Sunday, 26 October 2008

Freckles and bullfights.

Last night watching Strictly Come Dancing was a hugely educational experience. I learnt that Paso Doble (which is a dance I've managed to miss seeing before somehow) is about bull fighting and to dance the Viennese Waltz properly you apparently need freckles...

It was also quite hard work watching it in our house as the eight year old had a friend for a sleepover, so whereas normally it's just the six year old squealing her way through SCD, last night we had three small girls screeching their heads off. So if I've badly misinterpreted all the dancing you'll have to forgive me...

I decided watching Lisa and Brendan I could really get into the Paso Doble. I totally "get" that dance is also about story, and you could do a great story with that. I did like their dance, but wasn't totally wowed by it, although overall they probably made the best fist of it.

Cherie and James had their worst score, because Cherie unfortunately tripped at the beginning and was so put off she forgot to act the story. I kind of agreed with Arlene that it would have been great to see her do it again. Am sure if she hadn't tripped it would have been the best one of the night. (Though what DID they give her to wear? I liked the swirling skirt, but not in gold...)

Mark Foster (thankfully minus the seethrough top), probably did his best dance so far. He's trying so hard, poor love. It's just a shame he was so completely out of time the music stopped before he did. I was in hysterics with Arlene's puzzled bewilderment about how he must be in time in swimming but can't seem to get it in dancing. (I swim a bit, and I can completely see that the rhythm you get into for swimming is a totally different thing - like he says you're going one way, and it doesn't matter how you look!).

Christine's dancing is always enthusiastic, but somehow unmemorable. This was so unmemorable I had to think quite hard to remember if she'd done Paso Doble or Viennese Waltz. Oh dear.

As usual I loved Jodie, even though the judges didn't. It probably wasn't as good as last week's, but there's something about Jodie which I just find irresistible (it is probably because, judging by my five minutes with Anton, I would be just as useless as her if I were doing it.)

The funniest though, had to be John Sergeant's. It's becoming more and more clear that he can't dance at all, but I just love the interpretations he puts on things. He was just hilarious stamping his little feet and trying to look serious. And I loved his comment about being in the position of the favourite runner up in a bye election. I do hope he's still in next week...

The waltzes were better, I thought. Even Andrew Castle didn't do too badly - and thanks to Ola having had him strapped to her waist all week (how DO these dancers manage to keep a straight face when they do things like that?) his bum didn't even stick out. But PLEASE Great British Public, it's time he went. He can't dance for toffee.

I loved loved Heather's waltz. All the way through this we've watched Heather sing and thought, there's a show woman, but she hasn't seemed to be able to translate it to the dance floor. And last night she did, in a dress, which my ten year old pronounced a perfect princess dress (it was very pink). I really really hope she's saved the dance off this week.

Austin and Orla were predictably good, but I didn't think they quite deserved the nines they got.

Rachel and Vincent's waltz was charming if a little unexciting. Rachel also got a great dress (but very very weird gloves).

The hero for me this week had to be Tom though. I didn't think there was anyone to fancy on SCD this year, but I have changed my mind. Tom is utterly my new hero and I don't even watch Holby. He was soooo sweet talking about his wife (who must be very very longsuffering to put up with Camilla on her honeymoon) and then danced a lovely romantic waltz and dedicated it to her. Ah bless... For me it was the dance of the night, and I think I may have a problem now choosing between him and Cherie.

And as a measure of how much more relaxing it is to dance in your own lounge after a glass of red, then in a huge loft surrounded by strangers, I boogied round the lounge with the two big girls for hours... IF only I could have been that relaxed on Thursday....

Friday, 24 October 2008

Dancing with the Stars

Well, one, specifically...

Several weeks ago I was interviewed for the Express about my experiences learning to dance (such as they are). As I'd talked about dancing in the kitchen with my husband (actually I do it without my husband too - Friday nights usually finds me boogying to Chris Evans' All Request Friday, it's a great stress buster I can tell you), they were going to send a photographer down to take a picture of me in the kitchen complete with pinny and marigolds.

I'm very glad they didn't.

Last week I got a phone call asking me if I'd like to come up to London for a photoshoot. Would I ever? When the most exciting thing that generally happens to me in the week is the Sainbsbury's shop, I didn't need much persuading. Particularly when I found out that I was going to get a makeover, have my hair styled and wear some fabulous dresses. No girl could say no to that...

And even if I was mad enough to turn such a fabulous opportunity down, when they told me I was going to be photographed with Anton du Beke, you could have heard me squeeing from here to Timbuctu. I didn't stop giggling for a week.

I was however very nervous. I've never done anything like this before, though I have done a fair few radio interviews, which I quite enjoy because NO ONE CAN SEE YOU.

I realise I should have taken my own mantra from the book and just pretended no one was looking but it was quite strange to go from the normal domestic routine to joining the commuter crowd (which I haven't done for years) and end up in a lofty studio close to London Bridge surrounded by people measuring me up like a kind of prize cow.

As I was the first to arrive (I was being photographed with a wonderful lady who also happens to be the receptionist at my publishers and a fabulous dancer who gave me lots of great info for the book), the lovely make up girl started doing my make up. I was suddenly terribly self conscious about my hair which needs a damn good cut, but somehow in my busy life I haven't found time for that recently. However she did a great job of making it look curly and natural, and I wish I knew what she'd done as I've decided this is a Look I must keep forever. Apart from anything else she made me look twenty again, which is no mean feat...

I also (shamefully at the great age of 43) had my eyebrows plucked and my lashes curled for the first time ever. But probably not the last now (I realise in my middle age I have inherited my father's bushy eyebrows. NOT a good look.)

While I was being made up Anton arrived. He was charm itself, introducing himself to us straight away and promptly chiming in with comments about what we were going to be wearing. He sat down next to me and once he'd found out I'd written a book was polite enough to appear to want to know what it was about. He also read out his own hilarious interpretation of the story (wasted as a dancer, that man I tell you), before pointing out that (ouch!) in the beautiful picture of the couple dancing on the front the man's arm is in the wrong position. I should have known that, but didn't even think about it when I saw the cover as it is soooo beautiful. So to all you dancing fans out there who've noticed, mea culpa. Should have spotted that one!

I then went to try dresses on while everyone else got made up, which was fantastic quite frankly. I tried on two lovely turquoise dresses (one strapless one made me feel like a million dollars but I didn't get to wear it in the end because it didn't have a swirly enough skirt), a purple dress I wasn't so keen on and a fantastic red dress from John Lewis which I absolutely HAVE to own...

By now Anton was dancing with my friend. I watched in envy as they made it look so easy, and in fact their photos together are going to be amazing as she was natural and funny, and gorgeous.

I on the other hand felt like a total dork. The photographer kept trying to get me to relax, but I think the first pictures he took just showed me looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. He kept telling me not to look so scared, but I was absolutely terrified. Anton like the true pro he is made me laugh by taking the piss out of my inhibitions. Well frankly, I was waaaaaayyyy out of my comfort zone (telling me to put my hand on a man who isn't my husband's thigh in the middle of the morning was slightly disconcerting to say the least). At the risk of sounding like a total alcy I could have really really used a drink at that point.

More disconcerting for poor Anton probably was the number of times I trod on his toes, but he seemed to cope with it manfully. In the space of half an hour I had the experience of simultaneously being Katie (who is supremely unconfident at the start of the book) and Emily (who steps on toes all the time). Oh dear. That wasn't how my vision of the day went...

Luckily it did get better, and after discovering that to make the muscles in your face relax you have to blow your cheeks out, I ended up giggling my way through the rest of the shoot. But jeez it's hard. My chin always seemed to be in the wrong place, or I wasn't looking at the camera, or my shoulders were out. Who'd be a model, hey? Not me, that's for sure. (Not that anyone would be asking me ever, after yesterday's performance!)

I would have LOVED to have had the opportunity to get a proper dancing lesson from Anton, because he was quite brilliant at choreographing the photo so we got the right poses, and it was enormous fun. I suspect he wouldn't like me all that much as a pupil though, thanks to the stepping on toes thing, though he was kind enough to say at one point that I had shown a smidgeon of natural ability.

The session ended all too quickly, Anton keeping up his very witty repartee till the very last moment.

And then it was back home on the train, to sort out the kids' stuff for their tennis lessons, and then go and stand in a windy playground which played havoc with my wonderful hairstyle.

At one point Anton was teasing me that I probably spent my life in jeans and teeshirts - well er yes. Much as I love to dress up, that gorgeous red dress, and those lovely red shoes wouldn't be at all practical in the playground...

You can see the results of my day in the Express on Monday, but I hope to get some pictures up here at some point if allowed.

In the meantime, as Tess and Brucie would say, Keep Dancing!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Strictly the Best

Unfortunately I was away for the weekend (again - I know, I know. It's a wild life I lead), so missed Saturday's show.

However, I read Marie's brilliant round up here, so I didn't feel I'd missed too much. And I did go and look at the dances online to get back up to speed.

I think my favourite dances this week were Tom and Camilla's American Smooth which just glided across the floor and Rachel and Vince's samba which was very energetc and raunchy. Tom and Camilla were fabulous. I think if I were his new wife, I might think that was worth having my wedding postponed for, so long as he danced with me like that. I also really liked Jodie who IS graceful and not at all storklike when she's doing ballroom. I was sooooo pleased she didn't end up in the dance off again. I watched the results show with the ten and twelve year olds and the ten year old and I whooped like crazy people when she was saved. (The twelve year old is far too dignified to act like a crazy person). We whooped even more when John and Kristina were saved. I love John. He is like a great cuddly bear, and he is so so charming. He didn't dance at all on Saturday, but carried it off with such aplomb.

I was very sorry to see Heather and Don in the dance off, as I thought that spot should have gone to Andrew Castle (who is dreadful, but clearly has a lot of support from GMTV viewers) and Mark Foster who's samba was nearly as astonishing as Gary Rhodes' first effort.

I think Heather did have the slight edge, so Don probably should have gone (mainly for pulling such terrible faces when he danced), but will miss those velvet tones. Now if he could only dance the way he speaks...

The competition is definitely hotting up now. Cherie, Austin, Mark and Rachel are all in with a chance I'd say, and Christine and Lisa were much better this week. I just find them a bit bland (and Rachel too, if I'm honest).

If it was on character alone, I'd be saying John or Jodie FTW, and until they're knocked out, I'm still hoping...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Hurrah, Hurrah.

Jodie's still in! And surely with the likes of Andrew Castle and Mark Foster about she's got a chance to stay for a little while longer... I did feel sorry for Jessie though.

In case you're interested, I have an interview up at Trashionista. You can read it

Sunday, 12 October 2008

It's Ladies Night...

Or rather it was, last night, but I got a bit distracted by The X Factor followed by 50 years of Blue Peter. It's all go in my house I tell you...

So this week it was the girls turn to show us what they're made of, and as with the boys, there are two clear leaders, who make the others look distinctly banal.

First up it was Christine and Matthew who performed an unremarkable quickstep, although Christine at least looked like she was having fun.

Then it was Jodie and Ian. I love Jodie. I think she's fab. But oh dear god was she out of her comfort zone. Not surprising really. Rumba to me is a dance you should do with someone you're very very intimate with. With anyone else it just looks pervy. Jodie was clearly trying to find her inner sensualist, but sadly, despite her best efforts she failed. Sadly, I think this means she's in the dance off again. Which is a shame because I think she is great fun and she tries so very very hard...

Then it was Heather and Brian. Great choreography, but Heather didn't exactly inspire. It all feels a little inspid I have to say. Mind you, it's easy for me to talk, just remembering those steps must be a nightmare, let alone putting some energy into it. But still, it didn't stand out, despite her best efforts.

Then it was Cherie and James. Once again Cherie pulled it out of the bag and delivered an AMAZING rumba. Amazing. Being an actress has got to help with getting into character and demonstrating the story of the dance, but that aside, she's graceful, she's fluid and a complete joy to watch. I also LOVE how driven and competitive she is. I really really want her to win because I think it would be a great boost for older women everywhere (and sadly I am beginning to include myself in that category). So hurrah for Cherie. Top that boys!

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Poor old Jessie Wallace. She looked completely out of her depth (again.) I must have been going bonkers to even consider her as a contender (which I briefly did from the first show). She seems to lack rhythm and plods around the stage like a carthorse, but she was clearly devastated by the judges' comments so maybe she'll get a sympathy vote. On the performance though, she should be in the dance off with Jodie. But we all know Strictly isn't always about how people perform otherwise Kate Garroway would have never been in it so long...

Then it was Lisa and Brenda with another rumba, and they made a pretty good fist of it. Lisa is definitely chasing third place among the ladies, and this was a huge improvement from last time, but not up to Cherie's standard.

And finally it was Rachel and Vincent. I loved this quickstep. I thought Rachel looked elegant and energetic. She moves beautifully and has great timing. Like Cherie she is incredibly focussed and driven and I think she's going to go a long way. Though the judges awarded this dance second place, I have to say I was a bit torn between her and Cherie, and I think I'd give this the slight edge. The public will probably end up voting for the young and beautiful so no doubt she will make it to the final along with Tom and Austin, but I think it will be close between her and Cherie. Very very close.

For the dance off, it should by rights be Jodie and Jessie, but the fickleness of the British public is renowned (never is the argument against the people having the vote more amply demonstrated then by their responses to TV competitions), so who's to say who'll end up there. If Jessie gets the sympathy vote, it will probably be Heather or Christine with Jodie, and sadly I think we'll be saying goodbye to her.

Though I do hope not.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Strictly Love Competition

I have been immensely neglectful and ommitted to mention that the competition winners have been posted on Rob's blog

My thanks to all who entered and to Rob for kindly hosting it.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Still playing catch up....

From my weekend away (for more of which, see the other blog), but I did manage to see the dance off last night. Gosh they pad that programme out, it could all be over in half an hour.

Still it did allow me an opportunity to glimpse the extraordinary headbanging tango of Andrew and Ola of which I had heard tell on Marie's blog, and from the little I saw of John Sergeant's I am more in love then ever. John Sergeant for the final. The campaign starts now...

Gary was awful. So was Mark Foster - must be something to do with being tall but he and Andrew Castle were both so stiff.

Don was fabulous this week though, which I'm quite pleased about as I do love to hear him speak, and it was nice to see he can also dance.

Without a doubt the two best boys are Austin and Mark, who jived their way comfortable to the top of the leader board. My money is on Austin for the final though (if by any chance John doesn't get there)- I think he has the slight edge.

I watched the girls group dance and apart from seeing Jodie bobbing about like an ungainly stork again (I think the more graceful dances are going to be her thing) and Jessie looking desperately ungainly, I couldn't really make head or tail of who was doing what, though Cherie stood out. I'd love to see her in the final too, but it'll probably be the youngsters.

Looking forward to next week, and on last night's showing would predict Jessie and Jodie for the dance off. Though I rather hope Jodie lives to fight another day...

Friday, 3 October 2008

Let's Hear it for the Boys

Unfortunately I am going to be away for the weekend so will be missing my weekly dancing fix. On the plus side, here's the reason.

Although to be completely honest... I'm seeing the divine Mr Tennant in Love's Labour's Lost, I'm going to have to wait for December for Hamlet.

Having briefly watched the boys practising on It Takes Two, my money is on either him...
or him going

From the little I observed it is a toss up as to who is the most stiff and least natural dancer. Although I'd say Mark Foster was running a close third.

My eldest daughter was in convulsions about the fact that Craig kept mentioning how Andrew's bottom was sticking out. And once he'd pointed it out, it was hard not to agree.

I missed seeing John Sergeant, whom I presume is going to tango. I do hope so as I think he will be loads better then wet fish Mark.

However, I did think the little glimpse of Philip I mean Don looked alot better, Mark looked hot to trot comme toujours, and as for Austin. Well blow me down with a feather. On the strength of that jive I'd put him in the final. He was amazing. It'll be fascinating to see if he keeps it up.

I've also discovered an even more burning reason to go on Strictly Come Dancing. Apparently Austin's lost two stone. TWO stone. I could do with some of that...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Strictly Love Competition!

Tomorrow is the last day of entries for the Strictly Love Competition, so don't forget to enter!

You've got to be in it, to win it!

Details are here