Earlier this year, Emma Bunton hinted at a (sadly not-quite-true) Spice Girls reunion in an interview with The Radio Times. As I read the article I realised that their debut single, Wannabe, was released twenty years ago, and that got me thinking about 1996. Again.
I’ve been thinking about 1996 a lot because it was around this time in March 1996 that I got together with my now husband in our first year at university. We’ve been together for twenty whole years; over half my life, as it turned out when I did the maths. Blimey. A lot has happened in that time. The Spice Girls got together, split up, got together again, Posh married a quite well known footballer and became a fashion designer. But through all of that, me and my other half were just getting on with it, not splitting up or being successful fashion designers, but making it through as a happy couple.
OK, I’m no relationship columnist; I’m not going to harp on at you about why our relationship has been successful (but if I had to sum it up, I’d say friendship, laughter and compromise). What I am going to do though, because I’m feeling nostalgic, is remember all the good stuff that happened in 1996. Because 1996 was BRILLIANT!
1. We all Wannabe Spice Girls
I was never a big fan of the Spice Girls’ music (I do confess that I put two blonde streaks in the front of my hair like Geri though), but I do remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Wannabe on Radio 1 when it was released in July of 1996. It was a boiling hot day, and I was busy working in an ice-cream kiosk on the beach on the Isle of Wight. There was something about that song; I just knew it was going to be huge. Little did I know that twenty years later, I would meet the one known as Posh Spice as she talked me through her (gorgeous) fashion line and discussed flat shoes with me, as Victoria Beckham and I did a couple of weeks ago. How we have both moved on…
2. Topshop did Britpop
The main reason I wasn’t into the Spice Girls was because I was into Britpop, particularly Blur, big time. Not just the music, but the clothes, too (see photographic evidence, above and top). Back in 1996, Topshop Oxford Circus had an amazing HUGE vintage store in the basement, full to the brim with adidas T-shirts and tracksuit tops, suede A-line skirts and corduroy trousers. If you were into this vibe too, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s back for 2016. Just look at Chloe’s summer collection of tracksuit tops and Roberto Cavalli’s flared cords for AW16.
3. Euro ‘96
Football championships have gone massively downhill since Euro ’96. Not only was it held in Britain, so we could actually go and watch some games, but England did pretty well, only to be knocked out in the semi-final by Germany. The best bit, though, came from The Lightning Seeds, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel. Has there ever been a better sporting event-related song than Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)? Answer: no. In 1996 we were also in the height of celebrity football matches, where you could expect to see the likes of Gaz Coombes, Robbie Williams, Damon Albarn and Liam Gallagher all playing at once.
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4. Changing Rooms mania
I attribute the fact that my mum and I decorated my bedroom in this year to Linda Barker, because the first episode of BBC1’s Changing Rooms was aired in September 1996 and I was obsessed. Our scheme was 100% Nineties, with blue woodwork and bright yellow walls, the bottom half of which we used a sponge on for a textured effect. Needless to say, we redecorated in the Noughties because it looked very dated, VERY quickly.
With a second film on the cards for 2017, I decided to watch Trainspotting earlier this week. It’s still brilliant, and had far more familiar faces in it than I realised (anyone watching Happy Valley at the moment will recognise James Norton’s crazy love interest, actor Shirley Henderson, in the film). It was a good year for cult movies; Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet was also released in 1996.
6. The best album nominations at the BRITS were actually REALLY good albums
Adele aside, I don’t reckon we’ll be referring to any of 2016’s Album of the Year nominees as all-time classics, but take a look at 1996! OK, so The Great Escape wasn’t Blur’s greatest work (although I still love He Thought Of Cars and Entertain Me) but Radiohead’s The Bends, Pulp’s Different Class, Paul Weller’s Stanley Road and the winner, What’s The Story (Morning Glory) by Oasis, remain regulars on my iPod and still sound brilliant and relevant today.
7. TFI Friday with Friends
As a poor student, my Friday nights were frugal, but luckily we had some brilliant TV to watch while we were drinking a 2 litre bottle of Lambrini (£2.20 from Spar!) before we headed off to the student union with £5 to get us through the rest of the night. In its heyday, TFI Friday was pretty much the best TV on the box; follow that up with an episode from season 3 of Friends at 9pm and it’s a wonder we ever made it out at all.