The SuBo Effect

I was listening in to Clive Bull on LBC last night when he brought up the subject of Susan Boyle. Her album release “I Dreamed a Dream” has broken records for being the highest selling debut album in UK chart history, with more than 400,000 sales in the first week of release.

Clive asked “Have you bought the album? Does she deserve the success she’s had?”. He was arguing the point that she’s an okay singer, but not GREAT. That her success was from a gimmick, IE: she looked one way and sounded another (his words). That she was just a reality TV personality that had become an instant celebrity in our obsessive celebrity culture.

I don’t think he can quite fathom the success and thinks it’s not justly deserved. Here’s my view.

We all love an underdog. Boyle is an underdog. She came across, initially, as both shy but flamboyant. A very curious mix. She looked dowdy and while speaking before her performance perhaps came across as quite deluded about her own ability. Then she sang, and people were astonished.

I do agree with Clive that her voice is not ASTOUNDING, but simply good.

America catches wind of Susan, and instead of America doing what it does best (and fixate itself purely on the aesthetic), it actually got swept up in the whole underdog phenomenon. Just for that aspect ALONE, Susan Boyle should be congratulated. To change the mindset of a whole nation is no mean feat.

There’s something of the “Eddie the Eagle” about her. The only difference is that Eddie was celebrated for being crap! He was a crap ski-jumper but people got swept up in his enthusiasm and desire to be an Olympian even though he was not the best.

Perhaps some people are a little deluded in thinking Susan Boyle’s voice is VERY good, but it never stopped Madonna fans!

She’s a case in point. No one questions her status as a pop icon, but it was very much a balance of talent, sex bomb and shrewd business woman at work there. Who could argue that Madonna’s voice is “exceptional”? No one really. Even the biggest fans would have to admit, she’s not the BEST singer in the world. But it never really gets argued because she used her sexuality to perhaps sideline the argument. Sadly, poor SuBo doesn’t have much sexuality to let the “Is her voice ACTUALLY that good” argument rest. It will always be there.

And to answer Clive’s question. No, I haven’t bought the album (and doubt I will), but I think she DOES deserve the success. Come on! It’s an uplifting “underdog achieves” story. We have too few of them these days. So let’s celebrate SuBo.

Good for her!!

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Fawcett vs Jackson: The REAL Celebrity Death Match

I’ve noticed on various Social Networks this morning, a tussle breaking out over whose death is more poignant and pivotal. Well that’s how it appears to me.

Anyone who appears to comment on their shock at the news of Michael Jackson’s death is swiftly followed by comments of “What about Farrah?”, “Let’s not forget Farrah!”.

No one is suggesting for a moment that we do (forget Farrah), but let’s look at some facts shall we?

Farrah Fawcett was 62 (still young in relative terms), had been diagnosed with advanced cancer in October 2006. Ryan O’ Neal, commitment-phobe of the century couldn’t even make sure he was wedded to her before the poor woman passed on! Sadly her death was inevitable. But it doesn’t make it any less sad.

Michael Jackson was soon to turn 51. In three weeks time he was starting a concert series at the O2 Arena in London. He would have spent his 51st birthday in London. He’d had health problems in the past, all things considered mild compared to what happened to him hours before his death. His death was unexpected and unprecedented. It was SHOCKING!

Hence the fact that I find anyone retaliating to expressions of shock that people are quite aptly to have over Jackson’s death with a “What about Farrah?” retort utterly appalling and petty-minded.

So whose death is MORE important? Well, no one’s. They are equally saddening for different aspects. What is apparent is that Jackson’s death is going to have more impact due to his popularity, notoriety, stature, and age/nature of death. It might not be “right” but that’s just how it is. The man had/has far more fame/infamy. It’s just the way it is.

R.I.P Michael Jackson
R.I.P Farrah Fawcett

Or, if you prefer…

R.I.P Farrah Fawcett
R.I.P Michael Jackson

Satisfied now?

Some looks fade, some come to fruition.

I’ve seen a few recent shots of Bono soaking up the sun and I couldn’t help but think “Oh, Bono. Where did all those lovely youthful looks go, eh?”

Here is a montage of now and then shots.

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Time has not been kind to him. The image on the bottom left I used to have on my bedroom wall as a HUGE full-sized poster. I just used to stare at it for hours! Oh, I adored him! It was around ’83 I became a big fan, and it reached its ascendancy by 1984/5. By the end of ’85, after Live Aid and he grew a beard, did a guest vocal on a Clannad song and took part in and appeared in the Sun City video, my love for Bono began to wane. By 1986 I had a new man in my life!

As you might all know, my current fancy man is one David John McDonald (David Tennant for the uninitiated). But it’s the absolute REVERSE with him! You see young shots of him and you think, “My word! This man is fairly renowned as a scrummy piece of hotness, but you wouldn’t think it from THIS!”

A montage of him looking delectable now, but not so delectable then…

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It just goes to show, some people can improve with age.

Previous to DT I had a HUGE crush on Kevin Pietersen, WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

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The Snobbery of Art – Tracey Bashing!

I read yesterday that there’s a long awaited (for us who love and appreciate her art) Tracey Emin exhibition at the White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard called “Those Who Suffer Love”.

Once again, there’s a bubbling undercurrent of controversy, for HEAVEN FORBID Tracey has a piece in it that shows that most women in the 21st century like to masturbate. One of her pieces is a flick-book animation of a woman masturbating. Oh, HOW pornographic!

The first article I read about the exhibition was on the BBC News web site. They mentioned the animation briefly, but seemed to realise there’s much more to talk about with Tracey’s work. They had a comment from Tracey about the piece. She said, “[Masturbation] is not just about self-love, it’s also about self-loathing and being alone and for the act of being alone.” I understand what she means completely. Tracey’s work speaks to me.

I have to say, I’d never even heard of her until I moved to the UK. And even then, it took a visit to Tate Modern and seeing some of her work for her name to REALLY resonate with me. I saw a short film she’d made, almost like a video diary piece. Her art is SO personal and the video work I found very moving. I think I started to become a fan from that point on. If indeed artists have “fans”, like rock stars do.

Perhaps that’s what the critics (and Lord, the woman has her fair share of them) hate about the “modern” artists or as the Brit contingent are referred to YBA’s (Young British Artists – in the early 90’s, when a set of them came to public attention). That they are sort of held up as “pop stars” and have fans and followers. Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, The Chapman Brothers, Michael Landy are in the ranks of being labelled YBA’s. Hirst and Emin appear to be the “King and Queen” of the YBA’s, given the Wikipedia entry on the subject.

I see Tracey as almost a “today” version of Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was ballsy. She went FAR beyond what was the “acceptable face” of femininity in her art and her life. Her art was deeply personal and although I’m not a BIG fan of her artwork, I am of Frida herself and the things she represented in the art movement at the time. She portrayed herself in her art. She showed us what she wanted us to see, not what she THOUGHT we WANTED to see.

And that’s why I love Tracey. Her art is personal, but it is in no way conceited or self-centred. I’m sure critics would disagree (oh how they would disagree), but that’s how I see it. And that’s why ALL art is good. Critics, I swear, through their snobbery think they must like ALL art. If they don’t like it, it’s not art. WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT! I don’t rate Damien Hirst much myself, but I don’t begrudge people liking his work, or think any less of them.

I do, however, think it’s criminal that art has become SUCH a commodity. I watched a programme recently called “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble.” Revealed in the programme were aspects about how the collectors make the art a bigger commodity than it should be. A couple of examples: Andy Warhol collector Jose Mugrabi and his sons prop up the price of Warhol works, because they own SO much if it. Jay Jopling (the owner of White Cube Gallery – incidentally) and Damien Hirst bid on his own artwork (Hirst’s) to make it sell for what THEY deem it to be worth. But not only that, they also retain a percentage of the work most of the time, as it’ll be bought by consortia in which THEY are part of, therefore reinvesting in their own work, making more and more profit each time.

Most of the critics that criticise Tracey don’t do it because of some morality about the absurd price of art. Quite the opposite in fact. Most of them think she’s just “not worth it” or is not an “artist”. But what is an artist? Someone who is creative? Someone who produces images (be they words or pictures) for viewing? And isn’t art, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? Should I be pandered to and told what is art and what isn’t? Should *I* be told what I should and shouldn’t like? Am I meant to like a Jackson Pollock, even though (frankly) I think an elephant can do a better job? That’s just MY opinion on Pollock though. I don’t expect others to feel the same. For what his art sells for, obviously most people don’t.

But the critics who critique Tracey seem to think we should all listen to them and stop liking her work.

Here are comments left on a article on the Times Online.

She’s absolutely right when at the end she says others artists will be missed by the media even if they are fantastic, whereas she will not . She’s “lucky”. Job done…but just don’t ask us to accept your rubbish as well. You’re extremely famous and lucky but you can’t draw. You are not an artist.

Bob, from Hong Kong.

I have a good idea for an artwork. Copy some of the crude scrawls from the walls of my local public toilet, add some pretentious titles and pseudo-intellectual explanations, and…

Oh bugger, Tracey Emin has beat me to it.

Chris K from Cheltenham

While Hirst doesn’t seem to be any better at drawing than Emin is, at least it is not what he’s trying to impress us with…. actually the ‘dead sheep’ and ‘pickled cows’ have quite an effect when seen for the first time. I just really can’t see what’s so special about her rather ugly sketches.

Paloma, from London

In response to Paloma, I dare say that what separates Hirst from Emin is that although it could be argued that Tracey’s sketches are crude (by definition a sketch is “A hasty or undetailed drawing or painting often made as a preliminary study.”), they ARE personal. What’s personal about a pickled cow? Yes, it’s very fascinating anatomically, but is it art? Is it something Hirst MADE? All he did was probably design the thing it’s displayed in. He didn’t “design” the cow, or make up the formaldehyde or probably even dissect the animal himself. Tracey’s not trying to “impress” us, she’s telling us her story (and for some of us her appreciate her art), OUR story).

Then there are just absurd, ridiculous statements that are laced with personal attacks.

Good grief! We have all had trauma in our lives – why is this hellish woman who wants us all to know about her tawdry life in a sick visual Big Brother style, taken seriously? Arrgh. She is not an artist but a poor exhibitionist who always makes me want to shower after seeing her work. Eeww shudder

Christina from Edinburgh

“As artistic as vomit. – Tom Franklin, London, United Kingdom”

Geez Tom, don’t give the lady any ideas!

Clickety6 from London, in reply to an earlier statement.

Tracey Emin can’t draw for toffee.
Nice frock she’s wearing though, so she must find a few suckers.

Sara from Leicester.

Maybe an inspirational woman, but an artist!?
You can fool some of the people some of the time…………

Steve Duckworth from Leicestershire.

Steve may have a point at the end, but if you are basing that purely on her drawings, then perhaps you would come to that conclusion. The Times article DOES point out (some people seemed unable to take this information in) that some of the drawings go back a LONG way.

Let’s not forget, they are doodles, sketches. What Tracey does is present ALL of herself. Good and bad. If you only show the “good” art, isn’t that sort of a con? A cop out? Why do people not understand that? That, what is artistic in her is the way she reveals herself. That’s HER art. That, if you like, SHE’S the art. If she left sketches out because they weren’t “good enough” she’d feel she was cheating us. And people can’t see that it’s the revelation of the art, and perhaps not so much the pieces themselves that is the art.

And that’s why I compared her to Frida. And that’s why I want to go and see the exhibition.

Where Has Morality Gone?

There is a big story in Australia at the moment regarding sex scandals between groups of professional, high profile sportsmen and young women who participate in “consensual” group sex with these sportsmen.

Not all incidents are evidently consensual though. The ABC’s current affairs programme Four Corners looked into the way NRL (National Rugby League) players conduct themselves off-field and their attitudes to alcohol and women.

I’ve been reading the transcript of the Four Corners programme and my word, some of the reading is disgusting.

Some of the behaviour highlighted is beyond belief. One of the teams season launches (the Manly Sea Eagles) was so fuelled with bad drunken behaviour, I found myself slack-jawed reading about it. There was an incident involving Sea Eagles player Anthony Watmough in which he was at the ceremony badly intoxicated and was abusive to one young lady – apparently for the appalling reason that she couldn’t remember his name and didn’t recognise him as the “famous footy player” he so believed he is! He then went on to verbally abuse her to her own father, saying “How could you let her leave the house dressed like that?” (for obviously Mr Watmough believed her to be scantily clad) and then proceeded to punch him!!

Another incident highlighted saw team members from a different club behave in a disorderly fashion at a University campus. What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask. Well, not anything especially, other than the players had absolutely no reason to be AT the campus, and one helped himself to trying to sexually abuse a young woman who was sleeping in her dorm. Yes, she was intoxicated herself, but she was in her OWN private dorm, asleep! She didn’t invite him back to her dorm, she didn’t consent to anything. She was asleep in her dorm, and this player just walked into her room and assaulted her!

Another incident saw a group of players take back a “footy groupie” to a hotel room and forced her to perform oral sex on several players whilst being filmed on mobile phones. She was actually told to say that she’d given her consent to the sex acts, TO camera!!

A woman who was involved in arranging “groupy” meetings with footballers on Facebook said that one of the men present told her about the incident. She wanted to know if she knew the woman and so asked the player who she was. He replied “oh, just some slurry from around Cronulla.” (Cronulla is a suburb in Sydney’s south.)

One of the biggest stories to surface in recent years was an incident that happened with members of the Canterbury Bulldogs team in 2004. It was during an away game which saw players staying at a Coffs Harbour resort involved in a group sex act with a young woman. There was an investigation. Team members were interviewed, but no charges were laid. There didn’t appear to be any indication the group sex was consensual, and the woman in question was insulted by the players and discarded.

Roy Masters, sports writer and former NRL coach, seemed to believe that players participated in group sex activities as part of a “bonding exercise”. That is the most unbelievably disgusting excuse I’ve ever heard. By way of airing that opinion it is tantamount to condoning it!

Four Corners revealed that two years before the Bulldogs sex scandal, there was another sex scandal that took place while (surprise, surprise, given their high regard for women) the Cronulla Sharks team were on tour in New Zealand.

Four Corners spoke to a woman they referred to as “Clare”. She told the programme she was invited back to one of the players rooms. She was initially accompanied by two players. What was to follow was (in her testimony) NON-consensual group sex. She described aspects of the incident in detail, including mauling and mass fondling of her body and having players sexual organs probed and rammed into her face. Players were either having intercourse with her, sexually abusing her in some other way, or in the room masturbating over what was taking place. Clare was 19 years old at the time.

Over the last seven years she has had a severe alcohol problem, has been suicidal and now has to bare the brunt of Australian public opinion, in which a vast swathe just believe her to be a whore, a trouble-maker and someone who, quite frankly, deserved what she got!

I think that is absolutely disgusting. Clare named one player in particular that she remembered from the ordeal, Matthew Johns. Given what I’ve seen in the past, not the brightest colour in the crayon set. He is now an ex-player and has a role in presenting a tawdry television programme, called The Footy Show, based loosely on discussing the weeks football (NRL), but more about juvenile antics and supposed “funny” segments. Johns has an alter ego on the show called Reg Reagan. From what I’ve seen he’s as about as funny as a tooth canal. What classes for humour in my country of birth sometimes leaves me in despair. But to each their own, I suppose.

Mr Johns doesn’t deny being involved in the incident. In fact, he admits to having sex with her! And he’s a married man, but that’s okay, all is forgiven. But if he had a modicum of decency, he’d at least reveal who the other team members were in the room with him. Oh, but no, he’s keeping schtum, so is his team-mate Brett Firman, who also admits to having sex with Clare. But in a rather un-team-like manner, all other members are keeping quiet and not revealing their involvement.

There was a police investigation at the time in New Zealand, and no charges were laid.

Last week Mr Johns made some pathetic statement about the accusations raised in the Four Corners programme and subsequently through the rest of the TV and print media.

You can’t say sorry enough. Maybe to your family, but absolutely nothing to Clare. Nothing like “If I have caused upset, anguish and pain to the lady involved, I unreservedly apologise”. No, nothing like that. What a man, eh?! What a hero!! Co-host Paul “Fatty” Vautin goes on to say, after the statement, “Alright mate, well said. Alright, let’s get on with the show”. FFS! That’s disgusting.

Channel Nine (makers of the Footy Show) then stood Johns down from his presenting role. Some sanity prevailed.

Sadly, you only have to see the comments on the YouTube clip, and the numerous Facebook groups to know that the tide of support is behind Johns.

One of the most eye-opening things in this whole Four Corners report was the attitude the younger players were shown to have in reference to sexual abuse on woman and men. Shown two video clips in which in the first incident a woman goes to a hotel room with two players, has consensual sex with one, but gets raped by the other, the general consensus by the players was “She put out first”. So the fact that she had consensual sex with the first man didn’t justify her saying “NO” to the second. Other comments went “She flirted with them both.” That, basically, she asked for it! Nice! Asked whether they thought the players might face consequences, the opinion of the players was that male number two (the rapist) might, but male number one (the seemingly consensual participant) might “get away with it” depending “how good his lawyer is” says one player!! My word!

Given a second video to watch in which a drunken man is raped by a member of the same sex, the opinions and views of the young players changes somewhat. I don’t think I need to explain that in this incidence all the players realise that what happened was unjustified, immorally wrong, and actually WAS rape. One player, having a particular epiphany says “You don’t really ask for trouble if you have too much to drink and get raped by a bloke. You don’t ask for that.”

REALLY?

One of the older players there, showing the videos says to the young men “Can we see that there’s some sort of double standard that may apply here? The girl’s gone out to have a drink. No one said that she didn’t ask for it but yet the male goes out and has a drink and it’s crystal clear that he didn’t ask for it.”

Lord help me I can hear the groans of realisation and epiphanies as I type.

I rest my case.

Bafta Television Awards 2009.

From the start I want to say that for £50 a ticket, I hope there were people who had a better time than us!

 

The journey starts at around 12.30pm. I’m tossing up whether to wear my tailored trousers down, or take my jeans and change. I decide to wear my jeans with my trainers (obviously NOT wear my heels – for reasons that WILL become apparent), and carry my trousers on my arm.

 

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Em’s dressed in her suit and the shoes we bought the previous day. She looks fab! (no pic, ‘cos you KNOW how Em is!)

 

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The jacket in detail.

 

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We got a cab at about 12.50pm and got to airport to take the coach into London a few mins later.

 

By 2.30pm we’re at Victoria station. We went inside the little shopping mall there and had something to eat in the food court upstairs. Then we made our way to the Royal Festival Hall where the Baftas were being held.

 

Em thought the best idea was (because the London marathon was also on Yesterday, the route going past the river on the other side where the Festival Hall is – and the nearest tube station) instead of taking the tube the three stops from Victoria to Embankment, we’d change at Westminster and go to Waterloo, so we’d be on the same side of the river as the Festival Hall. Nice idea in theory – but it made for one long-winded journey!!

 

Once we’d come out of Waterloo I needed somewhere to change into my trousers and put my shoes on. It was only when I departed the toilet at the Haywood Gallery opposite (where I changed into my attire) that my trousers instead of being comfortable (as I’d thought when I tried them on on Friday) were in fact LOOSE and prone to fall off me!! As well as that, I haven’t walked in heels in over 10 years and my ambitious purchase (swayed by the fact they were only £7.99) was almost instantly regretted when I realised I’d look like a crippled dwarf trying to walk in my heels! I had lots of steps to negate and all. I wasn’t feeling good at this point. And in the afternoon sun I was getting hot and flustered.

 

I wanted to stay by the red carpet to see the celebs arrive, but I also wanted to get off my feet!! There was no obvious entrance route for us plebs going in with our £50 tickets. I got the attention of one staff member, and he had us waiting for a way to get in for about 10 minutes. I thought I was going to collapse with the pain my legs were under! I kept on having to stand there in bare feet as I just could NOT take standing in the heels.

 

Eventually we were given a way in – right down the red carpet!! OMG! I hobbled down in my heels, all hot and sweaty, pain most likely evident on my face. God I must have looked like a fat ogre! Em went on ahead of me, down the red carpet. Leaving me to walk down it on my own. It was a nightmare!! When I got the end of the red carpet and rejoined Em I was SO pissed off. I said to her “thanks for sticking by my side!” She wasn’t even conscious of her faux par at first. Too wrapped in her own self-consciousness of walking down the red carpet.

 

We get ushered into the hall, and from there we saw NONE of the celeb red carpet arrival! We weren’t the only ones either. Nearly all the ticket holders ended up cut off from watching the arrivals. We were taken to the 5th floor and you could go out on the balcony and look, but all you saw from that height were the tops of celebs heads! You couldn’t even make out who was who!

 

We were there on the 5th floor for about an hour. We had to go one more floor up to take our seats. We were the first in, and the ceremony was set to start at 7pm.

 

We were up in the rafters! I could tell from what we could see on stage that we’d be spending most of the evening watching on a screen. The celebs started rolling in about 20 mins before the start. I saw Russell T. Davies walk in and thought “Oh, well that’s Doctor Who represented then, NO chance of seeing David Tennant now!” But just a few minutes later, I spotted him! He was there! I was in the same room as David Tennant! Even though I was so far away from him, I could barely make him out really. I think Georgia Moffet was with him. What a bitch! lol

 

We kept having it drummed into us that the event was black tie, DT rocks up in a jacket and t-shirt! The man’s beyond reproach! I’m sure he just smiles that flashy smile and peeps go “Aw, go on!!”

 

As it transpired he was there to present an award.

 

Chris Moyles is the un-funniest thing on two (fat) legs! Sorry, I REALLY don’t get him! And I feel like a Nana for saying it, but it’s true.

 

The ceremony ran smooth. Graham Norton was professional and funny. It was good to watch. A great “once in a lifetime” experience, but I will make sure I *NEVER* enter a comp like that again, for fear of winning it!

 

I wish I’d worn flat shoes!! And it really wasn’t the celeb “gawk-fest” I was hoping it would be. The award wins I was happy with? The I.T. Crowd (for Sit Com), Harry Hill (for Entertainment Performance), and David Mitchell (for Comedy Performance). A lot of references being made today about shock wins and the less popular choices winning gongs. It *was* odd!

 

Final thought? I really would NOT have wanted to spend £100 of my own money for those tickets, but the ceremony was good.

The Television FREKKIN’ Baftas!!

On Monday (I think it was Monday anyway, or over the weekend) I entered a competition on the Radio Times web site. It was for tickets to this weekends television Baftas. I had second thoughts entering the competition as it did state if you won tickets the dress code is black tie. I was thinking “how the hell am *I* going to dress for that?”. Then thought “what the hay!” and entered the comp. anyway. I just assumed I’d never have a hope in hell of winning them.

I had to go to the Bafta site to help me answer the question you had to enter the comp. Then I saw that tickets were available to the general public, but they were £50 each!! That helped me decide to enter too 🙂

Anyway, I’d just got out of the shower this morning. Had just finished drying myself off actually when my mobile phone rang. Em brought it upstairs to me and I answered. “Hello. Is that Larelle Read I’m speaking to?” Yes I say to the voice at the other end of the line. “Hi, this is (missed his name) _____ from Radio Times. You entered a competition online to win tickets to the television Baftas?” Yes, I say. “Well, I’m pleased to announce that you’ve won the competition.”

My flabber had never been so gasted! Couldn’t believe it! I enter ALL their comps online and the least I was interested in winning was this one, truth be told. But hey, it’s like being able to go to the Emmys or the Logie awards. I mean ZOMFG!!

The guy reiterated the event was black tie. I declared I didn’t own a dress and he said jacket suit was fine. As long as dress was smart, it would be fine.

Later in the day a lady from Bafta called and confirmed an address to send the tickets to me and also said about the black tie dress code. I checked with her and she said as long as we were smartly dressed – no jeans, trainers, etc, it would be fine.

I must admit, I have had to buy myself a pair of tailored trousers – I’ve got suitable tops and a jacket. Em has NOTHING! But I was actually able to order her a suit with a mail order catalogue I use for £20! Trousers and jacket. Both for £20! They should arrive tomorrow. We’ll just have to get suitable footwear from town on Saturday. We’ve got to spend a little money to look the part, but it’s a once in a lifetime thing for us, so it’ll be worth it.

I’ll let you know who we see, what happens and whatnot on Monday. OMG! Squee! The TV Baftas! F*ck me sideways!!!

And you just never know “Who” might be there – nudge nudge, wink wink!!!!!!!!!