When I got an invitation to the launch of Geri's swimwear collection for Next I was, naturally, extremely excited. The launch was taking place over breakfast at The Savoy, and Geri had laid on a lovely spread (she must have been up half the night, bless her) with salmon bagels and eggs benedict (which I didn't eat) and a variety of pastries, muffins and fruit salad kebabs (which I did eat). There was even something that tasted like yakult served in shot glasses.
A woman who was something to do with Next came on and excitedly exclaimed that Geri had once worked as a Saturday girl in Next, so it made perfect sense for her to now have collaborated with them for the collection. I didn't want to dampen the nice woman's enthusiasm, but if Victoria Beckham had applied this logic to her label, she'd have designed it in partnership with her mum's friend's wedding dress shop . Just sayin'. The Next woman also flagged up the fact that Geri is a UN Ambassador, which I liked, because sometimes I feel like people forget this, which is a shame as it's one of my favourite Geri facts.
Finally Geri was on the mic and spoke at a rate of two words a second about how sometimes she's fat and sometimes she's thin and how either way she likes to look good in a bikini (fair enough). Then she said something about how every woman wants to feel that they look great, and if men agree then that's a bonus (everyone tittered at this as if she'd said something super raunchy which I found quite odd and annoying). I don't think Geri had spent long rehearsing her speech as when she finished she took a sideways glance at the Next PR and then announced "that's it."
(UN Ambassador Geri Halliwell)
When it came to the catwalk I was slightly disappointed that Geri had resisted the temptation to model every piece herself. I also didn't find any of it very nice I'm afraid, but luckily for Next I don't think I'm their target market. They also missed a trick by using music other than Mi Chico Latino, which seemed like a missed opportunity, although they did play some album tracks from Geri's third release afterwards.
(You can tell that Geri is a seasoned professional because her eyes are always trained on the camera)
During the meet and greet I was pleased that Geri remembered me from the other couple of times that we've met, although there was a slightly embarrassing moment when her PA also remembered me, and during our chat I mentioned the magazine I worked for and she responded with "Oh, you're Press, I wondered how you'd got in here." Awkward.
(I never look very good when I have my picture taken with Geri. I think the weight of my expectation makes me tense.)
When it was my turn to speak to Geri I ignored the bikinis and instead asked her about her rumoured fourth album. She said it was definitely happening, but wasn't allowed to say anymore (I'm very intrigued to find out what will happen with this) Then she gave me a goodie bag which included my new office in-tray...
And a £50 voucher for Next. I couldn't find anything I liked so I bought these, because you can never have too many socks.
You can read a piece by Liz Jones (another of my favourite women) where Geri talks about the collection here. My favourite quote is "I went to see Lady Gaga in concert, and we saw each other backstage and it was really nice because there wasn’t anybody else around, and she said, “You know, Geri, you really inspired me, I really tuned in to what you stood for”. I also like, "She tells me the people at Next offered to airbrush the photos. ‘I said, “Don’t airbrush them." Here is one of the pictures for your reference:
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Monday, 17 January 2011
On watching Nighty Night for the first time, an ex-boyfriend of mine once commented that it had instantly given him greater insight into my character. Such is my love of the show that I refused to be disheartened that it’s protagonist, Jill Tyrell, is an amoral, egomanical, devious, manipulative, relentlessly self-serving, passive-aggressive (and frequently plain old fashioned aggressive) sociopath. Love. Her. Unlike other comedy anti-heros (Basil Faulty, Blackadder) with whom viewers feel at least a degree of sympathy, there is nothing redeeming about Jill. The first episode opens in a hospital consultation room, where on discovering that her husband Terry has cancer, she laments “Why me?” before wasting no time in installing him in a hospice, commencing his funeral arrangements and signing up to a dating agency - despite the fact that doctors have given him a positive prognosis. Soon she sets her sights on neighbour Don, and pursues him with single-minded zeal, ignoring that he already has a disabled wife, Cathy. The second series sees her accuse Cathy and Don’s twelve-year-old son of rape, feigning the resulting pregnancy and then attempting to do a runner with Cathy’s new-born baby. If this sounds unremittingly dark, that’s because it is. It’s also really, really funny.
Remarkably, the series manages to delve into some pretty heavyweight taboos without ever appearing to shock for shocking’s sake. Like a lot of comedy, the humour relies on heightened realty, with Jill representing the final frontier of a type of zero self-awareness which we’ve all encountered to some degree. The fact that Jill wages a campaign of terror on a disabled woman is tricky ground to tread, but Cathy’s multiple sclerosis is never the joke, and her wheelchair is an incidental factor which Jill exploits in the same way she exploits Don’s alcoholism or Linda’s profound stupidity. When Jill trills “Come on Catherine Wheels! at Cathy (having left her to negotiate to negotiate two large hills in her wheelchair while Jill “parked up”) it is Jill’s heartlessness and imperviousness to social norms which we are amused by, not Cathy’s inability to walk. In many ways, Nighty Night is social comedy in a similar vain to Abigail’s Party, and Jill is an extension of the gauche, sexually omnivorous Beverly, except instead of plying her dinner guests with wine and nibbles, she serves them prawns in a milky basket and initiates a game of pass the balloon which results in her simulating sex with Cathy’s husband. Again; Love. Her.
Jill’s flagrant sexuality and idiosyncratic (read: outlandishly slutty) dress sense appeal directly to a gay sensibility, and there’s something about her unique brand of emotional vampirism that positions her in a stable of gay icons alongside such greats as Baby Jane and Alexis Carrington. There’s also something undeniably camp about a woman who arrives at her (staged) husband’s funeral on horseback, and begins her eulogy with the immortal line “I will not hear a word against Terry. Having said that, he was a very bad husband and quite an evil man.” Creator and star of Nighty Night, Julia Davis, subsequently produced a pilot about a pair of housewives who go on a homicidal rampage, which wasn’t commissioned by the BBC. It is my great hope that at some point she will be given carte blanche to create another similarly unhinged masterpiece, if only to provide me with some new material, and spare me from continuing to pepper every social engagement with “we'll settle up later. Otherwise it just gets nasty.”