Even without looking out of the window to see what the weather’s like, a cursory look over the TV listings tells you that the dark nights are drawing in.
Apart from the sudden slew of new drama series of varying quality suddenly clogging up the schedules, The X Factor returned the other week for its annual attempt to engage the British public and entice them into parting with their hard-earned cash in return for a ballad by a soon to be forgotten act with a traumatic back-story.
I haven’t watch the show for years now, and when I did it was only for the audition rounds which usually included some comedy gold. But it soon occurred to me that some of these people were not just deluded as to their ability, some had genuine mental health issues and throwing them into the bear-pit of an audition not just in front of millions of TV viewers but a baying live studio audience was perhaps not the best thing for them, so I stopped watching.
And then there’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Now, I’ve never watched this program. I’ve sat through it when there was simply no alternative – say, I was visiting friends who insisted on watching it, or when I’ve not been able to wriggle free of the leg-irons – but I’ve never actually watched it. It seems to me to just be a longer version of that excruciating moment on Children In Need when the news presenters try and do a song-and-dance number, just with less singing and more sequins. Mildly amusing the first time it happens, perhaps, but not a joke which stands up to repeat airings.
Plus, it has a habit of rehabilitating loathsome people, like, say, Ann Widdicombe, in the nation’s collective consciousness, making the perception of them shift from that of a loathsome, fussy, censorious, cantankerous politician who opposed the legality of abortion, rallied against issues of LGBT equality such as an equal age of consent and the repeal of Section 28, and who supported the re-introduction of the death penalty, to that of a loveable overweight old lady who flew through the air on a harness, or who was swung round by Anton du Beke as if she was a replacement floor polisher.
It does, however, always remind me of this single, which is it’s one redeeming feature:
The Kinks – Come Dancing
Whilst The Kinks and Ray Davies are rightly revered as National Treasures, I think it’s fair to say that much of this richly deserved adulation and affection was not earned on the back of their later output.
But when listening to this record, I was reminded of a single I bought by them back in 1984; it’s no longer in my record collection, and I don’t recall seeing it amongst it for many years, so it’s fair to say I must have sold it or, more likely, donated it to a charity shop.
Which is a shame, because listening to it again, it’s not bad. It’s not great is the same way as, say “Waterloo Sunset” or “You Really Got Me” is, but it’s y’know, okay:
The Kinks – Do It Again