I was talking to Juddge Hilzi about Halloween.
‘When we were kids we just knocked on doors and ran away. Or we lifted gates off their hinges.’ I’m sure she knew that when it was our turn we cut washing lines and put milk bottles on doorsteps. Or we tied rope on the back door handle of someone’s house and also on the front door handle, same piece of rope, in the hope that the victim couldn’t open either door, one pulling against the other. But that was all on Mischief Night, November 4th, not Halloween. The end of October was just a carved out pumpkin with a candle, quite useful in the seventies when the National Grid was turned off to save the nation’s electric bill.
Now the country has gone Halloween mad and everyone is a werewolf, a vampire and a ghoul. We are scared of everything, just for a day or two, everything. Juddge Rosco mentioned it. He is wary of heights, snakes, small, enclosed spaces, aeroplanes that malfunction and the first team at his rugby club getting beaten. He doesn’t give a jot about butterflies, moths, characters from Batman, the cast of Wicked, bats, mad scientists or any other tenuous associations with Halloween. To say that the producers went thin this year would be an understatement.
Five years ago Jimi Heselden died when he and his Segway (self-balancing scooter) fell off a cliff letting a dog walker pass, near the Yorkshire town of Boston Spa. Jimi, a former miner, owned the Segway Company, a novel way of getting around (go on YouTube and watch Piers Morgan fall off, very funny, sorry Piers.) One of his other products is the hover board, basically a Segway without a handle. Little did Jimi know that one day one would be used in a Jive on Strictly, the toy hidden from view by much dry ice, useful in a number of dances this week.
The kid to get to play on the toy was Brendan, back from his ailments, still looking pale though decked out in glistening brown including cape, like an audition for the role of Loki in the Marvel movie franchise. Must be a Halloween connection there! In truth he was supposed to be a bat, Anastacia too, as they danced to ‘Bat out of Hell’, the brilliant Steinman and Meatloaf song, from the days when Meat was fit and healthy, when his voice didn’t slur like he’d had a stroke.
For a sixth dance Anastacia did well, enuff to score 25. We have to remember she is a novice and this was a capable effort. Most juddgies, particularly harsh this week, picked up on a lack of bounce and retraction of the foot from the knee that made it look a little heavy but none mentioned that this is a young girl’s dance, the choice of the athlete. Anastacia is approaching her half century. Maybe if there was another novice of the same age to compare it to? As is, one of the main lyrics is ‘like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes’ and like any good premonition, she was, losing the dance off against Daisy, a terrified and bewildered Daisy, not fear of Halloween, but the fear of exit and of the rejection of the GBP.
Daisy scored 33 dancing a Paso to ‘Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ by The Animals. No connection there. If only it had been The Troggs. She wore a dazzling red, her matador matched with a tinge of black and there was Flamenco, twist turns and a high level of skill.
The theme, though I had to ask, was the ‘Day of the Dead’, but the only thing that took you there was watching Daisy and the terror behind her makeup as she edged towards the precipice of the dance off. Staggeringly scary. I once dated a girl like that. Imagine, all that make up? And then you realise it’s not make up after all . . . if Daisy isn’t supported more I may be having to make a new list of contenders for the washing up at Travolta Towers.
Up there with her, our Natalie, found out and exposed by Juddge Grumpy but accurate, our favourite Aussie, her not him, in tears after discovering that her Rumba with Greg didn’t contain any Rumba at all and that her dramatic interpretation was designed to hide Greg‘s inadequacies. (We did say that last week Craig, well copied.) Why it was a shock is anyone’s guess, she created the routine. But it’s true, a lovely dance, with the Rumba having a day off. It was reported that Greg wasn’t happy that his girl went through such public humiliation. Perhaps he’d never seen the show before?
Greg has irked Juddge Aggie. Not only has she previously mentioned his self-interest, but now he is wearing 50 Denier tights to train in and he also chews gum during the process. Bit crass, a thing not dunn. Arise the Bard of Dance, waiting for his doublet and codpiece to practice in next week.
He did survive with a meagre 26 to ‘Bring Me to Life’ but not for the attentions of Juddge Grumpy, determined to destroy the mood. As a Show Dance it was worthy of a 10, he said, as a Rumba, a 4. The dance was fabulous, but . . . it seems unworthy that the celeb is punished for his pro’s approach. Looking like Julian Assange meets Rhydian, an albino ghost, Greg was really terrific, but for the content. I think he was playing the ghost of a paramedic. He led, he drove, he cared. The only missing was the ambulance siren. I was waiting for Kate Bush to join in the threesome, it was so ethereal.
Ed scored the same as Greg and soon they will be in the jump off or a closed ballot to see who gets to December. The rest will come soon for Ed, as said last week, this, a Cha to ‘Love Potion No. 9.’ He was all in white, ready for the plane to Dhaka, but dressed in swimming goggles. Katya was in white too. Perhaps she was going to open the batting with him against the dangerous Bangladeshis after that historic defeat? Apparently he was supposed to be a mad scientist, the profession with the highest percentage of arrests in October and November in the UK. Please remember that 87% of people who quote statistics are lying.
At this stage it should be said that it is okay for men to be camp, no juddgement, just observation, but it looks like Ed thinks that you have to be camp to dance, the old pre-requisite. You don’t. He would benefit from more study, perhaps an hour with a strong, heterosexual male coach, and to understand that he can be butch, manly, cool even, and still wow the crowds. Mincing works but sometimes it’s best kept to Shepherd’s Pie. What Ed does really well is attack the routine, keep time and enjoy it. With some finesse, who knows? He was in the Labour Party for three successful general elections. Perhaps this is his fourth?
The two male favourites came a cropper on Saturday, one because he missed a step or too, Danny Mac Amateur, and the other because he was dressed like Lenny Henry doing David Bellamy, ginger beard et al, dancing to a song called ‘I Want Candy’ that brought out the second diabetic anaphylactic shock of the series. Throw the ‘Trick or Treat Pick and Mix’ sweets at those with Type 2 why don’t you, go on, have some funn.
Do you remember Lenny? Tall, gangly even, the star of a sitcom called ‘The Fosters’ in the seventies, before the lager usurped it the following decade. It was the story of a black family who lived in a multi-storey council flat in South London. From there he went on to proper acting, poor stand-up, the creation of comedy characters that Mike Yarwood would have scoffed at, and fame and a knighthood for his services to charity as co-founder of Comic Relief. Bet he never thought his caricature would appear on Strictly.
Apparently, Ore in this format was some sort of monster. Big hair, big beard, too many sweets, striped suit, just like an everyday dude really. His partner, on the other hand, looked like a nineteenth century scrubber with dental issues. Very scary. And she too was scared when a one armed lift nearly left her on her butt with a minute to go. It wasn’t planned; she stumbled like a baby giraffe. The judggies argued between themselves ‘don’t listen to him’ as they figured out if he had swivelled enuff, if there was plenty of intricacy and why they scrapped over a giant lolly. Perhaps they both want to use it in a later career guiding folks across roads?
In a rare volte face Danny Mac Amateur won some new fans. Not because of a Fox Trot that scored 30 points to ‘Take Me To Church’, a little error, three consecutive bars, and the use of a red umbilical cord the low lights, but because he actually used an adverb when talking afterwards. I know, staggering. I was so expecting him to say that Oti (everyone bigs up their partner) had done brilliant, the thicker end of the verbal spectrum, but no, in he came with ‘brilliantly’ and as a result I felt light headed with shock. There is hope for Danny Mac Pro-Am.
In truth the red cord was a pain even though it was used theatrically. It irked as much as Colin Jackson dancing with a mannequin in the final of 2005, the only mistake Erin Boag ever made apart from ignoring my calls. We all know that Danny can dance, that he is co-favourite for the title and that his previous is in his favour. So, why not, one day, perhaps give him a proper song, no gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors, just let him dance. And he will dance brilliant. Ly.
It will be some solace for Rob and Oxi that they outscored two of December’s finalists just this once scoring 32 in a Paso to ‘Born This Way’ featuring the mystically magical and terrifying butterfly and moth, those old Halloween favourites. Rob was the moth intent on snaffling the beautiful butterfly, who, to be fair, didn’t try that hard to get away. In his orange crystalled jacket, one he stole from Mothercare, his waxed chest bare for all to see, he came to the floor on a wire more gentle than Icarus and left it on a wower. If you can forget the theme, Lady Gaga gargling the music in the background, the inappropriate song and the lack of Spanish, Flamenco and French flavour (Paso is French I discovered!), this was a great effort, his best yet. Knee walks, power, aggression and a free for all spirit made this an enjoyable romp.
We are left with the top three of the week, the timid Louise hitting a high of 35 in her Charleston, the limpless Laura 36, Tango, and the peerless Cloudier, American Smooth, sharing the zenith of the leader board.
I think we have to appreciate now, after our brief period of sharing time travel with Louise, that she is a little shy. With all that ability, and her history at Italia Conti where her skills have been honed more than any, her problem is still an emotional one, the fear of being watched and judgged, which is why presumably she was part of a pop group before she had the nerve to go solo.
Another way of hiding is to cake make-up all over the place and come out dressed as someone else. She did and there was me thinking that the BBC had messed up the tapes and here came ‘Debbie Does Dallas’ by mistake. She was dressed like a cheer leader, someone called Harleen Frances Quinzel, Harley Quinn for short, the lover and accomplice of The Joker. This is not a good call. Forever The Joker loses eventually. She wore tight, shorts, white pumps, pigtails and a big smile.
KFG was dressed like The Joker from Batman, the heroic slayer of vampires and the ghostly. (If a vampire was burnt at the stake would it be a vampyre?). And he was supposed to be scary, scarier, like the music ‘Crazy In Love’. Some points. As said The Joker always gets beaten. He frequently tastes the leather knuckle of Batman’s gloves. And he is just a comic book creation; he isn’t the man to condemn you to purgatory forever. (Nothing to do with Halloween, obvs.) Louise opened the show and her technique won her her day. We are still yet to see the actress, the inner Louise, the couldn’t give a jot, look at me Louise. Perhaps Greg could coach her?
The rest taken by Laura served her well. A Tango to ‘Paint it Black’? Why not? He wore panda eyes of make-up, her too. His face looked white like he was ready to marry into The Addams Family. Laura wore Cuban heels to protect her poorly ankle. And they whizzed around the floor with speed and accuracy, snappy, with focus and passion once they had disentangled from a pesky spiders’ web. His hands caressed her thigh, her upper chest, he pulled her in, he pushed her out, a master of this domain. Whirl yourselves back to last year and his effort with Georgia. They romped through. Had they not that would have been a real kick in the ghouls.
Cloudier turned 19 last week. AJ (Alex Joseph) turns 22 on Bonfire Night. This week the Diminutive Duo danced to ‘Black Magic’; next week ‘Dairy Milk’, ‘Milk Tray’ and ‘Lindor’ will follow. Their Smooth smelt of Wicked, that musical I saw in the West End where the sound production was so bad I wrote five times for a refund. I didn’t win. They couldn’t believe it was bad. Bad ego week in London.
This was not to be for our green clad cupple, a frog and a prince, Brothers Grimm meets, er, Brothers Grimm. She even wore a witches’ hat to torment me further. But it didn’t work for she has Olympic shape and poise, and total trust in her lead, jumping into space to be caught, led and caressed with a dancer’s glee. He lifted her to his waist and showboated. And before you knew it she was up on his shoulder, all turning, to be gently lowered to the floor.
Class, chemistry, out in front.
Catch them if you can.
November 3rd 2016