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Wednesday 22nd January 2014


Three weeks into the year and I have lost 3kg, but looking at my fat face in the mirror at the hairdressers this morning made it clear that there was a long way to go. Once again I wished that I (or my parents) had had the foresight to have a photo taken of me every time I was having my hair cut throughout my entire life. I think it wold be a fascinating study of the ageing process and also demonstrate how our hairstyles (occasionally) change. If you have a baby who has never had his or her hair cut then start this in process right now. I recall having a similar reaction to today's when I looked in the mirror at the barbers just off Brixton Hill in about 1992, thinking how old and fat I looked. If only I had the foresight then to know how much worse it would become. But I didn't. I will never look older than I did today.

I was in my running gear and had put on the Radio 4 hoodie that I had been given when I did my Objective show about that particular garment. I love the hoodie, but feel a bit self-conscious wearing it as it identifies me as the most middle-class man imaginable. But I am not sure I would need the hoodie for that to be the case. But it had been the first running jumper I'd grabbed and I am glad I wore it because when I came to pay for my over-priced hair cut, the woman at the cash register said, "You work for the BBC, right?" It wasn't exactly a lie to say that I did. I had just worked for them yesterday. "You get the Westfield BBC 15% discount then," she told me. I wasn't going to argue. I am surprised that offer is still running now that TV Centre is closing down, but some of the shops and cafes offered cut prices for BBC employees. Usually they ask to see your BBC pass (my hoodie once nearly got my 15% off at Eat, but the staff member there was more vigilant and said I needed to show her my pass), but today the hoodie was good enough. And who could argue with that logic? Who would willingly wear a Radio 4 hoodie unless they were forced to do so by Radio 4. To accept the discount was fraud, but I didn't get paid very much for writing that series and an extra fiver might make all the difference. I took my discount. The power of the Radio 4 hoodie strikes again.

As wonderful as that martini had been last night, I found it (and the couple of glasses of wine I had later) had taken a toll on my energy levels. For the first time this year I went for a run and could only manage about five minutes at pace. It turned into a walk, which turned into a shopping expedition. But it all counts right? And I was wrong, I could be more middle class, because as I ran/walked I was wearing my Radio 4 hoodie AND listening to Radio 4 podcasts. If only judgemental passers-by could have got into my ear canals, they would have exploded (which would have had serious impact on my ear drums depending on what size the judgemental people had been shrunk to - who am I kidding, even a tiny explosion in there would have devastating effects on my sensitive inner ear bones).

I watched a bit of the National Television Awards. It's one of the less attractive awards ceremonies (and that's saying something), though the winners seem to take it very seriously, perhaps because it's voted for by the viewers. But that seems a bit redundant to me. We already know which programmes and stars are the viewers' favourites, due to viewing figures. And if anything proves that the viewers have no idea what makes good television, it is who they choose to win their awards. I was surprised to see Hollywood star Ricky Gervais has turned up for this event, though I know he is proud of his sitcom Derek. I don't like everything he has done, but I am a big fan of the Office and the first series of Extras and think it's fair to say that he has produced some classy television so it was odd to see him up against Mrs Brown's Boys in the comedy award and even more strange to see him lose. As I commented on Twitter, "Ricky Gervais just beaten by "When the Whistle Blows."" Perhaps he should just have made a proper series of that rather than Derek. It's rare that I feel sorry for Ricky Gervais (he has a pretty amazing life so it would be odd if I did), but I did in that moment. Whatever you think of Derek (I have never seen it) he doesn't deserve that. And the guy from Mrs Brown's Boys is perhaps one of the only comedians in the world who makes Gervais look modest and unassuming. He's the last person who you need to give an award to, so pumped up is he with his own genius. I have a tiny, tiny soft spot for his show, as alongside all the stolen jokes and retro-stereotypes and mawkish crap there's some fun post-modernism and even a little social commentary. My guess (knowing me as I do) is that I would actually prefer it to Derek. But I think the world would be a better place if the Mrs Brown man is never allowed to be himself even when he is not on the show. His punishment and reward for creating this show should be that he has to be Mrs Brown forever, even when alone.

Whatever atrocities Gervais commits I think he will be looked back upon as a comedy great in years to come.  Will we look back at Mrs Brown's Boys with similar pride and love or will we be embarrassed and astonished that people once enjoyed it? If there had been a National Television Awards in the 70s I think the public would have chosen "Fawlty Towers" over "Are You Being Served?" but maybe I am wrong. At least "Are You Being Served?" was actually on in the 70s and so it's not so weird that it was such a seventies show.

The older I get the more glad I am that I am out of the swirling vortex of shit at the centre of the comedy universe. Being popular is over-rated.

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