Sunday, 19 July 2009
Leave Arlene Phillips Alone
I'M trying to release my inner bitch. Some people may say she's already out, loud and proud but, although my sharp tongue may run away with me at times, I lack the killer instinct.
Small children know that at the hint of a tear in their eye I will willingly succumb to their nagging.
"Of course you can play with these scissors, honed to stiletto-blade sharpness, sweetheart. And later we'll go shopping for that expensive games thingamibob as you're going to 'absolutely die' if you don't get it."
I've decided I must become a bitch to counteract becoming increasingly invisible. I know this to be true because people have recently started to push in front of me in queues; interrupt me when I'm talking; stare over my head as if I'm not there; and take my oh-so-brilliant ideas, pass them off as their own and then look astonished when I mumble that I'd mentioned that a week ago. I did briefly consider that all this may be down to the fact that I'm boring as hell - but dismissed this explanation as I'm so obviously a scintillating person....
So my new policy is to stand tall (I can just about stretch to 5ft 5in in 3in heels) and be more assertive. I know I risk sounding like one Harry Enfield's old biddies ("young man....!") but no one will be able to pretend I don't exist.
I know I'm in good company. I've been reading lots lately about the invisibility of older women on TV. I'm perfectly okay with the fact that no one wants to see me on television. I wouldn't want to see me on television. After all, look down your average high street and there are hundreds of me; middle-aged women dashing around supermarkets or children's clothes shops in their lunch hour with a permanently harrassed and worried look on their faces, dishevelled hair and wearing clothes they've bought in a sale (those items that are in the sale because no one else would be seen dead in them).
But what's wrong with Selina Scott, Moira Stuart, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford or Kate Adie? I don't understand. They are all beautiful (OK, Kate Adie, not so much) and brilliant women whose only crime, as far as I can see, is to commit the unforgivable sin of passing 50. I read an article by Selina Scott who says it's not the same in America with people like Diane Sawyer, Connie Chung, Jane Pauley and Barbara Walters (all over 40 and Walters in her 70s), all well-respected television presenters and journalists. But I suspect they are exceptions that prove the rule.
The latest to get the chop is Arlene Phillips, the razor-tongued judge on Strictly Come Dancing. It wouldn't be so bad that she was being replaced by a younger woman if that woman hadn't been, in judging expertise, so totally unfit to lick Arlene's dancing shoes. Alesha Dixon can hold a tune, I'm told, and she's undeniably beautiful but only a heartbeat away she was a contestant on the programme. Arlene has 40 years' experience.
If they really felt they needed to replace someone, why not Len "everyone's wonderful and I'm not going to say a bad thing" Goodman or Craig Revel Horwood - the ultra-snide one who used to be a rent boy (in his own words in his autobiography) or Bruno Tonioli - the "I'm Italian so I'm allowed to be COMPLETELY OVER THE TOP" one.
The BBC message board has been full of support for Arlene. Here's one typical comment: 'They must appeal to the "yoof" so they kick out the woman, she's too old. Forget about the years of dance experience in the theatre she has, that counts for nothing. Let's get in a singer because she's young and attractive, and will appeal to a young audience. It's pathetic.'
Leave Arlene alone.