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Anna Nolan: Fake, smug and emaciated. Why Nadine bugs me more than Cheryl

ONCE upon a time, a girl band got together on a television show called Popstars: The Rivals.

Back in 2002 Nadine, Cheryl, Sarah, Nicola and Kimberley beat One True Voice and became the successors to The Spice Girls. Their single Sound Of The Under-ground was a number one for four weeks.

There was the ginger one, the blonde one, the Irish one, the northern English one and the other one. We all thought the Irish one, who had the best voice and sang lead vocals, would leave the other four minions behind and conquer the world. We were wrong.

Cheryl Cole was the dark horse who charmed her way into our hearts. Nadine became the runner-up, the one who was scrambling to make up on lost time. The one who got away and was left behind.

On Friday night I saw Nadine on the Late Late show. It was a desperate, fake performance that left the audience cold. She looked emaciated. She spoke in a clipped LA-Derry accent that sounded so far removed from Ireland, that even her pronunciation of Naas as "Nass" didn't surprise me.

Nadine Coyle has a unbearable battle ahead of her to beat Cheryl Cole in the likeability stakes, never mind the singing stakes.

Irritating

We all know that the singing doesn't really matter anymore. You only have to have seen X Factor on Sunday night when the judges admitted that Treyc had a better voice, but they all saved Katie -- the blonde, interesting, irritating one.

What is it about Nadine that makes her less likable than Cheryl? Is it her aloofness, is it her accent? Well the accent is shrill.

And her tone gave the impression that she is a woman who knows she has an uphill struggle, that she is defensive and that she let her big chance slip away.

Cheryl Cole is the darling of the music industry. She has released rocking tracks, collaborated with will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, and has the support of Simon Cowell, who not only has his hand around her on every show, but plays and flirts while castigating her in equal measure.

The most telling part of the interview was when Ryan asked her about her relationship with Cheryl. With a wee whine and a wee contortion of the face, she said that they were "fiiiiine".

No, it seems they are not fine. And Nadine knows it. For her to become the star from Girls Aloud, and to kick Cheryl to the kerb, she will have to relax, not take herself too seriously, eat a few spuds and know that "Naas" is a great ol' town in Ireland. Not "Nass".

There is no doubt that she has a superb voice. If she can get the other elements right, she's in with a chance.

How am I to make someone part of my community when they are wearing a burqa?

I LIVE 50 yards from the mosque on the South Circular Road. I love the area and like the fact that Muslims have a strong community presence. I have always been a fan of the Islam faith and the Islam traditions.

I worked in a Muslim bank, Habib Bank, in London back in 1997 for two years and formed great relationships with my colleagues.

Crouched

I used to giggle as I would walk into the bank some early mornings, and have to walk around or over the women and men who were also in early, as they were crouched down on their mats and praying.

I loved their insistence on me drinking their tea, made their way. Heated in a pot with milk and sugar. Thick, dark, sweet tea. By week four, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I read all the material they would discreetly put on my desk, and admired the women who took me under their wing.

They treated me like one of their own.

But there is something creeping into my left-wing liberal frame of mind that troubles me. I hate that some women on my road, and in my locality, wear burqas.

It angers me. It distances them from me. It makes me pity them. It makes me feel that they are trapped. It makes me worry that they are in a bad relationship.

This is probably not true. This is probably not the case at all.

I'm sorry, but this is how burqas make me feel. It's as simple as this -- I don't know, when I see one of the women on the road who is wearing a burqa, whether I have seen them that morning already.

Whether I have smiled at them. I don't know what their smile is like or if they are crying.

I don't know if a woman who wears a burqa is someone who wants to be smiled at, or wants to be ignored, or be invisible. Because I cannot tell.

So how am I to make her part of MY community? How am I to keep an eye out for her if I cannot tell if she is smiling at me, scowling at me, or avoiding me?

My Muslim colleagues in London never wore burqas. They didn't agree with them. I think they had a point.


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