There’s a life-size cardboard cutout of Niall Horan in the corner of our top bedroom.
It’s staring at me as I write (it’s my daughter’s room but serves as my study while she’s away at uni). Niall turned up, unannounced, one morning last year, having been bought online by daughter and shipped to our address. We like to put scarves on him, and necklaces. We might occasionally take selfies with him. He’s looking a bit forlorn at the moment.
Niall Horan, in case you were wondering, is a member of One Direction, the blond one and daughter’s favourite. As a family, we’ve collected a fair bit of 1D memorabilia, mainly mugs, pencil cases, posters and phone covers. Christmas isn’t Christmas without at least one 1D calendar (and we never throw away the old ones).
Birthday cakes featuring a photo of 1D have become another family tradition, with candles placed like stakes through each of their hearts (we’re not reverential). There’s always bickering about which one we want a slice of first (Harry) and Niall never gets eaten at all because daughter doesn’t want to hurt him and won’t let anyone else touch him.
Like many families, especially those with a girl or two, we’ve had some laughs over the past five years thanks to five teenage boys brought together on The X Factor by Simon Cowell in 2010, since when One Direction has become the most successful British band since The Beatles.
Many people, of course, are not One Direction fans, couldn’t name a single one of their songs, are pretty certain they’re all rubbish anyway and can’t understand what all this stupid fuss is, over a daft pop band band splitting up, resulting in mass media coverage and silly teenage girls across the land apparently heart-broken.
That’s okay. It’s fine not to like 1D music (although the song videos directed by Ben “son of Lord Robert” Winston are clever, hugely enjoyable, even thought-provoking. I defy anyone to watch the Story of My Life video, recreating real family photographs, without a gulp or tear). But anyone who sneers at a phenomenon of popular culture because they personally don’t like, share or understand it, is ignorant and arrogant - not a good example to set to youngsters, whether they are 1D fans or not.
The One Direction boys, on the other hand, are excellent role models - any son who buys his mum her own palatial home is a role model in my book. And they deserve an award for services to knitwear.
My daughter and I have tickets to see 1D at Sheffield for what will be their penultimate concert before their “temporary” break. After that, who knows? But whatever happens, thank you Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall, and Zayn. It’s been a blast.