23 July 2015

Chapter 23 – Squatting in front of Mark Owen

 So to get the ball rolling with Jud, Muff put me in touch with a London-based law firm that specialised in music contracts. The lawyer that would work my case was called Stephen. He sounded friendly but professional on the phone, and I made an appointment to visit his office the following week. I was a little nervous – I had seen my fair share of courtroom drama so I was expecting a young, slick, quick-talking whippersnapper with a large vocabulary – but thankfully, Stephen wasn’t anything of the sort.

Stephen was young, smiley-faced, and floppy-haired – he also reminded me of Hugh Grant, which of course I informed him of not long after we met. We got chatting and I told him my story to date. He had a warm, easy going manner which enabled me to be myself, so I felt at ease with him from the start. Many of our meetings took place at the office, but we’d often pop out for lunch or dinner somewhere to discuss the contract. One particular evening, Stephen took me to a ‘members only’ club somewhere in the heart of Soho. I can’t remember exactly but I think it may have been Soho House, on Greek Street (the reason for my jarred memory will become apparent in a moment.) What I do remember is; it had several floors, it was super posh, the drinks cost a small fortune and it’s where the industry folk and celebs went to be ‘celeby.’

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Not long after we are seated I spot MARK OWEN – from TAKE THAT! Now this may mean nothing to you dear reader, but when I was 12 years of age I loved Mark Owen with all of my soppy young heart … and he was right here, within spitting distance, chatting easily with a friend over a pint.

“STEPHEN, Stephen, Stephen!!!” I hiss under my breath while tugging his shirt “Look, look, look there’s MARK OWEN!!”

“What? ah oh yeah” Stephen replies non-plussed. He meets artists and celebrities all the time, he thinks nothing of the sweet-faced heartthrob in our midst.

I continue to elbow him in the ribs “I have to meet him?? I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t meet him!!!” By this time we had already had a couple of drinks (which were doubles – naturally) so I had a couple more in order to fill me with the dutch courage needed to face the lovely Mark Owen. However, by the time said courage was mustered, I was hammered.

When I used to daydream about meeting Mark Owen through my young teens; we’d meet, our eyes would lock, he’d fall for me, and naturally we would marry and have babies. But in all the variations of this daydream I never ever thought it would go down quite like this …  “OK Stephen, I’m going in” I pull myself up, hoist up my boobs and straighten my dress. Stephen stifles a giggle as I stagger over to meet the hottest member of Take That (sorry Gary, you’re a close second my lovely). I stand there, looming over Mark Owen … “Hiyaaa!”

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I don’t recognise my voice, it has leaped up an octave. I cough and regain the ability to speak “Ooh sorry, don’t know what happened there, Hi!” and I squat down next to him so I am at his level. I then realise that was a very bad move, because getting up again is not going to be easy.

“I’m so sorry to disturb you Mark … it’s just that, well I’m here with my lawyer” I wave absently in the direction of Stephen, who, if he had any sense would be hiding behind the sofa at this point. “an’ I saw you, and I just had to come and say hello cos … well, I used to really really love you Maaark … I used to snog your records an’ everything!” I laugh, playfully slapping his knee a bit too hard.

OH THE SHAME! WHAT AM I SAYING? the words are leaving my lips before my brain can intervene. Mark Owen, the sweetie he is, merely replies to the half-cut cooing girl squatting at his feet with a bashful “Aw thanks very much.” I continue to sit beaming at him then I continue with  “New album going well is it?” … I don’t know what I’m talking about, I have no idea if he is recording a new album or not.

“Um, no I’m not recording anything at the moment … maybe soon though” I sense this meeting is coming to an end so I start to attempt to hoist myself up as gracefully as I can, which isn’t that graceful, and Mark Owen has to help me to my feet. “I’m signing to Sony myself soon … ” I can hear myself slurring.

“Really? ah that’s great!” He doesn’t believe me … but I’m not surprised. He thinks I’m mental. I hug Mark Owen goodbye, for a bit longer than necessary and I stumble back to Stephen.

Stephen is laughing heartily to himself as I flop down next to him. He found the whole scene highly amusing. “OK, as much as I’d like to see what other entertaining encounters you chance upon this evening I have to get home, are you going to be OK getting back? it’s getting late you know”

“Yea, yea I’m fine, I’m a big girl!” I wave him away and Stephen heads home. He was right, it was getting late and I needed to get home, but I was oblivious to both these facts since I was now too far gone. I’ve never been a big drinker, with the exception of being a student of course (and everyone knows that most students are borderline alcoholics) but when I do drink, after a certain point it just doesn’t occur to me to stop until I fall down. I wish it did; it would have saved me lots of cab rides with carrier bags hooked over the tops of my ears.  So instead of heading home, I wander through Soho and find my myself in a seedy bar down a random backstreet. The music is pumping and there are lots of scantily dressed men milling around … I eventually realise it was a gay bar.

I’ve always felt at ease in gay bars, as you can enjoy dancing without getting hassle from leery, overbearing guys – however, I have in the past, had a few run in’s with some double-hard lesbians who didn’t always take kindly to a straight lass being in a gay club … one in particular told me if I wasn’t going to have a ‘mess with Vanessa’ I’d better get out. My lesson was learned, so I keep my eyes peeled. I down another JD and coke, and have a twirl on the dance floor with a lovely couple who introduced themselves as Naughty Nigel and Big Bad Brian. After we exhaust the conga, we have a brief rest and a ciggie; during which I realise I have 13 missed calls from my boyfriend Andy. I run outside, eager to tell him all about my day …

“Jode, are you OK?? where the hell are you? you were meant to be home hours ago!”

“Oooh Andeee I love youuuu!! I’m a rittle bit drunk … I’m in Soho doing the conga with Nigel an’ Big Bad Brian … ANDEEE you should come to London and come dancin’ wiv us?? Oh they’d LOVE you …”

“Jode! What are doing shitfaced in Soho on your own!? You need to run … you’re going to miss the last train!!”

This sobers me up somewhat.  I say my goodbyes to Naughty Nigel and Big Bad Brian, and run to the tube as fast as I can. I make it home, and spend the following day with a carrier bags hooked over the tops of my ears.

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