“We Can? Thanks, Mom!”
I wish I could have seen myself emerge from St John’s Wood tube station the other morning, fresh off a plane from the tropics. It was raining. Grey skied. I was wearing linen trousers and a thin cotton shirt. And flip-flops. The cold air made me cough. People were openly laughing.
I did a good job of staying awake that first day until about 9pm. I watched ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ for the first time in my life. ‘Britain’s Got Problems’, my sister says. It’s organised cruelty towards psychiatrically unstable people. The best kind of modern entertainment! Hell, I even encouraged my sister-in-law to phote for the father/son Greek dancing outfit that I am pretending not to know the name of.
I do worry about the kids on that show. When I was eleven, one of my school-friends made an appearance on ‘Run the Risk’. Remember ‘Run the Risk’? It was one of those shows where kids ran around brightly-coloured obstacle courses – wearing helmets and elbow pads – which invariably ended with someone getting gunked. What constituted the gunk was never revealed, but to child’s eyes it looked like alien blood blended with whale blubber and mucus.
Anyway. When the contestants introduced themselves at the beginning of the broadcast, they had to yell into the camera their name, age, something they liked and something they didn’t like. My hapless friend managed to blurt out ‘I don’t like canoeing and I like Take That’. Subsequent school-life became rather difficult for him. At my school, people who learned the violin were held upside-down over the cesspit (actually the steps to the basement beneath one of the sports centres) and shaken until their pockets were empty.
Sticking your neck out is not advised until you reach the age of nineteen, in my opinion. I feel a cold sweat break out at the base of my spine when I imagine what might become of a kid who has appeared on prime-time television dancing topless with his dad.
It breaks my heart to say it, but had that kid from ‘Good Evans’ been at my school, he would have been systematically humiliated in front of the best-looking girls by the meanest boys in the playground morning and afternoon for at least two terms. We don’t like people who are good at stuff in England – we like them to be reassuringly shit at everything.
There should be private schools that BGT alumni can safely attend, funded by ITV, otherwise they will all be twitchy heroin addicts by the age of sixteen, their former talents beaten and humiliated out of them and their faith in humans annihilated.
Anyway. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been enjoying London as if seeing it for the first time. It’s sure is a great city. I’ve never fallen out of love with it, but I had certainly started to take it for granted. Damn, it is expensive, though. I need to start thinking about starting to think about looking for a job. But I have a barbecue to go to first.