Getting from A to B

Thoroughly enjoyed seeing Strictly Come Dancing through to the end this year (despite the inordinate amount of filler required to pad out the final to well over two hours – how many times does anyone need to see that montage of the finalists’ previous dances and rehearsal-room tears?). It was only when they introduced last year’s winner, Mark Ramprakash, who I have confirmed is a cricketer, that I realised I must not have watched it last year. This will be because I was doing my radio show on a Saturday, I expect. I definitely watched bits, if not all of the first three series, because I remember Natasha Kaplinsky and Claire Sweeney and the elegant Zoe Ball and Julian Clary being voted back in despite his lack of ballroom dancing ability, proving that the public vote with their hearts, not their heads.

This last aspect – the “human factor”” – is, one assumes, why the men always do so well (I think it was an all-male final last year): the granny vote! Well, this year’s winner, Alesha Dixon, formerly of Mis-Teeq, was a deserving one. She was easily the best dancer of the run, and – so I learned over the weekend – not professionally trained, which I had assumed, her being a pop singer and all. Good on her. Matt Di Angelo should have been disqualified for looking like a scruffy bastard with that facial hair anyway.

The reason I mention the show, which I like for reasons unprofound, is that the final reached new levels of vacuity. Every contestant or friend/relative of contestant interviewed used the phrase “journey” to describe what had been some ballroom dance training. I’ve noticed this a lot in 2007. One can no longer have an experience; one must go on a “journey”. Thus, Alesha Dixon did not perform an increasing number of different dances on telly over 12 weeks; she went on an incredible “journey.” Equally, Matt Di Angelo, formely of EastEnders (although I’ve no idea who he played), did not perform an increasing number of different dances on telly over 12 weeks, only to be beaten on the night, he went on an amazing “journey”. (Presumably, his “journey” wasn’t as good as Alesha’s, since it ended in defeat on national television, but it was a “journey” nonetheless – a bit like going on holiday, which is also a “journey” and finding out your hotel doesn’t look like it did on the website.)

I think we can guess where this new obsession with “journeys” come from. The United States of America, perhaps? The world of therapy, perhaps? (I have absolutely nothing against therapy, by the way, and am in fact fascinated by human psychology, but when phrases like “journey” and “closure” seep into everyday language, I fear for the future efficacy of therapy itself. You’re going to get patients turning up and talking about their “journey” as if they know what they’re talking about.) It’s been weird since the death of Princess Diana and the first flush of success in the country of Jerry Springer, to see a nation mutate from monosyllabic emotionally constipated introverts to one of externalising, emotionally incontinent extroverts, where a problem aired is a problem halved, and if a confession of infidelity or sexual malpractice isn’t made on television, it hasn’t been made at all. Who knew we British would get so good at talking about how we feel? In many ways, this is healthy. But we are in danger of going too far, and bestowing unimportant, mundane, easily-explained experiences with psychological and emotional significance that they don’t merit.

Not everything we do is a “journey”. I’ve just wrapped some Christmas presents. It wasn’t a “journey”. It was a task. I went to Waitrose yesterday: now that was a journey. But not a “journey”. The year is coming to a close. It’s been an experience with ups and downs in it, a few changes, a few new things, a few old things – but it’s not necessary to analyse it as a whole and discover what kind of “journey” it’s been.

Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. I needed closure on it.

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40 thoughts on “Getting from A to B

  1. Just wanted to wish you, your family and friends a Merry Christmas, and thanks for the most readable ‘blog’ on that there interweb thing. ps. I’ve bought 6 copies of your latest book for friends and family this Christmas (now that what I call easy shopping!) Hope they like it as much as I did.

  2. Just wanted to wish you, your family and friends a Merry Christmas, and thanks for the most readable ‘blog’ on that there interweb thing. ps. I’ve bought 6 copies of your latest book for friends and family this Christmas (now that what I call easy shopping!) Hope they like it as much as I did.

  3. Just a little correction – Natasha Kaplinsky was the first winner, therefore meaning that three laydeeeez have won Strictly. Have a nice Xmas, I’ve loved the blog this year. It’s been great. I feel in many ways that it’s been a journey (*coughs*)

  4. Just a little correction – Natasha Kaplinsky was the first winner, therefore meaning that three laydeeeez have won Strictly. Have a nice Xmas, I’ve loved the blog this year. It’s been great. I feel in many ways that it’s been a journey (*coughs*)

  5. Whether I like to admit it or not, I was more of an X factor man this year. I can handle bad singing better than bad dancing and there was something about the complete and utter way it was rigged so that Wales, England and Scotland were all represented in the final that hooked me for the sheer ballsiness of the deception. Marvellous stuff.

  6. Whether I like to admit it or not, I was more of an X factor man this year. I can handle bad singing better than bad dancing and there was something about the complete and utter way it was rigged so that Wales, England and Scotland were all represented in the final that hooked me for the sheer ballsiness of the deception. Marvellous stuff.

  7. Oh my knowledge of pointless celebrity gossip is a blessing and a curse.I was pleased Alesha won as she was undoubtedly the best dancer and the best performer. On the celebrity gossip/journey piece I think many people felt for Alesha as her marriage broke up this year after her hubby MC Harvey *hiss* was found in bed with former Pop Idol/Eurovision thing Javine *boo* (this is just like panto). Whilst the show didn’t play on it I think for many of us there was the feeling this was a happy ending for a girl done wrong by.Merry Christmas Andrew and fellow comment leavers!

  8. Oh my knowledge of pointless celebrity gossip is a blessing and a curse.I was pleased Alesha won as she was undoubtedly the best dancer and the best performer. On the celebrity gossip/journey piece I think many people felt for Alesha as her marriage broke up this year after her hubby MC Harvey *hiss* was found in bed with former Pop Idol/Eurovision thing Javine *boo* (this is just like panto). Whilst the show didn’t play on it I think for many of us there was the feeling this was a happy ending for a girl done wrong by.Merry Christmas Andrew and fellow comment leavers!

  9. I am an unashamed fan of SCD. It seems to me to require more actual skill than any of its rival shows. About the journey thing. It has become something of a joke on its add on show ‘It take Two’. Don’t mention the ‘J’ word Claudia often says.Curiously the reson that Matt stood a chance of winning was because he was seen to have been on a journey. Whereas Alisha has been very good from week one. I was delighted that she won. She looks such a lovely, unassuming person. Anyway Happy Christmas to you and yours Andrew.

  10. I am an unashamed fan of SCD. It seems to me to require more actual skill than any of its rival shows. About the journey thing. It has become something of a joke on its add on show ‘It take Two’. Don’t mention the ‘J’ word Claudia often says.Curiously the reson that Matt stood a chance of winning was because he was seen to have been on a journey. Whereas Alisha has been very good from week one. I was delighted that she won. She looks such a lovely, unassuming person. Anyway Happy Christmas to you and yours Andrew.

  11. As an American, I wish I could apologize for all the cultural and linguistic contamination from this land of catch phrases and sound bites. Please be assured we are not all cut from the same cloth. And yet, I can’t reject it completely. I will admit to you that I recently got sucked into one of the more ridiculous “reality” shows. In case you hadn’t heard, there was a dating show on MTV starring a bisexual by the stage name of Tila Tequila, whose claim to fame is her popularity on MySpace. Would you believe that all the contestants – 16 straight men and 16 lesbians – went on a life-altering journey? Unfortunately, I missed the whole series “America’s Most Smartest Model” but I’m willing to bet the losers and winner alike enjoyed their journeys. If I could have a Christmas wish granted, it would be for everyone to take journeys to the library, to parks, to farmers’ markets, to polling sites to vote. I hope all of you have a happy Christmas and a wonderful year, full of good books, good food, good music, and this great blog.

  12. As an American, I wish I could apologize for all the cultural and linguistic contamination from this land of catch phrases and sound bites. Please be assured we are not all cut from the same cloth. And yet, I can’t reject it completely. I will admit to you that I recently got sucked into one of the more ridiculous “reality” shows. In case you hadn’t heard, there was a dating show on MTV starring a bisexual by the stage name of Tila Tequila, whose claim to fame is her popularity on MySpace. Would you believe that all the contestants – 16 straight men and 16 lesbians – went on a life-altering journey? Unfortunately, I missed the whole series “America’s Most Smartest Model” but I’m willing to bet the losers and winner alike enjoyed their journeys. If I could have a Christmas wish granted, it would be for everyone to take journeys to the library, to parks, to farmers’ markets, to polling sites to vote. I hope all of you have a happy Christmas and a wonderful year, full of good books, good food, good music, and this great blog.

  13. Happy Christmas to you and yours, Andrew. Despite the number of ‘journeys’ taken by the contestants, I loved Strictly and enjoyed watching the Christmas special tonight as well. More than Dr Who actually, despite the presence of Kylie (slighty disappointed).Whilst I’m here, Happy New Year as well, I look forward to reading your blog in 2008!

  14. Happy Christmas to you and yours, Andrew. Despite the number of ‘journeys’ taken by the contestants, I loved Strictly and enjoyed watching the Christmas special tonight as well. More than Dr Who actually, despite the presence of Kylie (slighty disappointed).Whilst I’m here, Happy New Year as well, I look forward to reading your blog in 2008!

  15. I was watching with my wife and I wondered out loud why everyone said they had been on a journey. This is something that X Factor contestants also underwent.Do the producers ask them to express themselves in this way?

  16. I was watching with my wife and I wondered out loud why everyone said they had been on a journey. This is something that X Factor contestants also underwent.Do the producers ask them to express themselves in this way?

  17. Hi Andrew. Hope you had a nice Christmas. My week’s been pretty much made having got Red Dwarf on DVD and BBC 2 are showing episodes from the first series this week-some of which feature Claire Grogan who originally played Christine Kochanski-she was great then and she’s still great today!

  18. Hi Andrew. Hope you had a nice Christmas. My week’s been pretty much made having got Red Dwarf on DVD and BBC 2 are showing episodes from the first series this week-some of which feature Claire Grogan who originally played Christine Kochanski-she was great then and she’s still great today!

  19. Journeys used to be all about kids in the back seat screaming “are we nearly there yet”. New fangled journeys would appear to be ones I would wish never to start out on in the first place.I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

  20. Journeys used to be all about kids in the back seat screaming “are we nearly there yet”. New fangled journeys would appear to be ones I would wish never to start out on in the first place.I hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

  21. Re the journey thing, it seems the X Factor auditions are now degenerating into:- What are you going to sing for us?- Me Nan’s dyin’.- OK but what are you going to sing?- It’s throat cancer, you know. Irony is she used to be a lovely singer; it was all she lived for. I’m here to sing… because she can’t.- And what are you going to sing?- Uptown Girl. Sorry if I’m limping by the way. Did I mention the accident…?I’m awaiting the return of Dancing On Ice with some trepidation. Vastly superior to SCD in my humble opinion.

  22. Re the journey thing, it seems the X Factor auditions are now degenerating into:- What are you going to sing for us?- Me Nan’s dyin’.- OK but what are you going to sing?- It’s throat cancer, you know. Irony is she used to be a lovely singer; it was all she lived for. I’m here to sing… because she can’t.- And what are you going to sing?- Uptown Girl. Sorry if I’m limping by the way. Did I mention the accident…?I’m awaiting the return of Dancing On Ice with some trepidation. Vastly superior to SCD in my humble opinion.

  23. Yes, sad news about Kevin Greening, and such a shock too. He was at Radio 1 when Stuart and I were hosting the Hit Parade and various live events, and was somewhat prickly towards us, as if perhaps he thought we were upstarts who hadn’t paid our radio dues (which was nominally true, although we were very humble and grateful to be at Radio 1). At the launch of the Brits in 1995, which took place in the morning at some hotel, Kevin had to hand over to Stuart and I, live. He prefigured the handover with something like, “Collins and Maconie are at the Brits launch. I don’t know why.” We took this very personally at the time, but I don’t think he meant any lasting harm! He was a nice enough chap away from the mic, and the last time I saw him was when he was doing nights at 6 Music, and as we passed in the Hub, he was as nice as pie. I thought at the time that depping the Night Train seemed something of a comedown for a former Radio 1 breakfast host. But that was before I realised that when you’re a real radio DJ, as long as you’re talking into a microphone somewhere and somebody’s paying you to do it, it doesn’t matter when, or where. I heard him on Smooth just the other day, in the car. And now gone. A real radio DJ.

  24. Yes, sad news about Kevin Greening, and such a shock too. He was at Radio 1 when Stuart and I were hosting the Hit Parade and various live events, and was somewhat prickly towards us, as if perhaps he thought we were upstarts who hadn’t paid our radio dues (which was nominally true, although we were very humble and grateful to be at Radio 1). At the launch of the Brits in 1995, which took place in the morning at some hotel, Kevin had to hand over to Stuart and I, live. He prefigured the handover with something like, “Collins and Maconie are at the Brits launch. I don’t know why.” We took this very personally at the time, but I don’t think he meant any lasting harm! He was a nice enough chap away from the mic, and the last time I saw him was when he was doing nights at 6 Music, and as we passed in the Hub, he was as nice as pie. I thought at the time that depping the Night Train seemed something of a comedown for a former Radio 1 breakfast host. But that was before I realised that when you’re a real radio DJ, as long as you’re talking into a microphone somewhere and somebody’s paying you to do it, it doesn’t matter when, or where. I heard him on Smooth just the other day, in the car. And now gone. A real radio DJ.

  25. I love watching the Claudia Winkelman show during the week (yup, I’m that much of a fan) and I can point out that during the run, they often take the piss out of the fact that contestants go on a ‘journey’ and constantly refer to it as ‘the “j” word’ because they know how naff it sounds, so not everyone connected to the programme is unaware!

  26. I love watching the Claudia Winkelman show during the week (yup, I’m that much of a fan) and I can point out that during the run, they often take the piss out of the fact that contestants go on a ‘journey’ and constantly refer to it as ‘the “j” word’ because they know how naff it sounds, so not everyone connected to the programme is unaware!

  27. Good old Claudia, she always seems to have a good attitude to these shows, not always taking it entirely seriously. Her backstage show was always the best thing about Fame Academy

  28. Good old Claudia, she always seems to have a good attitude to these shows, not always taking it entirely seriously. Her backstage show was always the best thing about Fame Academy

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