May 26, 2014

    My daughter loves Harry Styles

    THERE it was in all its glory; the story I had been waiting to read for a year. The story I thought I was destined never to see in print.

    One Direction are finally coming to Singapore. Yes, I'm a 39-year-old and I'm hopelessly devoted to Harry Styles.

    No, of course I'm not. Get a grip. I've always preferred Zayn Malik.

    But my smitten daughter's heart has been slowly breaking for months. Almost every conversation we have begins optimistically, continues on a desperate path and ends in bitter disappointment.

    Earlier last week, for example, I picked her up from school and said: "I've got a surprise for you."

    "Harry Styles is going to have a play date with me?" she blurted out.

    "No, I've booked tickets for a cable car ride."

    "Oh… Is it a One Direction cable car ride?"

    "No, it's a DC Superheroes cable car ride to Sentosa."

    "Will One Direction be performing at Sentosa?"

    "No, just the usual vomiting fish-lion thing. You've completely ruined it now."

    Like many parents in Singapore, I discovered that One Direction had taken over the household quite innocuously.

    My goddaughter played the boy band's first hit, That's What Makes You Beautiful, on her iPhone. The song is rather infectious.

    But then, so is dengue.

    Still, like the naive fools that we are, we thought no more about it.

    You know how you left the cinema after watching Frozen and didn't give the movie a second thought, and then, six months later, you're wrestling your kids to the floor because if they sing Let It Go one more time you'll have to put them up for adoption?

    That's what happened to us with One Direction. They weren't there. And then, suddenly, they were all over us; a bit like herpes.

    My five-year-old daughter is besotted.

    She loves the songs, the dance moves and her first crush will always be Harry Styles. It's cute, natural and healthy.

    When I was her age, I was obsessed with Star Wars and my first crush was Chewbacca.

    To this day, I have a thing for orang utans.

    Being a boy, I obviously didn't have an infatuation with boy bands growing up. Guys don't go in for that sort of thing.

    I was too busy in my bedroom wearing baggy trousers, gelling my hair into a big quiff and miming along to Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up.

    But my sister went down the boy band road, quite literally. She once followed New Kids On The Block all the way to a London hotel and stalked Donnie Wahlberg.

    And he hugged her.

    So she refused to wash the sweatshirt she was wearing for six months, hiding it instead at the bottom of her wardrobe.

    The only problem was that it was my sweatshirt. She had borrowed it without telling me and then claimed the dog had ripped it to pieces.

    I now regret throwing the dog out of the window.

    No, I didn't really. But I didn't talk to it for weeks.

    But at least my sister met her childhood crush. My daughter appeared destined for disappointment.

    In recent years, the world's biggest bands rarely visited Singapore because the likes of U2 probably didn't fancy playing to a wall at Jalan Besar Stadium. The biggest bands are used to a wall of noise, just not an actual wall.

    And One Direction were too big for the Singapore Indoor Stadium. There was the Singapore Sports Hub, but its official opening had been delayed.

    I figured that, by the time it eventually opened, One Direction would be married with kids and ready to embark on a reunion tour.

    But I was wrong. Those five lads are actually coming to the Sports Hub on March 11.

    One of them, Louis Tomlinson, has even turned out for Doncaster Rovers reserves. So the Sports Hub is already keeping its promise of bringing a different class of footballer to Singapore.

    And I'll be making one of my daughter's unlikeliest dreams come true. She will see One Direction in the flesh and I will be surrounded by thousands of screaming teenagers making no sense at all. It'll be like going back to West Ham.

    Of course, March 11 is a long way away in the fickle world of pop culture. By the time the gig comes around, I'm sure my daughter will be wearing goth-black and listening to death metal bangers.

    But, for the moment at least, she intends to ask Harry Styles to marry her at the Sports Hub. I'm going to have to put my foot down on that one; just as my mother did with me.

    She refused to let me marry Chewbacca.