Noelle McCarthy: Growing up

By Noelle McCarthy

Even Baby Spice eventually moved on from platforms and pigtails.  Picture / Thinkstock
Even Baby Spice eventually moved on from platforms and pigtails. Picture / Thinkstock

I met an old friend yesterday. She's one of those friends, the ones you've done things with that you know you'll never do again, and you probably shouldn't have done, ever.

This could include, for example, a very public boob-flashing phase in small-town nightclubs, an orange-bacardi-breezer-in-a-pint-glass-with-a-triple-bacardi-on-top drinking phase (there may be a causal link between the two phases) and an episode of going off to the Greek Islands together with no money.

The Greek experience in particular, is to be recommended in terms of bonding. You're not really friends with someone until you have a knock-down fight in a supermarket in Naxos over whether to spend your last few drachmas on a tub of Philadelphia or a tomato.

My friend lives in Ireland now, so I see her only once a year. We go for a long walk, usually, and congratulate ourselves on being able to buy as much Philadelphia as we like and on no longer having the urge to pull our tops up in public. I never really think about how old I am until I remember how she used to dress when I met her: pink crop top, combat pants, hair in bunches.

Hard to believe I was not, in fact, friends with Emma Bunton. But the Baby Spice look was all the go then, and it's not like I can talk either.

This was 1997 and I was rocking a bindi.

Not much has changed in some ways, I still love Queen of the Bindi, Gwen Stefani.

Why wouldn't you? Not only did she introduce a million teenage girls to the traditional adornment of the Indian sub-continent, she also got married in dip-dyed Galliano.

I have changed in other ways, however. I've stopped doing Primark since I started writing this column. That was a 20 year habit, and it took some breaking. It used to be, the House of P was my first stop as soon as I hit the Northern Hemisphere. With good reason.

It used to drive me mad, when I got here first, how you couldn't get cheap socks and knickers in New Zealand. Dirt cheap I mean, as opposed to reasonable. Having grown up on Primark prices, it galled me terribly paying the best part of $20 for a pair of undies, especially when I knew my Irish sisters were drowning in €2 g-strings.

I used to get in there, straight off the plane, every time I went home, and load myself up like a sherpa on cheap basics. No longer. I can't do it anymore. They've got no ethics, and the products are rubbish. I'd rather pay a little bit more, and feel good about my purchase. I'm not sure when that happened. But as my friend was saying yesterday, sometimes you grow up without noticing.


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