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!