It’s been a long time since I made banners and screamed at gigs, but when I opened my Twitter feed to discover that McFly were celebrating 10 years in the business, I couldn’t help but take a trip down memory lane.
I was only 14-years-old when things went drastically wrong for me in school: I was a small, somewhat plump, loved reading, didn’t mind doing homework, and was actually proud to be a bit of a bookworm, so as you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly the most thick skinned. Being a big Busted fan didn’t help either, because just about everyone decided pretty early on that a love for Charlie, Matt and James didn’t exactly make you cool.
It was amid my attempts to escape what I then perceived to be the horror of my everyday life that I first came across McFly, in a post buried deep at the back of the Busted message boards. I wasn’t exactly one for fangirling online at that stage, but I signed up to join this new band’s fan forum almost instantly, with absolutely no idea about what was to come.
There was something about McFly and their music that just struck a chord with me, and before I could even tell who was who, I’d fallen head over heels for one raspy voice. It was only later, after deciding that I would always be Mad4Harry (yes, I’m cringing too, don’t you worry), that I discovered it actually belonged to one Danny Jones. The age of dodgy Hotmail email addresses was dawning, and I, at 14, was more than willing to jump in, even if that meant I was one of the absolute loons with a McFly banner at the Busted tour in February 2004.
I could go into extreme detail about my experiences as a McFly fan, but I’d probably just bore you. What I will say is that I was lucky enough to meet them on more than one occasion, during what was probably one of the most difficult times of my life. I doubt Danny Jones had any idea how much his kindness and enthusiasm about an Irish flag meant to a small, beaten down and very nearly broken 14-year-old who had travelled to Manchester in the early hours for an album signing. The photo will never resurface. It, like the thought of my fangirl-ishness (just go with it, mmmkay?), is mildly mortifying.
Anyway, it wasn’t long after that signing that I made a pretty big decision: Sick and tired of feeling like the eternal outcast, and suffering from depression, I dropped out of school entirely. Whether or not anyone else knew I felt like that is beyond me. I have heard rumours that I was once described as ‘the girl who went psycho’. Trust me, I had my reasons, but they’re not for sharing in the middle of a blog post, because they don’t really matter to me know.
It was during the 11 months I spent in educational limbo that McFly, and indeed Busted, became something of a life line for me. It was thanks to the bands that I made some fantastic friends both here at home, and in the UK and Northern Ireland. I spent some of the most amusing days and nights of my life running around Belfast with a wonderful group of ladies who reminded me what friendship was really all about. It was thanks to them that I met the lads from Busted, after almost finding myself lost on a dark night. My poor mother was terrified that I’d wandered off on my own, and we still laugh when I explain that she rang me just as I was meeting my beloved Charlie Simpson. That Busted ringtone didn’t make me seem psychotic at all, I’m sure.
Between those meetings, days out with friends and concerts, I sat at home wondering what on earth I was going to do with my life. My music collection was my only companion, and I could often be found belting out my favourite album track for the poor dogs. It seems incredibly silly when I look back now, but if it hadn’t been for songs like Not Alone, I think it would have been that little bit harder to pick myself back up. Much and all as I didn’t believe it at the time, I really was just a kid.
I’m under no illusions here: I know that my family are the ones who really pulled me through my darkest days and that it was my own desire to get back on my feet that ultimately brought me back to reality. By the time I turned 16 I had put the past behind me, and emerged from my experience far stronger than I ever had been before. Yet, I never forgot that the band I loved so dearly had unwittingly made those bad days that little bit more bearable. Sure didn’t I even star in a movie thanks to them, wha? Pause the crowd scene at the gig in Just My Luck: That is indeed me you can somewhat see in the front row.
I’m glad to say that I grew out of my obsession with McFly, much like I imagine the crazy One Direction fans will one day. What I will say is that we were NEVER that bad: I’m so very glad that I was among that group of fans who knew where to draw the line. By the time I turned 17, I was one of those people who just enjoyed listening to the music on the odd occasion, and at 18, I think I had all but forgotten they even existed. That said, POV was my soundtrack to a particularly difficult break-up, so you could say I was still clued in.
Now I’m on the verge of turning 24, and I can honestly say I look back at myself and laugh a little. I’d like to argue that I wasn’t a bit delusional about my then ‘idols’, but I think we can all say there’s been something we ‘loved’ just a little too much for our own good.
There is one thing I still retain from those days though: An unapologetic attitude when it comes to the music I like. While I struggled with complaints about my love for Busted in the early days, I never have and never will apologise for still loving their songs. Sure don’t you know I’ll plug in the iPod before bed and have a listen back to that fantastic rendition of Build Me Up Buttercup that they did with McFly back in the early days: It always calls for some jumping about.
For me, 10 years down the line, so much has indeed changed, but times like these remind me how much joy and laughter my love for that band brought into my life. They gave me music to love, friends to cherish, and in the process helped me realise that I really was not alone.