ZELLA COMPTON: Happy to be bag carrier on a shopping trip to Primark

I spent an excellent day shopping for costumes in Southampton last week.

Wednesday, 19th April 2017, 6:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:04 pm
Zella spent six hours in Primark

I say Southampton, but it wasn’t really, it was a day in Primark. Six hours of it, I kid you not, with a 40-minute break for lunch at a nearby café.

My next stage show is a musical called Ambition (New Theatre Royal, May 13). I was commissioned to write this by Hampshire Music Service for young adult performance.

Part of the project is as a legacy, for schools to perform, part is to put it on stage, hence the Primark costume shopping.

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But, as this is the biggest cast I’ve ever shopped for, they change during the show and I had no idea about how to style them, I enlisted the help of a costume designer I know. She lives on a boat, so she’s pretty groovy.

Ambition asks what people are willing to give up for success. The show tells the story of a manufactured boy band, its controlling management and what happens when the boys try to break free.

Thus, the costumes need to be styled. Have you ever seen a boy band that wasn’t?

My idea of styling is very limited. Once I bought my daughters matching dresses, but that was because the garments were in the sale, not because I wanted them to look the same. And every now and then I add something shiny to my outfit. And there it stops.

So how do you go about styling a boy band? That’s super hard in my mind. Do you expect young men to dress in matching costumes, do you follow the formula that we see on TV time and time again of bad boy, nerd, cute one etc?

Or do you go completely wild and try something else? And then, after you add in the fact that the boy band change several times, as do their management and the rest of the cast, it becomes a fiendish shopping puzzle. If you can’t get one garment in the right size and colour palette, you’re stuffed and have to start the whole theme again.

I quickly discovered the best route to costume happiness is to be a bag carrier, to walk around in the background offering to hold lists and costumes and little else. It’s an art I tell you.


I saw a gem of a film called Pride the other day.

It’s based on a true story and tells of the support which the lesbian and gay community gave to the miners during their strike in the 1980s.

I agree that it doesn’t exactly sound compelling, does it?

But actually it was lovely and dark, and sad and uplifting at the same time.

You could argue that it’s amazing such a bleak time for those who were ‘different’, the LGBTQ community, was only really a few years ago.

But then, look at the news today of what’s happening in Chechnya and the world becomes a darker place once more.

While we can be full of pride that our community has grown up, sadly other parts of the world are still so far behind.


We all know when we’re having a bad day and we often let little things shape what we call a bad day.

But spare a thought for workers at the University of Alberta.

Researching atmospheric history, the university built a brand new facility to store ice cores – taken from glaciers – to study climate change.

Then, after carefully putting the invaluable ice cores into the brand new freezers, they walked away thinking all was well.

Which it was, until one of the freezers heated to 40 degrees.

That’s a bad day, when you come to work and find it’s all a puddle. Luckily some ice cores have been saved, as they were in another freezer.

But it rather blows my bad days out of the water.