Thursday, 22 September 2011
“Good for Cheryl.” That was my instant reaction to the news that TV critics have given Cheryl Cole’s fleeting performance in The X Factor USA the thumbs-up.
US reviewers saw previews of the opening episode before it aired this week and reckoned she was a better judge than her replacement, Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger.
After her bout of malaria, her marriage break-up and then her ignominious exit from the American version of the X Factor, it’s about time something went right for Cheryl. The US critics’ verdict might be small comfort but at least their reviews show Simon Cowell was wrong to ditch her. And definitely wrong to ditch her in such a humiliatingly public way.
Here in the UK, Cheryl always seemed the most genuine X Factor judge – the only one who knew what it was like to go from Geordie wannabe to global superstar in the space of a few years. My daughter queued for two hours in the rain to be in the X Factor audience last year and said that Cheryl was by far the nicest judge. When the judging panel swept out of the tiny studio during the ad breaks, it was Cheryl who smiled and bantered with the audience. “Dannii and Louis completely ignored us,” my young mole told me. “Simon winked at us and when my friend said to Cheryl ‘I love your shoes,’ Cheryl stopped and said ‘thank you.’”
PS: I still haven't recovered from the excitement of being shortlisted for the Cosmo Blog Awards (please vote for House With No Name!) I had a fantastic evening last night reading lots of the other contenders and thanks to Miss Thrifty’s blog discovered that George at ASDA has a new Barbara Hulanicki collection. The clothes look great and made me reminisce about my childhood, when no trip to London was complete without a trip to Biba, Barbara Hulanicki’s amazing shop in Kensington. Stepping inside Biba was like being transported into an Aladdin’s cave full of sludgy-coloured T-shirts, suede over-the-knee boots, little cloche hats and tiny pots of eye shadow stamped with Barbara Hulanicki’s swirly gold logo. It was my favourite shop ever.
PPS: Twitter is brilliant for seeking expert advice. I’m the world’s worst photographer and needed to buy a camera that was good value and idiot-proof. When I appealed for help on Twitter, several people recommended the Nikon Coolpix S3100. I headed straight round to Curry’s and da-da, the picture above, taken on a walk in the Oxfordshire countryside, is my first effort.
Saturday, 20 August 2011
Alex James’s hilarious account of life behind the scenes of Nineties’ Britpop is one of my favourite non-fiction reads of recent years.
In Bit of a Blur the irrepressible James (above) recounts how he was catapulted to fame and fortune as bass guitarist of the rock band Blur. One minute he was a university student living in a slug-infested squat in Camberwell. The next he was living the high life – hanging out at the Groucho Club, driving around in a cab festooned with spots painted by Damien Hirst and generally being, as he describes it, “the second drunkest member of the world’s drunkest band.”
Those days are long behind him now. He’s moved to the wilds of Oxfordshire, where he lives with his wife and children, waxes lyrical about the countryside and makes cheese. But I think his latest creation could be a step too far. His Alex James Presents cheese range goes on sale in Asda on Monday (August 22) and boasts flavours like cheddar and tomato ketchup, cheddar and tikka masala and cheddar and sweet chilli. Are you convinced? No, me neither.
PS: David Cameron has just set off on his fifth holiday of the year. After a jaunt to Granada in April to celebrate Sam’s 40th birthday, an Easter trip to Cornwall, a week in Ibiza in May and a recent holiday at a Tuscan villa (cut short when he flew back following the riots), he's heading to Cornwall again with his family.
Even though lots of families can’t afford to get away at all this year, I don’t begrudge the Camerons the occasional break. But five is overdoing it – and sends out a terrible message to the millions struggling to make ends meet. Long hours and interrupted holidays go with the territory when you've got a high-powered career. If you want an easier life and a job that gets you home by 5.30 every night, then top-flight politics probably isn’t the right choice.