Saturday, 17 April 2010

Oh Mandy

If the name Mandy Smith has you scrabbling for the Wikipedia shortcut, let me help you out. At the age of fourteen, the fame-hungry starlet and her sister started hitting the London nightclubs in search of glamour, notoriety, and someone who could buy their vodka and cokes.

It was at one of these clubs that Mandy met Rolling Stone bass-player Bill Wyman. The two dated for four years, eventually marrying when Mandy turned 18. Thanks to her tabloid notoriety, she soon found herself modelling and even tried her hand at pop-stardom.

No strangers to flash-in-the-pan celebrity (having worked with more flavours-of-the-month than the Covent Garden Soup Company), Stock, Aitken and Waterman found a few old demos down the back of their couch and decided to loan Mandy their already overworked Calrec Soundfield Microphone. The singles barely scraped into the charts, and the album did even worse, meaning that her music career was over almost as soon as it had begun.

Her relationship didn't fare too much better - Rolling Stones and monogamy are like nature and vaccuums. It probably didn't help matters that Mandy's mother started seeing Wyman's son, making for the kind of tangled family situation that even Stephen Hawking would have trouble figuring out. Sometimes I picture Mandy, standing sobbing outside Clinton Cards on Mother's Day, not knowing where to begin.

Mandy and Bill went their separate ways in 1991, only for her to enter into another ill-fated marriage two years later with Belgian footballer Pat Van Den Hauwe. Fifteen years have passed since that relationship hit the crossbar, and now Mandy's happily settled in Manchester, where she runs a PR company with her sister.

So why is Mandy on my mind today? It could be that I'm excited about the imminent arrival of her lovingly remastered CD (available to order here), but it's probably because she's done a big interview with the Mail today, reflecting on her years with Wyman.

Mandy became a born-again Christian several years ago, and puts her past experience to good use by counseling young women. But I'm not sure she's quite got the hang of it. The passage of time has clearly affected Mandy's memory: "I wanted a better life, but I saw that in terms of getting a job, a house, a husband. [Girls today] want to be Jordan. They dream about being with footballers and rock stars." Does Mandy even remember what her two husbands did for a living?

It's a classic case of 'Do as I say, not as I do' - Mandy says "I don't think most 16-year-olds are ready [for sex]. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren't even ready then. I know, I know. People will find that odd, coming from me."

I think what's really odd, is the fact that Mandy's revisionist sense of history places a little too much emphasis on sex, and disregards all her other troublingly precocious behaviour.

Mandy may believe in retrospect that she wasn't ready for sex at 16, but she was ready to dress up as someone twice her age, lie her way into nightclubs, drink vodka and smoke. How much adult behaviour can one person indulge in before they start being treated as an adult?

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