Juliette Bains: A helping hand in spotting the signs of a superfan

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THERE HE was, standing before me in all his Lycra-clad glory.

With his trademark neon leotard, glasses and gold chain almost within touching distance, it felt like I was in some strange dream.

The fitness guru I’d come to know so well through my television screen was now stretching and lunging mere metres in front of me, and the fan’s screams were deafening.

There was no denying it – Mr Motivator certainly knew how to work a crowd.

The crowd in question was packed into my local shopping centre and included me and 50 of my primary school mates, each of us thrilled to be meeting a celeb on a class trip.

OK, so it might not have been the most glamorous of settings.

But the charming chap off the telly, who spent his mornings enticing sleepy slobs off the sofa, had charisma by the bucketload and the audience was eating out of his hand. I realise that, by modern standards, Mr Motivator may seem like a Z-lister of times gone by. But back then the exercise king was at the peak of his fame and was the first face-to-face celebrity meeting I’d ever had.

As he high-fived me on the way out of the building, it was safe to say I was well and truly starstruck. That feeling of being teary-eyed and lost for words coupled with butterflies fluttering around my stomach was something I hadn’t experienced before.

Sadly, I’m still struggling to grow out of this and have been known to burst into tears at a Jordin Sparks concert or literally jump for joy after spotting a minor TV personality in public.

But a whole new level of ‘superfan’ came to my attention last week. Walking through the White Rose Centre, I was suddenly pushed aside, my face squished against a shop window, as hundreds of screaming girls dashed past me to get a glimpse of the latest popular reality TV star.

Absolute pandemonium broke out when Joey Essex visited the shopping centre to sign copies of his new book.

Like a high-pitched stampede of hormone-fuelled wildebeest, there seemed to be no end to the waves of rampaging young women, desperately clamouring for their Joey fix.

Sometimes late at night I can still hear the screams and see the faces of hysterical teenage girls queuing to see him and I’ll never watch The Discovery Channel in the same way again. But most astonishing of all, I spotted quite a few adults joining the queue, chanting Joey’s name and getting out their cameras for a quick pic with their idol, who was at least a few decades younger than them.

So it seems quasi-celeb superfandom is not just a young people thing. Adults can be prone to it too.

But whilst some of us - myself included - feel faint at just the sight of certain ‘celebs’ (and I use that word loosely), others don’t even bat an eyelid.

So why is it that some of us turn into trembling wrecks and others just aren’t bothered?

Perhaps in the case of the more ‘Z-list’ celebrities, we superfans are more easily able to comprehend their level of fame. Whilst they’re still famous, they’re not the shiny Hollywood stars living in sprawling mansions and hobnobbing with Brad and Ange, sipping Cristal whilst surrounded by bodyguards.

Instead, they’re relatively “normal” people, making the most of their 15 minutes. It’s an obtainable look-in to another life that’s close enough to be relatable but far away enough to be exciting and interesting - which makes them the perfect “that could be me” daydream fodder.

Fine, that big break probably never will come along.

But for some of us, much like Joey, it’s way more fun to have our head in the clouds.

All good things...

Good things come to those who wait, as they say. And boy, have we been waiting for this a long time.

Plans for the Victoria Gate development in Leeds city centre have been in the pipeline for years.

But it’s only the past week or so that we’ve really started to see these plans take shape.

The old car park by Kirkgate Market has closed and been dug up, which annoyed me at first, as my old faithful parking space had been snatched away from me.

But now that work is well underway, it’s exciting to see what’s round the corner.

The biggest step forward so far is the demolition work at Hoagy’s on The Headrow.

The end of the building has started to be torn down and it’s quite a sight to see.

Whilst I’m sure it was a favourite hangout for many, we’re often having to say goodbye to some old, much-loved buildings in the city to make way for new developments.

And that’s not always a bad thing.

Look at Trinity Leeds – how many people can clearly remember and pine for the old shops that once stood in its place?

At the other end of the city centre, the hoardings around the Lumiere site on Wellington Street have finally been taken down. These are the two biggest projects since Trinity Leeds and the arena opened, and it’s exciting to see that Leeds has still got it. If the city wants to keep up with places like London and Manchester, we need to welcome projects like this with open arms.

It’s that time of year again

It’s that time of year again. Yep, it’s time to loosen those waistbands and stretch that stomach as we prepare to tuck into this year’s Leeds Food Festival.

The highlight event – the Yorkshire Food and Drink Show at Millennium Square – opens this weekend, and it’s the perfect opportunity to wander around and put our sophisticated palates to the test with some top culinary treats.

Or just have a burger and a beer, depending how you feel.

Despite it usually being incredibly busy, it’s one of the best events of the year for me.

Who could resist sitting in the sun surrounded by an endless supply of food and drink?

The festival has seen me try out kangaroo and oysters for the first time, and, despite not particularly enjoying either of them, it was still a fun day out with friends.

Running from June 6 to June 8, the event will see over 100 exhibitors showcasing some of the region’s best grub, and I, for one, will be there hoping to scoff down as many free samples as possible.

Leeds United 1992 League Champions.  Leeds United v Sheffield United, title winning match, 26th April 1992.  Players celebrate. From left: Jon Newsome, Gary Speed, Gary McAllister and Eric Cantona with John Lukic behind.

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