Dead Pool 2013

First post of 2013, and pride of place goes to the Dead Pool.  Here are my predictions of those well-known faces unlikely to see out the year.  I’ve taken a scientific research-based approach this time round since none of my picks for 2012 did the honourable thing and all are still alive and well as of today.  Fingers crossed that we haven’t seen the last of the cold weather this winter.  Please remember that this is all tongue-in-cheek.

1.  Hugh Hefner.  Lorded in the 90s as some kind of new-lad favourite, it’s difficult not to feel a sense of nausea as the 86-year old Hef married one of his Playmates this week, who happens to be 60 years his junior.  Going on the plot of the terrible Madonna film ‘Body of Evidence’, the plot of which involves her marrying older men (though they’d need to be well into 3 figures now for any re-make to be possible) and sexing them to death to claim the life insurance.  Maybe this is the plan of Hef’s new bride (the rather standardly named Crystal) as I can’t imagine how keen she is to rub up against something with the texture of a leather briefcase.

2.  Michael Winner.  Surely a shoo-in?  He’s already been on the phone to Dignitas since doctors told him in mid-2012 that he has approximately 18 months to live.  Stoic and unapologetic to the end, he’s burgled a career out of making several poor films in the 70s, some truly execrable movies in the 80s and re-inventing himself as an uber-snob food critic in the 90s.  Will probably be remembered as some sort of loveable British eccentric, but don’t expect a season of films at the BFI – it’s strictly channel 5 if you’re lucky.

3.  Margaret Thatcher.  She’s in hospital more often than Price Philip and looks a darn sight worse.  Deserves a proper tribute when she does pop off.  She’s done far more for women than the Spice Girls ever did and yet she’s likely to be pilloried by a load of dim folk that don’t even remember her from the power days.  

4.  Clare from Steps.  Not sure if her exponential weight gain continues apace, but this chubby-chaser’s dream went from size-Moss to size-Adele pretty quickly and far beyond.  She’s projected to weigh more than a Caribbean island by the end of 2013.

5.  Ricky Hatton.  During his career he displayed the ability to lose (before a fight) and gain (after a fight) huge amounts of weight (a bit like Clare, only with the losing bit too).  Now that he’s finally packed up from the ring, it looks like nowt but chips and diabetes for RH. 

6.  Shane McGowan.  How is this man still alive?  Does he buy a new defibrillator every Xmas when the fairytale of NY royalties come in?  He made the skeletal chap from the Stereo MCs look healthy, and that was over 20 years ago.  I’ve not done my research here, so maybe he’s calmed down, moved to the country and is now growing his own organic veg and championing the benefits of pilates, but it seems unlikely.  I can’t bear to google him to find out, lest I get a look at the teeth.

7.  Woody Allen.  Midnight in Paris was one of the most horrendous films I’ve ever watched, and his output diminishes with every flick made.  Extrapolating from MiP, he’s likely to be making films that even Winner would disown at some point soon.  Maybe this one would be for the best.

8.  Clint Eastwood.  Shame to think that Gran Turismo wasn’t all that long ago, but in those few short years Clint’s gone from being hard-man Grandfather to utterly mental rambling codger.  Of course everyone’s seen his ‘invisible Obama’ speech to the Republicans:

which at least proved that there’s one more insane Republican than Mitt Romney.  It would be a shame if Clint ended up being remembered for this.

Young is wasted on the Youth

As a mild-mannered individual, there’s really very little that winds me up. There’s a whole raft of little niggles; people who describe sportsmen/sporting acts as ‘world class’ and people who look at the desserts first on a menu are just two, but I can live with that, and apart from the involuntary curl of the top lip, these gripes tend to pass me by.

I watched a little of the ‘Toby Young sets up a Free School’ programme last week, and despite the fact that I was only half watching, the man and his ideals really grated with me. The premise was that Toby (restaurant critic and occasional columnist/minor reality TV channel 5-based celebrity) had suddently become impassioned with the need to challenge the British education system, and felt that the Free Schools programme was the way to do this. In case you weren’t aware, the idea behind Free Schools is that anyone can set up a School, so long as they make their bid to the Government, have a building, a curriculum and some teachers. They are supposed to be ‘all-ability, state-funded Schools set up as a result of parental demand’. This is a classic example of the ‘idea that sounds good when sold to the man on the street’, but is in fact so flawed as to be laughable. It’s a bit like the Labour ideal of 50% of people going to university, which sounds good until you realise that there aren’t any more good jobs out there than before, except now people are required to get into heavy debt gaining meaningless degrees from the university of Luton before they are able to get out into the work place and get the same job/earn the same amount of money as they would have done before their 3 year life hiatus.

Anyway, Toby’s point was that education has lost its way. Fair enough; in many ways it has. We could attack grade inflation, oversized classrooms, untrained teachers, the irrelevance of parts od the National Curriculum. Unfortunately, in the most myopic way possible, he decided that the reason it had lost its way could essentially be summed up by his own experience, which involved being un-motivated by teachers (no word of his own or his parents’ responsibility), and achieving no real grades at all. Now most people would have said at this point that if the teachers were not motivating, we should look to either swap the teachers we have (not realistic) or invest money in making the teachers we have better (realistic, relatively cheap and emintently sensible). Incidentally, Toby, this is where the real problem lies, in the lack of quality in some areas of the teaching profession, and the lack of structure in the homes of many young people.

This may not have made such good TV however, so Toby’s point was that we needed to re-structure the curriculum so that there was more rigour, and this included harking back to what he called a ‘classical education’. Not sure if he knew what he meant by this, but it enabled him to sound knowledgable from behind his spcs. This also sounded suspiciously like the curriculum that a middle-aged man who had ballsed up his School career would like to go back to School to study, but this may be due to the fact that Toby has no experience of Schools, teaching, the education process, motivation of young minds or any research into what actually makes pupils want to learn.

No-one would ever allow the public to set up their own defence academies, or their own hospitals, thinking that having a passion and a misguided sense of what was wrong with the MOD or NHS would be a sensible idea, though with education it seems fair game. It’s the equivalent of that bloke in the pub who spends all his time criticising the England team, claiming to anyone who will listen that all we need are ‘real Englishmen with passion’. His pub team?

I did think that I might have been a bit harsh on Toby, so I went to his Free School website, which has a 7 minute clip of him on the homepage. This was his chance to change my mind, to prove to me that it was the education of the nation that he really cared about, rather than keeping his TV career away from channel 5. ‘Motivation…classical curriculum…soundbite…soundbite…3 minute story about arriving in the wrong Welsh village…end’. Toby, drop me an email, and I’ll speak to you about education. It’s something I know about. You can then tell me all about celebrity come dine with me, which is something you know about. Let’s not move too far outside our respective spheres of expertise.