By Justine Lister, writer and blogger at My Crazy Magic Life – My Life. My People. My Work.
…As told through my weird obsessions-No 1
Please tell me that I am not the only one that has had these on/off fads, fancies, crazes and crushes periodically throughout their lives? Why do we get them? What are they for?
I am beginning with a teenage fascination on a person – but my weird brain does not always choose to focus its infatuation on a human, no – indeed it can hook itself onto a range of things, from people to pottery, TV programmes to tea, bedding to weddings and all manner of things in between as this mini-series of articles will reveal in time.
Of course, it all started with Neighbours. Back in the day where you could watch it twice a day if you were home poorly from school. I cannot tell you how many times I watched ‘The Wedding’, in awe of and insanely jealous of Kylie as she stood there next to the loveliest human that my 11-year-old self had ever seen. Praise the Top of the Pops lords that were Stock, Aitken and Waterman and the editors of Smash Hits and Number One magazines for keeping Jason in my life.
Any TV appearance would be taped on a dedicated VHS tape, labelled ‘This is mine. Do not touch!’ No one in the house was allowed to breathe on it and it would be watched voraciously, as often as possible – on a loop.
All of my pocket money was spent on any magazine that featured the blond floppy fringe, however big or small. My Dad used to say that coming into my bedroom made him feel sick, as a million pairs of Australian blue eyes would stare at him and follow him around the room as he collected the glasses and cups that I had ‘forgotten’ to bring downstairs.
Sometimes you could get an eight-time folded poster in the middle of the magazine that would pull out into a HUGE wall covering of a poster. You just had to be really careful how you pulled it out otherwise the staples would leave a mark or a small rip on his perfect nose. Amidst the small gaps caused by my amateur wall papering skills, were teeny tiny Jason Donavon heads that had been painstakingly cut out with nail scissors, so that each ear and strand of hair was unharmed.
There used to be a department store in the middle of Southend High Street called Keddies and it would sell everything. Even wigs for old ladies, and super lacy bras that cost over £20 back in 1988. Saturday mornings would see me, and the gang enter with our meagre pocket money, feasting our eyes on all of the grown up and expensive stuff before us. We couldn’t afford anything. We mainly went in to go up and down in the lift and ride the escalators for a laugh before deciding whether to go to Tammy Girl to try on affordable bras, before or after lunch (it was probably only 10.05am) and who was going to go to KFC, who was going to McDonalds, and was going with who to the loo.
One particular time, it was just me and one other gang member. Loitering by the lift, waiting for the buggies, and walking sticks to pass, I saw something that made my heart stop. A zing of electric excitement buzzed through me and I nearly lost the power of speech. What was before me was a strange tiny counter with a red and white banner that said ‘Ticket Master’ and underneath this banner was a crudely written notice, red marker on a whiteboard: Jason Donavon Concert Tickets London Wembley Arena.
A plan was hatched between us. Get home as soon as possible. Make tea for parents. Beg, howl, cry, plead, rage, rant, bargain, negotiate, bribe and blackmail until we had a ticket. Failure was not an option. If I were not able to go then my life would be over. Angels come in many forms and as I burst into the front door and into the kitchen, there was mine, Aunty Michelle.
She managed to show an interest and decipher my carefully rehearsed speech that came out like gobbledygook; Mum and Dad just carried on chatting about I don’t know what in between their sips of tea and fag puffs, perhaps raising their eyebrows when I mentioned trains to London. Aunty Michelle nodded and smiled as I meticulously listed what I needed, why and how it could happen. Could being the operative word here because a ticket to go and see my idol was £23 – even more expensive than the fancy bras!
I think it was March time and my birthday is in November, but my angel of an Aunty said that she would buy me the ticket for my birthday. I could not believe my luck. The telephone was ringing. It was my friend. Had she succeeded in her mission? Yes! She had! I swear I skipped back to Keddies that afternoon with Aunty Michelle in tow to make the most precious of purchases.
I screamed myself hoarse at the concert and sang every single word to every single song. It was the best night of my whole life to date, and was relived in photos, conversations, and memories for years to come. I still had the tour mug up until a few years ago – the handle came off. I was a bit sad. At the merchandise stand in Wembley, the T-shirts were as much as the ticket had cost and so I chose the mug as a memento to be treasured each time I had a cup of tea.
They say to never meet your idols as it will lead to disappointment, and sadly it did a little. Having shielded away a small piece of my heart, just for Jason, and at thirty-six years old, the stars were finally aligned for our paths to cross again.
Me and the same friend who went to see Jason at Wembley, went to see him in The Kings Speech, in Cambridge, where he was playing the part of the speech therapist. I smiled when he came on – remembering all that had gone before, remembering how much I had (thought I had) loved him, and all of those cut out heads on my bedroom wall.
As soon as we had got to the theatre, we divided and conquered. Concert friend went off to get two glasses of sauvignon – well four really – we had the interval after all. I was entrusted to purchase two copies of the programme. Job done. My other task of importance was to ensure that we had a permanent marker. Also done! Jason is actually a very good actor, and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance. We were also so excited for when the show had finished.
As soon as the curtain went down, friend and I scrambled down the stairs, in a tipsy, heady frenzy. We were actually going to meet him. We got to the stage door in record time. I felt sure that there would be surging crowd of fellow used to be eleven-year-old JD fanatics; I was ready to squeeze and push us to the front for the glorious moment. But no – there was no surge. Why hadn’t anyone come to see him? There was maybe fifteen of us in a limp semi-circle around the door. I panicked. Oh, my goodness. What if we were at the wrong door and had missed him. I wanted to cry.
As I was about to push the marker pen back into bag, there-he-was. Squuueeeeeee. It was actually him. He looked up and I gave him the biggest smile I could. He looked at me and frowned. And then he looked around at the other people who had waited to see him. He looked disappointed and fed up. In fact, he said as much. He said “Oh erm, I just wanted to go and get some lunch.” Lunch? Jason we are here and have loved you like forever – can’t you even pretend to be happy? I must have paid a significant chunk of your riches in all the Jason things that I had bought over the years. I made my Dad feel ill for you. Thirty-six-year-old me had a word with eleven-year-old me and suddenly saw the truth. This guy in all honesty, probably did just want to get his lunch and some down time before the evening show. I work in a school, how happy would I actually be if every time I left for lunch, I had students wanting selfies with me and my autograph – can you imagine? But still – even a little smile?
The smile was not forthcoming. He did begrudgingly sign our programmes albeit whilst stating “No selfies, no selfies.” Alright mate, we get the message. I snapped a few photos on my phone, in hope of a semi decent one. His baseball hat kept getting in the way. I started wishing that we hadn’t bothered. Still, we had our programmes and they were sort of signed. Watching him make his way to lunch, I put my programme away and checked my bag: phone, purse, programme…. where was my marker pen?!? That cheeky galah was going to lunch with MY pen.
“Excuse me. Excuse me Mr Donovan. You have stolen my pen. Can I have it back please?”
He sort of stomped back towards the few of us left. Mumbling something like “Must be a special pen.”
“Thank you.” I said.
And now somewhere in my home is a black marker pen that has been touched by Jason Donovan. It might even have his DNA on it. Yeah.. I am so over him now.
Jason – I hope your lunch was good!!
Jason is a presenter on Heart FM