Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Letter to an idol

Dearest, darling Britney,

Ten years ago, summer 1999, I was a 15 year old hormonal, moody, achingly unconfident girl lusting after an arrogant, self involved moron who I spent my evenings MSN'ing and my school days ignorning.

Said self involved moron, let's call him Tom, also happened to have a girlfriend and absolutely no respect for the boundaries of a relationship.

We had engaged in moments of awkward fumbling at, say, the back of Millenium night club hidden away from our friends and then returning to them, flustered and secretive, to avoid each others eyes for the rest of the night. At 15 I too had no respect for the boundaries of a relationship, something I am not proud of.

The reason I tell you all this Brit Brit is that it was you, and you alone, who got me through. It was early summer, a decade ago, when I sat in the back of my mum's car on a return trip from Bristol and listened to one of your most deep and emotionally astute songs, Email my Heart, on repeat for 3 hours solid. You sang of sitting by the computer, waiting for your scorned lover to connect with you via the relatively new communication tool of email, while begging his forgiveness.

I could connect with you Britney, we were young, single women hoping for love and "the one" and turning to the web to make it happen. Long before My Single Friend and Guardian Soulmates, we knew where it was at.

I digress, for it wasn't just that one song which I was addicted to. I loved you Britney, your amazing body in "I'm a slave for you", your coy sarcasm in "Oops I did it again", I even risked getting ostracised and quite violently condemned by my peers my defending your performance in Crossroads. Britney...I was yours.

And so it was that last Saturday I pulled on my heels, well ok flip flips (but the tube was down and I had to haul over to Waterloo and get the boat), glossed my hair, rouged my lips and spent a sunny day listening to your back catalogue on loop inside my bedroom. All in celebration of the first time I have been lucky enough to get to see you perform.

I loved the New York Circus Brit, particularly the hula hoop girl and the acrobat who did somersaults in the air and landed on the beam held in the air. Quite incredible. I also loved your dancers, the dance medley where they all had a slot to do their own freestyle dance was utterly incredible, they were all so talented and made me want to jump up and dance with them.

But Britney, it kills me to say it, that was the only thing I liked.

You seemed lifeless, like you were going through the motions. I knew you were going to mime, and didn't care one bit (I hope you don't mind me saying but I didn't come for the singing), but the fact that you were not even allowed to speak to the audience apart from the token "Hello London" and "cheer Louder", it was painful. It was like you were not trusted to speak to and engage with your audience.

You didn't even seem to want to dance. At one stage I watched a dancer next to you, a professional I know and doubtless just 20 year old with no kids, but still you are a fantastic dancer and it was as if you couldn't be bothered to move.

The layout of the venue, with a large circular stage in the middle and 2 smaller circles on either side, meant that a lot of the time you were simply walking from one end to the other to make sure everyone got a piece of you. The stage was surrounded by about 200 VIP's who stood around it to give the effect of a Circus, but it meant that those who had paid and who were seated in the normal seats felt the show wasn't really for us at all.

Why were there no screens? We were in a high tier and could barely see you and this simply added to the feeling that our viewing pleasure hadn't been considered. We spent the entire show leaning forward and squinting to make out your glittery costume, how you'd done your make up and what shade of blonde you are now. We wanted details Brit Brit, and all we got was a blurred glimpse at someone who seemed a shadow of her former self.

And I know you are. All we kept saying was "poor Brit". Why are you already back on stage so soon after such a severe breakdown? Because of us, I suppose is the answer, because we were willing to come out in our thousands to see you.

It felt wrong to watch you and although as we came out we heard girls around us braying about how excellent you were, there was a little nagging question mark over their praise about why you weren't allowed, as it seemed, to engage with us.

I suppose I would now be classed as an older fan Brit, and one who has loved you unconditionally through it all. I would like to be allowed to be right by the stage like a VIP, in terms of your career success I suppose I am. My friend Katy and I, who bought every album and know every lyric and sent numerous texts to one another in alarm as you broke down in front of our eyes, we are your VIP's.

We would stand by the stage and by a trick of the light, just like a circus act, we would make you disappear. We would whisk you away for another year or two or twenty, whatever you need. 2 kids, 6 albums, 7 tours, a Justin and a KFed. Since I was in that car, listening to Email my heart, I have had 3 boyfriends, 3 unsatisfying jobs and that is about it! You have given enough of yourself for now Brit Brit, take a little time.

Leave those weird hangers on and take off the glitter and eyelashes and smile and hang with your children and eat some popcorn and watch crap movies. We can gossip about Tom and KFed and leave the show behind, just for a little bit longer.


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