Harriet Walker: Thanks, but I can't say I'll be there

 

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When the Spice Girls released "Wannabe" in 1996, it changed my and my parents' lives. They had to listen to it as often as I played it, which was constantly: in the car, on my Walkman as I brushed my teeth, at guide camp. It was everywhere, and everything it stood for spoke to me.

Bearing in mind I was a chubby 11-year-old with a mullet, the reality of anyone wanting to be my lover was somewhat remote. But, I told myself, one day they might, and the Spice philosophy of "Girl Power" and acting vaguely obnoxiously – as long as everything was punctuated with a Posh Spice pout'*'point or a Page Three wink like Geri Halliwell's – seemed as good as any to live by.

Did Girl Power mean anything? At the time, I thought it did, which must count for something. Girl Power was about asking out the boy you fancied because you were his social equal. Girl Power didn't explain that this works only if you're really hot. I lost a lot of dignity because of Girl Power, but it taught me how to cope with rejection.

Yesterday's announcement of the live stage show fills me with dread. A formula which worked so well with Abba's back catalogue, one full of emotion and lyrical narrative, won't be half as coherent when you're dealing with lines such as "Slam your body down and wind it all around". But at least, you might argue, we'll finally get to hear the songs performed live.

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