Rotten in the jungle? Get him out of there
I HAVE a horror of reality television. Like anything evincing more money than taste, it’s tatty and nasty. Sadly, there’s no escaping the horror, as it’s time once again for I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, the show that strands 10 hapless personalities in the Australian jungle, then tortures them for our entertainment. I’ve never seen an entire episode. That’s about to change: if the line-up leaked to the papers is true, this time I’ll be glued to the sofa, eyes riveted to a small screen.
Why? Because they’re saying Johnny "Rotten" Lydon will take part. The announcement made me feel instantly old. No, worse than old, middle-aged and middle-class in the worst possible way. If it has come to this for the prince of punk, then mediocrity really does get us all in the end.
In truth, I was never a punk, just an avid fan of punk music. I still am. (I’ve always had a weakness for skinny boys in tight trousers.) Above all, I adore Lydon’s voice, and rate Never Mind the Bollocks as one of the few perfect albums. There’s nothing I would add or subtract. I never tire of it.
This great love of the Pistols is one of the reasons I’m married. Despite our age gap and wildly different backgrounds, the husband and I found common ground in the band. The book he borrowed for his long sea journey back to Britain (borrowed in order to have an excuse to write), was Lydon’s autobiography.
One of my fondest memories of our courtship finds us driving around Troon in autumn 1996, blasting the Sex Pistols’ Filthy Lucre CD, screeching ‘Bodies’ at the top of our lungs. (To this day neither of us can converse with gals called Pauline without silently bursting into song.)
But even in ’96, as Johnny sneered, "We’re fat, 40, and baaaack...", I knew the axis had shifted. He’d moved to LA, had his teeth de-fuzzed, and fronted a talk show. I knew this, but pretended otherwise because he still had green hair and a sneer and because I was in denial.
Lydon, you see, is the first of my musical heroes who was a contemporary. Just three years separate us, unlike, say, the decades between myself and David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Chet Baker or Billie Holiday. Picturing Lydon on I’m a Celebrity makes me feel as others do about Jagger’s knighthood - ashamed and betrayed.
In my heart I suspect that Sid was always more punk than Johnny, more Keith than Mick, if you like. But if Lydon’s lost his edge - and he was almost entirely edge - then what’s left but parody? I expect we’ll see him swinging from vines, cursing all and sundry with his rich command of language. In the 1970s that would have been thrilling and wicked, symbolic of his anarchistic urges. Now he’ll merely sound like a grumpy old man who by rights should be home in a pair of slippers and a cardigan. Which reminds me there are young folks thinking the same of me when I go off on one of my rants.
A loyal fan, I’m not upset with Lydon, merely saddened. I expected him to grow old disgracefully. Although, strictly speaking, appearing alongside Ant and Dec will be entirely that, it’s not what I had in mind.
Reality cheque for Jordan
WE hear Jordan will be there too, and it’s causing a rumble in the jungle. Gossips say telly bosses lied when promising participants they would be paid equally. Having signed on the dotted line, the story goes, celebrities have now discovered Jordan is to be paid four times as much, allegedly taking home 100,000 to everyone else’s 25,000 fee.
Perhaps they’ve forgotten the show is a charity fundraiser and they’re only being paid to compensate for a loss of earnings during the two-week stay. (As if!)
Undoubtedly they believe charity starts at home, with the resuscitation of a moribund career. That’s not daft when you consider how jungle stays boosted the profiles of the now ubiquitous Linda Barker, comedian Rhona Cameron and former cricketer Phil Tuffnell.
Another theory of mine is that this is fluffing. Just as male porn stars need their bits tickled prior to filming, so too do jaded telly addicts need reassured that there will be two weeks’ worth of bitchery to keep them transfixed. It’s telly exec foreplay, this invention of rivalries before anyone has so much as packed a toothbrush.
I’m adamant that Jordan deserves a fourfold pay packet. She is, after all, four entities: Jordan, the mad, gin-swilling slag who’s always dressed to thrill; funny, troubled, self-effacing Katie Price, as lovely a lassie as you’d hope to find; and Boobs A and B, so large they’re deserving of separate passports, much less equal pay.
Besides, Jordan is easily the hardest working girl in show business. Judging by near daily appearances on the cover of The Star, I reckon that girl spends months on end clambering in and out of suspender belts and merry widows. Add on all the nights she’s out making a spectacle of herself - for that, too, is part of her job - and frankly I don’t know when she has time to get those breasts re-inflated.
I say write the girl a nice fat cheque. Jordan doesn’t pretend to have a wealth of far-reaching talents. She’s a single mum. Time and gravity are against her, and in 10 years she’ll be forced to retire those bodacious ta-tas forever. These are her earning years. Let her make the most of them.
No way to curb on carbs
NEWS, finally, from Texas, where snack food manufacturer Frito-Lay has introduced a line of tortilla chips made with soy proteins, boasting fewer than half the carbohydrates of normal chips. It’s another sign that Dr Atkins has us in a stranglehold from beyond the grave. But they’re akin to quorn sausages, pseudo ‘bacon’ bits, and fat-free cheese. If you want to eat soybeans, by all means, eat soybeans - as sprouts, tofu or tempe, all yummy options as is. But don’t munch on soy and say it’s steak.
As a gay pal once said of drag queens: "If I wanted to sleep with a woman, I’d sleep with a woman." If you want to shun carbohydrates, eat more meat and green vegetables. If you’re a vegetarian, why are you salivating over imitation meat?
And didn’t we learn anything from the fat-free explosion, which found us stuffing ourselves with tasteless cakes and potato chips, kidding on that we could eat with impunity?
We forgot that the body creates its own fat if overfed. In the end all we accomplished was gorging on acres of nutrient-free, tasteless cardboard, while losing our taste for the good stuff.
It’s a bit like reality TV: a whole lot of nothing dished up in servings big enough to make you sick.
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