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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

GROWING PAINS: Spicing Up Schooldays With Brit Pop Culture




Last week my 10-year-old Sasha came home from her Russian school in a foul mood. Bad marks? Being bullied by the boys? No. She had to be "Scary" when she wanted to be "Sporty."


If this doesn't mean anything to you then you probably don't have a daughter between the ages of 7 and 17, and are blissfully ignorant of the international Spice Girls phenomenon. This group of "in yer face" pop star divas are not exactly ideal role models for impressionable young daughters f they wear horrendously unsensible platform shoes, tight boob-uplifting dresses, are tattooed in every place imaginable, have rings in their noses, tongues, eyebrows or navels and prance around singing "if you wanna' be my lover."


But trying to stifle interest in them is like trying to dam up the sea with straw.


My husband and I nevertheless did our best to stem the flood, thinking that by living in Russia we could keep her relatively isolated from the virus. No such luck. The dam gates actually burst this summer when I was back in England and every girl Sasha's age f whether from Manchester or Cardiff f began a conversation with, "Do you like the Spice Girls?" On our leaving for Russia, my mommy friends sighed and said, "Well, there may be a crisis over there, but at least you don't have the Spice Girls."


Ha! Yesterday the four other girls in Sasha's class descended on my flat for a "rehearsal" of three Spice Girl hits that they plan to perform at the next school concert. Two of the girls are even more Spice crazy than Sasha, and scour the newspapers for tidbits of gossip about the Girls. They discussed a recent Spice Girls competition on TV where a Russian Sporty, Baby, Scary and Posh had been chosen from hundreds of contestants from all over Russia.


There's no getting away from the Devochki Perchiki, as they're known here f even in Siberia.


I was slightly nervous that the parents of these girls (not to mention the school principal) would disapprove of this dubious example of British culture being flaunted on the school's Open Day, when Pushkin would perhaps have been more appropriate. But they were all for it. "I think they're great," said Posh's mom, tottering in on her own platform shoes. "They're much more wholesome than a lot of our groups."


Sporty's mom was equally enthusiastic. "My Anna never showed any interest in English until the Spice Girls came along. Now she knows all the words by heart and has translated them all with the dictionary. We're so proud of her." Translated it? I have serious problems trying to understand refrains such as: "You need less speed, get off of my case / Gotta' slow it down baby, just get out of my face." So I take off my hat to her.


"Sila Dyevochkam!" as they say here. Girl Power!