Thursday, October 22, 2009

The one in which I issue a fatwa against Brendan Cole

Mr. Phin sat quiet on his couch for a long time, staring begrudgingly at his television. The alcohol was helping, but not quite enough. Sitting next to him, his lovely, beloved wife, Jenny. Disturbingly, she was taking an interest in the shining whirling mess on the screen. This was wrong. It was painful. It would have been less torturous to have her sit and talk about ex-loves than see her actually enjoying this televised idiot-vomit for the masses.

And beside her, the howling, cackling American who had brought this upon them. True, the American was going through rough times, and one must maintain the olde traditions of hospitality, but surely this was going too far. Having him over for dinner, a few pints, a walk in the countryside -- those were all fine things. But this? This? Allowing the American to bring this into his home? Where was the line? If the American wanted to start sodomising sheep in the living room, would they put up with that, too?

Staring at Chris Hollins -- a journalist whom he respects, or, at least used to respect -- festooned in sparkling tight clothing and taking criticism from a woman who doesn't know the difference between "were" and "was" ("You was really struttin' your stuff."), Mr. Phin muttered, almost in defeat: "Is this real life?"

It is.

It is Strictly Come Dancing.

And that was more or less the scene a fortnight ago when I was out visiting the Phins in historic Bath. With that show now lost to the memory hole, I won't bother to look back at it. Lynda Bellingham was dropped from the show that week, but the real drama and tension of the evening came in watching Amy Winehouse perform on live television.

Amy was there as a back-up singer to her god-daughter, whose name and performance I doubt anyone remembers because all of us were too busy staring at Amy and thinking: "Hold it together, love. Come on, you can do it. Just hold it together. Don't train wreck."

Amy managed to make it through the performance without collapsing or suddenly deciding to attack someone or going into a profanity-laden tirade or stripping off her clothes or any of the other things that she always seems only a second away from doing when you watch her perform live. Although, I think it's worth noting that she was sandwiched between her own two back-up singers, and one feels that staging was intentional -- they could both get an arm around her should she start to fade or try to get away.

Then, this last week I again got to test the bonds of friendship by forcing Nic and Philippa to watch the show when I was out visiting them in Pontgarreg. I'm pretty sure they will never again invite me back.

Joe Calzaghe and Kristina "I cry at everything" Rihanoff were the ones to get the boot Saturday after dancing a jive that held to what we'd come to expect from the Pride of Newbridge. We love Joe in this little corner of the world that is Wales, so perhaps we all collectively decided that it was time for him to come home and so did not vote for him. I'm pretty sure that deep in his heart, Joe is thankful to us for that.

Craig Kelly and Flavia - Jive - 20
It's not often enough that I get a chance to quote one of the great poets of our time, Robbie Williams, so I will do so now: "Dance like you just won the Special Olympics." And therein you have poor Craig's open-mouthed all-bits-akimbo dancing style on Saturday. Alesha described him as looking like someone's dad down the local disco, which was correct, I think. But the thing is, there's a part of you that loves him for it. I know he can't dance, but I don't care. Plus, the longer we have Craig in the competition the longer we have Flavia wearing those strange not-sexy sexy outfits that she seems so fond of. She looked a bit like Baby Huey this week.

Chris Hollins and Ola "Cockney Pole" Jordan - Jive - 22
Ola messes with my head when she speaks. She's got that Polish accent but it's all phrased in the Cockney way in which her husband, James, speaks. It's wild to listen to. Indeed, I am far more interested in listening to her speak and watching her prancing about in a tea towel than watching her celebrity dance partner sort of wander the dance floor. And what the fuck was up with that air guitar Hollins attempted? He was playing it with his thumb. Was that, in fact, air banjo?

Laila Rouass and Anton - Jive - 22
"If you keep us in, next week she'll wear the from back-to-front," Anton told the viewing audience shortly after he and Laila's jive. Well, actually, he said that after his jive, which he performed while Laila watched him. She reminded me a bit of one of my first rugby matches, when I saw an amazing try and was internally delighted at the fact that I had been in such a good position to see the ball get touched down. Then I realised that the reason I had such a good vantage point was that I was the one who was supposed to have stopped the try. Laila got the best seat in the house to watch Anton dance, but forgot that she was supposed to be joining him. Still, obviously Anton's promise was enough and the two didn't find themselves in the dance-off.

Jo "Flowers for Algernon" Wood and Brendan - Viennese Waltz - 23
Every week Strictly needs a controversy, and this week's came when Brendan stormed away like the insufferable cock that he is because Craig Revel Horwood said that Jo had danced like a bush kangaroo. Whereas he hadn't stormed off when Bruno said she danced like a squirrel. It's at times like these that I like to recall all that stuff we told ourselves immediately post-9/11 about how we would never again get wrapped up in trivial shit.
Trivial shit like a flamboyantly gay man telling a mindless washed-up rock groupie that she dances like a marsupial, and the response that such a comment elicits from a narcissistic cunny fuck with a weird mole on his face.
But the thing that annoyed me more than Brendan's incessant need to turn the focus of the show on himself, was Brucie's response as Brendan and Jo were walking off. Bruce decided to scold Craig, which then changed the atmosphere from Craig being a sort of pantomime villain that people boo for fun to his being someone that people in the audience were talking back to throughout the rest of the show. Thanks to Brucie's need to be on the "good" side, the whole thing became uncomfortable. I don't think the atmosphere improved for the rest of the show.

Ricky Groves and Erin - Jive -25
"Be still you cats. We gonna spread a lotta jam," Ricky said before starting the dance. Or, perhaps, a lot of cheese. But, hey, I dig it. I've said before that Ricky and Erin are redefining dance. Whatever they do cannot be judged according to the standards applied to everyone else, because the standards applied to everyone else don't include awesomeness. Technique, musicality, blah-blah-blah. Ricky is too awesome for that. If I were the sort of person who voted (I only vote once a series: in the final), I would be voting for Ricky each week not so much because I enjoyed the quality of his dancing but because I want to see what the hell he's going to do the next week. According to his It Takes Two appearance on Wednesday, this coming Saturday he will be dancing like Dick Van Dyke.
Thank you, Jesus, for letting me be alive at this point in history.

Natalie Cassidy and Vincent - Viennese Waltz - 27
Natalie's lip-syncing a part of the song made me realise something: EastEnders actors tend to get the spirit of Strictly better than anyone else. They seem to enjoy it more, or are better at conveying their enjoyment to the viewing public. There is something about them, moreso than with the other celebrities, that leaves you referring to them by their first names and as if they were people you actually knew: "Oh, did you see Natlaie's dance last night? Didn't she do well?"
She did. Unfortunately she is paired with Vincent and continues to suffer from the fact that he is about 2 feet tall and 3 stone. So she looks ginormous dancing with him. I keep waiting for her to just pick him up and swing him above her head like a Muppet.

Phil Tufnell and Katya - Viennese Waltz - 27
I'm not quite sure why Katya slid down Phil's leg right at the end of the dance. Perhaps she had a flashback to her pornography days. But I loved Phil's response to it. At first he looked slightly confused then he just flashed that ridiculous grin of his. I think we should all start doing that. When you don't know what's going on, or things have gone pear-shaped, just stand there in a superhero pose and flash an enormous grin. The world would be a better place, says I.

Ali Bastian and Brian - Jive - 29
New rule: In addition to shouting, any time your dance incorporates sitting on Rachel Steven's lap you get automatic points. Ali got lost, but I think the general lack of clothing on her part makes up for it.

Zöe Lucker and James - Jive - 30
Somehow the Cougar ended up in the dance-off this weekend, despite finishing in the top three. I find that to be shocking and I would just like to say, Zöe, if you are reading this, you've always got my shoulder to cry on. Feel free to drop by the house any time. And then have your way with me. No, really.
Please do that.
Please.

Jade Johnson and Ian - Viennese Waltz - 35
Related to the above, Jade, if you are reading this, please feel free to drop by the house any time and have your way with both myself and Zöe.
My fantasy of being dominated by an Olympic athlete aside (I'm looking at you, Phoebe Burns), however, I think this was actually the best dance of the evening. And it was definitely Jade's best so far. She said that she has clicked on the emotional side and I think that really showed through. Hers was the only dance that I found myself actually paying attention to, being drawn into. Every year the Great British Public fucks up the voting around this point and I fear that Jade will end up being affected because she isn't quite as cheeky/charming as other dancers.
I really like her, though (think back to her lip-syncing in her quick step), and I would imagine that the whole Strictly experience is immensely positive for her in emotional/personal terms. Elite athletes like her do nothing but train and pile pressure onto themselves and I would reckon there is very little time for Jade to goof around, to be a girly girl. Have you ever noticed that there is often a sort of underlying sadness to Olympic athletes? They do one thing over and over and over and over, and sometimes their bodies give out on them, or they just aren't as good as someone else, or some other tiny unidentifiable factor, and then what do they have? But all this glitter and silliness and cheese and interacting with a bunch of other people who aren't elite athletes probably helps Jade's state of mind. It probably helps her to feel a bit more human.

Ricky Whittle and Natalie - Viennese Waltz - 36
Meh. He only got more points than Jade because Alesha wants to shag him.

And that's pretty much it. Having Spandau Ballet as the musical guest was cool not because I had ever heard any of their songs before, but because their bassist is Steve Owen off EastEnders. Steve was always my favourite, yo. And then he died in that massive car explosion. The lesson to be learned: Don't attempt to answer your mobile phone whilst driving.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Holy Moly............Tuffers dance-partner is a bit of all-right eh ??