• The List
  • 11 December 2006

Sucking the blood of popular entertainment

The Leech was in London’s BBC Television Centre when news of Celtic legend Henrik Larsson’s loan to Manchester United broke. Spectacle-wise, the SPL has really suffered since the twinkle-toed Swede left and Larsson has endured the ignominy of signing for some of the world’s biggest clubs since. Yet at that point in time, the Leech couldn’t give a masticate of Sir Alex’s chewing gum, because your correspondent had stumbled on Carol Smillie practising for Strictly Come Dancing, a rehearsal as surreal as it was doomed. The Leech has never seen a Viennese Waltz performed with such a desperately straining grin before, a dazzling flash of pearly whites blinding the covert observer at every whirl, like a call from God to campest heaven. Whether it prompted the ex-Changing Rooms star’s departure from the show we’ll probably never know. But the Leech’s sniggers certainly didn’t help this hack’s application for the vacant BBC chairmanship and Smillie was last seen taking eurhythmic inspiration from Widow Twanky at the Glasgow King’s Theatre production of Aladdin.

Even so, she’s a tremendous example to this nation’s chubby. Smillie, not Twanky that is, who’s all for obese transvestitism and no role model for men in kilts with the cludgiest arteries in Europe. The NHS recently announced plans to offer free dance classes, but sadly only in England and Wales. It’s a shame, because tangoing, trampolining and shaking all that bounteous blubber like you really do care might truly benefit Scotland’s lettuce-averse. The Leech put this to some of Hollywood’s smoothest movers, first Henry ‘Please Don’t Ask Me About The Fonz’ Winkler, currently playing Captain Hook and seen browsing for Christmas gifts by the radioactive Russian sushi restaurant. Those Lost Boys have clearly pushed him too far. Regardless, America’s foremost jukebox nudger pretended not to hear the Leech’s shouts and hid behind a policeman. Later, Billy Zane, the bag lady’s Patrick Swayze, appearing in West End ‘comedy’ Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks and enjoying a drink in Soho’s Bar Italia with fiancée Kelly Brook, might have mumbled something as minders surrounded the Leech and bundled them into a car.

Well, to hell with them, because the Leech was actually in The Big Choke to hear Ennio Morricone conduct the Rome Sinfonia. It was only Il Maestro’s third visit to Britain and frankly, probably his last. This was an evening spent politely clapping exquisite chamber music in the fevered, philistine hope that ‘the cowboy stuff’ arrived soon, the climax of choir, trumpet and soprano that is The Ecstasy of Gold leaving the Leech feeling good, bad and ugly with almost sexual satisfaction. Various bits of Hard-Fi and The Mighty Boosh were at the aftershow, but the Leech made do with stalking Jonathan Ross, every bit as tall in person yet beautifully tongue-tied beside the diminutive Italian conductor.

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