When the tickertape and the pyrotechnics came to an end, and as the smoke edged towards the ozone, the greatest sporting team ever luxuriated in a lap of honour, all neutrals acknowledging the privilege to have witnessed such a game, and such a team. Twickenham had been on fire, the place to be on Saturday 31st October 2015.
But there was danger in the air. Charlie Lines, not a made up drug pusher’s name, a 14 year old boy, invaded the pitch. On his own. All of eight stone, dripping wet, such was his threat to the rugby men of New Zealand that he was bundled to the floor and winded by a security guard, a tackle from behind worthy of the final itself.
Except this was a kid.
And this is rugby, not soccer.
Step up New Zealander Sonny Boy Williams, a star of his era, a legend now with two World Cup wins. He checked the kid out, cuddled him, he was cuddled back, and then he led him to the safety and comfort of his family. And then he gave Charlie his winner’s medal. An astounding act of random kindness. The kid nearly fainted in delirium.
The party that followed took us to Victoria, Park Lane and Mayfair, our very own Monopoly board. It was Halloween too, the fancy costumes out in force, but there were no kids looking for a trick or a treat. Some older girls could have done either but it would have cost you a mortgage.
So too the Strictly set, the outfits, the special effects, the weekend where you could see where your license fee went. Produced and directed by Nikki Pumpkin and Lousy Rainboo the Beeb drew on every tenuous link to spookiness that they could find and visually the show topped all others. If only the dancing did too, and the VTs between dances, a great opportunity to go to the loo or to put the kettle on.
At the offset in walked three of The Addams family, Lurch, Morticia and Pugsley, the latter like an extra from South Pacific, a lost matelot in a blue and white hooped top, to be greeted by Lord Len looking like a city broker but, for the sake of the night, Gomez Addams. Tess TD and Claudia Anne flew in on a broom stick, the former a witch so beautiful, the latter a black cat. (Cat’s eyes were invented in 1934 by Percy Shaw. One wonders what would have happened had the cat been facing the other way?)
And then the romp began; from the bottom upwards.
‘Oh, Carol’ wasn’t the song used but it should have been as she scored a record low of 13 points in Week Six. As her evolution is reversed Ainsley must be squashing his tomatoes and slicing his peppers in anger. The actual song was ‘I Think I Love You’, a David Cassidy classic not made for the Rumba. Thought I’d throw that in, the word Rumba, because you’d never know if I hadn’t.
With her hair in a monumental beehive, like it had been stuck in the dryer at Gary Henri’s, she pretended to make a monster out of Pasta. And there he was this green faced ogre, Shrek meets The Hulk, ready to live, ready for life. It wasn’t happening. Not even had there been a defibrillator close by. She did make a monster of the dance though as she ambled along, a few basics, lots of walking and an uncertainty not seen since last week. He had a bolt in his neck that must have been a right pain.
As his home nation beat all in front of them the Kiwi Gob was back to his old tricks adding disrespect to his repertoire. It might have been because he knew that the writing was on the wall or perhaps he just regressed to childhood. I thought he’d matured since marriage and fatherhood? Either way when he shook his head at Pete’s comments – ‘the judggies are masters of their crafts’ – he went to a new low. He meant it and the camera revealed all.
Before that show of petulance the Charleston performed by Kirsty should have been enough to get her another go next week, 17 not great though, but in the dance offf, against poor Jamelia, again, in spite of a great effort, the juddgies had no choice but to admit that Kirsty was a little under par.
Vampire Brendan flew in using his cape as wings avoiding the bats. Twice he hovered looking for a place to land. When he did, he discarded the black and green lined cape to reveal a blood red waistcoat, dashing like a chevalier. A scary and scared Kirsty greeted him ready to dance but during the second lift she missed his hands and what followed was panic and bedlam as they tried to regain time and composure, so much so that she nearly headbutted him in the Bull’s, as they are now known after last week. They both flagged towards the end of the song ‘Bad Romance’ as they threw in cartwheels to impress, wary that they might have to do it all again. And they had to. It was better but it wasn’t enuff.
Close to the trapdoor was a quivering Katie Derham who danced a Paso to ‘Phantom of the Opera’, 21 points, the same as her Salsa, a point more than her Cha. See the pattern here?
The set was stunning, a gondola floating on a cloud, Katie mirroring Sarah Brightman, all in white, crinkly hair too, Antony Smith of Bristol in a hat and cape, both removed to reveal the Phantom’s Mask. Beneath that mask Antony mirrored Stan Laurel. What followed, once the gondoliers had removed the boat, were missed hands, wobbly legs, an illegal lift, two assisted jumps, promenade runs, pivots and a bit of catch up along with some du Bekesque ballroom colour. You sensed she wasn’t comfortable. She needed to bend her knees more, to delve into the Latin spirit inside her, perhaps a tequila or two. And maybe a few more run throughs.
It’s funny that. Once you learn a routine, do it say twenty times a day, it is difficult not to add the subtleties, the depth, the character. Because you know the steps; the rest is performance, a great lead in to Jezza, a man with significantly more attitude than dance ability.
He scored 22 for what was supposed to be Scary Salsa. And it was, very scary. There was a touch of Salsa, mainly agricultural, but the rest was a homage to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, no trick or treat in Neverland. Dressed like a red astronaut Jezza found himself near dustbins and fencing, all the money obviously spent on the other dancers. What followed, apart from some dainty runs on his toes, was a great effort to hit timing, to do stuff he’s never done before and to wow the crowd. Had this been at a wedding you’d have said ‘brilliant’. At the World Salsa Congress they’d be scratching their heads.
During the course of the show I had to keep asking the relevance to Halloween, albeit the appearance of a spider, a mummy, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Big Bad Wolves, tenuous, Harry Potter, very tenuous, Ghostbusters, keep going, characters from Disney. It’ll be off Eastenders next.
Jamelia, the dance offf queen, three times a winner, danced a Jive to ‘Time Warp’, the first routine ever to include a portrait of ‘The Laughing Cavalier’ by Frans Hals, a painting pre-dating the creation of Halloween by over a century. Ah, but there were holes in the eyes and someone spying. Apparently the song is from the ‘Rocky Horror Show’, a scary show. I thought that that was just transvestites, swingers, kinky boots, keys into the pot, like a party at Tonioli Towers?
What the eyes would have seen was a lively affair, a little ruff around the edges, but not something that would dam her forever. The GBP have a warped way with them sometimes. This 26 points and her talent should have pointed others to the exit.
I’m sure that Pete thinks he’s making a pop video every week. Nice outfit, great staging, hot chick. What he has to remember is that he isn’t; there is a danger that Pete the Dancer will be the same every week regardless of the dance. It is an easy mistake to make.
Pete performs well. He knows where the camera is and he knows how to play the public. He is a nice bloke, he sells that, and we buy it. He overdoes that. The little touches of humility are genuine but the saccharine will only wear for so long. What Pete needs to do is to add some craft and place himself within the dance; a Fox Trot is different than a Rumba.
Alas, the theme did little to offer him a lifeline on which to pull, the song ‘Ghost’ giving him the chance to wear a white suit with a black spider on the lapel. In the main the routine and the footwork were fine but still the frame worries, the shoulders need to be back as well as high. And then came the pop video bit. 28 left him on the same points as Kellie, a slight fall in grace for her.
Enter to the fray Harry Potter, wizardry, spells, magic wands, and a made up school of magic. Sorry, it’s all made up, there is no such thing as magic. The rabbit is already in the hat, the set-up is already dunn, no one has ever been cut in half, no one has just mysteriously made a helicopter appear or a building disappear. Not without the use of explosives.
Bring on – again – Kellie appealing for voats. A fortnight ago she did a Fox Trot as a tribute to her grandparents. Now she does a Paso and says that she misses her little boy, Freddie. As yet no one else has played that card. It is annoying as well as unjust. Perhaps it’s an area where the producers need to offer some balance? Maybe next week she’ll reveal a degenerative disease?
Balance is what they needed as this Paso to ‘Schools Out for Summer’ ventured from the stage to the floor to the dinner table to the floor and back to the table again, the school dinners miraculously undisturbed, still in the kitchen, head chef Jamie waiting to serve. There was passion and pace but all it needed was a pole and she would have been away. Oh for a Spanish song, some Flamenco and some artistry.
In a night full of education I discovered that the bad queen from Sleeping Beauty is called Maleficent. There is confusion whether she is a bad queen or a good queen, a bit like when Batman went through his midlife crisis as the Dark Knight but apparently she is the mistress of all evil, something I found difficult to comprehend. We all know that she lives in Southmead.
Anita had the pleasure of this one, a Waltz to ‘Once Upon a Dream’, coming down from the sky with wings bigger than the local airbus, wings that were parked on high, observing the dance floor, ready to be re-used, after she had given her prince a lesson in ‘who’s the boss’. With trickery and magic dust Gleb was transformed from a man in the queue for the kingdom to a man destined to be the first to suffer from male rohipnol. It was an enticing affair full of conntnnt, some that had to be changed because, as we all know, Maleficent has horns on her head. Thought that was just too much Harmony Hairspray? Underarm turns were tuff and had to be high. Her head was weighed down. A great finish, dubble turn to right and gentle acrobatics from Gleb scored them 29. I don’t think any knock out drugs have reached the Australian end of the panel yet. 6 points was ridiculous.
Truth be told, Helen was trying to get a part in the next Scooby Doo movie as she emerged from a pharaoh’s sarcophagus dressed in bandages, so too her partner, a different sarcophagus, different bandages. This is a family show. I appreciate that it takes a while to come back from the dead, took JC three days, but pro-rata 30 seconds was a tad too long. This isn’t real life you know. But once awake Helen again showed her pedigree with great technique and timing, the only thing missing a little lust, a bit of dirt. And she nearly fell once, and again on the recovery
‘I dance it like I am very English,’ she said.
I have advice for her.
Jay is a hirsute young man; he needs to shave twice a day otherwise he looks like a Werewolf in London and lo and behold, there he was, the big bad wolf, whiskers everywhere. I am told it was make up. Oh.
To complement his brown wolverine attire Aliona looked a dash in red, frock, cape, lipstick and just by chance the band sang ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ by Sam the Sham, a perfect Fox Trot tune. There was elegance and style with little growl as Jay threw in a left footed reverse rondé, three gentle lifts, unspectacular but graceful and a natty turn section to close, Aliona holding on out of pleasure not fear. This was far from Grimm.
Back in 1984 three blokes I know turned up at a disco dressed as ghostbusters, back packs and guns, and they pranced around gaining attention, notoriety and laffs. At the time I thought it misplaced. Enter, stage left, Georgia and Gigi doing exactly the same. There was no way that this was going to work in spite of the catchy theme tune and everyone singing ‘Who you goin’ to call?’
They discarded the guns, saved for later and threw away the rucksacks – took ages to make those – as the ghosts disappeared knowing their cards were marked. Gigi stood tall like an officer on parade, a go faster red stripe down his trouser leg. And go faster it did. And work it did. There is a tightness about these two, locked at the hip as they Tangoed away all mean spirits with such sharpness, style and attack. Nine pivots nearly set a record, (11 to beat), flicks and kicks were sharp, they even did a body roll, the move when you imagine that you have to get your head under a door frame that is too low for you so you have to duck. In fact in Georgia speak you could say they were ‘amazin’. She wor buzzin’, that’s for sure, she has confidence, style and trust in her partner, a great combination and this was the high of another funn night at the pally. 35 points is her best yet and it debuted her at the top of the charts.
There was one bit of annoyance; not sure how this worked. At the end of each dance a random stranger all in grey tried to frighten the cupples as they headed for the stairs.
Now, where is that Twickenham security guard when you need him the most?
Would have brought the house down if one of the dancers had taken him out.
November 5th 2015