The tills are alive with the sound of, well, kitsch. No blue satin sashes or bright copper kettles, just a mountain of snow globes and DVDs. And before long there are going to be heaps more. While Dame Julie Andrews may not have stepped on to a British stage for 20 years, she nevertheless commands the loyalty of a strange army – encompassing gay men and grandmothers – of besotted fans.
For them it is not enough to watch her DVDs back to back; they need something that, in their minds at least, allows them a little piece of her. So when she performs her first UK concert for two decades next weekend, the merchants of tat will be out in force, as will legions of willing punters. Today they sing their idol's praises and share with The Independent on Sunday a few of their favourite things.
Liz Thompson, 50, Grimsby
Favourite thing: Julie Andrews plate
"Every year we go to Austria, and on Saturday we're going to see her at the O2. It's just her personality. She's such a lady. I've got a 13-piece full plate set from America and one of the plates has a lovely picture of Julie on it. It really captures the film."
Anita Delargy, 32, teacher, Cumbria
Favourite thing: Mary Poppins snow globe
"It's a replica of the one in the film and plays 'Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)'. Julie just makes you so happy. It's her voice and she's such a great role model. When I was a child I just wanted to be her."
Beth Richards, 26, NHS health trainee, Bristol
Favourite thing: Mary Poppins DVD
"I go to the singalongs in Bristol, and once dressed up as a brown paper package wrapped up with string and went up on stage. I also love Mary Poppins. I've got it on DVD and I think that's probably my favourite thing. I just love the way she sings in Mary Poppins."
Vanessa Avendano, 23, theatre student, California
Favourite thing: Autographed lithograph
"Although it is one of my most recent pieces of memorabilia, this autograph is the most meaningful of all. We had travelled four hours by car, then had waited in line from four o'clock in the morning until around three o'clock in the afternoon and then I finally met her."
Louise Brown, 31, editor of heavy metal magazine Terrorizer, Dalston, east London
Favourite thing: Mary Poppins tattoo
"Mary Poppins has been with me all my life. People are always saying to me how can you like bands like Iron Maiden when you're a Julie Andrews fan? I'm looking at getting a Mary Poppins tattoo. I'm saving up for it. I'm going to have my favourite line from the film: 'Though we adore men individually, we agree as a group they're rather stupid.'"
Heather France, 49, sales training manager, Chelmsford, Essex
Favourite thing: Singalonga Sound of Music poster
"The Sound of Music never fails to lift you up, and it doesn't matter how many times you see it you never get bored. I've got happy memories of going to see it with my mum and dad when I was five at the cinema; in fact it was the first film I ever saw. The singalongs are great fun and I saw this poster and asked them if I could have it. It's on my wall in my office."
Rebecca Dalglish, 18, student London
Favourite thing: Signed copy, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years
"It was a limited edition; only 1,000 were released. It's a signed and numbered copy. I've been a fan of Julie Andrews since the age of two when I saw The Sound of Music. Her voice never fails to move me."
Sue Leonard, 57, retired, Blackpool
Favourite thing: 40th anniversary DVD of The Sound of Music
"I won't watch the DVD because I don't want to damage it. I want to be able to pass it down. I have watched all the special features, though. Julie is so dignified and has not let any Hollywood trappings influence her."
Jennifer Paul, 49, deputy head, Earlsfield, London
Favourite thing: Original soundtrack on vinyl
"What I like about Julie Andrews is the way she sings. I'm a singer myself. I'm a teacher and I took some kids to Austria and climbed the mountain with them and me leading, singing. I can't bear to throw the soundtrack away, even though I've got nothing to play it on any more.
Lana Derakovic-Rakas, 24, geography professor, Zagreb, Croatia
Favourite thing: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (children's book)
"It holds a special place in my heart because it revived the child in me who believes in purple trees and talking cats and who enjoys tons and tons of ice cream. The book was a gift from my dear friend, so this book, for me, says friendship. And since my favourite colour is purple and Julie wrote it, how can't it be my favourite Julie item?"Reuse content