It’s a triumph for democracy. More folk voted for Pudsey than turned out for the local elections.

J. FERGUS LAMONT, arts critic and author of  “I Choke’t on a Tattie – A Post-Brechtian Analysis of the Folk Songs of the Agricultural Poor”, watched the live final of Britain’s Got Talent.

Usually, it is with dread that I delve into the cultural abyss of “Prime Time” television. Although I do own a ‘set’ it hasn’t been illuminated since the sad departure of Russel Harty from our screens.  Last week, however, a true diamond in the rough was unearthed. As I was re-reading Katie Price’s grounbreaking novel, “Angel’  (for it’s rich Wildean sub-text), Kafka, my cat, placed an inadvertent paw on the remote control and the goggle-box leapt into boisterous life. Imagine my surprise to find that, rather than a disscussion of French Philosophy (whenever I enquire, I’m always told there’s “Foucault on”),the schedulers at an esoteric broadcaster known as “ITV” (I doubt you’ll have heard of it) had taken the bold step of broadcasting a daring, avant garde transmission, entitled, with what can only be self-consciously ironic tautology, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.  Most readers will have missed this delight, which received little, if any, promotion, but I can assure you this is the most coruscating satire of contemporary culture I have ever witnessed. And I include in that the Singing Kettle’s blistering ‘Boogie Woogie Zoo’.

The nature of the piece was a parade of Vaudeville style “turns”, to whom a panel of knowledgeable judges, their staggering insight and profound wisdom in striking counterpoint to their youthful, smooth-skinned appearance, provided what was called ‘feedback’ (such a fresh approach – I’m amazed other broadcasters have not already deployed it). Their repetition of the mantra “I love you, I loved you when we first saw you, I thought you took it up a level, you deserve to be in the final, I loved it one hundred and ten percent” deconstructing not only the bourgoise rules of grammar, but the laws of mathematics

Their comments, mercilessly devoid of hyperbole, were immediately repeated by the diminutive shiny-faced men-children known as the ‘Antandec,’ who served as conduit between the artiste and the wider world. Like a Shakespearean fool in duplicate, they were as twin Pucks, dual Trinculos, a pair of Bottoms

All played out before a Greek Chorus who constantly and often inexplicably roared their approval. ‘Ours’, they scream, ‘is the true power, to elevate to greatness the bland, the frivolous, the deluded’. A devastating parody of contemporary democracy.

The performers were not simply gladiatorial contestants, but artistic adventurers, exploring the heights and, crucially, the depths of our culture.

Among them “Nu Sxool” a pre-pubescent dance troupe, exposed the problems facing our failing education system.  Their grasp of contemporary forms of American choreography was flawless, their grasp of spelling – less so.

‘Aqaubatique’, (from the French, meaning ‘acrobatics underwater in the window of a shop’) provided a living, human version of some of Damien Hurst’s most challenging works, recalling, as they did, his famous ‘Cow in Formaldehyde’. Outstanding.

Ultimate victors, however, were, ‘Ashleigh and Pudsey’ – Who could fail to be moved by a canine, walking on two legs, as if to say ‘Am I not, also, human?’ A moving modern ballet which symbolised the eternal quickstep that enslaves us all and served as a powerful metaphor for a country gone to the dogs.

I wept.


FAYE CHEYNE, the former Lib Dem councillor for Hazlehead Central, reflects on her recent electoral defeat.

It is, of course, sad to lose one’s seat after 12 years of dogged campaigning on vital local issues.  But those of us who believe in democatric representation have to learn to accept the bitter sting of defeat.  The people of Hazlehead Central have spoken, and they have said, “Close the door on yer wye oot.”  Certainly, it was a little disappointing (and perhaps a sad reflection on the public’s current attitude to politics) to be deposed not by a rival from one of the main parties, but by a wild-eyed Doctor Who fanatic whose only manifesto promise was to paint everyone’s wheelie-bin to resemble a Dalek.  And it did strike me as a teensy bit unfair that when canvassing I was met by no-one who seemed even slightly interested in all the work I had put in to keep libraries open, potholes closed, streetlights up and council tax down.  Instead, on every doorstep I was confronted with national issues, and one in particular: “Just how big a hash has Nick Clegg made of it?”  But fairness to me does not enter into it.  This is democracy at work.

Nick was kind enough to phone me to offer his condolences.  Naturally, the precise words that passed between us must remain confidential.  Suffice it to say, however, that if he followed my instructions on what to do with his phone, he will be able to carry both it and two mugs of tea through to the Prime Minister’s Office the next time he is at Downing Street.

I want you, my former constituents, to know how much I have enjoyed speaking to you and learning about your lives and your many, many petty disputes and ill-informed grievances.  Although no longer your elected represetnative I am sure that I will see and remain in touch with many of you as I move into the latest phase of my life, selling the Big Issue and playing a kazoo accompaniment to the Albanian Guitar Wifie on Schoolhill.