It's a sad fact that all too often genuine ability and aptitude goes unrecognised and unrewarded. There is a vast pool of talent out there that has never been tapped, and never will be. Great painters whose work will never see the light of day, musicians whose melodies will forever fall upon deaf ears, poets whose verses will go unread, in spite of their ability to put words together really good. That this situation persists is only right and proper. These people are losers who should be actively scorned or, at the very least, entirely disregarded.
Instead, it behoves us all to celebrate the achievers. Those people whose faces regularly adorn our glossiest of magazines, whose exploits fill our seediest of newspapers, and whose fascinating personalities are paraded for the benefit of we mere mortals on all the best panel games, talk shows and celebrity telethons. And who could be more worthy of our admiration than those who have achieved fame, fortune and notoriety without having to perfect their art, struggle for recognition or develop any kind of talent? After all, anyone can learn to act, or paint, or dance, or sing. But to be born into an acting family, to be the niece of a high-ranking TV executive or to been fortunate enough to have gone to university with the son of a rich publisher - these things are decreed by fate and fortune. They are divine happenstances that separate regular workaday chaff like us from the celebrity wheat, who are so much thinner, richer, healthier and, well, just so much better than normal people.
We here at The University of the Bleeding Obvious have, for some time, lamented the fact that this select group of fine people has not really had the recognition that it truly deserves. And so, realising that celebrity is about nothing if not about being in the right place at the right time, we decided to inaugurate The Bleeding Obvious Award for the Achievement of Outstanding Celebrity Without Really Doing Very Much.
And what better way to celebrate such an award than with a glitzy star-studded bash in the West End, where already over-exposed media people, up-and-coming teen idols and faded has-beens can be seen, photographed, and involve themselves in scrupulously stage-managed indiscretions that will guarantee them a centre page spread in The News of the World at the weekend? Unfortunately the Albert Hall was already booked and the Palladium was being fumigated, but we sat down with a jug of coffee, pulled out the Yellow Pages and eventually managed to secure the Gala Bingo Hall in Broadstairs for a very reasonable rate. And they even offered to do the sandwiches at half price if we paid in cash.
The date was set. The invitations were printed. The red carpet was given a thorough going-over with a stiff broom and we put all the little sausages on sticks. We were determined that this was going to a suitably glittering occasion and to this end we ordered 400 tons of glitter with which to sprinkle the guests as they entered. Then, the day before the ceremony, disaster struck. The 72-piece orchestra that we had engaged phoned us up to tell us they were double booked and that they would have to cancel us in favour of a golden wedding anniversary in Brighton. They apologised and offered to send us a spare trombonist that they had knocking about, but explained that he would only be able to do twenty minutes as he had to get back early to let his cats out. We were grateful for this gesture, but it still left us in the lurch. Then, as luck would have it, the manager of the hall informed us that his brother-in-law ran a mobile disco, and would be available for the evening. We were saved.
All was ready! We must admit to feelings of trepidation as our guests began to arrive. A crowd of eager photographers, autograph hunters, well-wishers and homicidal stalkers began to gather as the limos pulled up outside the main entrance to deposit the very cream of the celebrity circuit on our doorstep. Soap stars, children's TV presenters and daytime fashion gurus, not to mention the usual glut of astrologers and TV psychics, who always seem to turn up at these events despite the lack of invitation. Then a minibus arrived to disgorge this season's batch of high-profile slappers, including Marti Hershel who has recently been linked with a couple of second division footballers, Janine Redbury, who was caught at it in March with a happily married sitcom star, and Sarah Kandinsky, the 'Bermondsey Banger', whose exploits with a certain backbench Tory MP single-handedly doubled the sales of Marmite in the last quarter of 2002.
Then there was much excitement upon the arrival of popular sportsman Colin Dechamp, whose commercials for Pot Snax have made him the nation's favourite loveable rogue. Apparently, Colin once won an Olympic Gold medal for running, or something, so that may be something for him to fall back on when his TV career goes belly up.
Finally, the crowd was hushed to an almost awe-struck silence as one of the longest limousines we have ever witnessed appeared around the corner and drew up to the entrance with stately grace. Window after window sailed slowly passed us, tinted black, reflecting our own expectant faces but offering no clue as to the occupants. After what seemed like an age it gradually came to a gentle stop. Doors opened - many doors - and a platoon of bodyguards issued forth to flank the vehicle. Then a handsome young couple emerged to a roar of delight from the assembled throng. She was slender, graceful, with a radiant smile and flowing golden hair; he was svelte, pleasantly rugged, with chiselled features and steel blue eyes. The crowd adored them, and this delightful couple acknowledged their love and affection with great charm and aplomb before proceeding into the auditorium. Lovely people. To this day, we still don't know who the hell they were.
And so, with our guests seated, the lights dimmed and the tables practically overflowing with complimentary peanuts, it was time for the show to begin. We kicked off in style with a big dance number, featuring twenty-five students from the local experimental theatre company performing a rumba to the Village People's YMCA - supposedly depicting the betrayal of Russian Cossacks following the Second World War. They exited the stage to a peel of riotous applause from one man sitting in the third row.
Then it was time to get the ball rolling, and we were most fortunate that the popular comedian Ben Skelton agreed to be our compere. As you may know, Ben once did a mildly amusing routine about tube trains in 1985 and he has been much in demand ever since. Aside from hosting award ceremonies, Ben also attends a great many film premieres, so we were lucky to get him. Rumour has it that he is currently working on a new joke, which he hopes will form the basis of his new book and screenplay, and he is confident that there is every possibility of a musical based on the gag. So, best of luck Ben.
We were sure that Ben would be on fine form for our event, and we were not disappointed. To the delight of the audience he once again treated us to his classic tube train routine, plus the hilarious fast food monologue and that old favourite, the taxi driver gag. These routines are like old friends now, and no ceremony would be complete without them. Then it was time for the first award - Best Celebrity Fitness Video. To announce the nominations was another old favourite, Sue Diamond - three-times winner of the International Arse of the Year Award and herself no stranger to the celebrity cash-in video. The three contenders were shortlisted not just on the basis of sales, but also for the most outlandish claims for weight loss. Former soap starlet Gemma McKenzie trod familiar ground with her Samba Slimming Programme. Meanwhile, former soap starlet Donna Peters greatly impressed the judges with her slightly more adventurous Twelve Step Chainsaw Plan to a Better You. But the ultimate winner was former soap starlet Tracey Newcombe for The Origami Workout - Fold Yourself Thin.
Next up was the Most Dramatic Fall From Grace award. This was to be presented to the star whose debauchery and subsequent high-profile sacking had secured them the greatest media attention. As you might imagine, this was easily the most fiercely contested category, having been such a prolific year for disgraced celebrities. However, the award finally went to 'reformed' junkie and alcoholic Richard Nilhism, whose rambling, incoherent appearances on morning TV - coupled with his dogged persistence that he's still on the wagon in spite of the fact that he's clearly pissed out of his tiny head - impressed all the judges.
There was time for one more award before the main event - Best Career Salvaging Stint in a Popular Panel Game. Nominations were former actor Danny Jervis for Celebrity Pants on BBC1; former journalist Amy Whetton for Whose Granddad? on ITV; and former stand-up comic Phill Burton for Hold This For a Minute on Radio Four. The winner was Phill Burton, who will return for the grand final next week
This brought us very neatly to our finale, The Bleeding Obvious Award for the Achievement of Outstanding Celebrity Without Really Doing Very Much. To present the award we welcomed onto the stage the celebrated actor Sir Richard Dangle, whose monumentally successful career in advertising voice-overs means that he will never have to perform on stage ever again. With great gravitas he announced - with that familiar, distinctive diction that has been used to advertise everything from Tupperware to toilet rolls - that the winner of this first award was none other than Mary-Ann Slagg.
And there really couldn't have been a more popular choice. The audience rose for a standing ovation as a tearful Mary-Ann made her way towards the stage. This dazzling young socialite, who first came to our attention four years ago when she began to frequent all the most exclusive London night-spots, is currently the darling of the tabloids. This is in no small part due to the phenomenal success of her recent autobiography, People I Have Shagged. At first she was only ever seen dripping off the arms of pop stars, actors and media moguls. But rapidly, as her fame gathered pace, she began to assemble an entourage of her own - famous chums and drinking buddies who followed her from club to bar to film premiere, and who were eager to be photographed in her company.
But just who is Mary-Ann Slagg? Is she the glamorous daughter of some rich lord or earl? Perhaps she's an aspiring actress or model? We may never find out exactly who she is, or what she does, and it is this enduring enigma that accounts for our fascination with her. Viewers have been mesmerised by her increasingly regular appearances on daytime TV shows to air her opinions about fashion, cosmetics and the showbiz scene. And at the beginning of this year her public profile was thrown into sharper relief by her appearance on the reality TV show Celebrity Mausoleum, in which six semi-famous people have to spend four weeks in a vault, with the public periodically deciding which ones they ought to bury.
Mary-Ann's reaction to receiving our award was typically dramatic. Upon reaching the podium she shrieked loudly and jumped up and down. Then, struggling in between sobs and wails, she gushed that she didn't really deserve such an honour, and went on to thank her close family of stylists, make-up people and hairdressers. Finally, in serious, measured, sincere tones she spoke of her gratitude to us, the ordinary people, and told us that we were all very special, even though we weren't famous or anything. Then, with a tiny tear glistening in the corner of her eye, she issued a final, humble, 'thank you', then stepped back from the microphone to receive our admiration.
The audience rose to its feet once more, and by this time our eyes were glistening too. It had been the perfect climax to a fantastic evening. For our part we were incredibly proud and felt that in staging this event we had, in some small way, paid tribute to the wonderful people who populate our media and enrich our lives. For one brief evening we had become part of their world. We ordinary folk - who work from 9 to 5, who pay our mortgages, who struggle with bills and taxes and debts, and whose only hope of ever distinguishing ourselves in life is by dying young - had, for one fleeting moment in time, touched the stars. Who could ask for more?
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