I want to talk to you this month, dear readers, about being pitied by someone half my age, who has been on telly for about five minutes and works in a tanning salon. I recently attended a big TV awards show, having received a personal invitation from the head of ITV. They’d reserved me a seat in their exclusive box. My God, I felt like royalty. I opened the door and in front of me was the cream of ITV’s big-name stars.
Good evening, Chris Tarrant. How’s it going, hero David Jason (looking these days a bit more like Uncle Albert than Del Boy)? Why, who’s that spilling out of an inappropriately tarty dress? None other than Irish lovely Christine Bleakley. Pass the chipolatas. This is the life.
As I looked for my seat, one of the commissioners rushed over and I extended my hand, ready to clasp his. Instead, he took me by the elbow and whispered, “Sorry, Richard, you’re in the box next door.” Oh right.
Oh bugger. You see, it turns out ITV had two boxes and I was in the other one. If I call them “ITV1” and “ITV2”, you get an indication of the sudden and drastic drop-off in quality.
As I walked into this secondary box my own mid-ranking celebrity status, achieved over a long 15-year slog, was underscored by the calibre of my fellow invitees. To my left, Kerry Katona. To my right, Amy and Mark from The Only Way Is Essex.
Kerry Katona sells 75-piece Tex Mex platters and king prawn party rings for a living. Or at least she did until Iceland dropped her. The Only Way Is Essex’s Mark runs a horrible looking nightclub in Chigwell and was arrested on suspicion of affray just a fortnight before this event. And Amy is best (I say “best”, I mean “only”) known for vajazzling. That’s a process by which she spells out people’s names in diamanté stickers on a woman’s front bottom.
It is considered to be a romantic gesture.
That’s right, there is no deeper declaration of love than seeing your name written out in fake diamonds and tenderly nestled between strands of pubic hair.
If Shakespeare were alive today, he could have saved himself a lot of bother, bypassed those sonnets and gone down a rough nightclub in Stratford-Upon-Avon with the name “Anne Hathaway” spelled out in fake rubies above his cock. (Although at 12 letters, he’s gonna be there for a while and it would set him back £89.99 plus VAT. I hope she’s worth it, Shakespeare.)
As I munched on a bit of pitta bread (they hadn’t forked out for hot food in the ITV2 box), Amy looked up from her phone and said to me, “Ahhhhh [you’ll have to imagine the characteristically Essex accent yourself, I can’t do it with words], I recognise you from somewhere.” I told her that I was Richard Bacon. Nothing. She then asked what I did. I told her I present the afternoon show on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Ahhhhhhh,” she said. This time it was not just an Essex noise; it was that universal expression of pity. She reached over and sympathetically squeezed my left arm and added, “Never mind. Everybody’s got to start somewhere.”
I was polite to her that evening, but now, here on the pages of Esquire (and well out of reach of the over-used fist of Mark), let me get one thing straight with you, Amy from The Only Way Is Essex: I’m not saying I’ve got the biggest job in the land, but let me be clear — it’s further up the bloody ladder than sticking plastic jewels to strangers’ crotches in a tanning salon. I interviewed the Foreign Secretary the other day. Piss right off. (Although, to be fair, she has already got a better TV career than me.)
I can state this with absolute certainty; there’s no way I’ll run into Amy from The Only Way Is Essex at that awards do next year.
We’ll both be there, but she’ll have been bumped up to the ITV1 box. I’ll be busy sharing some mini savoury eggs with Alex Reid.