Why Stormzy rocks my boat, and the upside of unexpected and inappropriate crushes
I recently fell ‘in crush’ with Stormzy. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like this about anyone to be honest. No one’s caught my eye quite so emphatically since Gary Linekar, during the 1990 FIFA World Cup. I wasn’t previously a fan of Stormzy’s music, in fact my ears had rarely encountered the genre of ‘Grime’, before he came onto my horizon.
However, having seen Stormzy interviewed on TV and featured in press articles over the past year, I started to notice what a kind, funny and interesting person he is, and my fascination hackles started to rise. Oh Lord, and then there was his Glastonbury headline set. Serenading a predominantly white crowd, his glistening glorious statuesque being, delivered a symphony of spellbinding urban black music, to middle England and beyond. He was accompanied by stunning pyrotechnics and a performance by the dance group, Ballet Black, which was as amazing as it was thought provoking.
In a world that is still so sadly and unnecessarily racially divided, this was a moving and much needed cultural event, and one delivered by a particularly awe inspiring and talented individual.
Now I am completely smitten.
I fall in an unlikely demographic to become a fanatic of this beautiful specimen of a musician, but logic knows no bounds when it comes to an inappropriate crush. When Stormzy took to the famous Glastonbury stage and rocked the house down in June earlier this year, I suddenly and unexpectedly found a new love in my life.
Of course I don’t know any modern rap, and I’m clearly old enough to be Stormzy’s mother, but I can’t help it, his music has touched me. And I wish his strong manly hands would too. Nooooo … that last point actually isn’t true, this is not a sexual crush, it’s one of those other ones.
About those other crushes, those unexpected infatuations with a person who is often ridiculously out of your age bracket or way beyond your league or the world you live in. The crush that more often than not, you would never, or are unable to, ever act upon. Like when you start holding a torch for your Mum’s best friend, or the painter & decorator charged with a six-week job working on your family home, and you happen to be nine. Or when your 21-year-old son’s new girlfriend seems particularly divine.
They are a flirtation with someone who, inappropriately or not, just happened to turn your head from out of nowhere. Those embarrassing times when you find yourself laughing in a high pitched and totally unnecessary fashion, whenever the object of your interest starts speaking. When you suddenly find yourself doing lots of leg swinging, tucking strands of hair behind an ear, and turning shades of red from out of the blue.
Why do these crushes make us start behaving so strangely? Have you ever found yourself in this situation? Standing in front of the mirror and saying ‘for God’s sake Venice, he doesn’t actually fancy you!’ (this happened every time after my parents’ solicitor, the glamourous and aristocratic Wilfred Evershed, aged 56, posed the question: “How are you, dear heart?” when I was eighteen).
To build the perfect dream crush, the object of your affections normally needs to be around for a while, whether they exist in your real life, in a book, on radio, Spotify or screen. In the rare occasions where a normal person meets their famous crush, the weird behavior becomes even more exacerbated: screaming can ensue alongside much jumping, or alternatively a person will become frozen to the spot and speechless.
They don’t have to be inappropriate do they? Is there ever a time that an innocent but inexplicable fervent liking for someone should be ruled out as completely improper and tasteless? Can’t we all just be comfortable about expressing our positive thoughts about individuals that literally light up our lives? I am pondering the school girl division of crushes here, not something solely erotically charged, that happens between two adult people. I’m also not talking about a Lolita scenario where an adolescent crush crashes head first into an older man, who simply should have walked the other way, instead of taking it in hand.
Of course there are adult crushes that include graphic erotic fantasies. You don’t need to be unhappy in a relationship to sometimes find yourself imagining a sensual indulgence with someone else. When an unexpected infatuation arrives and you are single or in a dead end romance, this kind of sexual fantasising can be a highly entertaining and pleasurable way to pass the time.
But because of my pure and newly found love for Stormzy, I want to focus on that type of feeling, when you are immediately and continually drawn to another human being, but not necessarily by a burning loin. In the main, it’s more of a romantic admiration led by heart and mind, rather than a sexual desire. Those moments when you meet someone who puts a spring in your step and makes you smile, someone whom you could listen and talk to for hours. Or sometimes someone who leaves you unable to speak any words at all.
The classic crushes are always found in the classroom or with the wide eyed friend who can’t stop gazing at your older brother. There are those single sex boarding school scenarios, where prepubescent girls start adoring the head girl Monica for her wisdom and kindness. Then during sports, these youngsters experience the confusing, and yet to be explained thrill, of seeing Monica in her gym kit, running swiftly down the hockey pitch, a long curved stick, grasped securely in her right hand. (Admission: I didn’t go to an all-female school but was always gripped by Enid Blyton’s novels about The Twins at St. Clare’s, where derring-do and head girl crushes were the norm).
There was one day in my early teens, hanging out in the playground after school with my big sister and friends, when a girl, previously unknown, suddenly appeared and skidded up next to us on a Grifter bike. She had honey blonde hair, a gorgeous smile and contagious laugh; and she was wearing a Scout uniform. Seemingly unphased by the gaze of an unknown crowd, she began telling us of her dreams to be a premier ballerina, and about being the only girl in her Scout brigade. She was glorious, like a fourteen-year-old tomboy and absolutely hilarious Charlies Angel, all rolled into one.
There we were: me, my normally feisty sister, and my two best friends (previously far too cool, even for school), left standing in a line, all completely enthralled for life.
Of course, school was not the only place where a fascination in an older figure or peer could arise. A great friend of mine has often regaled me with stories of the huge crush she had on the dad of the family who lived over the road, when she was growing up. The source of her admiration stemmed mainly from the fact he smoked Marlboro Red and drank goblets of red wine. It was an exotic and fascinating combination for a ten-year-old.
But wake up kids, these unsolicited fits of gentle fantasy don’t just hit you during pre-teen and teenage hood. If I had genuinely thought that Mr. Wakeling (handsome enigmatic teacher who taught me biology during my senior years of education) was the last person I would ever feel wide eyed and dreamy about, I was in for a few giddy surprises.
The small crush can land in college years and is positively malevolent throughout the working office. Well honestly, who would be averse to an appealing work colleague, who brings additional colour and charm to boardroom discussions? (in LVH editorial meetings it’s Barbara: oozing humour, intelligence and the nicest cleavage this side of Albuquerque, whilst making everyone present feel just that bit more special … and that throaty laugh … #distractedfromthewhiteboard).
Over the years I have found my crushes to be fairly unusual and they have rarely followed a pattern. Their only real point of similarity is the way they make me feel, and they have swung from the boy living up the road, to stars of the movie screen.
Sometimes the most intense crushes are ones that are completely unattainable and way out of reach, like when you become obsessed with an American actor or every member of a Ukranian pop group. My sister, the former fellow admirer of the girl scout, fell hook, line and sinker for Wham! and George Michael when we were growing up. The infatuation was so committed and so intense that upon hearing the news that her idol and future betrothed was gay, my older sibling seriously considered taking him to court for false representation and fraud. I kid you not. She still talks about it to this day.
My first crush of significance, after The Jackson 5, was a boy I met during a cinema night in the school hall when I was twelve. He had white blonde hair and big blue eyes and after some mutterings across seating in the back row, he asked me out. We courted for two heavenly weeks, barely spoke a word to each other, and he eventually finished the nonverbal romance to go out with my best friend. God men can be cruel, even when they are eleven.
My gallery of crush rogues over the years has included the athlete Sebastian Coe, my friend Mandy’s dad, Pete Lane, the chairman of a paper merchant company I used to work for, and Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones. Now there’s Stormzy. It’s early days of course, it’s only been a month, but he’s almost on the level of David Bowie, Prince and the boy from the school movie night - all of whom have always made me feel a little giddy.
Unexpected passions can turn up at any time and from anywhere. So don’t be surprised if one day, a handsome new neighbour leans over the fence to ask you some questions, and you find yourself, walking on the balls of your feet, back into the house.
These crushes can be a brief encounter or a long slow burning private devotion, and aside from the silly behavior they often make you glow and feel good about yourself. Yes, they can often involve some burning erotic fantasies or obsessive fan ship, but they can also lead pleasantly to a life-long platonic friendship.
And the guy in the school cinema? Well he actually turned out to be the brother of the dazzling Girl Scout, a young lady who eventually, over twenty-five years later, became my beloved sister in law. I no longer have a crush on her, but I am still infatuated with her little bruv, who is still the current Mr. Walsh.
So embrace the crush when appropriate and possible, it might just lead somewhere! The adolescent fella I met during an early screening of The Pink Panther, in a dusty old school hall, actually ended up being my most enduring one. And he will hopefully remain so until the end days. Unless of course Stormzy or Mr. Wakeling ever come to town.