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Melanie C

February 2003
AN old lady is walking down High Street in Nowheresville when she spots a familiar face. “Hello dear, aren’t you that Sporty Spice?” The young woman takes one step back and... “I karate kick her in the head.” Mel — sorry, Melanie — C hates being called Sporty Spice. OK, giving grannies a good hiding isn’t likely to happen. “If it’s a nice old lady I’d just say ‘yes’. But if it’s blokes thinking they’re funny, I’d just say (adopts bladder-releasing tone) ‘My name’s Melanie!’”
The 29-year-old former Spice Girl is taking no prisoners. Old women aside, everyone is getting it in the neck. Particularly us lot. Journalists. “I saw something yesterday that really f***ed me off.” A tabloid tale? Which one? “The one accusing me of having the picture on my album cover stretched.” The claim was that Melanic C is overweight so her picture was doctored to make her a few pounds lighter. But what you see is the real thing, she says. “It wasn’t stretched. And I’m really annoyed because obviously I’ve suffered with eating disorders and body-image problems.
“And anyway”, her voice rising to a frantic “eh, calm down” type of Scouse, “there’s f***ing nothing wrong with the way I look. So that p*ssed me off.”
I can see why she was renamed Sweary Spice. But I choose not to mention it.
Three years ago newspapers focused on her increasing weight and speculated about her sexuality. It was made all the more apparent with the rest of the Spices getting married and/or giving birth or, in Geri’s case, having a quite a few celebrity suitors. The negative attention led to clinical depression and eating disorders. She disappeared from view and turned to anti-depressants and regular counselling sessions.
“As soon as I started feeling better I realised there’s nothing else I want to do (other than music). It’s kind of my mission to do this. I’m a lot stronger these days and pretty much up for it. “But nothing prepares you. And you do forget. Now I have to hear people’s opinions on me and the way I look and you think ‘Oh God, what I have I let myself in for?’
“But I’m so happy making music and I want to be successful, so it’s just the small price I have to pay.”
Speculation about her album sleeve hasn’t been the tabloids’ only interest recently. Having her single Here It Comes Again reach “only” No. 7 in the UK charts on Sunday added fuel to some fires that a Spice Girls reunion would be a good idea.
“Oh,” she sighs as the inevitable subject arises.
“You know what, I got off a flight in Copenhagen and... I don’t buy tabloids... but when you see on the front of a newspaper what you are supposed to be doing next year that you have absolutely no knowledge of... I thought I need to f***ing have a laugh here.
“I opened it and could not believe it. You know there’s been so much sh*t written about the Spice Girls. I don’t think I’ve read anything that’s actually true.
“We’ve got no intention of getting back together. When we went for that meal the other night, we were just catching up and stuff. None of us were interested in getting back together. It’s rubbish. And so annoying.”
After the meeting of the Spice Girls at Beckingham Palace, one Sunday paper even listed tour dates and spoke of a greatest hits album. “I would rather die than go back on tour with the Spice Girls,” says Melanie C, before laughing like a nutter.
“Though I do get on with them all. I haven’t got any problems with any of the girls.
“I was looking forward to seeing Geri,” she adds, knowing that their relationship is most interesting because of her previous digs at the Ginger one. “I think I thought ‘oops, I’ve probably said a few things in the past’ and been misquoted a few times about Geri. But Geri knows me. She knows I’m not a hurtful person."
Another story said you’d met up to discuss a film?
“What film?” A documentary about the Spice Girls. “That’s sh*te, f***ing sh*te. I read this thing where Geri was supposed to cry as well. That didn’t happen. I read another one where Emma was supposed to have said that we danced to all our own hits.”
She breaks in to a giant guffaw. “Can you imagine? It’s just pure sh*te.”
So what was the point of it all?
“It was Victoria’s idea. Geri is in America a lot, Melanie has gone over to America now. We were all dead busy. We were just all in London at the same time. We thought we’d all been meaning to do it for a long time and we just eventually got round to it. It wasn’t a big deal.”
She adds: “But it was nice to see everyone.”
New album Reason is musically brighter and less rocky than Northern Star, indicating a happier Melanie C. Many of the lyrics are aimed at her first steady boyfriend since pre-fame days.
“Eeeeeh,” she says and giggles. “I am a lot happier now. I’ve got a pretty cool boyfriend, so yeah.” He’s Bob the builder, I heard... She’s heard this feeble joke before. But manages a small chuckle nonetheless. “His name’s Tom.” And he’s a director of a construction company, not actually a builder. “I met him on holiday in Barbados and we’ve got a mutual friend so we were introduced.” It helps that he isn’t in the biz-we-call-show. 
“It definitely makes both of our lives easier. With two celebrities together there’s just a lot more press interest.”
Would she ever swap places with Posh? “Erm, Victoria. It’s always funny when people call her Posh. But not at all. Victoria’s very happy, she’s got a wonderful husband and a beautiful family but I don’t know how she copes with it all.” Melanie C spends most of her time in Hampstead, where she lives with Bob — sorry, Tom — around the corner from celeb mate Natalie Appleton. She also has a flat in Liverpool by the Albert Dock. Sporty Spice was a creation of her own, a reaction against her childhood asthma, the traces of which are still with her. She is allergic to cats and horses. “I’m allergic to a lot of things actually. I’m allergic to dust, animals... not all animals, you know, like dogs, cats and hairy, furry things. That’s a bit of a p*sser because I like cats.” She may no longer be that high-kicking, cart-wheeling, tracky-wearing Sporty pop star but Melanie C still likes to keep fit. As the “un-stretched” album sleeve shows.
And when she was in Nottingham last year she dropped in to the Fitness First gym, a stone’s throw from the Evening Post building at Castle Wharf. It was the day before a gig in Leicester. “They gave me a lifetime membership. I was well happy.”
So why stay in Nottingham when you’re playing in Leicester? “Because I really like the Lace Market Hotel. There are lovely rooms and a great restaurant...” Doh! Now we know where to hang around in April shouting Sporty Spice! at her bedroom windows.

Melanie C is at the Royal Concert Hall on April 30. There are some tickets left, priced £17.50, at or on 0115 989 5555.

Catch Melanic C at the bar. Her's is a lager-top
She’s 29 years old and has never sent an e-mail
She launched her solo career at the V99 Festival and was promptly showered with bottles during each song. “One of the worst experiences of my life,” she says
Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life is her favourite album Dusty Springfield, Annie Lennox and Kate Bush are her favourite singers
Her debut solo album, Northern Star, sold one million copies in the UK
Hit singles include When You’re Gone, with Bryan Adams (3); Goin’ Down (4); Never Be The Same Again (1); I Turn To You (1); Here It Comes Again (7)
Here It Comes Again was co-written with former Blow Monkey Dr Robert
At the Doreen Bird Academy of Performing Arts she shared a room with Calverton-born singer Claire “Angel” Poyzer. “We were pretty close mates,” remembered Melanie. “She was a really good singer. I don’t know what she is doing now.”

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