Tag Archives: X-Factor

Box set addiction


This morning, Juice, our local radio station (which is worth a listen just for the ads) had a breakfast show competition to win tickets to see last year’s X-Factor finalists who are performing at The Brighton Centre.  The two phone-in competitors had to answer trivia questions about last year’s show and I have to admit it was quite gripping in it’s sheer ‘oooh, I should know this’ factor.  The kids and I sat in the car staring at each other.  Who replaced Frankie Cocozza?  Ahh, Amelia what’s-her-name.  Of course.

I was stunned by how little information I had retained, despite picking up snippets of the show, although I wasn’t one of the 13 million who watched the final.

Perhaps it’s as they say, that booze, age and children stunt the memory (I have a high score in all three categories).  Or perhaps it’s just that television does something to your brain and it really is hypnotherapy for the masses. You only have to put a screaming infant in front of a Baby Einstein video to see that this is true.

I sat in the hairdressers this week and all the mags were shouting about how brilliant TV suddenly is, with The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent and Titanic, but I’m not going to get suckered in.

What I really want is a new box set. Box sets are – after house prices and schools – the most common topic of conversation during your average dinner party or night out at the pub. A box set addiction like mine is a guaranteed conversation starter.  Box sets elevate TV into a proper modern art form.

And it has to be a box set.  I can’t do episode by episode. Homeland, for example, has simply fluffed me for a new series to sink my teeth into.  I’m too much of a junkie to be able to stand being drip-fed the divine Damian Lewis on a Sunday night.  It’s too frustrating.

It’s like the eighties all over again when we had to wait a whole week before the next episode of Fame.  But this is the twenty-first century people, when you can watch a whole series if you want until your eyes bleed (the first series of 24); become so engrossed that you become one of the characters (like when I turned into Carmella from The Sopranos or Tina Fey from 30Rock); develop irrational crushes on the male leads however unsuitable (David Duchovny in Californication – OMG!) or suitable (Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights – I could seriously marry him); and make you re-assess your opinions on, say, gangland crime (The Wire), the police (The Shield ), or even making your own drugs (Breaking Bad).

So I need my next fix.  Suggestions please?

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Mummy crush

I love the Autumn.  After months in flip-flops the prospect of the next few in socks and boots is bliss.  Now we’re really into Autumn proper and the freaky Indian Summer has passed, I can now fully embrace jeans and jumpers. I don’t have to shave my legs, or worry about bikini waxing.  In fact, I could grow an all-over winter pelt and no-one would know.


People have started moaning about how dark it suddenly gets as the change of the clocks looms on the horizon, but this is always my happiest time of year. Autumn is so romantic.  Slow-cooked stews and buttery baked potatoes. Big thick duvets.  Sunday roasts in the pub by the fire.  Gloves.  Finding fivers and forgotten lipsticks in your winter coat pockets.  What’s not to love?


And OK, it’s a bit harder getting up, but I adore the bright chilly mornings here on Brighton seafront, when the gold stones sparkle against the purple sea and the beach huts gleam.  I like the mounting excitement in our household about Halloween and bonfire night and kicking up piles of autumn leaves in the park with the kids after school.  And seeing my breath for the first time by the light of a streetlamp, which makes me yearn for my youthful smoking days.


And of course, telly.  After months of working like a loon on my new book, when most things cultural have passed me by entirely, I’ve re-surfaced in order to be a consumer of modern popular culture.  But this year, I find myself a little disappointed.


Having been in the grip of the tyranny of X-Factor before, this year I can’t bring myself to devote the necessary hours.  Even ironically.  We tried to watch it, but the kids became catatonic with boredom.   The only thing they really liked about it was the Yeo valley boy-band advert, which is genius.  And the voice-over man, who we all try to impersonate.  His breakfast comedy sketch made me laugh.  (See link below)


So, the X-Factor is officially pants.  And from the press this week, it’s not just me who thinks so too.  It’s just not the same without Simon, although Gary Barlow is a great replacement.  I did admit to a friend on the phone that I started out with a little bit of a mummy crush on old Gary.  ‘What’s a mummy crush?’ my ear-wigging seven year-old asked.  The big one eyeballed me and then said to her sister.   ‘She’s going to crush him.’  The middle one stared at me, aghast.  ‘You’re actually going to lie down on top of Gary Barlow and squish him?’ Annoying that she thought I was capable of it.  Even more annoying that she told all her friends.


Actually, I think Gary works the stubble and nice suit look very well.  Fortunately, I’m married to a man who can do the same.  Emlyn looked particularly gorgeous going off to the Crime Writers Awards at Grosvenor House the other night, where he met the actress who plays Sarah Lund in the brilliant ‘The Killing’.  He’s got his own Daddy crush on Sarah Lund.  Her of the jeans and jumpers.  A bit like me, I like to think.


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