Why you should choose your newspaper carefully…

Like most Britons, I have long accepted that I won’t be able to read a single issue of the Daily Mail without becoming rather irate about at least one article. (It also irks me that it’s the paper of choice for one set of grandparents, it’s a close call as to whether it’s better or worse than the other set reading The Sun.)

Last week, the combined efforts of enraged Brits were launched at the Daily Mail in response to an article that suggested the recent (tragic) death of Boyzone’s Stephen Gately wasn’t ‘natural’ (as the post mortem had concluded) but instead claiming that it was in some way owing to the ‘hedonistic’ lifestyle that he and (in the author’s opinion) all gay men follow…
Thanks to some social networking and genuine outrage at such ridiculous and offensive comments (not to mention that it was published the day before the star’s funeral), the Press Complaints Commission has received more complaints (currently around 22,000) about this article than any other issue since it was founded. Excellent stuff.
It’s rather ironic that this is the newspaper that usually spends a lot of its time encouraging its own readers to complain about (non) issues – usually ones that are re-interpreted so as to become desperately offensive to your average Daily Mail reader.
This leads me very nicely onto three different things that I’ve wanted to share with you, which I can now do under the guise of a serious post about a concerning issue.
Firstly, a wonderful quote I found in a Gizmodo article last week: “This [an article about Kelloggs’ plans to laser their name onto Cornflakes] appeared in the Daily Mail, which I don’t know anything about – but it is British, and my damnable xenophobia has convinced me that all publications not called the Guardian are lying tabloids.” (And before any other smart arse British friends comment that strictly speaking the Guardian is neither a broadsheet nor a tabloid, but a Berliner – I know it is!)
I was also incensed that the New York Times referred to the Guardian as a tabloid in an issue I read whilst on holiday. (This would be item to share number two, btw.) It was in the context of some story about Obama allegedly snubbing Brown by not offering him a private meeting at the last G8, where a White House aide said that British tabloids couldn’t be trusted (which is true, they can’t) which the Times followed up with a quote from the Guardian – not really illustrating its point very well.
And thirdly, I am sparing you a full-on Stephen Gately tribute post, but there has been much sadness amongst my female friends in the last week. Friends and long-term blog readers might remember that my highlight of 2008 was a night at the O2 watching Boyzone’s reunion tour. Realising that we would never again see the awesome quintet perform together was a sombre moment. So, if you follow this link, you’ll see why Stephen was an essential component of a fabulous boyband (according to the divine laws on boyband formation) and why Boyzone gigs were so great. I will admit that a tear was shed…

Girlzone Vs Boyzone

The phrase “women’s ministry” can evoke a range of images in Christian circles:

Middle aged women, in leotards, engaging in liturgical dance with ribbons and scarves;
Single women bitching about Christian marriage and the trials of celibacy;
Coffee mornings;
Flower arranging;
Banner making…
…I could go on.

Luckily, in my particular Christian circle “women’s ministry” = girlzone.
No flower arranging or liturgical dance for us, instead, a day of excellent brunch, cake, lovely women and music oh, and some talks and seminars – following the theme of “More”.

Of course, it would be unfair for the women of the church to have all the fun. There is a guys’ version. However, disappointingly they haven’t emulated ‘girlzone’ with ‘boyzone’. (Maybe the image of singing men in co-ordinated dance moves wasn’t what they were looking for.) So instead, we have ‘Hombre’.

Last night, talking to a male friend from church, I questioned this choice of name. Rob helpfully informed me that “hombre” was Spanish for “men”. Really?! I didn’t know that. Thank-you so much for that revealing insight…

Oh, and incidentally, do you know what the last Hombre Saturday event consisted of?
Paintballing. Yes, a group of Christian men gathered together in ministry, to shoot people. Hmmmm.

And this is the sex that has dominated the leadership of the church since its inception? Figures.

"Let Mikey Sing!"

If you’d been in the vicinity of my flat on Friday afternoon, or had the misfortune to be travelling on the Jubilee line that evening, you might have heard strains of 90s hits mixed with girlish giggling and the ocassional squeal. Once or twice you might have heard shouts of “Let Mikey Sing” said in rather dodgy Irish accents (“let Moikey sing”).

Who is Mikey?
Why isn’t he allowed to sing?

Every boyband follows a set formula (decreed by God) as to how they will work as a unit. It can’t function without its different parts (it’s a bit like 1 Corinthians 12) and should work as follows:

1) A terribly good-looking, boy next door type. Will sing all main vocals and probably cause the band to break up because of his solo projects.

2) A slightly weedier boy, allowed to do some lead vocals and all falsetto harmonies. Will come out of the closet after the band has achieved mainstream success.

3) Two buff (in a slightly chavvy sense) guys who dance a lot and look rather dangerous. Will usually only sing minimal harmonies. They may also be funny. They will look similar enough for casual observers not to be able to tell the difference between them.

4) One other to make up numbers. No one will remember his name. May have talent, but boys 1 & 2 will prevent him from ever having any lead vocals.

In Boyzone, this 5th member is Mikey, bless him. Only fans of the band would remember his name. He certainly never had a lead vocal on a single, he may have had a short spot on an album track, but I don’t know my sister’s albums well enough to say for sure! Anyway, it was a long-standing joke that he never sang, so on Friday, the “Let Mikey Sing” campaign was launched on the streets of South Bermondsey.

Barely 15mins into the show, Mikey disappeared from the stage part-way through a song. Surely the 3rd night of the tour was too early for a break-up? But no,…he then appeared from beneath the stage playing a piano. Yes, an actual musical instrument, being played by a member of a boyband! How sweet, they were going to let him play along to Words. Wait, where was Ronan? Surely they weren’t going to let Mikey sing? But sing he did, the entire first verse. And thus, the Let Mikey Sing campaign succeeded.

Here’s proof:
(By this point the other boys were singing & Mikey was pushed into the darkness, as the divine order dictates, but you get the idea!)

This is purely gratuitous. They sang When the Going Gets Tough whilst dancing on treadmills and wearing very little. Apart from Mikey, who felt the need to wear a vest. Sometimes the pressure of being the 5th member of Boyzone just gets a little too much!

Skirting 30

Last Friday I went to see Boyzone on their comeback tour at the O2.

Yes, I went to see Boyzone.

I am stating loud and proud on this blog that I spent £40 on reliving my youth! It was a fabulous night out, made even more fun by being with 11 other overly excited friends (including my sister who I’d chaperoned to her first ever concert – seeing Boyzone 11 years ago) and some great entertainment.

I may blog more about it later, but what has actually incensed me today is the result of a review of the gig that was in the Londonpaper yesterday. It’s a great review actually, it’s conclusion being that it was “unexpectedly amazing”, which is true.

However, a friend, who for the time being will remain nameless (not sure how long he’ll remain a friend actually) just sent me a text about this article saying:
“Boyzone review from yesterday’s paper. Title: The Campest of Comebacks. I quote ‘the audience (mostly female and mostly skirting 30)’. Comedy.”

My reply?
I’m 26. I am NOT skirting 30!

There then followed one of the most hilarious metaphors I’ve ever read for ageing:
“Yes you are. You’re poking it with a short stick and very soon it will jump up and bite you on the arse.”

Then I made the mistake of calculating how many days are left till I reach the dreaded age (1155 and I really wish I hadn’t done it).

Is it wrong to have such a hang-up about turning 30? More to the point, isn’t it wrong to point out how old your friends are and to prey on their insecurities?!

I think I’ll let my soon to be ex-friend have the final word (he may, for once, have a point):
“Bloody hell. Chill out woman. Most people calm with age.”