Great response yesterday for the search for your ‘longest’ mistakes. Before I go to Africa (on Friday) I’ll be announcing which one I am going to try and reverse. But for now…
Zoe Fell posted the first Comment yesterday and exercised her right to choose something which I have to talk about in today’s blog. She actually nominated two things: the question of ‘where I stand on pies’ (thanks to Rachel for suggesting one should stand where the crust is thickest), and an account of the Sony Awards last night, where I presented an award and in the process met quite a few famous people, including a bald chap from the programme ‘Pineapple Dance Studios’. Firstly, then: pies. I love them. I mean, of course to some extent pies are like brains: it’s all about the contents. I’d be unhappy to sink my teeth into pastry and find cheese there when I was expecting steak and ale. But in principle, I think it’s a tremendous format for food. Liquid or semi-solid treats inside a pastry casing – it’s a bit like a present your mouth gets to open. I can’t honestly see, Zoe, how your friend can claim to hate pies en bloc. But then, my wife isn’t wild about them. Oh, pies are a tricky talking point, all right, but I know which side I’m on.
Here’s a trickier one.
At this great big awards ceremony last night – hosted by no less a person than Chris Evans (and no more a person, either, in honesty, but he was really funny) – one of my fellow prize-presenters was Louis Spence. I haven’t seen more than a few seconds of his television show, because any show with ‘dance’ in the title has its work cut out with me, and if it then begins with someone saying how tough it is to be a dancer and how much you have to want it, it’s likely to be game over. So I didn’t have any preconceptions. But, in short, I found his camp posturing remarkably annoying.
Afterwards I was thinking about why I took against it, and why I have a similar problem watching the biggest excesses of camp on TV. I find Alan Carr (once a great gagsmith, now seemingly mostly a professional queen) pretty hard to watch. I’ve little time for people like Paul O’Grady. It makes me shudder a bit when Graham Norton – again, a fine wit in his earlier career – tosses in his 21st innuendo of the Eurovision Song Contest… ooh dear, that’s not the only thing he’ll be tossing in!
But obviously, for someone who claims to be a liberal, would condemn any form of homophobia, and is always banging on about the casual use of ”gay’ as an insult, it’s a weird feeling to be expressing a strong dislike for some of the highest-profile expressions of homosexuality in society. Is it not an excellent thing that people can be out, be as flamboyant as they like, and be hugely successful off the back of it? Well, yes it is. So what’s my problem? Am I repressing anti-gay feelings? Am I like some Middle England Daily Express reader who is absolutely fine with ‘the gays’ as long as they don’t marry, have sex, kiss, hold hands or be all gay?
I really hope not.
I think my unease comes from the fact that lots of gay men – a couple of friends of mine included – are, while openly gay, quite downbeat about it and not given to massive flouncing displays, and I feel like those people are misrepresented by screaming camp. I feel that although it IS a step forward for gayness to be gleefully presented as a positive stereotype on TV, it would be a still bigger step forward if we moved beyond that stereotype altogether.
Or it could just be that I don’t find it very funny, for reasons which have nothing to do with sex and everything to do with liking subtlety and understatement in comedy. I’ve done many gigs with Alan Carr and he’s an excellent live act and so it’s a bit disappointing to see him as Token Very Gay Light Entertainment Man. But if it’s what he wants, who am I to judge?
In fact who am I to judge anything? No-one, so I’d be interested in your opinions. Is it ok to dislike camp entertainment while still thinking gay people are fine, nice, interesting people? Or do I have prejudices I’m not in touch with? Especially interested to hear from gay readers. Including, if he’s reading (and I imagine he is), Louis himself.
UPDATE – I think it might be ‘Louie’ not ‘Louis’. I’m not going to go back and change them, though. If you don’t mind, please use your imagination to make the necessary changes.