Let Them Eat Coke!!! by Allen Miles

So… Nigella Lawson did a lot of cocaine and the readers of that revolting soapbox for middle-aged Aga owners, The Daily Mail, were appalled. Just as they were appalled when it was revealed that international supermodel Kate Moss was photographed with a rolled-up twenty-spot protruding from her nostril, and just as they were appalled when Elton John revealed that he regularly spent upwards of £20,000 a year on flowers. It’s disgraceful isn’t it? What has society come to when mega-rich, mega-famous people behave in a self-indulgent manner?

Just a bit of baking soda...

Just a bit of baking soda…

Or more to the point, what has society come to when society disapproves of this kind of behaviour?

The majority of people in this country seem to live their lives vicariously through celebrity gossip magazines these days, which is an upsetting enough fact in itself, but the really sad thing is how unbelievably tame the lives of these so-called celebrities are that they want to read about.

Chantelle from Big Brother goes out for a jog with her post childbirth navel clearly visible and half a million people spit their morning crumpets out; Miley Cyrus thrusts her bottom at Robin Thicke and hundreds of thousands of fine china tea cups are dropped to the floor in shock; screamingly camp Olympic diver Tom Daly reveals he’s in a relationship with another man and Werther’s Originals block oesophaguses all over middle England. Is this what it takes to shock people in 2013? What a frightened, closeted little country we have become.

Nigella did a load of drugs, Kate Moss did a load of drugs and Elton realised that doing a load of drugs was going to kill him so he started wasting preposterous amounts of money in other ways. If you are famous, with bollock-loads of money and little or no responsibility, it is your duty to behave in this manner. Famous people should live these lifestyles because you and I, the down-trodden, miserable general public with our remote controls and alarm clocks and bus stops can’t live these lifestyles. Instead we’ve got Chris Martin, the lead singer in the biggest band in the world (it makes me want to shoot blood from my eyes to type that sentence) naming his child after a citrus fruit, wearing sensible jumpers and probably watching Last Of The Summer Wine on a Sunday tea time. What a fucking wanker. I hate to use this phrase again, but it was so much better before.

A challenge: name five Oliver Reed films.

It’s alright I’ll hang on…

You can’t can you? But you know who Oliver Reed is don’t you? He is the actor who is known for being an absolute drink and drug monster, and for doing this sort of thing over and over again on the telly.

This is how famous people used to behave all the time. Admittedly, not always on live TV, but they used to take it as their right to gorge themselves on whatever they saw fit, and sod the consequences. It seems the reason people want to become famous these days is to have their airbrushed faces and airbrushed lives plastered all over the front page of various “Celeb Gossip Mags,” earn a fortune in a few months and then disappear. Back in the day when the word celebrity essentially meant that you were going to be on the panel on Blankety Blank, the truly talented famous people would be on the front pages for the quality of their albums, films, or talents with a football. George Best for example, is one of the most beloved and revered footballers of all-time, but if you ask any veteran football journalist or even a member of your own family over the age of sixty, they’ll tell you that Best wasn’t even the best player at Man United, let alone the world. So why do we remember him over Bobby Charlton and Denis Law? I’ll tell you. It’s because Bobby Charlton was bald at twenty five and is the most sensible person in the world, and Denis Law looked like he should live under a bridge. George Best, on the other hand, was appallingly good-looking, incredibly stylish, drank like a fish and banged everything that moved. He knew how to be famous. He knew how to behave like a piece of scum.

You will never, ever be this cool. Sorry.

You will never, ever be this cool. Sorry.

I think a lot of the problem is that in this country we’re too afraid of being told off these days. Its the real Millenium Bug. There’s just too much exposure, what with the internet and all those computers. A year or so ago, Mario Balotelli (a genuinely insane superstar) walked into a sixth form college in Manchester and asked to use the toilet. Within seconds, two dozen eighteen year-olds had tweeted photos of him and it was all over the world. He asked to use the toilet in a college. In 1978, Freddie Mercury hosted a party at New York club Studio 54 at which a number of midgets circulated with sliver trays strapped to their heads, upon which were mountains of cocaine, from which guests would help themselves. Can you imagine if that got into the press these days? They would probably mention it in parliament.

In 2002, John Entwistle of The Who was found dead in a hotel room after a drugs binge with two high-rent prostitutes. Entwistle was known as “The Quiet One” in The Who.

One night in 1979, Elton John, unable to sleep in his New York penthouse, rang his agent and screamed “Can you do something about this bloody wind outside?”

In 1982, Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a live bat onstage.

In 1995, to promote his HIStory album, Michael Jackson floated a fifty foot statue of himself down the Thames.

This actually happened.

This actually happened.

In 1998, Paul Gascoigne and Paul Merson played a game in which each of them would take a sleeping pill then drink a glass of wine. The winner would be the last one to stay awake.

In 2010, Keith Richards, aged 137, had amphetamine sulphate on toast for breakfast, then played a show in front of 60,000 people for the thousandth time.

And tragically, in 2011, Frankie Cocozza, aged 19, after six weeks on the X Factor, confessed that his life “had gone out of control” and he “just couldn’t hack it anymore.”

Poor lamb.

In closing, being famous has changed. It’s not about wanting to stuff yourself full of drink and drugs and behave ludicrously, it’s about wanting to have thirty sleazy tabloid photographers pointing their lenses at you whenever you leave your house because you are so desperate for attention. If the general public of 2013 want karaoke singers and celebrity chefs as their rock n roll stars then fair enough, but Nigella is deeply ashamed of her drug use. I remember a time when celebrity chefs used to do this:

I suppose I’ll just have to accept, as I dream of winning the lottery and dragging Fev, Lyndsay, Hoffs, Andy and Martyn to Las Vegas and diving, Scrooge McDuck-like into a lake of vodka, that old school fame has died. Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Keith Moon… this kind of star quality is almost obsolete these days. Notorious cainers such as Liam Gallagher and Charlie Sheen have become tabloid punchines, lacking the credibilty that they once had; Morrissey and Bono are too preachy and Joey Barton desperately needs someone to delete his twitter account. Only one person, in my opinion, carries that torch of genuine star quality in 2013. The one man who demands attention, debate, and opinion wherever he goes and whatever he does. Here he is guesting on popular Saturday evening family talent show The X Factor.

"Just a can of Red Bull, honestly..."

“Just a can of Red Bull, honestly…”

I love Robbie. He’s ace.

 

profile b and wAllen Miles is 33 years old and lives in Hull. He is married and has a 3 year-old daughter who thinks she’s Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He is a staunch supporter of Sheffield Wednesday FC and drinks far too much wine. He spends most of his spare time watching old football videos on youtube and watching 1940s film noir. He is the author of This Is How You Disappear, which is widely recognized to be the best book ever written. It is available here. http://tinyurl.com/disappear2014

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Weddings: All They’re Cracked Up To Be? by Vic Watson

In a word: no. As an unmarried woman in a relationship, it’s expected by most people that I’ll be completely obsessed with the whole shebang. I’m not. After being involved in many weddings – as bridesmaid and guest – I’ve become quite jaded with the whole process.

 

In this day and age of celebrity magazines and tabloids, people are putting themselves massively in debt to afford weddings way beyond their budgets. Twenty years ago, would you ever have heard of a shop assistant marrying a mechanic in a stately home? No. How about a castle being rented out for the nuptials of a call handler and a travel agent? Err, no. But now, if you don’t spend thousands, you’re somehow a failure. Let’s walk through the day itself and see how things should be…..

 

Preparation.

Guests are often given a dress code and a gift list when the invitations are issued. With many couples living together before getting married, the typical toaster and iron have now been usurped in favour of money. A wedding I recently attended had the couple asking for money to put in their baby fund. Previous couples have asked for money to put towards lavish honeymoons which, without the generosity of their guests they couldn’t have afforded.  

 

Dress codes are a nightmare for women – you are at the behest of not only what is trendy that season but at what the bride (inevitably it’s the bride who makes such demands) deigns suitable for her big day. We have to find something to wear and then we also have to find matching accessories (shoes, a bag, possibly a hat or a fascinator), as well as paying extortionate sums for beautifying processes like waxing, hair cut and/or colour, spray tan and nail painting. Prior to her godson’s wedding last year, my mother bought – and returned thirteen dresses before settling on one to wear. She was still accessorising less than twenty-four hours before the ceremony. And before you say it, we do need all that stuff. It’s ok for guys; the worst thing they have to do is get a new suit and maybe a haircut.

 

As a bride, you have the organisation of the full day to worry about. If you’re lucky, you have a supportive husband-to-be who loves you enough to take his share of the load. If not, you may have a supportive bridesmaid, mother or mother-in-law-to-be (by supportive, I mean nosy). From the moment a woman gets engaged, she has a million things on her mind – assimilating ideas from the various weddings she has seen in magazines, television shows and films. So there’s the venue, the menu, the dress, the guests, the budget and the cake but to mention a few.

 

Let’s not forget, there’s the hen and stag do’s to attend too. If you’re lucky, it’s a pub crawl in your local town or city but, more often than not these days, hen do’s are an expensive affair that not only require your attendance for one night but often a weekend or even a week abroad plus the spondoolies for a ‘gift bag’ usually containing a t-shirt, a sash, inappropriate playing cards, dares and badges or stickers. Stag do’s often include trips to party resorts, strip clubs, off-roading and paint-balling activity centres and sometimes even prostitutes. A fine start to the marriage, I think you’ll agree.

 

On the Big Day.

For an 11.30am wedding, as a guest I was up at 8am. Previous to the day itself, I’d had my hair done, my nails done and my spray tan applied. All I had to do on the day was have a shower, paint my toenails, apply my make up and get dressed. Oh, and get to the venue. I didn’t have time to have breakfast. What time does a bride have to get up?

 

Arriving at the venue, guests mingle and greet each other as if they’re actually pleased to see each other when, in truth, a lot of people who meet up at these dos have spent the last few days psyching themselves up for seeing people they can’t stand for various reasons. They pose for photos, worrying about their hair and make-up and if they’ve got VPL. Depending on who is paying for the wedding depends on who is invited to the daytime do. If a bride’s parents are paying, they often expect their social circle to be included in the big day. So it could be people who don’t even really know the couple sitting beside you.

 

The guests then assemble in the church (or wherever the ceremony is being held), being told where to sit based on the importance of their relationship to the couple. A service, either civil or religious, is carried out while everyone wonders how long until they can get their first alcoholic drink. The couple make vows to each other, some written by themselves, and everyone in the congregation passes each other looks because they know what’s been said in the heat of the moment during arguments and disagreements.

 

Bucks fizz is handed out after the ceremony or on arrival at the venue for the reception where yet more photos are taken, inevitably irritating the groom and any other men asked to be in the photos. The female guests eye each other up, discussing outfits and plus-ones.

 

Sitting down for the meal and the speeches is a heart-stopping moment as guests check the seating plan, hoping they’re sat beside someone tolerable for the next three hours. The meals vary in quality, as do the speeches. It’s obvious that no-one wants to do a speech but because it’s tradition, most people put themselves and their guests through it anyway. Yet more affirmations of ever-lasting love and fidelity follow from the groom. Whether it’s meant or not is another matter. Out of five weddings I went to one year, three of them are now over.

 

The evening do is a part for also-rans. People who aren’t valued enough to attend the daytime do are invited to the party on the evening. The trend now is to invite also-rans to the church ceremony and then the evening do, only leaving them out of the meal and speeches, some people would say this is preferable. The party tends to go one of two ways: everyone gets slaughtered and gets up to dance or everyone remains reticent and migrates towards their own cliques, spending the night chatting – only moving to go to the bar, loo or buffet. At the last wedding I attended, one man asked a woman to dance. Nothing wrong with that, you may say, apart from this man didn’t know said woman and when said woman’s hubby came back from the bar, he grabbed her arm and literally dragged his intoxicated wife from the dance floor while giving her dance partner the V’s. It was the highlight of the wedding for me but probably not for the people involved or her parents who sat and watched the whole thing unfold looking pretty dismayed.

 

The aftermath.

If there haven’t been any massive scandals like a drunken row or someone making a complete tit of themselves by revealing underwear or chucking up on the dance floor, some of the women who were in attendance will meet at some point or another and discuss who was wearing what, who went home with whom, who cheated on their partner and so on. Some weddings are so infamous for the trouble they cause, they are talked about for years after – long after the marriage has ended.

 

What’s the solution?

Why are people so bothered what other people think of their day? Why do people waste all of that money on one day? Why do couples feel the need to parade their love around in front of an audience?

 

I know for a fact one of the brides I was bridesmaid for was not a woman with a large circle of friends, nor did she like being centre of attention but she had a wedding that cost just short of £15,000. She is a shop assistant. Her husband was a manual labourer (yes, I’ve put “was” in there for a reason). They had almost 100 people at their daytime wedding. The bride did not seem to enjoy one moment of her wedding so what was the point in wasting all of that money? In this financial climate, £15k would go a long way to a deposit on a house.

 

Personally, I’d rather have a quiet wedding, with just me and my beloved. In this time of WAGs and people who are famous despite no discernible talent, people seem to think making grand proclamations on your wedding day is enough to sustain a marriage in spite of all the bumps in the road. Saying “I love you” seems to have usurped the need to show it.

 

I, personally, would be more concerned about the marriage than the wedding. Who needs a disco and a buffet anyway?

 

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