Sunday, 17 January 2016


She leans forward at the sink to steady herself, gazing blankly at her reflection staring back from the mirror. Nicola’s busy with a jar of lollipops by the desk in the corner. All Cheryl wants to do is to get rid of this stultifying tension that’s seized her nerves and is threatening to burst out in a flash of anger. The eyes of her reflection gaze out with a studied blankness, her pupils dilated and the irises blazing a brilliant blue. Still unsteadily, Cheryl focuses. That blueness of her eyes is the shimmering calm of a deep sea, a space of oneness and tranquility inviting her to spend all of eternity lost inside it, forever and ever. All those frets of hers suddenly seem so silly when faced with that almighty hue, the worries of the workaday world falling away like the skin of a beautiful fresh fruit proffered before her. As she returns the stare of those two luscious blue orbs, the Drink nightclub toilets seem to melt away and dissolve into a blissful state of pure chromatic pleasure. Cheryl could swim in those eyes until the end of all time.

Sunday, 10 January 2016


Her magnetism is a fact, this weird psychic energy she’s always had and that even now, on her stumbling route to the Drink nightclub toilets, causes the inebriated crowds to part like the waves of the Red Sea. That hypnotising force has seen her sail through auditions and casting calls since the day she was first spotted aged four doing her silly sequence dancing routines, though for all her charisma she’s always been something of a blank canvas. Even now as Cheryl veers around all the glammed-up Surrey wannabes the girl’s being scrutinised by passers-by for anything, even just a trace of something real, a flicker of genuine emotion, something the heaving crowd might take away from all the immaculate surface lurching before them in lace-up heels. Her blankness is the really terrifying thing and however perfectly the script is stuck to, the potential is there for all the pent-up latent chaos to break through. What it would really need is the right set of circumstances, a certain state of affairs conducive to outbreaks of random violence, a situation involving two wired up, aggressive hedonists looking for an excuse for screams and sensation. Cheryl and Nicola are locked in a cubicle hoovering up the gak they hope might wipe out the messy effects of too much alcohol, and all it’s doing is making Cheryl more angry. She’s still drunk so maybe the drugs aren’t working as they should, or maybe she’s just too far gone to let anything get in the way of her attacking somebody, anybody.

Thursday, 7 January 2016


The two girls stand and sway together on the dancefloor, eyes screening the periphery as a way of killing off all this self-conscious time forced together. Cheryl’s still on edge despite all attempts to anaesthetise her feelings with champagne, so she casually suggests a joint bathroom expedition as a way to fill up the ocean of dead minutes between now and the next chat. Nicola’s happy enough to accompany her friend through the jungle of gyrating bodies barring their way. Tonight's atmosphere inside the Drink nightclub remains uneasy beneath the showy facade of forced bonhomie, the ceaseless gossip about the two members of Girls Aloud being somewhere present here in this very room cutting its way through all the dry ice.

Monday, 4 January 2016


She feels severe disorientation as though she’s staring down from a great height, like from the top of a towering skyscraper in the centre of Guildford, stood on a platform up in the clouds and away from the world of motorway service stations and dead end jobs, looking down onto the faceless masses all milling around anonymously below, each drone leading their own individual everyday boring insignificant lives in accursed suburbia. Then the next second there’s a lurch and the viewpoint is reversed, the perspective doing a 180 degree shift and she’s plunged into the depths of the gutter, gasping for air and submerged into filth and darkness. She’s unable to see or feel anything down here beyond a numb blankness, although it’s intensely suffocating and there’s a desperation that everything will be like this forever, that the void down here is all that everything will ever be. As her senses slalom between the two vistas, Cheryl can make out Nicola’s face suddenly come into focus. But that face is now repellent, with eyes and mouth seemingly collaged from disparate sources, like scrunched up magazine pages stuck down with watery glue, each one seeming to move of its own independent sinister will. Nicola’s face appears as a monstrosity and its eyes have seen all the evil that’s ever been done, eyes that resemble nothing so much as two hollowed out wounds, eyes taking in only darkness and sorrow. Cheryl shudders and tries to focus, blinking her tears away. Nicola reaches round and shakes her friend's shoulder, “You OK hun?”

Saturday, 2 January 2016


Her face is reflected back from every wall she faces out there on the dancefloor of the Drink nightclub. This being Saturday night at Guildford’s premier nitespot, the venue is packed with revellers and the soundtrack of disposable chart hits is thunderous. Cheryl wants to lose herself in the moment but it’s not that easy to do when you’re always the centre of attention. She’d come out here in a party of three that’s somehow expanded to what seems like a hundred hangers on, all cheering and laughing and wooping along with the music as they navigate the crowded mezzanine. She tries her best to keep Nicola by her side at all times. She’s long lost count of how many glasses of champagne she’s been given and unthinkingly knocked back. She can’t hear the words of anyone trying to talk to her, only the distorted roar of the synthesisers. Cheryl feels acutely self-aware and increasingly sick.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


Cheryl’s role is that of sacrificial lamb and the part will always place certain requirements on her, purity being chief among them. Ever since her days winning beauty contests beneath the glare of dazzling stage spotlights, it’s the wide-eyed gaze of innocence that beguiles the judges. The sound of her voice is all very well but it's the dimples on her cheeks that are what nudges the scorecards up to the heavens. What’s needed from Cheryl is the look of a blank canvas. Her hair is naturally dark which is fine for her as she’s the only member of Girls Aloud to carry off the look without any helping hand from bleached highlights. In group photos it tends to be her in the middle, with her pale skin and piercing stare stopping the camera dead in its tracks, so when the copybook is blotted with her ugly assault conviction then it creates a double exposure on all these images. The babe in the woods is overlaid with the image of a drug fueled binge drinker. Those few seconds between her vacating the toilet cubicle at Drink nightclub and landing the punch on Sophie Amogbokpa are so loaded with potential. That blink of an eye sees her gaze over the cliff edge, to see the girl most likely to succeed lying dead on the floor below.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


Whenever she wins all those child superstar singing competitions, it’s never because she can actually sing. Her voice is an unremarkable high-pitched whine with nothing to set it apart from all the other girls’ renditions of show tunes standards. What’s always seen Cheryl prevail is her innate conviction. A belief such as hers becomes a kind of magical thinking, a drive to shape reality through sheer force of will. Here’s the thing: if no other consensual version of events exists beyond this audience’s perception, then surely that shared experience can be manipulated into whatever shape Cheryl sees fit. That communal feeling becomes a mere stage set where, at least for the duration of the song, Cheryl has the power to arrange the mise en scène accordingly. Her gift has developed over time and its power is closely tied up with whatever took control of her flailing fists in those Drink club toilets. That long-suppressed rage is her genius.