Attitude? She's got it. Success? She's mad for it. Sex? She's UN
Goodwill Ambassador for it. loaded hounds Geri Halliwell to see if her
bite is as good as her bark.

GERI HALLIWELL IS NOT QUITE what you might expect her to be.
Weighing no more than a scant eight stone and standing a reedy five
feet two, her breasts look a Iittle too large for her tiny frame. Hit on
something even half funny and it's"Ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ho, tee-hee-hee."
Bounce, bounce, bounce.

We are talking about what bothers Geri. I tell her she looks so
invulnerable I can't imagine much of anything getting to her. "I don't like
to be ignored, she says. 'I always want someone who takes an interest in
what I'm doing. Put it this way, my last boyfriend five years ago, he
literally was watching the football and totally ignoring me. I'd walk around
in my underwear and it was like he didn't even blink. That annoyed me,
but that's on a physical level."

Geri is a curious, near-unfathomable mix of the gushingly sincere and
the blatantly artificial. Inventory-wise, we should begin at her heels. They
add several false but vital inches to her. We move up her legs - real but
a little chunky in the way that dancers' legs tend to be. Finally we come
to her face. Many hundreds of tabloid column inches have been devoted
to discussing Geri's face. Insults, piss-takes and life's everyday horrors,
you feel, would bounce clean off a face like that.

Today she is a honey blonde. With the Spice Girls, Geri was famously a
flaming redhead. Ginger Spice, the spiciest of the Spice Girls. In the
past, when she posed for glamour shots in Spain, she was a brunette.
Her eyes are a washed denim blue, which goes well with the blonde hair.
They are cheerleader eyes. Her face draws to a neat little point. At times
this makes her look like Minnie Mouse; at others like some small, hungry
shark. Her lips are her best characteristic - a composite of Hayley Mills
and Muhammad Ali - and her teeth seem to be the ones used in the
'Plus White' Colgate ads.

Geri pouts and smiles and giggles and talks. She talks - and talks and
talks. And then some. She could talk for Britain and, indeed, when she
was in the Spice Girls she did just that, slagging off the single European
currency, waving and wearing the Union Jack. Now that she is solo, she
talks for the world. She is UN Goodwill Ambassador for sex education. Its
an odd occupation for a self- confessed boot-strap Thatcherite. But then
that's Geri. A welter of contradictions held precariously together by a
tenacious belief in her own untouchable rightness. You need to be fierce
to hold all this ricocheting madness in. To make it all make sense. Very
fierce. And Geri is fierce. I am Geri, hear me roar.

FOR everything I've achieved. I never had opportunity handed to me on
a plate. I would create the opportunity. I believe in enterprise. At school
I'd create my own drama team, I was head of a charity organisation
there, I come from an all-girls school and I'd talk about AIDS research,
which was a bit 'Oh' at that time. So I would always kick off my own thing.
I wasn't the brightest student there and I wasn't the naughtiest, but I was
probably one of the most determined. All the books I've read say
determination comes from the inside."

Geri is, depending on where you stand on these things, either the victim
or the beneficiary of a thousand and one self-help books. At times, as
when she launches into one of her
'Every-day-in-every-way-l'm-getting-better-and-better' rants, she sounds
possessed. She tells you what she wants, what she really, really wants.
Everything has taken second place to what Geri wants, including the
group that spawned her. "I haven't had a proper boyfriend for five
years," she says matter-of-factly. "The main reason at the moment is
because I was writing this album. I made a pledge to myself that I
wouldn't be romantically linked with anybody because sex stills my
creativity. Too much sex tends to get in the way. I wanted to pour every
drop into this album, but it does, it distracts me. The same goes for
falling in love. Dating someone, that whole male distraction. I went on a
fast to make sure that you're getting real value in there. I haven't had
sex for a long time."

Do you miss sex? "Well, yes and no. I mean, I'm not taking some kind of
vow of celibacy. You don't know what's around the corner. I was
consciously choosing not to fall in love because I felt it would get in the
way of things. But I'm 26 now. I think the whole love thing is very primal.
Your body clock is ticking and you are looking for someone to fertilise
Your eggs."

This single-mindedness has led Geri to believe that anyone with a bit of
vision and gumption can be rich, successful and happy. It's what makes
her a Thatcherite, and it's what made her describe Margaret Thatcher
as "the first Spice Girl". "I believe in the grass roots upwards," says Geri,
attempting to explain her politics. "I really do. I think we blame society,
we blame our government, we blame Presidents and Prime Ministers,
but ultimate responsibility lies with yourself. It's up to individuals.
Whinging won't get anyone anywhere. I think your life lies on you. I
believe you have responsibility for your own self. If you want something
and you work for it you'll get it. Basically my father was an absolute
Thatcherite and he brought me up on that. She was a greengrocer's
daughter and she rose to lead this country, which was phenomenal and
no one can take that away from her. I love enterprise. I love the way
anyone with self-belief can make it. 'Cos I believe you can if you want

The flip-side of all this is that if you don't succeed it's your own damned
fault. I ask Geri if she would apply her philosophy to the starving African
children she is attempting to help in her role as UN Ambassador. "I'm
generalising," she concedes, a little reluctantly. "I'm saying us in the
Western World. Maybe I'm thinking on a more humanitarian level than
you. The way we treat people in the Third World countries isn't good. So
obviously a starving little girl hasn't got much say in what she's doing.
What I meant is that we all have responsibility in how we respond to
people. When I was greeted by this group of women in Uganda, in this
little village they had their own literacy camp - and they are choosing to
try to learn to read and write, even though they have no supplies and no
money, and they are choosing to try to help themselves. We all have to
do that to a point. Maybe I'm an idealistic dreamer."

believing in your own myth. She is estimated to have something like 20
million [pds] in the bank. She will never be poor. Poverty is something
that Geri came from. She rightly, adamantly, refuses to go back. It's all
very '80s, but then Geri is very much a product of that decade. Her
politics (anarcho-Conservative), her New-Ageisms and her taste in
music all belong to a time of red braces, black ash furniture and records
by Stock, Aitken and Waterrnan.

We meet at the tail end of a long photo-shoot. Geri, who has changed
her image once again, is reluctant to wear some of the things that Terry
O'Neill, the photographer, is suggesting she wears. She does not want
to look sexy or submissive or anything else that might get in the way of
the new look. The new look is Madonna - that's Madonna, Mary, Mother
Of God, so far as I can tell, and not Madonna the singer. She has
always set her sights high, has Geri. So no dog collars, no stockings, no
suspenders, nothing that might distract from Geri's saintly visage. I can't
say I blame her. This image thing is a big deal in Geri's world. Perhaps
the biggest deal. Certainly the Spice Girl's success had as much to do
with their look and carefully styled attitude as it did with their songs.

"I just don't feel right with that image of myself any more," she explains
almost apologetically. You did some glamour modelling, did you not? "It
was a long while ago," she smiles. "Basically I was a rave dancer in a
funky club in Majorca. The girl I was sharing the flat with was very tall
and she had her picture taken. She did topless things and they mere
quite nice, not tacky. Someone told me I should try glamour modelling.
They said you don't have to be tall and its great money. I thought it was
as good a way as any to pay the bills. It was not glamorous, though. I
don't know where they got that name from - there was nothing
glamorous standing naked in the studio freezing cold. It was something I
did, not something I planned - part of me felt uncomfortable."

Geri was always the raunchiest of the five girls. When the Sun asked its
readers to vote for their favourite Spice Girl, Geri received the
overwhelming amount of votes, most of them from pre-pubescent girls
and teenage boys. Sex sells, and Geri was an excellent saleswoman.
"There's nothing wrong if a man wants to get off on looking at pictures of
me. It's his prerogative. But I wasn't thinking of guys whacking off, even
when I was doing the glamour stuff. I think it's quite healthy for a
13-year-old boy wanting to discover what a woman's body looks like.
With me it was only a pair of breasts and a bottom. But I do kind of want
to change that particular perception of me. It's very one-dimensional."

MOST vocal exponent of Girl Power. In interviews she dominated the
proceedings. With a mixture of flirt and threat, she disarmed even the
toughest inquisitor. Then, just before they were due to appear on The
National Lottery Show, Geri walked out. Millions of pre-pubescent girls
were devastated. Certain dodgy middle-aged men were pretty upset too.
The tabloids went predictably nuts. The Spice Girls themselves kept
diplomatically silent, as did Geri. Now, a year down the line, she is more
ready to discuss the reasons why she left the world's most successful
all-girl band.

She sits cross-legged in front of me, eyes wide and smile fixed. She will
not be drawn into any slanging matches. However, a recent interview
with the remaining Spices in which they said Geri wasn't much of a
singer or dancer has left her a little angry and bewildered. "That's not a
very nice thing to say," she says, shaking her head. "But everyone is
entitled to their own opinion. I never claimed to be Celine Dion or the
best performer in the world but the fact is that I really enjoyed it and I
knew that I could get a crowd going. And I felt very good at it, and I loved
being on stage. I thought I had found a vocation that I really enjoyed
doing. At the end of the day though, I'd just left the group. They were
entitled to say a few things, to be a bit angry with me."

When Mel B got married, Geri was conspicuous by her absence. Indeed,
she claimed not even to have been told the wedding was happening.
How did that feel? "Not being invited did hurt. I'd been together with the
girls for four years. But the thing is it's totally understandable. Imagine
all the attention that would have been caused if I'd gone. This was her
big day - quite right that she wanted her moment, and I suppose she
didn't want any other attention. You'll have to interview *her* about that

You're being very magnanimous... "I just think that I wouldn't be here
without those four girls, and I'm completely aware of that and I
appreciate that. You live and learn, and I had some fantastic times with
those girls. I'm not going to patronise anybody and say it was wonderful
every minute, but I have seen and done things that people wouldn't do
in their lifetime, and I did it and experienced it with those girls. I can't be
bitter about that."

You don't bear any sort of grudge then? I think if you swallow anger it
just turns to bitterness and makes you ill. I read a book called "I Can
Heal Your Life", and the author says you can cause cancer by
harbouring those feelings. You have to let it go." Right. So the Spice
Girls are forgiven because of their potentially carcinogenic properties.

Geri will succeed just as she always has done. Her new single is a loud
raunchy attack on media misconceptions of her. In her car a little later I
tell her it reminds me a bit of a poppy Public Image Limited. "Who's that
then?" asks Geri. Johnny Rotten's band after he left the Sex Pistols.
"Ah... " she says. You should tell the NME you were partly inspired by
that record. They'd be impressed. "That's not a bad idea. I should make
a note of that."

Opportunity, opportunity. Geri sees it, hears it, everywhere. I can't think,
of anyone who better exemplifies the dictum 'Seize The Day'. "I'm Geri
Halliwell," she says. Often. As if it meant everything. Or she says, "I'm
just Geri Halliwell," as if it meant nothing. I know which one I believe.


She's only 5ft 2in. That's about the same height as a big Alsatian
rearing up on its hind legs.

Her feet are tiny, just like fairy feet. If she was ever hard up she
could borrow some shoes off a hedgehog or something -they'll be
about the same size.

With the Spice Girls, Geri hit number one six times and is
apparently a millionaire several times over. So she probably
wouldn't need to borrow anything from a hedgehog. Except some
sugar, perhaps.

The cheeky minx pinched Prince Charles's bum once. Rumours
that he grabbed her tits and went, "Honk, honk" in retaliation are
probably not true.

She also high-fived Nelson Mandela. Respect and all that.

She has pictures of big naked ladies from France hanging up in her new house, a former monastery. Saucy.

She smokes Silk Cut fags and dips sandwiches in her tea. Classy.

She says her mum and dad were very poor and she had no
elastic in her knickers.

One day at infant school she wet herself and they fell down.

She got a better pair from the school cupboard. Bless.
She fancies Eric Cantona. Oof.