Happy Birthday Mum.
On December 17th my mum hit a big ‘0’, a cupple of decades to go before she gets her telegram from The Palace, so a brief self-indulgence. Clearly the greatest mum and grandma the world has ever seen, her life, like everyone’s has been a roller-coaster, a constant learning curve, a personal journey of growth towards wisdom and sagacity. She brings total and unadulterated love to the planet and we all reciprocate in return. That said she has been widowed twice so whenever we see a bloke we don’t like we just get her to marry him. Doesn’t last a week.
In a world of self-indulgence, especially at Christmas, Kev, Kev, Kev, Kev, Kev! What on earth happened to you at Elstree? On the announcement of the winner of The Glitter Bally Trophy he collapsed in tears, smashed the floor with his fists and let out a visceral howl, years of frustration outing, his legacy secure.
Give ovver, our Kev, give ovver, yer daft lummox.
KFG was in danger of becoming the Jimmy White of Strictly history. Some of you will know about Jimmy, one of the most gifted snooker players the world has ever seen, the 56 year old from Tooting played in the World Championship Final six times . . . and lost them all. This was young Kev’s fifth Strictly final having not quite triggered the ticker tape celebrations when dancing with Susanna Reid, Louise Redknapp, Frankie Bridge and Kelly Bright. Last year he partnered Susan Calman and to be honest there was more chance of him plaiting fog than winning with her.
As Kev gushed and reeled from the news, fully in the knowledge that he won’t be back, one of the key drivers to his reaction, he forgot one simple thing, a plaque hanging in his bathroom, opposite the toilet so that he can read it every time he does his Sudoko, Daily Mirror crossword or he reads his Pause for Thought annual.
The plaque states a simple quote from the Scottish philosopher Sydney Banks.
‘Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.’
Of course, the show is about the winner, the celebrity winner, not about the pro. Once the team huddle broke up Kev was hoisted onto shoulders as if he was Booby Moore. God Bless Neil Jones who quickly saw the need and lofted Stacey to ensure the celebration was about them both.
It truth, given the night, it was an unlikely victory. Stacey didn’t have a mare, but she came fourth from four (114/120), and still won, two points behind Joe, all his relatives on the Juddging Panel. How else could he have scored so highly? The two pros, Ashley and Faye, both maxed out with three 40s apiece, a first in Strictly history, and one can only believe that the GBP, the sole arbiter of judgement on the evening, took into account the previous three months, not just a minor blip, to award Stacey the crown. It’s a bizarre old game; where else do you come fourth and win? In sports where there is a play-off system? In an election? Certainly when yer nan has the casting voat.
Each cupple were given three dances, the judggies’ choice, a Show Dance and their own favourite, and it was Stacey’s Show Dance that didn’t quite activate the hypothalamus.
Her Fox Trot was back, KFG wearing his Juventus second strip again, 39 points, six higher than her effort in Week 4. All okay so far. Their third and last dance matched that score, a Paso, noticeable by the efforts of her partner, his face straining every sinew . . . for himself.
The issue was the Show Dance, 36, a pick and mix of her well-honed talents to ‘Land of 1,000 Dances’, which wasn’t really that apt the more the routine continued.
Stacey and KFG began in separate rooms on the pretence they were both going out on the pull. There were press-ups and bicep pumps from her, hair spray, tooth picks, mascara and ethereal wafting of joss sticks from him, and then they joined together for the party, a Jive with flicks and kicks, more flicks and kicks, and running around. One back drop, his hand under her neck, was the only jeopardy until the end when he lifted her with his head between her thighs, and she climbed down his back, through his legs to his front, only for it to happen again.
It was the running around that caused tension especially with the Antipodean end of the juddgling panel, who, I need to add, had so much fake tan on I thought it was an advert for Creosote. The Cuprinol Kid took offence at the running around and he had reason, daring to mention the 23 seconds without a step or a lift or anything really. At one stage it looked like KFG was going in for the scrap but to shouts of, ‘it’s not werf it Kev, it’s not werf it,’ from his counsellor, he slinked off to his dressing room for a cry.
The tears would have been mixed with laughter following one of the great live gaffes of this year’s telly.
For weeks we have had to tolerate male dancers flashing their naked torsos at the WI of Middle England and at the panel members of the Bristol Bears Club. The heterosexual men who watch the show, and there are some, have written in expressing a desire for balance. They’re not phobic, they just want equilibrium. If Giovanni strips off then so can Oti. If Graziano flashes us his bull tattoo then Nadiya can reveal the line of stars just below her left bosom . . . so I’m told.
As Stacey gathered her breath Bruno stunned the audience.
‘It was a medley of Stacey’s greatest tits!’
It nearly knocked him off his booster seat.
Stacey’s final tally averaged 34 from her sixteen dances which is an admirable return for a novice. Of the foursome it made her a worthy champion and she clearly now becomes One of the Chosen Few.
Thankfully that nod didn’t go to the Thatchers’ Mate (32.8).
Joe, with his hair dyed red, a forfeit for reaching the final, either that or to keep both pillows a universal colour at Sugg Central, had a great final, this in contrast to Stacey. She bossed twelve weeks and messed up one; Joe was average for twelve but nearly won the day on Saturday.
Fortune favours the last salesman in . . .
If there are four sales people trying to sell their wares logic and heuristic juddgment will tell you that in spite of the offer, the contract, the features and the benefits, it’s always best not to open the show or to skip in second or third under the radar. It is a trick of the mind and memory more than anything, especially when fine margins determine who buys.
Fortunately for him Joe was awarded that slot and he reprised an awkward, poor and unconvincing Paso (Week Seven) and a Charleston from Week 2 and dropped just three points forcing severe gastric movements in the Clifton household. No enema needed there . . . though my friend has a spare . . . unused.
For your solace, and so that you sleep well tonight, the Final always engenders enthusiasm and zealous scoring. Last year Bruno and Dame Shirley awarded tens for every dance they saw. This year that reduced by just one. Our favourite Prima Ballerina joined in wafting ten ten paddles from a possible twelve. Whilst we are there this year’s cast scored 470/468 compared to the class of 2017. Were they really better than Alexandra Burke, Joe McFadden, the Lovely Debbie McGee and Gemma Atkinson? Feel free to ponder that over your Cheerios.
The striking thing about Joe’s Show Dance was the song, ‘I Bet That You Look Good on the Dance Floor’ from the Arctic Monkeys. The startling thing wasn’t the choice but the artist. Anthony Smith of Bristol does a highly acceptable version on his first and only CD, released last year and now found in the 50p bargain box.
This was Joe’s best performance of the year bar none (39) and nearly tipped the voating scales. It started high on a mountain of speakers, he used a trampette, he battered a guitar, there was some blistering Quick Step, some slick Jive, musicality and timing, a brilliant mount from Reddo (a hand stand on to his shoulders from behind) and a creditable effort far from Joe’s norm where you sense that he is following choreography but not dancing. He may not have won the show but his Internet hits will escalate and he got the girl. More than he could have wished for in September.
So, what of the two pros?
One expression of value is whether or not you would pay to see both dance. You would. For the others the audience would expect a fee for showing up.
But rather than fill the pages with superlatives, which would be easy and appropriate, a few brief stats.
In the last eleven weeks Ashley has scored 427 points, Faye 426, the former averaging 38.8, the latter 38.7. In terms of tens the tally is 32 to 31, utterly staggering. Both dancers can do things that the others can’t, Faye, a Nubian sphinx with the grace and elegance of a regal, she could be Helen Mirren’s daughter, Ashley with an inner delivery of well-honed beauty and passion. Dontcha wish your girlfriend could dance like that?
Faye’s schedule for the night included her smouldering Viennese Waltz to ‘A Man’s World’, a song title surprisingly unchanged by the BBC, her Bonnie and Clyde Theatre Jazz, both perfection, and a Show Dance that was old school American Smooth Quick Step with all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. It was Fred meets Ginger, not Wilma, the song ‘A Lullaby of Broadway’ not offering a scintilla of hope for a kip.
They began on top of a giant top hat, her partner, her brilliant self-effacing partner, in full white tie and tails, Faye in gold, on this occasion proving that all that glisters really is. To dismount the hat Faye rolled off to be caught by her beau. Would have made a bit of a mess if he hadn’t. And then the synchronicity, pace and accuracy mastered the stage and the moment.
Ashley edged the contest as she reprised her Mambo from Dirty Dancing and her Charleston from Halloween Week, you remember the one, the routine with the giant sex toys and Pasta’s false belly.
It was the Show Dance that brought a new level, a no rules exposé, danced predominantly on a rotating stage the size of a giant penalty spot.
Like Gina Lollobrigida in Trapeze (1956) Ashley was lowered from the skies on a swing, silks and all, and then she returned to her ethereal Contemporary Dance, but all within the confinements of the tiddly wink of a stage. The lines were as good as before, the grace so refined yet animalistic and primeval, her understated partner showcasing his brilliance in the most effective manner. If ever you are feeling down just watch this two minute clip and you will realise the capabilities of mere humans . . . and then doff your cap to the greatest celeb the show has ever seen.
So that was that, the end of a series of grandiosity, in production, also the best ever. Funny, charming, the highest quality, the most endearing, a light in the dark of our autumn. So thanks to all involved and a particular bow to the brilliant Dave Arch, his stratospheric band and all the fantastic singers used: Tommy (nice CD, Tom), Lance (Nice CDs), Hayley, Jamie, Chris, Andrea, Andy, Priscilla and Hazel.
And my personal acknowledgements to my special team of helpers and influencers: Juddgies Hils, Lulu, Magnum, Lewis and Lola, she was a showgirl; it wouldn’t have happened without you. Juddge Aggie, it did happen without you. I hope you get better soon; your dusty dance shoes await.
Season’s Greetings to you all.
December 19th 2018.
P.S. Happy Birthday RF