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Thursday, 29 June 2006

How to be Middle Class, with Sarah Beeny...

Well, with no football on, we had to watch something, so we gave young Sarah's new show, How to be Middle Class a go. The format is simple: take two couples who have more money than sense, and watch them making a pig's ear of their greed-driven attempts at property speculation.

As a hostess, Sarah is exemplary. For a start, she couldn't be more middle class. All the ingredients are there - cut glass vowels, complete inability to pronounce her Rs, a peculiar lip wart (it looks as if a remnant of strawberry Opal fruit has got lodged there) beautifully stranded highlights and bizarrely fluctuating weight. Indeed, the weight issue is quite compelling - more so than all the house stuff, if truth be told. Sarah vacilates between stick thin and round bellied - often appearing to shift alarmingly between these two poles during the same sequence. Indeed, at times it seems as though she might be the victim of some hideously realistic phantom pregnancy that strikes for several hours at a time, rendering her bloated, hormonal, prone to morning sickness and capable of eating any food stuffs in any combination and in great quantities before eventually being returned to her normal, trim self. One thing, however, is constant: throughout it all, Beeny is quite beautifully boobed.

And it's a good job that S.B.s manners are impeccable too. It must try the patience of a saint having to listen to people like the improbably named Marigold (some sort of parental dishwashing fetish being played out here, methinks...) and partner John (? - he may be unmemorable, but at least had sensible parents...) explaining their plans to gut their Islington investment pad, install a state of the art audio visual system that would shame Abbey Road, plant a full coppice on their 6 by 6 roof terrace, and all on a budget of thruppence ha'penny. And then her studied poker face when she sees the look on theirs when the 6 figure sum it will set them back in the real world is revealed to them. I'd have found it very hard not to laugh. Having throttled them first, of course.

Predictably, the hapless M.& J. lose a shitload of moolah, having bizarrely ignored Sarah's advice to maximise their profits by turning their cavernous, one bedroom flat above a bar in Upper Street into a Mary, Mungo & Midge style chav-storing high rise. She even has to explain the 3 main factors at play in the property development screw to them: cost of property, what you spend on it, what you sell it for. Beeny even hints that the last figure should exceed the first two combined, but to no avail. Strange, as I'm trying to think of areas in modern life where you can earn the sort of sums needed to have two mortgages and fund a six figure renovation on your credit card outside of the financial services. And then John (?) has the cheek to tell S.B., after she's already advised them to convert the flat into smaller units, that they wish someone had given them a reality check.....

Fortunately, S.B., phantom stork in tow no doubt, is on safer ground with her next couple. They are both women, which immediately increases the intelligence quotient considerably. Sadly, this doesn't mean they're not still capable of rank stupidity. They've bought a bombed out former squat in Andover Square, unseen at auction, for a quarter of a million. You can hear their bowels preparing to void as Beeny informs them that the huge studs on the outside of the building are attempts to remedy a severe case of subsidence. They are reassured by some expert or other who says they've probably seen the worst of it as it hasn't completely collapsed yet, nor any further in the last 20 years since it was last propped up (phew!!) Despite one of the ladies being an interior decorator, they somehow transform the perilous wreck into a stunning professional's pad. Who'd have thought that lowering the floor of your shitter 35 cm. could make such a difference??) It goes for £435,000 in the end. (I hope the buyers didn't use the same surveyor as us!) The moral? Lesbians have it easy and are dab hands with a paint brush. And never, ever trust a woman called Marigold to invest your money.

Gordon Ramsay's F-Word is next. I'm ambivalent about Ramsay. It's hard not to like someone who can elicit the word fuck from Cliff Richard (although you'd admire him more if he'd whipped out Sir Cliff's colostemy bag out and said "da da!") and the close-up of The Young One's grimace as he tested a glass of his own rocket fuel flavoured wine. ("Oooooh that's harsh!" exclaimed the Batchelor Boy, frantically searching for a fire extinguisher...) was magnificent. But then we see the "six weeks to slaughter" caption under footage of the little piglets his kids have been feeding and bonding with for the last few weeks, and it becomes considerably easier to see him sprawled out on his kitchen floor, a half-eaten poisoned Mars bar in his cold, unfeeling hand.

Read a bit more of The House of Sleep before I (and how ironic is this?) start nodding off. This means I miss the programme on Julie Burchill, Toby Young and the Modern Review. The sleep of the just, methinks.

© 2006 Swipe Enterprises

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