HOW MAR­RIAGE TURNED GERI INTO POSH SPICE

Gone is the pneu­matic cleav­age and skimpy dresses. Step for­ward the Aga-bak­ing, tweed-wear­ing ty­coon’s wife. No won­der Ginger’s in a tizz over claims of a racy past with Mel B

Daily Mail - - Life - by Ali­son Boshoff

wiTH her muddy wellies, 15th- cen­tury house, aris­to­cratic neigh­bours, plummy voice and Aga, the artist for­merly known as ginger Spice has come a long way.

A re­cent, ad­mir­ing pro­file of her fea­tured geri pos­ing for pic­tures wear­ing a ball­gown while sit­ting on a horse. it hailed her: ‘The real Posh Spice.’

At least one of the Spice girls finds the whole ‘ Posher than Posh’ act so ir­ri­tat­ing she was tempted into a series of un­wise swipes.

As we dis­cov­ered re­cently, Mel B, 43, can’t bear her old friend’s new, whole­some, in­car­na­tion as the all-bak­ing tro­phy wife.

After drop­ping her bomb­shell that they had a les­bian en­counter, Mel B said: ‘She’s go­ing to hate me for this be­cause she’s all posh in her coun­try house with her hus­band.’

Mel has ap­par­ently now apol­o­gised to geri for the dig — after an ini­tial re­fusal — and geri is try­ing to move on from the up­set.

They are due to start re­hearsals for their re­union tour soon.

But how has ginger Spice — daft, lippy, honk­ingly loud and full of at­ti­tude — rein­vented her­self as the Lady of the Manor?

SPICE GIRL TO A WANNABE SLOANE

Find­ing global fame aged 24, she made her mark with plat­form train­ers, war paint, an am­ple cleav­age and gar­ishly streaked hair.

How­ever, it was a con­fus­ing world which was not quite the fan­tasy she an­tic­i­pated. She bailed out two years later, in the grip of an eat­ing dis­or­der and un­able to cope with the love-hate dy­nam­ics of the Spice girls. But her taste for the high life had been whet­ted. Those close to her say her brushes with Prince Charles in the Spice girls con­cert days sparked her long­ing to be­long to the upper crust.

A friend said: ‘ She was bowled over when the Spice girls started meet­ing Prince Charles. Mel B was rude to him at the pre­miere of the film Spice­world but geri really had her head turned and became very in­ter­ested in high so­ci­ety.’

GREW UP WITH AN OUT­SIDE LOO

OnCe an as­pir­ing ac­tress, singer and dancer, she started out as the daugh­ter of a clean­ing lady and se­cond- hand car sales­man in Wat­ford. early life was full of hard­ships. There was no cen­tral heat­ing in her house, and to this day she hates to be cold.

After her par­ents di­vorced, when she was ten, her Span­ish mother Ana had to work hard to keep afloat. There was an out­side loo, and no money for hol­i­days. She read books in­stead, re­veal­ing: ‘Other chil­dren went somewhere else — i just went to nar­nia.’

THE SEARCH FOR MR MONEYBAGS

A Friend said: ‘ Her mother al­ways told her to marry a rich man and that is what she has done.’ it wasn’t all plain sail­ing though. As geri said: ‘i think we all know that re­la­tion­ships haven’t been my strong point.’ A short ro­mance with screen­writer Sacha ger­vasi re­sulted in the ar­rival of daugh­ter Blue­bell, born when geri was 33.

She then formed a re­la­tion­ship with banker Henry Beck­with and hoped he might be hus­band ma­te­rial. ‘He was just her cup of tea,’ said a friend. ‘Posh, con­nected and wealthy. She hung on.’

Old Har­ro­vian Beck­with, whose fa­ther is a prop­erty mag­nate, was re­ported to have up­set geri dur­ing their two-year ro­mance, with his rov­ing eye.

She told an in­ter­viewer: ‘if you want to find the one, you’ve got to be your­self, to­tally. i’ve def­i­nitely been guilty of breath­ing in, try­ing to be some­thing the other per­son wants. What you want is to find the per­son you can be your ul­ti­mate nerd with.’

WIFE IN THE FAST LANE

geri’S ex­tra­or­di­nary so­cial trans­for­ma­tion is largely down to the cir­cles her hus­band, Chris­tian Horner, the boss of the red Bull rac­ing For­mula One team, moves in. They first met ten years ago, when he was liv­ing with his longterm girl­friend Bev­er­ley Allen. But it was only in 2014 that their con­nec­tion turned into a ro­mance.

By then Chris­tian and Bev­er­ley, who had a six-month- old baby daugh­ter, had split up after 14 years to­gether.

in March of that year, geri and Chris­tian were first pic­tured to­gether. not long af­ter­wards, geri dyed her ginger hair brown — which was said to be a stab at ap­pear­ing more re­spectable for the sake of his par­ents.

They got en­gaged and were mar­ried in a tra­di­tional church ser­vice at St Mary’s in Woburn, Bed­ford­shire, in May 2015. The bride, at the rather se­nior age of 42, was a vi­sion in a white Phillippa Le­p­ley wed­ding dress. ginger Spice re­born as a Chelsea Bride.

How­ever, the groom’s par­ents were so out­raged by their son’s be­hav­iour to­wards Bev­er­ley and their in­fant daugh­ter Olivia that they de­clined to at­tend.

A NANNY, PA AND HOUSKEEPER, TOO

CHriS­TiAn kept the grade 2 listed house just a few miles from Ban­bury, Ox­ford­shire — the one geri is now mis­tress of — in the split. The new blended fam­ily spend the week at geri’s house in north Lon­don, and week­ends in Ox­ford­shire. Her coun­try home fea­tures a wood pan­elled study and a rather grand or­angery, where geri does yoga.

She and her hus­band have din­ner par­ties where she likes to

in­vite au­thors and artists. She has a per­ma­nent ret­inue of staff, in­clud­ing a nanny, at least one PA, and a housekeepe­r.

Those who have vis­ited her house, say she has an aw­ful lot of Emma Bridge­wa­ter crock­ery.

She favours polo necks and plummy vow­els and takes care to let in­ter­view­ers know of any im­prov­ing or dif­fi­cult books she has read. It’s quite a rar­efied life­style and she seems to con­sider her­self a quasi-royal.

In a re­cent in­ter­view she even mused: ‘When I’m in doubt, I of­ten think: “What would the Queen do?” ’

SHE’S LOST THAT OLD SENSE OF FUN

She and daugh­ter Blue­bell, 12, are ex­tremely close. Geri raised her as a sin­gle mum, with help from friends in­clud­ing the late singer Ge­orge Michael.

She now sends her daugh­ter to pri­vate school. A friend said: ‘She used to think that it was posh to be in hello! mag­a­zine so the in­stant that Blue­bell was born, away she went for a pho­to­shoot with them. Now she knows that it is not posh any more.

‘She has changed com­pletely. It’s rather like Madonna’s rein­ven­tion when she sud­denly became an English Lady for Guy Ritchie. The sad thing is that she seems to have ditched that fun and con­fi­dence which she used to have.

‘In many ways Blue­bell is the girl she wanted to be, pri­vately ed­u­cated, speaks more than one lan­guage, beau­ti­fully well spo­ken, good man­ners. Geri has seen to all of that. And she has al­ways been a con­sum­mate net­worker.’

SERENADING HER TOD­DLER SON

Son Monty, born when she was 44, is re­garded as a great bless­ing. She says he was con­ceived nat­u­rally and she is aware of how lucky she is to have this se­cond shot at mother­hood. The two of them pot­ter about in her coun­try acres and she takes him out on her trac­tor. She also likes to ser­e­nade him on the gui­tar while dressed in flow­ing flo­rals.

PING PONG WITH ARISTOCRAT­S

ShE plays ping pong with aris­to­cratic neigh­bours who in­clude Lady Joanna Welles­ley, the ex-wife of the son of the eighth Duke of Welling­ton.

oth­ers in her so­cial cir­cle in­clude writer Richard Curtis.

ox­ford­shire neigh­bours don’t seem too con­cerned about Geri’s or­di­nary roots.

one neigh­bour said: ‘ Geri is lovely. She is of­ten walk­ing around the vil­lage with her fam­ily. She is very chatty, and her daugh­ter and son are of­ten walk­ing around with her. She is very fam­ily ori­en­tated.’

She added: ‘I would say she is a bit of a coun­try girl these days. She does a lot of horse rid­ing around the vil­lage, and they have a few clas­sic cars so they are of­ten out and around driv­ing in the coun­try.

‘oth­er­wise, they spend a lot of time to­gether as a fam­ily. her hus­band has lived in the vil­lage a long time, but they have not been seen so much around here since they have been to­gether — but they are both in­cred­i­bly busy. She really is lovely and very friendly.’

PLUMMY AC­CENT IRRITATES PALS

One old Lon­don friend told me with a sigh: ‘She is batty, and a bit de­luded.’ She added: ‘ have you heard her speak re­cently? It is crazy.’

her old friends in­cluded the girls from the Nineties band All Saints and Meg Mathews, for­merly mar­ried to Noel Gal­lagher of oa­sis. They are rather as­ton­ished by the ‘ Lady Geri, Duchess of Ban­bury’ phe­nom­e­non.

A friend said: ‘ her airs and graces have got on peo­ple’s nerves. The thing is that all the girls know that she is a work­ing class grafter from Wat­ford and she keeps on waft­ing about as if she is an aris­to­crat.

‘of course, be­ing Geri, I think she ac­tu­ally has come to be­lieve that it is true.’

SHE CALLS OTHER PEO­PLE ‘PLEBS’

There have been var­i­ous rein­ven­tions since her Spice Girls days — Geri has tried her hand as a solo artist, chil­dren’s au­thor, and BBC pre­sen­ter.

At present she is less than two months away from the Spice Girls re­union tour.

She had hoped that these dates would re­assert her sta­tus as an ‘icon’ who is fondly re­mem­bered.

Cer­tainly her at­tempts to have solo suc­cess, with a sin­gle re­leased in Ge­orge Michael’s mem­ory, were noth­ing short of an em­bar­rass­ing flop. After the tour what will she do? The signs are that she will go on writ­ing books, writ­ing screen­plays and even work­ing on a mu­si­cal, but that this will mark a de­ci­sive end to her days as a pop star.

She thinks of her­self as the ‘in­tel­lec­tual’ of the band and is not short on self be­lief.

A source said: ‘Geri is very de­ter­mined, now that she has risen, to never go back. I have heard her talk about peo­ple be­ing “plebs” which is quite amaz­ing, but tells you how she thinks of her­self.

‘This house of hers is ac­tu­ally not in the smart part of the Cotswolds, un­like Vic­to­ria Beck­ham’s, and some peo­ple think that she’s not ac­tu­ally posh enough to pull off the new im­age, but she will die try­ing.’

Pic­ture re­search: CLAIRE CISOTTI

Two be­come one: Geri and Chris­tian’s wed­ding

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