prefer to think my wooziness and excitability was down to being due at the Exhibition for five thirty.

“Shall I wear my Spice Girls t-shirt?” I ask Mum as we’re about to leave the hotel.

“If you do, I won’t be walking next to you.”

Honest. Perhaps too honest.
I’d always been a big fan of The Spice Girls from the moment they burst onto the scene in the Summer of 1996. I felt no shame in this – and still don’t. The world had been waiting for an exciting girl group to offer influence and inspiration to young people.

Straight to number one with their debut single Wannabe they were like a whirlwind. Who of us doesn’t instantly recognise the opening intro to that? I bet even now your singing it. Silently, in your head, I hope.

Their nicknames and personas added to them remaining, even now, the band most associated with influencing female empowerment.

“You look like Ginger Spice in that.”
“S**t, I was going for Posh.”
Banter with friends relating or referring to the Spice Girls took place – and still does…

We are greeted by SpiceUp’s curator, Alan Smith-Allison, who has also produced the exhibition.

Alan owns huge amounts of the memorabilia on display.

He has, he tells us, been collecting Spice Girls memorabilia since 2007 and has become one of the biggest collectors of it in the world. The SpiceUp exhibition features more than 7,000 items of merchandise and memorabilia, as well as 300 costume pieces, including outfits, shoes and jewellery.

“Dare I ask who your favourite Spice Girl is?” I smile at him.

“I can’t choose. I really can’t. They all had their own uniqueness and talents. They were all empowering and inspiring in their own way.”

I love him – and not just ‘coz he is enthused about the Spice Girls as I am!

We begin our wander round the exhibition. The heels on display are magnificent, five inches and more.

“I had a pair of platform heels, just like that, when I was a teen” Mum said, “I wonder what ever happened to them…”

I imagine Grandad took them to use as tools what with being a handyman.

“I had a dress like that,” Mum said. “And that. Oh and that.”

As they were all sequinned mini skirts and dresses, I must have blanked them out of memory. Or Mum had a second job…
As there is so much to see, we go round the displays twice.

“So, who’s your favourite Spice Girl then?” I ask

Well,” starts Mum, “on reflection, if I had to choose one, I’ll say Geri.”


“She worked with everything she had, pushed herself hard and wasn’t afraid to use her assets. If you’ve got it flaunt it!”

Honest. Very honest.

We loved the glamour and glitter of SpiceUp, especially our complimentary Exhibition programmes.

SpiceUp has moved from Manchester Central to the Great Northern Shopping and Entertainment Complex, reopening on Saturday 8th until 30th Sep 2018.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén