Monday, 13 October 2014

Cecil Sharp House

We sat down this morning to watch last night's X Factor; a format which feels more tired, cliche-ridden and manipulative with every new season. Today we were forced to endure the well-trodden path of the boy band appealing to younger girls by singing Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." This song is obviously intended to be sung by a girl. I wouldn't say the original was edgy, but it's titivating  lesbian vibe was at least refreshing when it came out ten years ago. When performed by a boy band, the song becomes saccharine in the extreme. "I kissed a girl and I liked it..." Um...? Because you're gay and the experience of snogging a girl was novel? Or because you're a tragic Virgin?

These "talent" shows are now so ensconced in their own bubbles, that they've started to become a self-perpetuating world of their own. You get the soap opera existences of contestants trying out, being told no and then returning the next year much "stronger" (whatever that means) and now the new phenomenon, where a member of a band (who have only ever existed in the world of the talent show) goes solo. Oh the trials and tribulations...

The thing I found saddest of all, however, was seeing that the show was using Cecil Sharp House as the location for its dance rehearsals. Cecil Sharp House is the well-respected home of British folk music, and it sits very uncomfortably with me to see it being dragged into the X Factor machine.

I went to my god daughter's second birthday party this afternoon and en route, somewhere on Old Street, noticed the new advert for Tia Maria, which carries the slogan, "it's better to break a heart than a heel." Is it? I mean, REALLY? Am I the only one who thinks this fake female empowerment thing is going a bit too far? I mean, what does the slogan even mean? There's a picture on the advert of two women walking home, late at night, arm in arm, laughing conspiratorially whilst carrying their high-heeled shoes like terrible slags. No doubt we're meant to see these women as man-slayers, who've wandered the bars being so cool and aloof that men have been reduced to quivering wrecks, desperate to be loved by these perfectly quaffed ice maidens.

What the advert doesn't show us is the scene which follows, where one of our girls is vomiting into the toilet whilst the other weeps into a tea towel because their evening of aloof behaviour backfired when the man they were desperate to ensnare entirely failed to notice them because he was too busy getting off with the trashy blonde girl who was throwing herself at him.

I long for more honesty in advertising. We're all trying so hard to get by in life. We don't need the added pressures created by models pretending to be real people and advertising executives filling our heads with nonsense.

The party was fun. We made crowns out of flowers and autumn leaves, and decorated cup cakes, whilst eating cucumber sandwiches and drinking mugs of tea. One of the little girls at the party came up to me and said "is it true that you married another man?" "Yes" I said, "is that a little strange?" "Yes" she said. And that was that!

We spent the evening eating delicious food Alex and Wes' apartment in East London. Brother Edward describes the place as a terraced house in the sky, and he's not wrong. It's split over three floors, which start on the 17th storey of an enormous building. There are huge windows everywhere with stunning views across London. From the sitting room, you can see all the landmarks of the city from the Shard to Big Ben, which must be four or five miles away. Highlight of the night was definitely a cheese with truffles in it. A lesser known fact about me is that truffles are my equivalent of catnip. They make me go all heady and giddy. Truffles in cheese was almost too perfect! I go to bed a happy man!

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