Tuesday, 10 July 2007

#14 James Blunt -- isn't he one just?

In the build up to Live Earth, the concept was dragged to the floor and given the most almighty kicking by pretty much every journo in the land. My faith in the media is restored.

Jonathan Ross – whose main job was to smooth over organisational incompetence by rephrasing the same question continually, before handing over to a “global act” – gleaned the odd ballsy, honest answer. The most memorable: David Baddiel, bemoaning the fact that if you question a few things that don’t add up, backed up by the most eminent of advice, you get called a “climate-change denier”.

Put it there, Dave.

James Blunt’s response to the hot topic? Oh God, don’t get me started. Okay then, get me started. He asked for it.

So he’s just done his performance: position fixed, strumming every bit as loosely as a Thunderbirds puppet; eyes gauping ahead, like someone at the back of the crowd is holding up a magic-eye picture, and he’s started to make out a rocket ship. From Back To Bedlam, he does Wise Men (the one where he rips off Elton John) because You’re Beautiful is, like, too obvious, man. He manages a so-so cover of Wild World by Cat Stevens, and – surprise to end all surprises – he slips in a song off his upcoming long-player.

He comes into the Beeb’s studio. In addition to kissing his arse a bit, Graham Norton describes his beardy look as “Catnip”, a reference that either goes over Blunt’s head or offends him slightly, as he forces a quizzical smirk.

And then, preceding a glib load of cack about wanting to make a difference in some way, comes Jimmy’s answer to Live Earth’s critics: “I think it’s very easy to be cynical…”

Yes, it effing well is, isn’t it. You luxury-jet it in from California to churn out billions of watts to promote your new record under a banner that says, “Look at me. I care.”

Use your brain, lad. Shun Live Earth. Strap a twelve-string to your back, step out of your Hollywood pad, get on a bike and use your military fitness to cycle all the way down to South Central LA, and play a gig in a school hall for some seriously disadvantaged kids. No microphone, just good old fashioned acoustics. On the way back, stop off at Beverley Hills High, and do the same for young ‘uns possibly even more prone to wasting leccy. Ban all cameras so the world isn’t reminded of what you look or sound like pre-release. Then go home.

Then, it would be very difficult to be cynical, wouldn’t it James?

It won’t happen. The reason is, he and his “people” don’t give a fig about being different, cool, or worthy. It’s all about the wonga. That’s why his emotion-stirring songwriting talent is buried under layers of polished dad-friendly production…which is why I can’t cry to No Bravery, a gut-wrenching army tale of everyman disillusionment. Shame.

You can take the rich kid from the castle…

Sunday, 24 June 2007

#13 Seany, who has already "had offers". Here's another: you can kiss my arse.

I made a promise to myself this year. I’m not watching “normal” (ie. non-celebrity) Big Brother anymore. Each series has been an increasingly depressed animal, upping its dose of fluoxetine as it leaps about with more desperate abandon.

But I did hear a grumble or two about last night’s eviction. Shouldn’t arrogant arse Jonathan have walked – or even saggy-titted earth mama Carole – before the “loveable house jester”?

Nah. The right man got the heave-ho. Seany (or Seány, as BB – and only BB – keeps insisting ; you lose the right to such authenticities when you insist on one adding a childishly twee “y”) is a man with such eminent knobend credentials, he should win a lifetime achievement Nobel Prize for services to bellendishness.

The curly weirdo has really bent my nose out of joint. And I’ll tell y’all for why: HE MADE ME SIDE WITH CHARLEY! How dare he do that to me. Ugh, I feel dirty and used. Sympathising with that gobby, attention-seeking, self-obsessed harpy – and it’s all his fault. Him, and his side-splitting “pranks”.

I don’t want to come over all Nicky...ahem...(And by the way, what is with that little ray of sunshine? She’s got Asian trophy-bird looks ; she’s a bright communicator. But she can’t break a smile because of those in the house who won’t wait until after lunch to eat a yoghurt...)

But Seany’s mischief cranked the unfunnyometer up to eleven. “I’m not being funny” shouldn’t be Charley’s catchphrase: it should be Seany’s. Filling someone’s boots with water is not funny. At all. Not even in the slightest.

Tracy, who is displaying clarity now the pills she took on her entry are finally wearing off, called it well: Seany was jealous about not being the centre of attention anymore, what with the new male additions. So he started courting the negative spotlight. Then, when the inevitable reprisals came-a-screaming at him, he did a butter-wouldn’t-melt face to make Old Saggy Tits and his other cronies come up and defend him, declaring him the most lovely, harmless human alive.

“I just wanna have a laugh,” he would protest. Okay. Me too. So I’ll soak something of yours that costs a hundred quid – like the entire contents of your tragic Manchester bedsit – and we’ll both collapse with merriment on to your flooded threadbare carpet as we attempt to control our guffawing.

Did you see him cry during the exit interview, as he tried to describe his bond with Laura? He was stalling. Because there was no bond. Other than the fact she was the only other contestant backward and Celtic enough to find a condom on a toy monkey’s head hysterical.

Seany lists one of his likes as “dancing in supermarkets”. I’m not shitting you. He dislikes “withdrawn people”. No “Seany-love” (blurggggghhhhhhh) for them. What he means is, he doesn’t like quiet, pleasant folk who show him up even more as a needy, irksome pudding-faced Mick Hucknall hobbit.

Anyway, like I say. I am not watching Big Brother anymore.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

#12 The Apprentice: The toff with the tartan paint

Eh, that was some series. Just utterly triumphant, riveting viewing.

But enough of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. Did you check The Apprentice?

And what do you make of new protegé Simon Ambrose, the Hampstead Hoodie? If you ask me this has to be the luckiest plum gob in the history of posh boys. Repeatedly he escaped the boot in spite of world-beating incompetence and a tenacious insistence on looking like a cock.

Once Tre bailed out Simon, his lap dog, by not boardrooming him. Simon has spent the series so far up Tre’s arse, he could have told you at any point what the Ali-G-alike had eaten in the past five minutes.

Unforgettable was Simon’s performance for a shopping channel. Ignoring early indications that he was utterly useless, he chose himself to go solo. Selling trampolines, he showed how easy they were to assemble. Televisual aurum.

The nation collectively folded over with asphyxiated laughter as Simon put something out there to rival the elephant taking a dump on Blue Peter. He twisted in each ten-inch cylindrical leg, one by one, at the exact position his dick would be were it erect. We all begged for mercy as he turned it the wrong way, turned back again, and peppered the glee-inducing shambles with comments like, “Children will like playing with it” and “Adults will love it too”.

But this highlighted something fans have long suspected. The tasks have bollocks all to do with the firings. Though Simon’s main contribution had been breakdancing, and spitting “on da mike” what the “streets” were not about (not about low-cost airlines, apparently), it was clear “Sir Alan” (as he’s sickeningly referred to) had a soft spot for Mr Dippy.

Here’s where the Sugar spin comes in. The players had chosen gear for their team mates to sell on TV. Simon sold none of Naomi’s trampolines. Who was blamed? Naomi, for choosing a duff product for Simon. This sidesteps the possibility that hundreds may have sold, had potential customers not been debilitated by mirth and consequently unable to reach the phone.

Simes chose a pricey wheelchair for Tre and Naomi to flog, spawning one of the best sarcastic Tre-isms of the run: “So Simon, are you going for the disabled market?” Sugar thought the choice stank. Naomi and Tre overcame the impossible and shifted two. Sugar’s verdict? Great product selection by Simon.

Long have the tales of quitting superjobs smelt of bull excrement. But think on: it’s the bearded dwarf that manipulates us big time. Word has it that Simon and Kristina have been working for Al for six months. That’s how he makes his choice. The real-estate task was just TV. Kristina pissed all over Simon. Sugar claims they edited out Simon holding the floor. Whatever.

Kristina probably didn’t nail it because another working-class bootstrapper would make Sugar look like the inverted snob he is.

Earlier I backed Katie. Not to win the Apprentice; when she ran at Chepstow.


Saturday, 26 May 2007

#11 - The Curious Incident of Bill Nighy and the England Football Team in the, er, Night-Time

In the week of David Beckham’s recall to the England squad, Bill Nighy – yes, that Bill Nighy – has felt compelled to go public to express his consistent and undiminished support for his fellow national treasure. It turns out that he was so incensed by Beckham’s exclusion from the team last year that he actually went so far as to write to the footballer’s management to sympathise.

Nighy told The Sun the other day: "I wrote to David to say I thought it was unfortunate he was no longer part of the England set-up. I had a bee in my bonnet. Let's just say I was confused by the decision and I thought I'd like to disassociate myself from it”.

Well, thank God that’s cleared that one up. At least Nighy has finally done the decent thing and clarified his role in Beckham’s omission. I just hope we can now draw a line under the whole sorry affair. But if he’d only come forward earlier, perhaps we could have avoided the kind of understandable confusion that I overheard from a neighbouring pub table recently.

Man 1: The England team are going from bad to worse. Why did we have to jettison our talismanic captain David Beckham so prematurely?

Man 2: I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s all very well wanting to make a clean break, but we just didn’t have a player of sufficient quality to replace him.

Man 1: That bloody, meddling, Bill Nighy!

Man 2: I know! Why can’t he stick to light romantic comedy acting? Aren’t all those awards enough for him? Why does he have to exert such all-pervasive influence over the national football team as well?

Man 1: Only the actor Nighy seems to believe that Shaun Wright-Phillips has the chops to adequately fill the right midfield position. Performances certainly haven’t borne this out.

Man 2: Far from it. Talk about Shaun of the Dead!

Man 1: And apparently the elegantly weathered star is said to be continually interfering in the maintenance of the national team’s playing surfaces.

Man 2: Well, I’ve heard of The Constant Gardener, but that’s ridiculous!

Man 1: Come on Nighy – bring back Becks now.

Man 2: Yeah! We want The Lost Prince back!

Man 1: I haven’t heard of that one.

Man 2: Nor me. I just looked it up on Wikipedia. The wi-fi in this place is great!

Man 1: I haven’t felt like this since Terry Scott kept Glenn Hoddle out of the 1982 World Cup team.

Man 2: And just what did Victoria Wood have against Matt Le Tissier?

Man 1: Hold on, who’s that listening in to our conversation on the next table?

Man 2: Isn’t that Barney Myerson? I expect he’s writing one of those Naptime 500’s.

Man 1: Well he hasn’t got anything like 500 words there. And I’ve completely run of things to say.

Man 2: Me too!

Man 1: Did you know that Leslie Crowther was Phil Lynott’s father-in-law?

Man 2: Yes.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

#10 Jeremy Clarkson: Fancy a Ginger Beer?

I’m not always the best judge of character, but if someone solemnly assesses that something is “political correctness gone mad”, I can be pretty sure that someone is a bona fide tosser.

Jeremy Clarkson is clearly one of that number, a sort of public-school, lanky Gary Bushell. Sporting a blazer, and a grain-sack gut spilling from suffocating drainpipe jeans, he made his name coochy-cooing at whopping engines, and starting sentences with: “If this car were a bird...” Thereafter he spent much of his time verbally holding his nose and making a flushing gesture, littlejohning on about speed cameras and tree huggers sending this country to the dogs.

For sure, an easy target for whiney, wishy-washy, baa-baa-black-sheep-banning poindexters. So the BBC must brace itself for charges of overreaction as it upholds complaints regarding Clarkson’s description of the Daihatsu Copen as “ginger beer”.

It turns out, he was only following the lead of a Top Gear audience member, who had spontaneously labelled the aforementioned vehicle as “gay”.

But before we go all Barney-Myerson-on-George-Bush, lamenting perspective sacrificed in order to find a stick to beat someone with, let’s dig a little deeper.

Clarkson has form for using “gay”. This is him in the Sunday Times in February 2006. In an article entitled “This is the kind of gay I adore”, he deems the Mazda MX-5 “gay, in both the new and the old sense of the word. The balance, the poise, the gearchange, the exhaust note; they're all spot on."

The old model was "...just a teensy bit gay...you just knew that given half a chance this little car would be off to the gentlemen's public lavatories with its friends George and Michael. That's why we all liked it so much."

So far, so innocuous. But you get the idea. He likes the word “gay” a bit too much. Now let’s slip it down into fourth, put the foot down, and see how this baby really handles: a quote from a few internet sites attributed to Clarkson in January 2000...

“So, they're lowering the age of consent for homosexuals to four ... and the Army is to become a hotbed of single-sex fumbling...How long will it be before we get ‘Gay Lanes’ on the motorway?"

Aha. Now we’re getting somewhere, aren’t we. Tongue-in-cheek, yep, but it’s telling. Forget the daft non-sequitur punchline. Note the homo/paedo connection; the profound blindness to the real issues of equality and recognition. I love the use of “is to become”. Soldiers? Doing each other? It’ll be prisoners next.

So did Clarkson copy the audience member, or did the audience member copy Clarkson?

Here’s another one: who cares? Clarkson made the mistake off veering away from the increasingly diluted “gay” to rhyming slang for the more punitive “queer”. Sussed.

I like my PC world. I dislike Clarkson’s, where it’s okay to openly assume all Hyundai designers are spaniel eaters, all BMW workers are Nazis, and all Americans are dull-witted.

Stereotyping often offends oppressed victims. Political correctness only offends Clarksons.

Friday, 18 May 2007

#9 Chris Tarrant: Do Me a Curry Favour!

It must be rubbish being Chris Tarrant sometimes. He is never more than twenty minutes away from a village idiot asking him whether he’d like to “phone a friend”.

Misunderstand me not, for a well-executed Millionaire cliché can a zinger make. Spot Tarrant on a public telephone – or, hell, maybe even a new-fangled mobile doobrie – and you have the perfect oppo to pounce with that old standby. Tarrant would collapse into a hysterical heap and want to be your life-long friend.

Not so, I’m afraid, if you desperately try to shoehorn. And certainly not so if you can’t, in the words of Reeves and Mortimer, let it lie. A tenuous and enduringly repetitive offensive turns an everyday, common-or-garden twat into the real deal: an olympic-standard arsehole.

Following the curry fracas, it’s tempting to stoop as low, and custard-pie Tarrant with a similarly obvious line...

But we don’t want to give him that!

So Chris’s side of the story reads approximately like this: I was at the Memsaab with a producer when some peckerhead tried to impress his bird by engaging in banter with me. I was absolutely fine with it, no animosity. Which is why I lobbed (I emphasise “lobbed”) something like a serviette (or, yes, it might have been a fork or a knife, or both, whatever, let’s not lose sight of the wood for the trees) at their table. I was surprised to find later that the man had seen his rump about it and tipped off the Heat. Jeez Louise, strangers dispense pints of lager onto my head in good humour all the time. What’s the world coming to when I can’t, in jest, throw (lob, I mean, lob) a spoon at someone’s dinner?

Is that your final answer, Chris?

I see his point. I remember when I was little, at the Sunday dinner table, my dad gently ribbing me about the girl next door...my mum and my brothers giggling in that slightly stifled way. And me, beaming with respectful amusement. Then lobbing (we’re talking seriously slow underarm action) my cutlery into his beef and yorkshires. The table erupting with mirth. My gravy-splattered father included, slapping his thigh with some force, yelling, “He got me a good ‘un there!” Yeah, nothing keeps the atmosphere light-hearted like a timely discharge of cutting instruments.

Surely staff and fellow diners can shed some light on this. They must be able to confirm that Chris, actually, I mean come on, lost his cool big time.

So let’s ask the audience!

Eff all use they turn out to be. First, there weren’t really any fellow diners. The much-lauded eatery was dead. Chris, producer, peckerhead, girlfriend. That’s pretty much it. And in spite of this, the owner has suggested the staff hadn’t even noticed Tarrant filling his face, never mind doing a whimsical knife-throwing act.

Though I’m guessing the blame can be split down the middle.

I need a wisecrack to end on. What’s another, snappy way of saying “split down the middle”?

Saturday, 12 May 2007

#8 Barney Myerson's debut - George W Bush!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no great admirer of George W Bush. But in his bumbling, folksy, murderous way, he has actually added greatly to the gaiety of nations. I speak of the Bushism – those solecisms, verbal blunders, mangled formulations and gaffes that have turned him into a sort of dark-side David Coleman.

Bush’s every word has come to be scrutinised and held to ridicule by people more articulate than himself. And at the outset, Bushisms were indeed a delight. Remember this classic: ‘Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.’

But after a while, Bushism quality control began to suffer, and any utterance he makes now seems to be eligible for consideration. Take this recent example: ‘Information is moving through the blogosphere and through the internets’. Wow. He said internets. I think the only living person that would find that funny is Bill Gates.

This all culminated this week in his now famous ‘gaffe’ that occurred during the visit of our own Queen Lizzy 2. I expect you saw the headlines. ‘Bush Rewrites Royal History’. ‘Bush Gaffe Ages Queen 200 Years’. Yes, it appeared that the prez had embarrassed himself by claiming that the Queen had been present at the country’s bicentennial – in 1776. The big, stupid, American dumbo.

Or so you would have imagined from the hysterical reaction that followed. Surely Bush must have said something like, ‘I am pleased to welcome the Queen, who was definitely at our bicentennial in the year 1776, because the USA was founded in 1576, and I genuinely believe her to be 281 years old’. What he actually said was, ‘You've helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 ... in 1976’. He was thinking of 1976. He said ‘17…’ – not even 1776, just ‘17’. He slightly tripped over his words. Big. Fucking. Deal.

And then he winked at the Queen, which was outrageously claimed by some to be another gaffe. You have to admire the nerve of our parastocracy (I just made that up! Parasites/aristocracy!) for inventing these absurd self-serving rules then accusing anyone blissfully unaware of them of an offensive breach of protocol.

The Queen, humourless old trout that she is, responded to this breezy flirtation – probably the most action she’s had in forty years – with one of her trademark frosty glares. Suitably briefed, she later opened a dinner speech with the words ‘When I was here in 1776’, to much completely genuine, un-sycophantic laughter. Oh, the banter.

Incidentally, remember Bush’s overheard ‘Yo Blair!’ greeting? Journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft recently named a book about the Blair/Bush relationship after it. But people who have actually bothered to listen to the recording have spotted that Bush really said ‘Yeah Blair!’. Now you may still find that impolite, but the point is that it’s markedly different. Now, naming a whole book after something someone didn’t actually say? That’s what I call a gaffe.