Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A walk on the tacky side

Readers of this blog, being people of taste and discernment, may well have missed a news story that provides both an aptly fitting fable for modern morality and an example of dramatic symmetry worthy of the most contrived Restoration comedy.

It concerns a television programme called 'Take Me Out', which the Times' Caitlin Moran today describes, with her customary pithy brilliance, as "essentially 'Blind Date' for the Rohypnol generation".

The show features male contestants displaying their wares - metaphorically speaking - before a panel of women, who express their reactions by the use of light switches, giving rise to what is described as the show's catchphrase, "No likee, no lightee" (frankly, I'm amazed that one got past the race relations people).

The victors in this sleazy enterprise are sent off for a weekend together for the subsequent delectation of the viewing public, and that's where the dramatic irony comes in. Last week, the Mail gleefully outed one winner, supposedly a construction worker, as a '£50-an-hour male escort' with a previous conviction for violence.

Spotting a clear opportunity, the woman who had been despatched to a foreign resort to enjoy his company with the blessing of the producers immediately claimed that she had been 'manipulated' into sleeping with him - this evidently being the expected outcome of the trip.

All was not as it seemed, however; two days later, the paper revealed that she, too had a secret - though working as a hairdresser, she had previously engaged in an altogether more horizontal profession at a princely £200 an hour (as with houses, the Mail seems to feel obliged to define escort services by price).

Thus these two photogenic young people, whose courtship was due to be observed with much the same prurient intensity as that of Edinburgh's pandas, turned out to be on something of a busman's holiday at the TV company's expense.

Not surprisingly, 'Embarrassed show producers have now decided to axe follow-up footage of the couple on holiday when the show airs again on Saturday night.'

Meanwhile, as the icing on the cake, other members of the cast - if that's not too cynical a description - are in trouble for holding a 'two-day mass orgy' in a rented mansion in Chepstow; a misdemeanour that has Zeitgeist written all over it.

To paraphrase the German writer Heinrich Boll, the fact that a competition to meet today's criteria of desirability was won by two members of the world's oldest profession is 'neither accident nor design, but simply unavoidable'.


  1. The 'Daily Mash' at least found it inspiring... ;)

  2. Demetrius, through a lack of attention to detail.

    The original draft read 'a two-day orgy in Chepstow' as I was initially struck by the incongruity of the location; when I added the rented mansion to emphasise the Zeitgeist idea, Chepstow got left on the end by accident.

    I don't know what the good folk of the Wye valley did to deserve it but I bet they'll be talking about it for ages.

    Julia, thanks for the link; they really are a breed apart, aren't they?

  3. And that goes for every one of the team I slept with - I was manipulated. I wonder if they still respect me?

  4. I hate to say it, JH, but I suspect you aren't so far from the truth.

    Funny how the idea of respect has become a matter of life and death in some areas of popular culture while seemingly lacking completely in others.