R.I.P. George Michael. I think you’re amazing.

wham

A few huge posters adorned my bedroom wall as a schoolgirl – I mentioned one of them in a blog post just the other month, in fact – but I’m not sure I gazed adoringly at any of them as much as the one pictured above.

(Full disclosure: the photo above isn’t of the actual specific poster I owned, but that of an identical one which somebody is currently selling on eBay. I am now, of course, sorely tempted to bid on it, US postage costs be damned.)

Fantastic by Wham! – debut album titles don’t get much better than that, do they? – was one of the first Proper Pop Albums I ever owned, and throughout my childhood (I was 12 when Fantastic came out), I was most definitely a Whammy rather than a Durany. And who could blame me? What was not to love about these two beautiful men with their beautiful hair, beautiful grins, beautiful tans and beautiful day-glo fingerless gloves? Nothing. Especially when you’re an 12 year-old-girl.

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Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

jacko-thriller

As a child, I was utterly terrified by Michael Jackson’s Thriller. So terrified that even putting that picture above these words now, at the age of 45, causes a slight shiver of anxiety. I was also confused: surely a ‘thriller’ was an exciting, dramatic film? I didn’t understand why Michael Jackson was singing about movies like that while dancing with zombies.  Surely he should have been calling it Video Nasty?

But I did appreciate the musical delights of Thriller – and also the tiger cub he was stroking when you opened the gatefold sleeve (my sister, older than I and therefore with more sophisticated tastes, bought the album. In 1982, I was all about Bucks Fizz and  The Kids From Fame. My sophistication would not come until 1986, when a month’s pocket money would pay for Janet Jackson’s Control).

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Never Too Late

wedding

Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans, as Allen Saunders (and later John Lennon) said – and that’s my excuse for not having posted a blog post for a while.

Coming into 2016, I didn’t realise this would be the year I’d get engaged, let alone married. And here I am in October, with a ring on my finger and a spring in my step and a feeling of true contentment – at the age of 45 – that I’m still getting used to.

I’ve just written about this for Standard Issue – tying it in with my joy at watching the former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

There is a connection, trust me. Because whether it’s a ballroom dancer or a bride, I hope that both my and Ed’s stories can show that it’s never too late to be what you might have been. And that we all have it in us to write wonderful new chapters in our life.

The inspirational Jo Cox

I never met Jo Cox. But like most people now, I wish I had.

Learning now, as so many of us, about all her work both before becoming an MP and while she was in Parliament, it’s clear that Jo was an extraordinary person whose compassionate world view ran through everything she did, and how she did it. She was loved and respected by her constituents and on both sides of the House; and she used her power and position to help those in need, whether that was in her humanitarian work for Oxfam or as an MP, helping refugees, chairing the all-party parliamentary group on Syria, and championing measures to help immigrants, women and children.

As Conor Costello of Oxfam said: “She had an amazing capacity to inspire and lead, and a soul-deep commitment to equality and justice that she acted on, every single day.”

And in her death, Jo continues to inspire.

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