International Writers Magazine:Pop Idols
in the Nineties: Take That Split
tale begins on the ominous day of Friday 13th February, 1996.
Actually, it was a Tuesday, but it was such a gay day, it may
as well have been Friday 13th. I was at school with my then mates,
Lucy and Alex, who were my friends because we were all in love
with Take That.
I especially loved
Mark. He was beautiful. O.M.G. In case he needs an introduction, Mark
Owen was Take Thats dreamiest member. Lucy liked Gary Barlow and
Alex had a thing for Jason. We were the biggest Take That losers at
school and we were mightily smug about it. We were the authority on
Take That. We were completely smitten and convinced we were going
to marry them.
After a dull day a school, during which we all wrote our married names
on our notebooks in French when we were supposed to be revising the
old avoir and etre basics, we strolled back to my house to plan our
weddings. This little exercise is always a mood-lifter when you are
spinster, as I was when I was thirteen. I still do it now, actually.
Anyway, you research all the bridal magazines and pick out a dress,
Its bloody great. We would end the fun
by sticking our faces and our husbands faces on the pictures in
the mags. Voila! Instant Take That wedding album.
We were having bags of fun when my mum came home with my stupid little
fat sister, Beth, who came charging in wearing her grubby football kit
and a really annoying grin on her chubby face.
"Jenna, Take That has split up," she said, then stood there,
"Whatevs, dont lie," I answered. "And get out of
my room, you dirty little brat."
"Im not lying. Ask Mum. It was on the radio when she picked
me up from football."
"Take That hasnt split," said Lucy. "I would know.
I would feel it in my waters."
I do not know exactly what she was on about to this day. Anyway, I wasnt
worried. Beth was always playing mean jokes on me. I would get her back.
"Beth, say nuspi fives times fast," said Alex.
Then Mum came in. Oh, God. She actually looked a bit weird. Sort of
grave and like she was trying to be dignified.
"Beth, go away," said Mum. Oh no, she looked really serious.
"Whats happened?" I asked, hoping Dad had died or some
other family tragedy.
"Take That has split up," said Mum.
I cried all night. Mum brought us hot chocolate with squirty cream,
and she even left us the squirty cream to finish, but nothing could
ease the pain. We cried and clutched our wedding photos and played our
beloved tunes. We watched the news and it was all true, so we cried
some more. Then, I cried myself to sleep and dreamed that it hadnt
happened, but I woke up the next day and realised that it had, so I
cried again. All I had were my memories and my merchandise and my CDs
and my wedding photos. I stared at the fake photo of Mark and me getting
married and thought about how happy I would have been. Looking back
I was being a knob, but if thirteen year olds werent all idiots
theyd be allowed to vote so I was just doing my job.
School was a no go. Lucy didnt go either; we stayed in our beds
of tears in protest. Mum was being unusually understanding and didnt
bother me, but Lucy had to have a tantrum to get her mum to believe
she wasnt up to school. Lucy was well a bit thick, though, so
her mum was strict about her going to school so shed become educated
and be less of an embarrassment. I digress; the point is, Lucy stayed
home, I stayed home and bloody Alex went to school, and I copped, of
course, and her excuse was that it was cooking that day and shed
already bought the ingredients for her korma. Keeno alert! Its
stuff like this that makes me glad I missed school that day. Whats
the point of learning to make something you can get in a jar or have
delivered to your door by people that already know how to make it? Also,
right, if you make your own you are only robbing the take-away proprietors
of a living. Alex was well out of order going to school just to make
curry, and I rejoiced in my knowledge that she would have no one to
sit with in maths, meaning Fat Jo and Gay Ben (who we hated) would call
her a loner.
Lucy and I met up to discuss the traitor at her crib, since she was
too ill to leave her bed and I could just manage if I thought about
how Lucy needed me.
"I talked to Bec and she said Alex was fine today," Lucy told
me. "She is blatantly not even bothered. Maybs she doesnt
care as much as she makes out when shes with us."
"She has betrayed us; she should be in mourning at home,"
I said. "She should be wearing black and crying and not eating.
I havent eaten today."
"Me either," said Lucy, who was practically anorexic anyway.
Then, and this annoyed me, Alex turned up.
"Hi," she said. "I called on you after school, Jenna,
your mum said you were here. Look what my dad got me; its a Tamagotchi.
Its a virtual pet! You should have come to school. We made curry.
Mine was well a bit nice."
"Whatevs," I said, scathingly. "I see you have forgotten
our heroes in Take That before they are cold in their graves."
"Well, they are blatantly all going to make solo singles, and they
were heading for a split ever since Robbie left."
"Never did you just say that," I exploded. "Dont
make light of this tragedy. Take That is no more. It is not a joke."
"I didnt say it was a joke," said Alex. "O.M.G.
You are being melodramatic. Why dont we start liking the Spice
Girls? Times are changing; maybs girl bands are in for a revival. Girl
"Girl Power?" spat Lucy. "You are well a lezzer. You
want to marry Baby Spice."
"Yeah, dont come in here, brandishing your Tamagotchi and
your Spice Girls, like its fashionable," I said.
"For some of us, amazingly, after one day, the pain is still too
raw. Im going home to my bed of tears. I heard they set up special
Samaritans hotlines for people that want to kill themselves because
Take That split. Some people know whats important." With
that, I stormed out.
That night, I rang The Samaritans. They were rubbish. All they wanted
to talk about was whether I wanted to die. I did and they didnt
even try to talk me out of it. Anyway, I spent the evening after that
in my bed sighing, then sobbing, then telling Beth she was adopted,
then sighing loads
I had never felt miserable like that before
and I havent since. It went on for a long time, and I did think
about killing myself, even taking three Nurofen one night and then chickening
out, but eventually, very eventually, it turned out that the Spice Girls
were a bit cool after all. Take That, however, always had a shrine in
my wardrobe. I swore I would never forget them. Three girls apparently
did top themselves, which made me feel inadequate, but I decided I was
a better fan by keeping them alive in my shrine.
Now, many long years went by and the boys came to realise that they
were better off together than trying to forge crappy solo careers (apart
from Robbie, of course) so now I find myself in front of the TV watching
an audience with Take That: the boys are back together and life is groovy.
As for those nutters that killed themselves back when they split? Well,
I just bet that they are well gutted now.
© Sarah Richardson December 2006
Sara is studying for her Masters at the University of Portsmouth
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