Claire Black: I want a Strictly where only pros can dance

It’s a terrible thing when love dies. What was once a torrent of emotion dries up into a trickle of indifference. Suddenly, the Technicolor world vanishes and instead life is rendered in shades of grey.

Claire Black

Overnight, little habits that were once endearing, sometimes even thrilling, are transformed into, at best, a bore, at worst, an irritation.

Did you watch Strictly Come Dancing?

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There were years, more years than I should probably admit to, when perhaps the most exciting thing about reaching the autumn was the proximity of spending Saturday nights on the sofa shouting, “oh my god, he’s doing the fleckle” or “his rise and fall is shocking”.

And there was also Monday to Friday evenings from 6pm watching Claudia Winkleman trying to see through her voluminous fringe and stand up on her vertiginous heels as she played hilarious clips from the live show. Frankly, I will never tire of seeing Pamela Stephenson hurtling across the floor like a Catherine wheel that’s slipped the rusty nail holding it to the garden fence.

But those days are gone. Zoë Ball appeared from somewhere and with her arrival the lustre has been lost from the rhinestones, the sequins have dropped like flies and are now merely clogging up the hoover. It’s over.

I didn’t watch last night. I couldn’t face it. I didn’t want to see Abbey Clancy looking as rigid as a board (she did, didn’t she?) or the one from the Hairy Bikers getting overenthusiastic when his professional partner was revealed (he did, didn’t he?). I didn’t want to witness Tony Jacklin looking like a drunk uncle at a wedding or Sophie Ellis-Bextor pouting.

I didn’t want to see old Brucie looking utterly baffled when he tried to work out which one is in Hollyoaks (he did, didn’t he?) or to see the strain when he tried, just a bit too hard, to convince us all that this year’s line up is the best ever.

Is it just me? Have I turned into a curmudgeon? Or has the golden age of Strictly spray tans, salsas and sequins chasséd on by? Is this year’s crop of “celebrities” the worst yet? Or have I simply forgotten that watching an uncoordinated person trying to learn how to move in time to music and with something approaching grace, never gets old?

But it does. The fact is, I’ve never enjoyed the ones who can’t dance. I don’t want to be entertained by Ann Widdecombe sliding about the floor on her capacious rear end. Nor do I want to see Gary Rhodes attempt to move his hips in the direction of another person. Ever. Seriously.

I’ve just realised my problem: it’s the celebrities. I want a Strictly where only the professionals are allowed to dance. That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? Right, I’m off to start an e-petition.

Ihave just discovered the reason why I have never risen to the top in any corporate environment. (Actually I’ve never risen to the top in any environment, but let’s not let small matters of factual accuracy stand in our way.) A survey has revealed that 68 per cent of managers had “heightened awareness” of staff who dressed in a similar style to them and also said such colleagues were awarded “brownie points”.

No, no, no. This can never work for me. Have you seen what journalists wear? What is going on? Who wants to work beside people who all look the same anyway? Well, actually, as it transpires more than half of the 2,000 people polled said they were heavily influenced by what their colleagues were wearing and a third said they try to co-ordinate outfits. Truly, I ­despair.

In a world in which the total cost of the cars parked in a Premiership football club’s team car park might equal an amount that could potentially end world hunger, I was delighted to see that the readers of AutoExpress had the phenomenally good sense to vote the Ford Focus as the greatest car of the last quarter of a century.

Apologies, to be absolutely specific, 
the car that was selected for the accolade was the Ford Focus Mk I (1998-2005). That trusty steed swept in above the McLaren F1, the Bugatti Veyron and 
the Aston Martin DB9. And if that 
doesn’t make you proud to drive a sensible family car rather than something overpriced and impractical, I do not know what will. «

Twitter: @Scottiesays