Once upon a time, when I was a thin, sulky teenager with a penchant for lurking in my bedroom imagining myself as Heathcliff's very own Catherine, I had exceptionally cool taste in music. I still have my vinyl collection (although for at least ten years I've had nothing to play it on) and it is FLAWLESS, a result of trawling second-hand record fairs and pouring endlessly over NME and Melody Maker, trying desperately to read through my ludicrously long fringe. All of humanity is there - the Joy Division Peel Sessions, everything and anything from the seventies by Bowie or Ferry, obscure bootleg recordings by the Smiths and New Order...there is NOTHING here that requires any kind of shame, or covert disowning.
My CD collection, however, is another matter entirely. Some of these are so embarrassingly bad that they have had to be removed from the rack and hidden under the bed; I certainly cannot name them here for fear of people pointing and laughing at me in the street. The others remain, proudly displaying their (and my) lack of musical credibility - one of the many advantages of getting older is that you simply don't care any more, and any slightly shame-faced admittance of a vague respect for, say, Barry Manilow, is often met with relieved nods of recognition. Thus I was delighted to hear of the Girl Talk: I am Woman event at The Lowry next Saturday 2nd July, when three lovely ladies promise to sing a repertoire of cheesy loveliness - who could possibly resist "a diverse range of material from Bacharach to the B52s, Rodgers and Hammerstein to Dolly Parton"? Not I, particularly as I will have had at least one very large glass of wine at Lime beforehand - I have already begun warming up my vocal chords for the audience harmonies that are positively encouraged.
The three ladies in question are Mari Wilson, Barb Jungr and Gwyneth Herbert, accompanied by (the presumably long-suffering) Adrian York on piano. Barb is a local girl, brought up in Stockport, Gwyneth is the "Princess of Cool", and Mari Wilson is - well - Mari Wilson. Respected goddess of song she may well be, but she will forever live in my heart as one of my earliest Top of the Pops memories, performing Just What I Always Wanted with an immense hairdo, the sort that you suspected could house an entire aviary of small birds. I've just watched it again on YouTube and see that she is also sporting a pair of wings that I must have overlooked in my open-mouthed admiration of her hair; AND John Peel is presenting *wipes away nostalgic tear*
Anyway, I'm off to try to source a floor-length gold lame dress for next Saturday; if you fancy doing the same, tickets can be snaffled for just £17.50 a head (with concessions for seniors, students and unwaged, so you can take gran) by telephoning The Lowry on 0843 208 6000, or online at www.thelowry.com/event/girl-talk-i-am-woman
- I'll be the one orchestrating the mass sway to Dolly Parton.