Thursday, 19 February 2009

Regret and Wonder: Dick Madeley At The Brits

My wearing an Elvis costume to the Brits had been Judy’s idea and was intended as a homage to the music industry from two of TV’s leading lights. Naturally, I threw myself into the part with my usual grievous enthusiasm. When I looked at myself in the bedroom mirror yesterday afternoon, I knew I was ‘all there’ as the King of Rock and Roll.

‘But I’ll never walk in these shoes,’ I said as I swivelled my hips a couple of times and hit that characteristic Elvis pose, outstretched arms and right knee triangulating perfectly on my groin.

My wife, in full Brenda Lee costume, knelt down and poked the toes of my blue suede shoes.

‘They are a bit tight,’ she admitted. ‘But they go so well with the costume.’ Her bottom lip peeped out a little to produce a look of mild petulance. ‘But I didn’t spend eight hours sewing those sequins on your cape for you not to wear your costume.’

‘The cape’s fine,’ I said, as I twisted around. ‘Uncle Dick Elvis’ glistened warmly in the winter sun. I swivelled a couple more times and reached a decision on the shoes. ‘No,’ I said, kicking them into the corner of the room. ‘If I’m going to the Brits, I’m going in something warm and comfortable.’

Judy scowled. ‘You mean your slippers, don’t you?’

I shrugged as I grabbed the box from the wardrobe. ‘It can get cold at Earls Court,’ I explained. ‘I need something to keep my feet warm. People won’t notice and if anybody asks, we can always say that Elvis sometimes wore slippers.’

‘But not brown tartan,’ muttered Judy.

That was a bit of an understatement and didn’t do justice to my slippers. My best dress slippers are one of a kind. They’re actually brown tartan with a fleecy lining that spills over to form a warm if unattractive ruff collar. With orthopaedic bunion cushions and a non-slip heel, they are the most comfortable footwear you can buy. They even do a model you can plug into your stairlift to keep your feet toasty as you travel between floors. Being only thirty eight years old, I know that I’m a bit young for this kind of footwear but I’m also of that cast of mind that firmly believes that comfort comes before style. I will not be controlled by these arbitrary cultural whims about what kind of shoes a handsome man can wear at rock and pop awards.

Not that the crowd seemed to care later last night when I stepped out of the limo. The journo’s flashbulbs went into overload as the baying fans screamed, waved, bared their breasts, and bombarded us with underwear. Judy took a g-string right across the face and I had to support her until we got under cover.

‘That was unique and strangely aromatic,’ I said as I brushed a large yellowing girdle from my shoulder. Judy regained her composure quickly and rolled up her sleeves intending to go back and throw some underwear of her own. It took me and two armed security guards to calm her down. Many lives were saved in the process.

Finally, we were led into the arena, which, for those of you who haven’t experience the celebrity lifestyle, is an artificial reality. The whole place is a rabbit run of special A list lanes surrounded by security guards holding back the sea of what we like to call ‘the norms’. Our seats were closer to the stage than most, within two kilometres of the actual performers. Between our table and stage were only a few thousand executives from music labels and, right at the front, a thin veneer of screaming girls they bus in for the cameras. They’ve been specially trained to look both gormless and promiscuous but they’ve all been neutered and have a special anti-rock star coating. Try to mate with one of them and your averaged guitarist would slide right off leaving only a tattooed trail behind.

After the g-string incident, Judy was in a petulant mood as she sat down. She immediate called for champagne as I made my way around to greet a few of the other guests and to occasionally pose with my cape unfurled. On my way back from shaking hands with Chris Tarrant, Billy Piper, Rick Stein, and others in the A list, I spotted a face I recognised from the newspapers.

‘Like my cape, Russell?’ I asked, turning to give Brand a look at Judy’s sequin work.

‘Ow,’ he wailed, brushing a few strands of stray noodle from his heavily made up face. ‘Richard! It irradiates my left ventricular to see you amongst us, so it does, it does! Pritthee? Where be the fair Jude, she of the magnificently loquacious bonnet?’

‘Pardon?’ I asked.

He smiled and looked at the nubile blondes sitting along his lap. ‘The man does not speaketh the Queen English,’ he said to them. Some giggled, a few roared. I wondered how so many free spirits could balance on one man’s knee.

‘Look,’ I said, ‘I only came over to say hello.’

‘Ah, the monkey talks!’ cried Russell. ‘Well, indeed, indeed... Perambulate yonderwards and beseech me no more with thy inscrutable requests. I am only here for the grape and will soon to be whisked by helichopper to Plymouth where I have acolytes to entertain and maidens to woo with my ribald speech, vulgar jokes, and my tongue of a thousand sinuous ways.’

‘Bugger this,’ I mumbled as I headed back to Judy. Her mood had improved on discovering Cilla Black at the next table. The two of them were entertaining each other by lobbing cheese nibbles at Samantha Fox, sitting two rows back.

The rest of the evening passed how Brit awards usually pass: in an alcoholic haze, full of regret and wonder. There was much bowing and tugging of forelocks as Russell Brand departed for his Plymouth gig. He left us to drink ourselves into oblivion and enjoy a feeble night’s entertainment. The presenters were no funnier at a range of two kilometres than a live hand grenade going off at two feet; the performances ranged from the excellent ‘Kings of Leon’ to the truly awful spectacle of ‘Take That’ being lowered into the audience on a large heavy testicle, adorned with Christmas lights, as they mimed to some godawful electronically manipulated pap. The Ting Tings brought some much needed attitude to the proceedings and did well despite Estelle’s widely out-of-tune wailing. Not once did the cameras swing our way and, this morning, I see that my cape has been ignored by the media who are concentrating their adoration on Duffy. The people I had hoped to see win left with nothing. Neil Diamond’s best album in years was ignored in favour of Kanye West, who, frankly, sounds more like a district of Florida levelled by a hurricane. Seasick Steve was another big loser, having produced one of the most heartfelt albums revealing a true and significant talent. But isn’t that the way with true and significant talent?

I got home and hung up my cape, realising that sometimes talent doesn’t count for very much in these days dominated by PR and spin. It’s about what sells and if those empty headed teenagers on the front row want baubles to distract them, real music artistry will always struggle to get noticed. The award to ‘Elbow’ aside, the evening was a tribute to the passing whims of an indifferent generation; a narcissist’s dream where vanity, pomposity, and vulgarity ride roughshod over a work ethic, humility and pride. All of which reminded me why I’m in TV and not music journalism. It’s just not suited to men in brown tartan slippers and Elvis Presley capes.

9 comments:

Brit said...

The Take That performance was... well, beyond description.

Quite possibly one of the oddest things I've ever seen on television.

Dick Madeley said...

The whole damn this was beyond description. A metaphor for everything that's wrong... Can't wait for next year!

Lola said...

Singular of testes: testis, surely?

Dick Madeley said...

Lola, I've said it before but I should make you my editor. I guess it would just be 'testicle', though I'm sure I've heard 'teste' used. Fixed it accordingly. I'm not in the mood for searching for 'teste' on Google.

FrodoSaves said...

It’s just not suited to men in brown tartan slippers and Elvis Presley capes.

Surprisingly few things are, at least not on the same man, at the same time. If you were willing to share the burden between several participating men, you might find a few appropriate venues. Retirement home variety shows? Senior citizens see Vegas?

Rose said...

Richard

This is why I like you always up for a laugh, you 'go where I know the fun is' and 'live each day, for happiness can't wait'

This is what I would have said to Brand if I were in your shoes: 'a little less conversation, a little more action please, all this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me'!

Brand is a sad sod so don't expect him to be saying 'maybe I didnt treat you quite as good as I should have'.

God. I must stop with this nonsense. But to be honest is your fault really; your blog's fault. 'But now after loving you, what else is there to do?'

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Anonymous said...

hi dick i´m very proud to share my pic with your face ;-))

my god you are really crazy !!!!!!