Friday, 3 December 2010

The best Strictly routine ever

Yes alright I know. It's been a while. But I've been busy. Well, I say 'busy'. I mean 'on trains'. Lots of trains to lots of regional conferences on lots of Saturdays. The upshot of which is that I've not had a great deal of free time that I've not already allocated to sleeping. So apologies for that. I'll try harder.

Anyway, I've been a bit out of the loop Strictly-wise. As I say I've been travelling a lot, usually on Saturday evenings so I've fallen out of step with the series overall. I have, of course, been keeping up to date with developments from Team Annton though. And my haven't there been developments.

Firstly, I'd like us all to spend a moment thinking about the majesty of the gold sequin trousers. I mean really. They were a thing, weren't they? Love or hate - and I don't feel I need to tell you which camp I'm in! - you can't deny that there are very very few men who would have the cajones to even try them on, let alone actually get away with them. The photo, by the way, is a newspaper clipping that's now gracing our fridge door.

Anyway, sartorial amazingness aside - and I can't help but feel that this series has been a cracker for La Du Beke in that regard both in terms of costumes and the lessons in how men should dress he's been giving on It Takes Two - I suppose I should mention dancing at some point. I'm glad to see Anton and Erin have returned to regular pro dance slots now. And they've been good ones, none of this dubious 'unleashed' nonsense.

But the main thing I wanted to draw your attention to is the brilliance of the Titanic themed rumba routine from last week. I'm not going to mince my words: it's my favourite Strictly routine ever. I may take some heat for this from the 'it's a dance contest' crowd but I believe my general disdain for that crowd is well known, so I don't care. In terms of pure entertainment value - which is what the show is about of course - you can't match it. From the manic shout of 'ICEBEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERG' at the beginning, through the slightly perturbed look as the Widdy embrace is locked in, to the foghorn sound effect at the end the whole routine is just genius. Serious kudos to Anton for this. The man is proving to be a comedy genius, which isn't a surprise to anyone who's seen him on tour. Can you really imagine any of the other pros doing something that's so blatantly just a bit of fun? I could go on at length about this I love it so much. So here it is for your viewing pleasure, but mostly mine.

You can thank me later.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

My dream Strictly line up

I've literally been writing this post for weeks. Well not literally, my typing is bad but it's not that bad. But I've been thinking about it, making notes about it, for weeks. What can I say? I spend a lot of time on trains. And I'm quite fabulously geeky about Strictly stuff. I'm sure you'd not noticed that.

I've finally been prompted to sit down and physically write it by a discussion on Twitter about exactly this issue started by the lovely people at Our Warner (them of the Strictly experience mini breaks that I will one day go on). They've blogged about it on their site too - and we share some celeb choices. 

So below you'll find my dream line up of celebs and which pros they'd be paired with. I've brought back one of my favourite pros too. Now I should say, before the pedantry army start, I've taken very little account of practical considerations like height. It's a dream, don't rain on my hot and well dressed parade. Oh, and it surely goes without saying that part of any dream Strictly line up is removing Alesha and bringing back Arlene. It certainly is in mine. Anyway, onwards...

Rupert Everett and Aliona Vilani - I adore Rupert Everett, and his particular brand of fabulously uncensored slightly camp antics would be perfect for Strictly. I've put him with Aliona because they would look achingly good together. Just imagine their tango...

Michelle Obama and Anton Du Beke - This makes me swoon. A lot. Seriously, how good would this be? Thinking about how graceful their ballroom would be gives me goosebumps. And how cool would it be seeing Barack in the audience?! Anton might even finally win. Stranger things have happened!

Hayley Williams (Paramore) and Artem Chigvintsev - I wanted someone with serious attitude to dance with Artem and I can think of few people with more attitude than Paramore's Hayley. She would clearly have serious musicality too. Their fiery paso would be one to watch.

Victoria Coren and Brendan Cole - Victoria Coren is one of my idols. I love her. Watching her and Brendan working together would be amazing, she would definitely be in charge. How good she'd be at dancing remains to be seen but she'd be hilarious regardless. And it would make a lot of my straight male friends very happy indeed...

Judi Dench and Darren Bennett - How cute would this be? Darren is the only one of the 'axed' pros I really miss and Judi Dench is a bona fide national treasure. Given her background in musical theatre I reckon she's got some moves too.

Peter Mandleson and Erin Boag - Ok, so this might be a bit of a Marmite choice. But I love The Dark Lord. He's a complete legend, and the best in the world at what he does. He had dancing lessons as a youngster and has said he wants to do Strictly. So let's see him in action. I'd love to see how he reacted to Erin being in charge too!

Gino D'Acampo and Flavia Cacace - Again with the cuteness. I can imagine the lovely Gino absolutely owning the Latin dances. Ballroom not so much. His hyper back and forth with the judges (especially Bruno) would be worth the license fee alone.

Miranda Hart and James Jordan - As a pairing I think these two would be hilarious. And even if they weren't Miranda on her own would be. She's also an obsessive Strictly fan so would work really hard. I would love to see their charleston. It would have the potential to be even funnier than Ann and Anton's. If that is indeed possible.

Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) and Jared Murillo - I was toying with the idea of giving Jared some kind of kinky Mrs Robinson-esque figure but just couldn't do it. I loved how cute he and Tina were this year and he and Bonnie would offer more of the same. Plus I'm borderline obsessed with her amazing hair.

Jose Mourinho and Katya Virshilas - One word: hot. Frankly having Anton and Jose in one place at the same time is amazing enough on its own. Having them dancing... Wow. The image of Jose doing a properly hot and dirty paso with Katya is beyond gorgeous. And she's proved she can deal with sportsmen with huge egos this series so I'm sure she could cope with The Special One.

John Morrison (WWE) and Kristina Rihanoff - Anton, Jose and JoMo in one room? I'm spoiling myself. JoMo is astonishingly attractive and can move his body in ways which I still can't believe are even physically possible. Their Latin would be beyond hot and their show dance would just be AMAZE, as the kids are saying. I think JoMo would be the pioneer of the topless quickstep on Strictly. And I approve of this.

Tim Gunn (Project Runway) and Natalie Lowe - I appreciate this is a bit obscure for anyone who hasn't watched Sky 1 during the day recently/isn't American. Tim is an unashamedly camp fashionista with an eye for a trend and a collection of sharp suits that would make Anton green with envy. I reckon he has moves based on no evidence whatsoever. He would absolutely rock his costumes though (he'd probably make some of them himself) and be able to offer the other contestants tips on good dressing and etiquette. 

David Beckham and Ola Jordan - Becks would have moves. He is gorgeous. He is well dressed. What's not to like? I reckon he'd be especially good at the ballroom too, which works for me. He might miss his wife though...

Victoria Beckham and Robin Windsor - she's in too. Perhaps controversially, I love Victoria. Mostly because her fashion line is unexpectedly completely brilliant. I'd want her to design her own costumes. She has a background in theatre (waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the day) so would be pretty good I think. Plus her and Robin would look yummy together. 

Kim Catrall and Vincent Simone - I've included this match up purely because I do love watching people flirt outrageously. Kim would look amazing on the dancefloor and can you imagine the smile on Vincent's face when he was dancing with her?

There you go. I'm now salivating slightly at the thought of so much hot - and so many well cut suits - on one dancefloor. Anyone at the BBC care to oblige me? Thought not. 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Strictly Week 6: in which my gears get grinded

You may have noticed that I've stopped doing weekly Strictly reviews. The reason for this is two-fold: 1) I'm so busy with work at the weekends that I'm not even watching (all of) the show some weeks, 2) I don't really enjoy writing the detailed reviews, they take forever and according to my statporn comparatively few people actually read them. So they're gone. For now at least. I'll probably change my mind. I do that.

But that doesn't mean I've stopped blogging about Strictly. Hell no! And this week, I'm annoyed. There are several reasons for this. The biggie (which perhaps you can guess) I'll come to in a bit, but there are a few other things that are grinding my gears.

Now this is a tiny thing that most people won't care about, but I am a music geek and I do. Brendan and Michelle (who I thought was much better this week than she's been, and was dancing something other than the Time Warp) purported to be dancing a waltz. Well, they weren't. The song was in 4/4, a waltz is in 3/4. That angered me. But as I said, I guess most of you won't care about that so I'll move on.

The thing that really wound me up this week was the judges. I mean really. What even?! When they weren't being rude and insulting and generally acting like children with each other, they were being rude and insulting and giving ridiculously inconsistent marks to the contestants. If we're supposed to take their opinions and scores in any way seriously perhaps they might want to have a look at what they're actually saying. Of course, that's not really why they're there but still.

So we come to the thing that's winding me up big time this week: Widdygate. Perhaps it won't surprise you to learn that I adored Ann and Anton's charleston this week. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much at something on TV, though I rather suspect it was when I saw their salsa. It was a couple of minutes of genuine entertainment, what Saturday night TV is all about.

But, as I've said before, some people take Strictly far too seriously. These people think Ann is ruining a dancing competition and should quit the show if she's not eliminated. And then Jimi Mistry got eliminated from the show and these people went into overdrive. Now I'm not saying for a moment that I think Jimi should have gone - he clearly shouldn't - but the fact he did is not Ann's fault. Nor is it anyone else's on the show. Jimi went because people didn't vote for him. Why should other people be at fault because people did vote for them?

At this point I'm going to shut up. I find this debate completely infuriating. To define Strictly as a dancing competition is to completely misunderstand it. If the BBC wanted a flagship Saturday night dancing competition then they'd have brought back Come Dancing in its original form. If it was only about the dancing then why have celebrities in it at all? I genuinely don't understand how people can't see this and it drives me mad.

You see, I'm getting ranty and overexcited. It's not good for me. So I'm going to defer to other people.

Brendan Cole was in the bottom two - again - on Saturday night. Does he think Ann is devaluing the show and should quit? Of course he doesn't. Here's what he tweeted last night:
"Ann & Anton deserve their place in the show! The public are keeping them in & the papers need to stop the nonsense! Not fair to them! As contestants on SCD, it's our job to inspire the audience to vote for us! If we fail to do so, we run the risk of going home! If others succeed then their place is very much valid on the show! We can't blame the couple that get the vote over us, only ourselves!"
Apart from an overuse of exclamation marks, the man speaks the sense. Or rather, the sense! As does The Telegraph's Michael Deacon, writing on his blog yesterday:
"If anybody thinks the continued presence of a leaden-footed rhythm-phobe like Widdecombe “devalues” the show as a “dance competition”, they should seek urgent psychiatric assistance. Strictly Come Dancing can’t be devalued as a dance competition, because it has no value as a dance competition. Never has had, and was never meant to have. If this were a serious dance competition, why would there be celebrities competing at all? 
My own view, innocent though it may seem, is that if the BBC had intended Strictly to be a serious dancing competition, they would have ensured that all the competitors were professional dancers. By instead hiring celebrities, I would argue, the BBC sent out a reasonably clear signal that the programme is intended to be light entertainment.
If people insist on voting for Widdecombe to remain, they presumably think that watching her after all these weeks is still funny. They may be deluded, but not quite as deluded as those who think those voters’ actions are harming the programme’s reputation."
I don't usually agree with The Telegraph, but this had me jumping up and down shouting 'YES! EXACTLY!' at my laptop when I read it this morning. And I'm not a jumping up and down sort of person. I'm usually quite anti-jumping in fact.

Now if you'll excuse me I'm going to go and oil my grindy gears. Probably by looking at photos of Anton. Probably topless. Om. Nom. Nom.

Monday, 1 November 2010

On-off non-exclusive romance?

This blog post represents something very rare: outside of a drinking game related situation, me talking about my private life. It's not something I do often. I don't think it's any of anyone else's business but mine. Besides, as you'll see, it's kind of complicated...

So why now? Mostly you can blame Stephen Fry. His ill judged comments - however misquoted - about how women don't enjoy sex and only do it to somehow trap men into a relationship made me quite indescribably annoyed. They were so ignorant and so spectacularly wrong it was almost physically painful. Not quite as painful as reading Yasmin Alabi Brown's response, which compared Fry to a wife beater, in today's i though. My disdain for YHB aside, Fry's comments did get me thinking about the nature of relationships and sex for women today.

The other thing that's inspired this post happened to me in W H Smith today. I was buying a Christmas card for The Bloke. One of those needlessly soppy World's Best Boyfriend things, you know the type. Whilst paying I was making small talk with the cashier, as you do. She asked me how long we'd been together, how we met etc etc. The conversation was amiable, to the extent that these things ever are, until I mentioned one detail about my relationship with The Bloke which killed the conversation completely. It's a detail that isn't important to us in any way but seemingly the rest of the world thinks it's amazing.

You see, we're not an exclusive couple. We've been together for five years, on and off, having been introduced by a mutual friend after an eyes across a crowded conference bar moment at Lib Dem spring conference when I was still at Uni. We've been an item ever since and, mostly, very happily so. So why does the fact that we both see other people sometimes matter?

Frankly, it doesn't. Not to us. I know he loves me and I love him. We have our ups and downs, as anyone who follows me on Twitter will have seen recently, like any other couple. But the stuff we argue about is the same stuff everyone else argues about - him not answering his phone, the amount I spend on clothes, how little we see each other.

We don't do jealousy. I know he's sleeping with another woman but it doesn't bother me. I leave my Facebook relationship status as single but it doesn't bother him. Why? Because when we're together it's all about us. He treats me like a princess and, though I say it myself, I'm one of the best girlfriends ever! We're one of those irritatingly couple-y couples, unashamedly so. He's the most loving person I could hope to be with but for reasons of geography and employment I can't be with him as much as I want to be. That's hard on both of us, so we don't begrudge each other getting close to other people. Amongst those who know what we're like as a couple we're renowned for being an extremely happy, adult and functional couple. Because that's what we are.

Maybe you think that's disgusting (although what right do you have to judge me?) or
representative of a lack of self confidence/respect from one or both us (it isn't). I really don't care. At the end of the day we're very happy exactly as we are.

There's one other reason, I think, why we are so contented at the moment. Both of us know that we're not going to last forever. I should explain that there's a significant age gap between me and The Bloke. When it comes to the whole marriage and kids thing he's been there, done that, got the t shirt and doesn't want to go back. I've never been there, and I do want to go. We both know that eventually I'll meet the person that I'll spend the rest of my life with and that will be that. I think this realism is incredibly healthy. We know we ultimately want different things in life and are facing up to it rather than trying to bury the fact and pretend it's not going to cause problems down the line. The Bloke and I will split up, but when we do it will be on good terms and I'm sure we'll remain close friends.

In the meantime my on-off non-exclusive romance makes me very happy indeed. And when Anton finally turns up at my door to sweep me off my feet, I'll be able to welcome him with open arms without a twinge of guilt. Why are you laughing?! Hey, a girl can dream!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Love Never Dies: worth missing Strictly, Anton and Flying Widdy for?

A few years back I read a great op ed in The Independent by Janet Street Porter. It was about how she really wasn't cool. To prove this she admitted she liked the two things it is just unacceptable to admit to liking in Britain: Wagon Wheels and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals. Janet, I sympathise. Wagon Wheels are lush, especially the extra jam ones. And Andrew Lloyd Webber has written some of the most startlingly good musicals ever.

Now this is not to say that I think everything ALW does is brilliant. Because it isn't. Woman in White, for example, was cleverly staged with a good cast but musically awful. Bombay Dreams was just terrible. And I don't get Cats. It gave us Elaine Paige, for which I'll never forgive it.

On the other hand ALW has produced some works of genius. From big boys Joseph, Evita, Phantom and Jesus Christ Superstar to the criminally underrated Aspects of Love, Whistle Down the Wind, Tell Me on a Sunday and By Jeeves the man knows his stuff.

I have to confess, though, when I heard he'd decided to write a sequel to Phantom of the Opera my heart sank a little. I, like pretty much everyone else in the universe, was convinced it would join the Woman in White axis of awful. But then it started previews and the reviews - shock horror - weren't all bad. There was particular excitement about the show's star - the fabulously named Ramin Karimloo. I was intrigued, and when an opportunity to see the show for myself arose I jumped at the chance.

Actually that's a lie. You see, going to the show meant missing Strictly. Specifically it meant missing Ann and Anton's tango. Even more specifically it meant missing Ann flying. I was stroppy about this. So the attitude I went into the theatre with was 'this better be bloody good'.

And you know what? It damn well was. 

You must go and see this show if you have the chance. You just must. It is amazing, romantic, dramatic, beautiful; ALW at his very very best. I'm not going to give any spoilers - because as I said you must go and see it - but the show takes up 10 years after the original Phantom ended. The eponymous anti-hero is now running a freakshow come vaudeville theatre in Coney Island, NYC, with Madame Giry and her daughter Meg. He's still in love with Christine Daae and successfully contrives to get her to come to Coney to sing for him one last time. She brings husband Raoul (who suffice it to say is not the virtuous young gentleman he was) and son Gustave with her. And, well, I suppose a spoiler free way to describe the rest of the show is all hell breaks loose in an entertaining, musically superb, atmospheric and, ultimately, tragic way.

I really don't want to give anything away about the plot or the music - which is the best that ALW's written for a very long time - in this show, but I will say a few things. There are some standout songs in this score, notably Til I Hear You Sing, The Beauty Underneath (the best song ALW has ever written? Certainly the most ambitious), Devil Take the Hindmost and the title track. The plot hangs together with an amount of credibility very uncommon for a musical, and the ending is in turn genuinely shocking and completely, utterly heartbreaking. I've never been in a theatre audience that simultaneously bursts into tears in the way the LND audience did. The staging, too, is magnificent. There's a lot of clever borrowing of the bits that worked from Woman in White here; indeed in the first scene I couldn't tell which bits of the set were real and which were computer generated.

And then there's Ramin Karimloo who, it turns out, is not just fabulously named but fabulous all round. He has the sort of stage presence that demands attention from the moment he appears. The Phantom is a big part that it would be easy to get swallowed by, but he doesn't. His Phantom is completely his own creation and all the better for it. He has a range and depth that most 'straight' actors, let alone musical ones, would give their right arm for. And his voice. THAT voice. His voice is perfect. Literally perfect. The only voice that has ever made my whole body tingle and every hair stand on hair. Quite simply, he is a superstar. The best actor I have ever seen in the West End. If you think I'm exaggerating, go and see the show. I defy you to reach any other conclusion.

So, is Love Never Dies worth missing Strictly, Anton and Flying Widdy for? Yes it is. Every time.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Lanvin Hearts H&M

I do love a good designer-highstreet diffusion line. And in recent years there have been some brilliant ones. Gold by Giles Deacon for New Look, Pierre Hardy for Gap and - more surprisingly, to me anyway - Kate Moss for Topshop have all been completely brilliant.

But when it comes to the diffusion, H&M is King. Their list of collaborations reads like a who's who of the recent fashion A-List. Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Viktor and Rolf, Roberto Cavalli, Comme des Garcons, Matthew Williamson, Jimmy Choo (my personal favourite) and Sonia Rykiel have all designed a line for them, as well as ranges by Madonna (surprisingly good) and Kylie Minogue (less so). So it comes as no surprise that the most exciting diffusion line EVER is coming from them.

Lanvin. Beautiful Lanvin. Beautiful, genius Lanvin. If I could only wear one brand for the rest of my life it would be Lanvin. Everything they make from their gorgeous shoes to their perfectly cut, obscenely flattering dresses is pretty much perfection. When I heard they were doing a diffusion line for H&M I nearly died of excitement.

And then this week the photos started to leak. Oh the photos. Stunning LBDs with immaculate detailing, gorgeous bags, beautiful jewellery, and bang on trend sunglasses. Loads of fashion blogs have got the photos, but the best coverage - complete with very affordable price list - is at Vogue. Obvs. I want it all, and I want it now.

Sadly, I'll have to wait. The full range is launched on November the 2nd with an exclusive video on the H&M website. It then makes its way into 200 H&M stores on November 23rd. Which, conveniently, is one of my lieu days off from work.

So if you need me on November 23rd, you know where I'll be...

Monday, 18 October 2010

Strictly Week 3: raising the bar

Week 3: Strictly at its best. I genuinely thought that this week's show was the highest quality for this stage in the series we've seen in many years. There were some stunningly good dances here. Even I have been compelled to pull out my 9. Yes, really.

Kara and Artem: quickstep
As I've said before, I adore the quickstep. It's proper dancing at its very best. So I expect this is the point you're expecting me to complain that this wasn't a traditional quickstep. Well it wasn't but I'm not going to complain - I loved this dance. Kara is so good, by far the most natural of the girls. This dance, non traditional as it was, really showed her off. The cartwheel was a fabulous flourish which other celebs may have baulked at but she pulled off to perfection. An 8 from me this week.

Felicity and Vincent: rumba
Who knew Felicity Kendall was so damn flexible?! I loved this routine. Vincent does rumba choreography so well (Rachel Stevens anyone?!) and this was no exception. This dance was classy but sexy with beautiful lines and great fluidity. I have to admit I felt slightly wrong watching it - Felicity is a national treasure for gods sake! - but it was beautiful. Their best dance yet. 8

Patsy and Robin: quickstep
Now I love Patsy. I want her to do well in this competition so badly. But this dance was not good. The beginning was painfully out of time and it never really got back on track. The footwork was poor and the gorgeous floaty quickstep that should have been was rendered jumpy and unattractive. I also have no idea why that music - KT Tunstall's Black Horse and the a Cherry Tree - was chosen. It just didn't work. Must do better - but I think they can. 5 this week.

Paul and Ola: rumba
All I have written on my notes for this is the word 'heinous'. Guess I didn't like it then! The problem here is that Paul was never going to be able to do a passable rumba so they tried to copy Ann and Anton and make the routine funny. Except it wasn't. It was cringeworthy. 3.

Matt and Aliona: quickstep
Matt yet again proves his awesomeness. I was raving about this gorgeous, classic, floaty quickstep until it went badly wrong in the middle. I can see why the judges thought it was a bit maic, but I really enjoyed it. 8 from me this week.

Gavin and Katya: rumba
Poor Gavin just can't get his slinky hips in gear. He looked very nervous, uncomfortable and stiff throughout this routine. Katya had tried to help him out by giving him very basic rumba walks for most of it, which I understand but did just leave him looking like he was only walking. Not good. Hope he gets the tango this week, because I fear for his safety if he has to try and pull off a charleston. A 6 this week.

Scott and Natalie: quickstep
I've complained about Natalie's choreography every week so far. Not so this time. This was the dance of the night for me. The choreography was classic, classy and executed almost flawlessly. A genius song choice (I do love a but of Disney!) too. Brace yourselves: a 9 from me.

Michelle and Brendan: rumba
First of all, I have so much respect for Brendan dancing at all on Saturday night given he'd just found out his dad had died. I can't imagine how awful he must have felt - there's no way I could have done it.
That said, I now feel bad for saying I didn't like this at all. It looked uncomfortable (understandably perhaps) and Michelle seemed stiff and gangly. Her opening moves were just ugly. Michelle is dancing with Ian Waite next week whilst Brendan is at his dad's funeral. I hope she's still in by the time he gets back. For this week 6.

Peter and Erin: quickstep
And the award for most improved performance of the series goes to... This was a fab routine - Erin is not the Queen of the Quickstep for nothing! - and Peter really pulled it off. He was confident, his footwork was good, and the timing was generally good too. Nice work! A 6 this week.

Jimi and Flavia: rumba
Never have I agreed so completely with the judges. This dance was odd. There were flashes of brilliance sitting next to some horrifically stiff moments. I think Jimi was just trying too hard - it's clearly not a lack of talent. He tweeted a lot about having a tough week in rehearsals so maybe it was just the dance that he didn't gel with. Not a bad effort all in all though, and I do love Jimi. A 7 from me.

Ann and Anton: quickstep
Now fair play, this was a proper attempt at actual dancing from Ann. And I thought she did completely competently. It was by no means perfect, but it was by far the best actual dancing she's done and she had clearly worked hard at it. Well done Ann! And then there was Anton. Never have I been so excited at the sight of a top hat and cane. Oh my. Watching him dancing the quickstep causes me waves of near orgasmic joy. And that music..! Oh. My. Word. Overall, once again, Team Annton made me a very happy Billi.

Pamela and James: rumba
My other favourite couple are yet to disappoint me. I didn't like this as much as their other dances but it was still completely amazing. I'm with Len on the stupid lift at the end, but otherwise brilliant. An 8 from me.

And so to Sunday...

The results show this week was markedly less shit than last week, Peter Andre excepted. I adored the pro charleston and had appreciation for the pro 'tango' even if it wasn't a dance I actually enjoyed watching. I'm a traditionalist at heart, as you may have noticed.

When it came to the result, I was glad to see Paul go and unsurprised to see Michelle and Brendan keeping them company in the bottom two. The result was right this week, although I'm sad to see the wonderful Ola go.

Next week (which I won't be watching live as I have a prior engagement with my family and the new Andrew Lloyd Weber musical) sees the dancers taking on a charleston or tango. Oh. Yes.

Bring it on!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

In praise of Pamela Stephenson

Now let's get something straight here. I am not defecting from Team AnnTon. However, I am going to cheat on them a bit. Well on Ann anyway. I could never cheat on Anton. Obviously.

I. Love. Pamela Stephenson. I just love her. When I grow up, I want to be her. To the extent I have one, she is absolutely my role model.

I would like to point out that this is not necessarily a new revelation for me. I can't remember the first time I saw the infamous Janet Street Porter interview take off, but I've always found it completely brilliant:

How can you not love that?! Especially as she met her equally legendary husband Billy Connolly on the show. I just adore this sketch.

I also adored the biography of Billy she wrote some year later. It's definitely in my top 10 biographies/autobiographies I've ever read. And I read A LOT of those!

So even before she waltzed onto Strictly I loved her. But on Strictly... WOW! I'm not going to bore you by rehashing all my opinions on how good her dances are, I've done that elsewhere. The thing that has really make me develop a serious girl crush on Pamela is her attitude.

She is working damn hard, but she's also having a laugh. She wants to do well, but doesn't ultimately care what anyone thinks of her. And she can save a potential epic fall and turn it into a smiling shimmy. How is that for a life skill?!

I finally decided I was properly in girl love with her after watching It Takes Two last night. I do love a good, giggly meltdown. I don't think I can describe it. So, for your enjoyment, here it is:

Pamela. I heart you.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Strictly Week 2: THAT salsa!

Things I never thought I'd say: I love Ann Widdecombe. And, let's be honest, the build up to Week 2 was all about Widdy. How on earth would she cope with the sex of a salsa? Would we see some Widdy hip action? And just how much of Anton's chest would we be treated to? Of the latter not enough, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Week 2 saw the couples taking on a salsa or a foxtrot, with varying degrees of success. Generally I thought the standard this week was much improved (apart from Bruce who had a bit of a nightmare) and it's nice to see so many of the celebs improving already. The foxtrot is one of my favourite dances, the salsa is my least favourite. As Anton said, it's just nonsense. Still, I thought the live show was great and saw some really outstanding performances for this stage in the competition...

Matt and Aliona - foxtrot
Let's be honest: Matt is just a great dancer. His foxtrot was no exception. Apart from a tacky ending (and, at the risk of sounding like Widdy, the fact it was a bit too sexy for me) this routine was fabulous and a joy to watch. An 8 from me.

Peter and Erin - salsa
Oh dear. I found this excruciating to watch. I love Erin to bits but Peter just couldn't cope with the choreography she'd given him. He was left on his own too much and his hip action was just nauseating. On the plus side he was clearly much more confident this week which stands him in good stead for a return to ballroom next week. They get a 3.

Tina and Jared - foxtrot
Another celeb who came out with much more confidence. I really liked this routine. It was elegant and classy with far fewer mistakes. She still needs to relax a bit but has bags of
potential. A 6 from me, and I can't wait to see how they get on in future weeks. They're so cute!

Patsy and Robin - salsa
Patsy was almost unrecognisable from the nervous wreck that danced last week! A confident and sexy salsa but still had some dodgy footwork. That said, if she can keep her confidence up she will be wicked. One to watch in future weeks, a 6 for this week.

Paul and Ola - foxtrot
Not as awful as I was expecting, but still not good. An improvement from last week though and quite cute in parts. Generally looked like dad dancing and there was a bit near the end when Paul was left to dance on his own that he just looked completely confused! A 4 from me.

Scott and Natalie - salsa
This disappointed me. The problem I have with Scott and Natalie as a couple is that, so far, all the choreography has been about showing off what Nat can do at Scott's expense. Which is a real shame because when he was given something to do in this routine he was really very good. Hopefully this will change in future weeks. An underwhelmed 7.

Michelle and Brendan - foxtrot
I loved this choreography. Good use of the stairs and a prop leading to a beautiful classic foxtrot. Michelle was still a bit shaky though; if she could just loosen up a bit she'd be brilliant. Either way, I enjoyed this. An adequate 7 with massive potential for more.

Goldie and Kristina - foxtrot
A routine full of character and individuality. Sadly not completely full of good technique. Definitely needed to be more polished, but good fun. A 6 from me.

Pamela and James - salsa
Pamela is such an amazing dancer. I have to admit I thought her Latin would be a bit dodgy. I was massively wrong. Apart from a hideously naff beginning and a slip after one of the floor turns this routine was amazing. Really quick and complex choreography executed incredibly well. Brilliant routine, brilliant execution and a brilliant couple. An 8 - and by far the best (conventional) salsa of the night.

Felicity and Vincent - foxtrot
Felicity is another celeb with loads of potential. This routine was elegant and beautiful, but all a bit safe for me. Can't wait to see more of her and Vincent, they work fabulously well together. For this week a 7.

Ann and Anton - salsa
Well, I say salsa... There are no words to describe how much I loved this performance (and I'm choosing my words very carefully there). Clearly there was no way Ann was going to agree to do a conventional salsa, although I thought the steps she attempted were done no worse than Peter. The genius of this routine was to build it entirely on the force of her personality and Anton's natural showmanship. I loved the shirt rip (obviously!), I loved the lift (who cares if it was technically illegal) and I loved the way Ann completely camped it up. More than anything I loved how much this routine made me smile.
There is a tendency amongst the Strictly faithful to be incredibly serious and stoic about the routines. This is a dancing competition, they'll shout, not a popularity contest! Well, I'm sorry, I disagree. What Strictly is is a prime time light entertainment show. It is not an international dance championship. It is, as Ann has correctly observed, fun. Eventually Ann and Anton will be voted off and the better dancers will be allowed to have the limelight to themselves. And that's completely as it should be. Until then can we all stop taking
everything so seriously?! One of the reasons I love watching these two is that they are clearly having a blast. The routine this week was hilarious and incredibly entertaining. Long may they continue!

Kara and Artem - foxtrot
My second favourite dance of the night. This was completely gorgeous, elegant and classy. The footwork was very strong - loved the heel turn - and the choreography was beautiful. Not as good as the 9 that Alesha gave them, but definitely worthy of an 8.

Gavin and Katya - salsa
Oh dear. Gavin was so painfully uncomfortable with this routine, which bodes ill for future Latin endeavours. This was so stiff and so nervous that not even a flash of Gavin's lovely abs could save it. Not as bad as the 3 that Craig gave them, but really uncomfortable viewing. A 5 from me.

Jimi and Flavia - foxtrot
Last but definitely not least! Another gorgeous foxtrot, dubious pseudo-Latin beginning excepted. I like Jimi a lot and this routine was fab. Another one to watch, and a 7 from me.

So that was Saturday. Fastforward to Sunday and the results show.

Time for my weekly moan: BBC what have you done to the results show?! In case you missed this, the dance off is no more. The couple with the lowest combined score from the judges and public just go. Now, to get one thing straight, it's not that I mind the public having more say in and of itself. I may disagree with the decision that the public at large comes to, I certainly did this week, but that's not my main problem. My problem is that the dance off was the only thing that really made the results show worth watching. It gave it some drama and a bit of an emotional core. Without the dance off the whole show just felt completely flat and ultimately quite pointless. This week was particularly bad with the musical 'special performance' being a pre-recorded and frankly not very good Robbie Williams. Bad move BBC. Bad move.

This week we had to had to wave goodbye to Goldie and Kristina, which was a horrible result. Especially when the other couple in the bottom two were Peter and Erin. Completely unfair, but such is the way with democracy. I can't help feeling Peter is on borrowed time now - he needs to massively up his game for next week.

On the plus side all my favourites lived to dance another day. Next week's show is going to be a cracker too with the couples tackling a quickstep or a rumba.

And let's be honest, whichever Ann and Anton gets is going to be... Well... Unique!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

A guide to hotel snobbery (AKA my favourite hotels)

And yes Anton does feature, briefly!

I was having a conversation with a friend the other night when we got onto the topic of holidays. We both love to travel and do it as often as our stupidly busy Lib Dem lives allow. Indeed we've had some amazing trips away together, a blissful long weekend in Shetland springs to mind, but this is unnecessary detail that I'm including only because I know the person in question will read this ;)

Anyway, the discussion got me thinking. I'm incredibly lucky that when I was growing up both of my parents were in well paid jobs. We had some amazing holidays and stayed in some stunning hotels. We still do. That rubbed off on me in a big way. If I'm travelling somewhere, no matter for how long, I demand a certain level of comfort. I cannot abide camping or youth hostels. I'll stay in budget chains when the need arises but I'd prefer not to. I have turned into a proper middle class hotel snob. And you know what? It doesn't bother me in the slightest!

So here are some top tips for places I've stayed that are, quite frankly, amazing. Hotels which are worth planning your holidays around just to stay there. They're not geographically balanced in any way - if you like Orlando and/or New York you'll like this list - but they are all just brilliant. In no particular order...

Hilton Manchester Deansgate
If you've got a train through Manchester recently you'll know what this hotel looks like. It's a sleek and beautiful glass structure with a gravity defying shape. I stayed there for a weekend in March - whilst watching Anton and Erin's last tour - and it was fab. The rooms are gorgeous, the service is perfect, but the abiding memory I'll have of this place is the bar, Cloud 23. Home of the best, and strongest, cocktails I've ever tasted you have to go to this bar at some point in your life. Grab a seat by the window and enjoy the Manchester skyline whilst getting implausibly drunk on beautiful drinks. And if you can work seeing Anton into your evening then more's the better!

Le Meridien, Barcelona. Not pictured: epic walk in wardrobe!
Le Meridien Barcelona
Stunning and huge rooms in an amazing location - right on Las Ramblas, not that you'd know it thanks to some genius double glazing - this is one of the best hotels in the world in one of the best cities in the world. I am not exaggerating when I say that the walk in wardrobe in the room we had is bigger than my current (double) bedroom. Also worth a mention is the amazing breakfast which includes free champagne. Natch.

The Waldorf Astoria, New York
World famous and justly so. We stayed at the Waldorf the summer after 9/11 when a lot of the rooms were still covered in dust. Indeed the first room they put us in was covered in dust! When their mistake was pointed out, though, the level of service and apology we received was second to none and included a free limo - with full free bar - to the airport. Sadly I was too young to partake, but it still qualifies as the most rock and roll thing I've ever done! The rooms here are even bigger than Le Meridien. The one we had had a separate lounge (not a suite, just a standard room) and the biggest bathroom I've ever seen. I also had the best meal I've ever had at the Bull and Bear Steakhouse in the hotel. It was for my parents' 30th wedding anniversary (and was eyewateringly expensive!) but OHMIGOD it was the best food I've ever eaten.

The Drake Swissotel, New York
Another favourite in NYC. A great location - near Trump Tower, my favourite place to have breakfast in the city - and a completely exemplary level of service. This was the first time I'd ever experienced the wonder that is a turn down service (where the maid comes in and turns down the bedding and the dimmer switches ready for you to got to bed), completely with a posh mint. The Swissotel will always have a special place in my heart as it's where we stayed the first time we even went to NYC: a city I now love so completely.

Hard Rock Hotel, Universal Resort Orlando
The most comfortable and funky rooms ever. All monochrome and arty prints with some kick ass media details including, as you might expect, an amazing sound system. Such an amazing atmosphere and brilliant service. Also has the coolest pool ever complete with an underwater sound system. Achingly cool but not pretentious, we're planning a return visit in summer 2012.

Peabody Hotel, Orlando
The Peabody chain is famous for having a resident of flock of ducks who live in a palace on the roof who parade into and out of the hotel every day in the company of a duckmaster. Seriously. Mad? Yes. Awesome? Yes! I love this hotel not only because of the ducks though. It has the most comfortable (and tallest!) beds I've ever slept in. The whole hotel is just beautiful and has the best waffles I've ever tasted. They've just expanded, and I'd love to go back to check out the expansion.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Today's BIG news: Anton is on Twitter! Yes, really.

When I logged into my Gmail this morning, I had an email from Twitter informing me that Anton Du Beke was now following me. I sighed. I'd been here before, got all excited, and then felt like a bit of a muppet when the account turned out to be a fake. Not thinking anything further of it, I took a call from my boss and got on with my day.

10:30 and time for my first cup of peach tea of the day. Peach tea is another of my addictions. I love it. Mug in hand, I returned to my desk (well, sofa... working from home is odd) and logged into Tweetdeck. There was that annoying fake Anton account in my new followers list. I decided to check it out a bit before I blocked it. 

SO glad I did! As it turns out this account is real. It's linked from the front page of his official website - as is his new Facebook  page. Anton is really on Twitter!! And he's following me?! Cool! I cannot tell you how much better this made my day. I am unapologetically completely made up! Clearly this is a man who recognises a superfan when he reads their tweets!

As yet, I'm not sure whether it is indeed Anton updating the account or whether it's managed by whoever runs his website - if it is the latter it's done very well. I'm not sure I want to know either. I'm much happier in the belief that it is him.

After being reminded - as if that was necessary - by the man's fabulous turn on It Takes Two last night quite how charming, articulate and funny he is, I can't wait to see what Twitter will make of Anton and vice versa. 

Will he be able to condense his trademark banter - "The salsa's easy. It's just nonsense. Nonsense in a short frock." - into 140 characters? I do hope so. 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Strictly Week 1: A case study in why I love this show so much!

Have I mentioned that I love Strictly Come Dancing more than almost anything else in the world? Thought I had. And after this week's opening double bill I am reminded why. This show is better than sliced bread. It's the cat's pyjamas. The mutt's nuts. I. Love. It.

But first, before my not at all biased and completely inciteful thoughts on the couples, I wish to have a moan. I actively enjoying moaning and it's good that even Strictly provides me with material: over marking. Judges (especially you Alesha): it's week one. Get a grip please. The amount of completely undeserved 7s and 8s dished out this week was ridiculous. Stop offering stupid platitudes because you don't want to look harsh and start offering proper constructive criticism to help the celebs improve. Like Craig does, if you could ever hear what he said over stupid audience booing. I have particular problems with Alesha in this regard - something which I'm sure I'll return to as the series goes on. Suffice it to say, I am one of the legions of people who would weep with joy at the return of Arlene...

Anyway, griping over. Let's talk dancing.

Felicity and Vincent (cha cha cha)
One of my favourite couples - they're so cute! Felicity looked amazing in yellow. Forget Michelle Williams, it's Felicity's legs I want! Their cha cha cha was pretty good too. It was fun and energetic and Felicity clearly has the potential to do well in a Cherie Lunghi sort of way. I can't wait to see her ballroom! A good start from them. I'd give them a 5.

Scott and Natalie (waltz)
This was not for me. From the second Scott strutted out in a dinner jacket not white tie and tails - he looked more like a sommelier than a dancer - I was unimpressed. It was also not a proper waltz in my book. Too dirty, not enough proper waltz steps and too much an exhibition of how hot Natalie is. Technically I didn't rate it either. So stiff it may as well have been starched! Scott clearly has potential though and I'm looking forward to seeing him in future weeks. They'd get 5 from me.

Goldie and Kristina (cha cha cha)
This was a bit of a classic Strictly moment for me. Almost zero technique and few actual cha cha cha steps, but so much fun. I love Goldie and he's proved time and again how versatile he is. He can only improve - as can Kristina's choreography. A 4, but with a smiley face attached!

Patsy and Robin (waltz)
I find watching Patsy slightly heartbreaking. You can actually see the sadness in her eyes. She's had a god awful year and it shows. I want her to do well so badly. And I thought her waltz was really nice. Perhaps slightly controversially, I preferred it to Scott's - the choreography was much more classic even if new boy Robin looked ridiculous in his vest and braces combo. Patsy was almost cripplingly nervous but she did ok. Her progress in the series will depend on getting control of her nerves. I really hope she can. A 6 from me.

Matt and Aliona (cha cha cha)
Latin dance of the opening two shows by a country mile, Matt completely owned this routine. And, despite the fact I'm not a fan of the cha cha cha, I really liked it (apart from the naff beginning). Matt is shockingly snake hipped and got his footwork down well. The choreography was fab too - nice work Aliona. Great stuff, I can't wait to see Matt's ballroom now. A definite highlight: 7 from me.

Pamela and James (waltz)
Oh. My. God. This was so beautiful. Proper waltz choreography done with flair and grace. And James was wearing tails. Sigh. I'm not sure how Pamela will deal with Latin dances but if all of her ballroom is this good I'm not sure I care. My favourite dance of the two nights: the only one that justifies an 8.

Paul and Ola (cha cha cha)
Poor Ola. From champion last year to... Well... This. There was nothing I liked about this technically but Paul tried hard, bless him. Maybe his ballroom will be better. It couldn't be much worse. At the risk of being booed, 3 from me.

Jimi and Flavia (cha cha cha)
So onto show 2. Jimi appeared to be wearing a shirt at least two sizes too big and untucked, which annoyed me! His cha cha cha was pretty good though. Some nice choreography and he pulled it off well. Jimi is my one to watch this series: he has real potential. Can't wait to see more of him (in many senses...). A 6 from me.

Peter and Erin (waltz)
I love Erin. Her choreography is always spot on for the ability of her partner and this was no exception. Sadly Peter just couldn't pull it off. He was stiff and nervous. The moment at the end when he more or less dropped Erin says as much about her professionalism as it does his lack of dancing ability! A 4, entirely earned by Erin!

Michelle and Brendan (cha cha cha)
So disappointing. Flat, safe and (sorry Brendan) rubbish choreography. I genuinely don't understand why the dance wasted so much time at the beginning just walking down the stairs. I think Michelle and Brendan are a great couple though - and amazing characters - so I'm sure they'll be back with something impressive soon. Until then, a disappointed 6.

Gavin and Katya (waltz)
It pains me to admit this as I've never been a Gavin Henson fan in the slightest, but I really liked this routine. The choreography was gorgeous, the hold completely firm and the footwork near perfect. Gavin's rise and fall was spot on too - very impressive for week one. I'm excited to see how Gavin gets on in the series. He'll be a real contender if he can just get the acting side of the competition right. A 7 from me.

Tina and Jared (cha cha cha)
Such a cute couple! Sadly another disappointing routine though. The choreography was ok, but not a cha cha cha. And Tina was so nervous. Still, clearly these two have potential and I hope Tina can get control of her nerves so they can fulfil it. Especially as newbie Jared is uber cute! For this week, a 5.

Kara and Artem (cha cha cha)
Yes I know I'm taking this out of sequence. You'll see why, if you haven't already guessed..! I have to admit I can't really remember this routine beyond Kara falling over and Artem's chest. Mmmmmmmmmm Artem's chest... Sorry. They are clearly going to be contenders though. Having just watched them back on YouTube, I give them a 6.

Ann and Anton (waltz)
The performance of the two nights by a long way! By the end I was crying with laughter. Ann, bless her, tried so hard and clearly had a blast. And you know what? I love her for it! Overall, the routine went ok. It was genius choreography from Saint Anton (as I believe he must now be) which worked to Ann's advantage and showed off Anton at his graceful best. There were two moments of comedy gold in it though: the way Ann jogged round Anton when he was doing his beautiful leg extended turn and her attempt at a kick which was really more of a goosestep. Overall though this was nowhere near as bad as it could have been! And I literally cannot wait to see their "comedy" salsa next week. I'm not going to score Team AnnTon (I can't bring myself to actually objectively asses them!) but I do think Craig's 2 was incredibly harsh. And Anton, my darling, I love you even more now than I ever have :)

Bring on Week 2!

Friday, 1 October 2010

The quest for the perfect jeans

It's only a mild understatement to say I live in my jeans. They are the absolute staple of my wardrobe and, since I work from home, I wear a pair for most of the day every day. Subsequently I go through a fair few pairs. Which means I have to shop for a fair few pairs. Which means I am permanently on the hunt for that fashion holy grail: the perfect jeans.

Every woman knows that this is one hell of a hunt. Sizing for women's clothes generally is a colossal pain - but for jeans it's even worse. I guess this has something to do with the nature of denim as a fabric, but for me the problem is always picking a style that fits my oddly proportioned body.

There is no denying that I am an odd shape. I'm 5'7" - not small by any measure - but I have tiny legs. My bottom half is two sizes bigger than my top half if I'm in trousers, one size bigger if I'm in a skirt. My waist is pretty small relative to the rest of me and really high. I have a fat arse and thighs; good boobs and a ridiculously short neck. And I can't walk in heels to save my life, but that's another post for another day!

Buying jeans that fit and look good is therefore a bit of an obsession of mine. I tend to go for wide leg and boyfriend styles - they work with my generally laid back vibe. Skinny jeans are an absolute no no for me, and I don't like boot cut. Dorothy Perkins denim is my brand of choice. Indeed the current leg of my quest in inspired by the fact my favourite DP faded boyfriends finally gave up on life during Lib Dem Conference in Liverpool. One of the belt loops has ripped off - leaving a fabulously inappropriate hole in the back! - and there's a rip across the inner thigh. All very kinky, but not hugely practical for everyday wear!

So I was very pleased to discover that Asos Curve (Asos for women with a proper figure - tough luck skinny people!) had some real beauties new in - vintage peg legs. I'd not really considered a peg leg - loose through the thigh and calf, tapering tight to the ankle - before. But as I had a discount code for Asos I thought I'd give them a go. And they were only £30.

They arrived this morning and I LOVE THEM. They look fab and fit perfectly. I mean completely perfectly. They're great quality and some of the detailing - like the little off centre starts on the buttons and metal work - is really high end. I'll definitely be buying another pair (or two). They are just so good! And Asos do free next day delivery too, what more could you want?!

So there you go. Asos Curve denim. Go buy!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Apparently, there's this bloke called Anton...

This time tomorrow I can absolutely guarantee what I will be doing. I will be sitting on the sofa in a state of extreme excitement watching Strictly Come Dancing.

I effing LOVE this show! I literally can't remember ever loving a TV show more, apart from maybe Gladiators when I was seven and completely in love with Hunter. But I digress. There is nothing I don't love about Strictly. I love the costumes, I love Brucie, I love the music, I love the band, I love the way they always open with an inexplicable close up of a timbale, I love the way conductor Dave Arch is so awkward when he tries to smile at the camera, but most of all I love the dancing and most of most of all I love the dancers.

Not the celebrity ones mind, not that I don't end up getting totally into their 'journeys', but for me it's all about the pros. I can't dance for toffee so I love watching people who really can do it well. I'm a bit of a ballroom fanatic (mostly for the astonishingly good music and gracefulness involved) - I adore the quickstep and get very upset when someone murders it. The foxtrot and American smooth are favourites too and from the Latin I like the paso doble and the jive. I can take or leave the salsa, samba, cha cha cha and friends but I love to watch them when they're done well.

The pro dancers are universally exceptionally talented and gorgeous. I would give my right arm for any of the girls bodies and would certainly not kick any of the boys out of bed on a cold night. However, I do have a bit of a thing about Anton du Beke.

Actually that last sentence is a huge lie. I don't have 'a bit of a thing' for Anton. No, I completely and absolutely love him! I don't know what it was but in series 5 (The Garraway Massacre) I suddenly became completely obsessive about him. I've always watched Strictly and I have no clue what it was about that series that turned my head. But something did. I've been hopelessly, and occasionally embarrassingly, obsessed ever since.

I have the t shirt, the pen, the key rings, the signed photos, the tour programmes, the book and the DVDs. I've met him three times and am off to Dublin in February to see him and his pro partner Erin Boag on tour for the third year in a row. I. Love. That. Man.

Which brings me to the often painful subject of his celebrity partners. Let's face it they've all been a bit rubbish. When your best partners are the terminally mediocre Lesley Garrett and Laila Rouass then you know you've got problems. And Anton doesn't help himself in some ways. He is unapologetic about the fact he doesn't like Latin dances. Which is all well and good, I sympathize, but to win Strictly you have to do both. Which is why I think, and I can't believe I'm going to say this, Ann Widdecombe may be the perfect partner for him.

If you're not going to win the series then you may as well not win with style and humour - qualities that Anton has in buckets. Ann will be awful (have you seen their training video?!) but she'll be feisty and he'll play up to this completely. Look at all the media coverage Team AnnTon have already got. It's in a different league to the rest of the contestants. They are going to be the stars of the show, if not for the dancing. Anton is a complete natural when it comes to just being an entertainer - he's going to milk this series for all it's worth.

And I for one can't wait to see it.


So a few people have commented on the inclusion of WWE in the list of topics for this blog. Well, I say 'commented on'. Perhaps 'screamed WTF? at' is more accurate! Seriously, of all the comments, texts, tweets etc I've had about the blog the vast majority have been: 'you like WWE? Really? But... why?' So I'm going to tell you why.

I've always liked soaps. I grew up watching Home and Away and Neighbours with my mum, graduated to Eastenders and Holby City when I was in school, then Hollyoaks and back to Neighbours when I was a student. I don't watch them so much anymore - generally I lack the time and concentration span on weekday, post-work, evenings - but the contrived and ridiculous storylines and characterisation have always appealed to my love of trashy yet addictive TV. As my love of Strictly demonstrates, I also love watching things that are physically impressive and well choreographed.

I first remember WWE back in the day when it was called WWF, I was seven and everyone in my school was obsessed with Bret 'The Hitman' Hart. Fast forward 15 years and my night owl flatmate Chris (whose average bedtime is somewhere between midnight and 4am) started casually watching WWE in its graveyard slot on Sky Sports. I'm not sure why. I guess there's very little else on at that time of night. As tends to happen when you live in a flat that's not overly endowed with space, because Chris got into it I started to watch it too.

I have to admit I initially thought it was incredibly puerile and stupid. However, once I'd watched a couple of episodes I started to get into the storylines. Despite myself, I actually cared whether John Morrison (of whom more later) got the Intercontinental Title off Rey Mysterio. I got really annoyed when, having won said title, he lost it to the interminably dull and angry Drew McIntrye. And from then on I was kind of hooked.

The feuding, storylines and characters in WWE are ridiculous. But, probably because of this, they are also stupidly addictive. How can you not get behind all round nice guy John Cena against the bullying and deeply humourless Nexus? It's typical American family entertainment: 100% good v 100% bad, simple, no shades of grey. I like that, especially after a long days work. Of course it helps that all round nice guy John Cena is also a serious hottie.

Which brings me nicely on to my final point. The wrestlers in WWE are HOT. I mean seriously, cold-shower, lie-down-in-a-darkened-room hot. Why do I like WWE so much? Here are a few reasons: John Morrison, John Cena, Randy Orton, Justin Gabriel, Alberto del Rio, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston... You get the extremely attractive picture!

And to end on a specific point Caron made would I like to see Anton doing this sort of stuff? Not especially - his impressive chest rug and unbelievably svelte dancer's body doesn't lend itself to WWE-chic. But I wouldn't mind checking out some of the WWE guys on Strictly! John Morrison's rumba? Yes please!  

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

I can haz blog

So hello and welcome to my first blog. Ok that's a lie. I think this is actually my third blog. But the other two were rubbish. And I've forgotten the log in details anyway. *cough* But this is my new, shiny, permanent blog. I've decided to commit to it, to the extent I believe in such things.

I'm guessing that if you're reading this you've probably come via Twitter. You probably think you have a good idea what this blog is going to be about. If you're thinking politics, you'll be disappointed. Politics is my job. It takes over many of my weekends. It's a big part of who I am, but not as big as lots of people think. I might write about politics occasionally but it's not what this blog is about. If you're thinking Anton du Beke, keep reading! :)

Really I want this blog to be about the odd variety of stuff that forms my interests. You can expect my thoughts on fashion and shopping, TV, films and theatre, Strictly Come Dancing (and yes LOTS of Anton), places I've been, hotels, bars and restaurants I love, cricket, WWE (yes, really), hair and beauty products, books, men who catch my eye, a touch of politics and anything else that takes my fancy.

So I hope you enjoy. It will get a bit mad because, well, I am a bit mad. But wouldn't life be boring otherwise?!