BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Fay Fife has street cred with teenage girls thanks to her days with The Rezillos
It seems bizarre, even by punk's zany standards of iconoclasm, but an erstwhile rebel chick has now taken up the torch of teaching. The truth of it is, however, that Fay Fife, former lead singer of The Rezillos, has grown up just like the rest of us. Now
40 with a five-year-old son, she might be thought to have a respectable job like the former New Romantic-turned-chartered surveyor in the BT advert.
She makes her debut tomorrow at the St Bride's Centre in Edinburgh in workshops on how to get a girl band together.
It is the kind of thing every teenager does - sitting in front of a mirror pretending to be a pop star on the telly. It's what a Dunfermline lassie, Sheilagh Hynd (Fay Fife in alter ego), was still doing as a first-year student at Edinburgh Art College in 1977.
The only difference is that The Rezillos were not only on Top of the Pops within a year but also deliciously parodying the whole experience with the song (We're on) Top of the Pops. It still sounds good, proving that the decade which fashion forgot did none the less produce some memorable music. The Rezillos, being arty as well as alternative, went for outfits with a 1960s or an earlier look, complete with Fay channelled into black plastic dresses.
So she's been there, done that, made the record, and the big time and has the street cred to be able to stand up in front of teenage girls with a measure of confidence.
It wasn't always thus. Primary school years were very miserable as was initial time at Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline. ''When I went to secondary school I met an inspirational teacher, Mr Macpherson,'' she says, demonstrating a strange irony of school recall - we can never remember the first names of the most influential figures in our youth.
''He was the first person to notice that I had potential as a
person and encouraged me to be creative. Mr Macpherson literally changed my life. I had the ideas and he gave me the confidence to express them. It is a great gift in any teacher.
''I am interested in using creativity in education. Many people have got a lot more talent than they think. I am self-taught. There is a strong oral musical tradition in Scotland and I want this to be done not in a technical but an imaginative way.
''It is going to be about girl group music. Boys won't get a look in. We will listen and work on basics like rhythm and harmonies. But the main thing I am interested in is to see if they can come up with their own songs and work out harmonies on their own. I can help them form their songs, but I want the ideas to come from them.''
''It actually takes an awful lot of nerve to sing, particularly in a small room with a lot girls you do not know or do not know well. And having to sing unaccompanied is pretty scary - it's much easier going on stage with a band. ''It might take a while for the girls to come out of themselves, but I would be pleased if I can do a bit to encourage the kids to see what potential they have. The emphasis will be on contemporary music and maybe at the end we will have the Gorgie Spice Girls,'' she said.
It's not that barmy a notion. Tynecastle High was the birthplace - inter alia - of the Bay City Rollers. Former TH pupils who later taught, like my mother who was in charge of unruly teenage girls in the West Midlands, suddenly had kudos in front of their classes. Same school as Woody meant well cool.
And the buzz is also still there for Fay Fife. ''Top of the Pops was fantastic. I loved doing television in general but I think it was everyone's ambition to be on Top of the Pops,'' she said.
The Rezillos broke up and reformed with new members as The Revillos but her stage persona eventually was superseded by Sheilagh Hynd. She took a year's post-diploma in drama at Cardiff and embarked on an acting career which took in theatre and also parts in Taggart and The Bill. Also real-life drama workshops at Saughton and Barlinnie's special unit.
The appearance of her son, Eliot-Beau, five years ago changed her into mother, single parent, and honours psychol-ogy student now in her third year at Edinburgh University.
Sheilagh's recruitment resulted from a serependipitous meeting at Luca's ice cream parlour with an old pal, George Williamson, project director at St Bride's. She had been thinking of launching similar classes on her own and he had been trying to track her down for months without success.
St Bride's is already home to the Edinburgh Youth Theatre, veterans of many a fringe and performances of contemporary Scottish work. Scottish Youth Dance is also setting up a contemporary young people's dance group there. ''We are trying to give people meat as well as meaty opportunities - a chance to perform,'' Mr Williamson said.
He adds: ''It gives young people the opportunity and a bit of encouragement to excel in some area where they don't realise they have abilities. The performance aspect gives a sharper edge to the learning.''
Meanwhile, that Fay Fife still pops out now and again. The Revillos enjoy cult status in Japan. They reformed briefly for a tour in 1994 and also released a single and album. Former members of it and The Rezillos have even outdone the BT advert - one is an architect in Germany and another a restorer and replica maker of antique motorcycles.
And in Edinburgh the occasional warblings of the lesser spotted lead singer occasionally can be heard. ''I can easily go back into Fay Fife mode,'' Sheilagh confesses.
''Sometimes, if I am in a good mood, I will start singing and dancing around the place. I turn up the music really loud and close the curtains so that my Morningside neighbours can't see in.''
n The girl band workshops start tomorrow at St Brides's Centre in Orwell Terrace, Edinburgh (346 1405) at 1.30pm (10-14) and 3pm
(14-plus). Next week they will move to evening classes.