My Life As A Take That Fan

If you've read some of my previous posts you probably know that for many years I've had a very special place in my heart for a certain boy/man-band. (I wrote about the time they visited my school, aka, When It All Began, here). So it might not surprise you to know that when I was (much) younger, there was a period of time where I was known not as Lisa, but simply as one of 'The Take That Fans'.


Now this was early in the days of TT. Like, 'Do What U Like' and 'Promises' early. We were a rare breed at that time, but our numbers were growing every day. Once 'It Only Takes A Minute' was released and went top ten, it went from me, my friend Sharon and a couple of other die-hards, to dozens - and then hundreds -  of fans turning up at appearances.


Being a TTF was a BIG responsibility. Bearing in mind we didn't have t'internet then, we relied on a complex network of like-minded girls who we were put in contact with via the pen-pal section in Take That's own fanclub newsletter to know where the boys were at any given time. Any info we had would be shared via letter or, if it was urgent, via the telephone in my mam's hallway. I think at one point I had around 30 pen-pals all around the country, some of whom lived in the Manchester area and therefore spent the majority of their time sitting outside Mark's mam's house hoping to get a glimpse of him, or anyone else he may have any loose connection to, for that matter.


I can still remember how, every night when I got in from school, I'd eagerly check the hall table to see if any of my pen-pals had written to me. Often the letters would contain copies of photos that particular pen-pal had taken at meet and greets, and I would return the favour by sending them pics I'd snapped. Since I wasn't great with a camera (again, see this post if you haven't already) mine were usually of the back of Jason's head/Gary's arm/Robbie's shoe. Still, it was THEM.


Often we'd arrange to meet up, my pen-pals and me, when Take That were due to appear at record signings at Our Price on Newcastle's Northumberland Street, for radio interviews at Metro FM in Swalwell, or for a TV appearance on Gimme 5 at ITV studios on the Quayside. I remember meeting one girl, from Middlesbrough, who proudly showed me the home-made 'I HEART HOWIE 4EVA' tattoo on her forearm. 'It won't come off', I remember her saying, 'I did it with a compass and permanent marker'.


There was a definite sense of camaraderie amongst the TTFs as we whiled away long hours outside tv studios, hotels and record shops. Of course, that was forgotten once Take That actually appeared and it was every girl (or boy, as there were a few) for her/himself as we elbowed and squeezed our way to the front of the crowd. I can remember one PA at the MetroCentre. "Take That will be appearing at Town Square One" announced the tinny voice on the tannoy. Obviously, I'd been there since the centre opened, so was right at the front. Close enough to get showered in sweat when Mark started doing back flips on the stage right next to me. I remember being mildly disgusted at first, then quickly adjusting my opinion when girls next to me started squealing "MARK'S SWEAT JUST LANDED ON YOU!!!!". " I KNOW!!" I cried back, proudly.


As time went on and Take That got bigger, their local appearances became less frequent and gradually the pen pals drifted off - either I stopped writing or they did (I was spending my entire pocket money on stamps, so I was kind of relieved). Local radio appearances and record signings turned into concerts at Newcastle City Hall or Whitley Bay Ice Rink, and the band became less and less accessible to us original TTFs. Eventually, they were so big that ever getting anywhere close was impossible.


Over the last 25 years (excuse me while I lie down) the TT flame has continued to flicker, even in the sad and empty period between the original split in 1996 and the reunion 10 years later. At that first reunion show almost ten years ago, it felt like nothing had changed. The only difference was that I went into work with no voice the next day, instead of school, and after a day or so life went back to normal. Until the next tour, of course.


The most recent Take That Live 2015 tour revived all the old TTF excitement again. It was by far the best show I've seen, and the atmosphere was, as always, like no other. That feeling of camaraderie appears again, a real sense of 'WE'VE BEEN HERE SINCE THE BEGINNING!' and it's awesome. I often wonder if my old pen-pals and I have unknowingly crossed paths at one of the recent shows, and whether the girl with the home-made tattoo is still proudly showing it off at events. I'd like to think so.

I have somehow managed to erase Gary's face on this photo. My photography skills  (or lack of) strike again. 
Sadly I'm not going to the show tonight. I WISH I WAS. But I'll be enjoying a Prosecco and a bit of 'Pray' at home instead. Once a TTF, always a TTF.

xx


8 comments:

  1. Still not spotted them nextdoor yet but if they appear I will text you immediately ;)

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    1. Yes keep an eye out!! I was running late in the end so didn't stop by. I think I realised I am now too old to be hanging about hotels hoping to catch a glimpse of celebs! (although I was sorely tempted) :) xx

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  2. Ha you were hardcore! This is a great post, I love boyband memories! I used to love 911 (I realise they are a bit past it now!) and when I was on holiday when I was 11, Lee was in my holiday resort so I got to meet him, it made my holiday ha! Later at a reunion tour when I was at uni, a horrible boy spat in my hair, kinda tarnished the memories ha!

    Kay xx
    Idreamofcoco.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. When I first read that I thought you said that Lee from 911 spat in your hair! I was thinking, that's AWFUL and you MUST SUE HIM! We could have joined forces - you sue him & I'll sue the bloke from Westlife who kicked a football in my face.
      But he didn't spit in your hair, so never mind.
      x

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  3. Haha, brilliant post Lisa! A true TTF. :)
    Although I've been a fan since I can remember, along with other boy bands I have to add, I never made an appearance or concert.. however, I still remember the initial split as it were yesterday. I remember it because I kick myself now for throwing away my favourite album 'Everything Changes'! I lost everything that day.. (although not to the point of calling the helpline, I may add!) It was then my attention was forced to turn to Boyzone.lol

    Caroline.x
    notesfromcaroline.com

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    1. Eeeeh thanks *proud face*.
      Hang on...YOU THREW AWAY A TAKE THAT ALBUM?!
      I think we may need to have a conversation.

      xx

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  4. Just found you on the 30+ blog collective...OMG I adore Take That and have done for so many years, being 35 now I was there at the start and was so upset when they split. I got to see them a few years ago and that was a massive dream come true. Gary was and still is my fave :)

    www.pamsstuffanfthings.co.uk

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    1. Hey! So sorry for the delayed response!! I've been a teensy bit lazy with my blog of late (shame-face)...but thank you for stopping by! Oh yay a fellow Thatter!! :) I'm off to check out your blog now :) x

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