The Brits – an out of body experience

Yesterday evening I spent two and a half hours in a parallel universe.  Last night was the annual music industry bean-feast  – “The Brits”.  I’ve never watched “The Brits” live before and it was a smorgasbord  of entertainment – not necessarily for the right reasons –  of a sort that I have rarely seen and certainly never expected: in equal measure both very amusing and downright confusing.

First up, which cool and current presenters were hosting? Of course, stupid me, there is only one duo who fits that bill – Ant and Dec (BTW – Ant is the one with the dark hair, sort of looks like an ant?) – who else? Don’t misunderstand me, I love Ant and Dec but I’m a 42 year old mother of 3 whose most recent concert experience was Bryan Adams – The 30 years after “Reckless” tour.  I would love to have been there at the production meeting which decided that they were the right choice of presenters.  I mean come on, their music credibility could never recover from their PJ and Duncan days.  Perhaps it was some sort of ironic statement choosing them – so ironic that it will have been lost on 99.9% of the TV audience and 100% of those actually in the O2 last night.  As they bounded around the stage like demented garden gnomes, I have to admit to being quite surprised that at no point did any one of the music stars there shout “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”.

Equally bizarre was the choice of award presenters.  Who on earth came up with the increasingly extraordinary selection of people to give out the awards and I can’t decide whether putting Jimmy Carr with some underwear model at least a foot taller than him was genius or just wrong.  And John Bishop…at that point I thought I must have accidentally sat on the remote control and turned channels to some comedy satellite channel on permanent repeats.  But no my eyes were not deceiving me, he really was presenting an award at our premier music awards which is supposed to be reaching out to a global audience.

Having shared out the awards (which incidentally I thought looked like creepy rag dolls) more-or-less equally between Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith – one for me, one for you, another for me, another for you – the rest of the evening was geared towards performances by two totally unBRITish artists – Kanye West and Madonna.  It was during Kanye’s performance (most of which the TV gods deemed too sensitive for our ears and muted accordingly) that I knew I was in a parallel universe.  Fortunately, it would appear I was not the only one as the entire audience looked on baffled apart from his adoring wife and Taylor Swift who was dancing somewhat strangely as though she was listening to something utterly different to the rest of us.  It was certainly a “performance” – I’m just not sure of what? I did like the blowtorch things (a frisson of danger?) – although the operators appeared a little trigger happy and they seemed to run out of gas half way through. Watching Ant and Dec try and rationalise Kanye’s performance after was nothing short of surreal – kangaroo testicles and critters are one thing, but this was way outside their remit.

And then, the finale, a golden moment of television which has already been watched and re-watched by millions (if not billions) worldwide – Madge’s little “moment” – CapeGate.  Come on, Madge, surely you know never to work with children, animals and capes? Perhaps the most astounding thing about her tumble was the fact that she dropped the mic and the singing stopped – yes, she was singing live! Cynics and conspiracy theorists might reasonably postulate that the entire incident was planned to prove that she does not lip sync and is a true professional.  Whatever actually happened, I admired her getting up and carrying on and all the crass gags about her age, hip replacements etc from certain media quarters were to my mind rather pathetic and predictable.  I am however slightly concerned for the safety of whichever backing dancer becomes the scapegoat for CapeGate – I’m not sure that Madge is one to take her humiliation at her first Brits for 20 years lightly.  I am fairly confident that he/she won’t be working again in the foreseeable future.

And so the show ended, leaving me – and I’m sure I’m not alone – thinking that any moment now I would wake up and it was all just one of those hallucinogenic-feeling dreams in which all the boundaries of what is normal and rational are transgressed. If there was any atmosphere in the O2 it certainly did not translate through the TV – tumbleweed – but perhaps the audience’s response throughout was less lukewarm and more a form of shell-shock at what they were witnessing.  It was a night of the bizarre, fire, the dire and strangely, admire – respect to Madge – she sure knows how to ensure all the morning papers’ headlines are about her.

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How to tell if a woman is over 40…

a-ha 11

a-ha 11 (Photo credit: thierry.cote)

Do you think she’s in her late thirties or early forties?  How often do we guesstimate someone’s age? All the time.  At my age, the obsession of looking young/old for your actual biological age becomes fanatical.  So to make this job easier, I thought I would devise a little test which will accurately pin down whether a woman is under 40 or over 40. I realise this is of no great consequence nor life-changing in anyway but it’s kept me amused for the last half an hour and on a Monday I’ll run with anything that I find semi-amusing.

So, here goes, a woman is over 40 if…

– she has begun to express a desire to or has actually started to visit garden centres on a regular basis.  The odd trip to a garden centre to buy a ready planted-up hanging basket does not count and should be taken as a sure sign that a woman is still in her thirties. The sign to look out for that this has been replaced with regular and much longer visits is the acquisition of a garden centre loyalty card.

– she suddenly cuts a fringe into her hair.  This budget Botox alternative is a desperate attempt to cover up the wrinkles on the forehead but is almost as obvious an admission of ageing as the inability to raise your eyebrows after Botox.

– she has a glass of water for every glass of wine. This is a combination of middle age sensible, responsible behaviour and a morbid fear of the forties’ hangover. Although largely effective at avoiding the “hammer in the brain” feeling the next morning (and for the next 5 days when you are over 40), it does have the rather undesirable side effect of requiring numerous bathroom visitations through the night.

– she visibly shudders at the mention of wearing little shorts with opaque tights underneath. Never in the history of fashion to my mind has there been a trend which is so not designed for the over 40s. Any woman sporting this trend is either under 40, an ex-supermodel or frankly delusional.

– she knows exactly who Morten Harket and John Taylor from Duran Duran are. Say no more. Enough said.  She also knows who Harry Styles is but is acutely aware that she is old enough to have gone through school, university, two years of a job and then given birth to him.

– she remembers writing SWALK and LOL (original meaning) on letters. She also can’t quite bring herself to writing ‘u’ for ‘you’ and ‘4’ for ‘for’ when texting and always texts in full sentences – noun, verb, object etc.

– she always tries to stay in on either Friday or Saturday night.  The ability to manage two nights out in a row significantly diminishes after the age of 40 and becomes nigh on impossible after 45.  Anyway, staying in with a bottle of wine, a takeaway and Ant and Dec on the TV is ideal, isn’t it?

– she remembers when the Blue Peter garden got vandalised and it couldn’t just be fixed with double-sided sticky tape and “who shot JR?”.  These were her first encounters with crime.

– she suddenly understands the point of a lip liner pencil. Having always thought it was yet another one of those beauty cons, she now realises that without it she runs the risk of being mistaken for a clown in Billy Smart’s Circus.

– Finally, she starts blogging and banging on about it being her time now….