Credit Munch: Why is Britain obsessed with posh crisps?

The only real sensation of Walker’s Sensations was on the consumer’s pocket, the so-called sensation of the taste was nothing but thirst enraging flavour infidelity, but Britain went wild.

The recession has affected my weekly supermarket shop. Why buy a Muller’s corner when I can buy a normal yoghurt for half the price that they’ve actually bothered to mix? Similarly, I don’t need to pay extra for a photo of Jamie Oliver on my bolognese, just as I’ve no sensual preference when it comes to washing up liquid, cheap digestive biscuits come from McVities factories anyway and no way am I forking out an extra 20p to have my broccoli vacuum packed. Save, save, save.

Most Friday nights I can’t even taste the difference between Gordon’s and the Sainsbury’s own-brand booze either. Top tip – apple Tango is really good for hiding the taste of cheap gin! Although the Orwellian label marked ‘GIN’ in size 36 Arial Bold can send a harrowing shiver down the spine if stared at for too long. Top tip – cut out a picture from your favourite magazine and stick it over the label: yay – your very own Burberry gin as modelled by the beautiful George Craig – everyone’s a ginner!

HOWEVER. One item in my shopping trolley has dramatically upgraded itself, steadily creeping up the ranks of my till receipt over the last two years, and I’ve only just noticed now: Crisps. That completely inessential staple in Britain’s supermarket. Crisps. That satanic food that puts the word DIE into diet.

In the 90s crisps were a simple affair. They were mainly made by Walkers and they came in easy to remember colours. (Sure, some debate arose over why cheese and onion are in a blue packet when onions are kind of green – yet salt and vinegar in a green packet when the sea is kind of blue). Crisps were crisps. A blissful consumer paradise reigned over by the honourable Gary Linekar with the aid of the occasional mob obsession like Tazos.

Not anymore. Crisps have gone against the corrugated grain. It’s a national crisis (pun evasion intended). Out of the frying pan into the aisle, right wing potato chips have come into power and it looks like they’re here to stay. Just take a look at the said aisle in your local supermarket and gaze in horror at how over 60% is dedicated to the new era of upper class potato chips. Of course Walkers inferior cheapo rings are still there, but I dare you to waver your arm out in front of you and just watch where it goes. Walllkkk—quavvv—dorrr—RED SKY ONE POUND NINETY NINE A PACKET. Thought so.

It was actually Walkers who turned to the dark side first with Walker’s Sensations. An evil type of crisp that not only considered itself too cool to be just chicken flavoured but they had to have a super large ice-cap melting packet. Take note – a larger packet does not mean you’ll receive more crisps inside. We just don’t learn do we? Suddenly crisps started developing egos and self-consciences. They didn’t want to be just slightly salty, heaven forbid, what right minded packet of crisps wanted to taste like a ball sack? No, they needed coriander, thyme, parsley and exotic spices from countries their consumers had never visited.

Of course the only real sensation of Walkers Sensations was on the consumer’s pocket, the so-called sensation of the taste was nothing but thirst enraging flavour infidelity, but Britain went wild. So more posh crisps marched into the market - Kettle Chips, Red Sky, Tyrell’s and a seemingly innumerable amount of local ‘hand baked’ produce. Even dowdy powdery Doritos went on an ego trip and demanded their own little pricey jars of dip placed in and amongst themselves.

Then the virus spread. Pubs started selling posh crisps exclusively with barmaids nationwide quipping “we only ‘av Tyrells love", a line which in our Grandfather’s day would have been met with a dislodged jaw, but none of us spoke out. We just forked out more and more money for our crisps and stuffed our kids’ lunch boxes with bizarrely flavoured slithers of baked oil that came at a luxury price.

Why is Britain obsessed with posh crisps? What happened to the good old days of massive cheap weeklong lasting multipacks? Since when was lamb cutlet and fresh mint considered a flavour? Who’s making all the money behind this acne-ridden scam?

Crisp rant over.

Above: George Craig modelling for Burberry inappropiately dressed in some fashion exec's greenhouse. Still, the purfect cover image for a bottle of cheap gin.

When Kelly Rowland Takes Over: New Song Smooches

"Beyoncé, like her much younger pop contemporaries Rihanna and Lady Gaga, is a post-Madonna phenomena. Whereas Kelly is just a part of that story"

Ladies and Gentlemen... Miss Kelly is back with her new tune Smooches that leaked onto Twitter this afternoon.

This is Kelly Rowland’s third random comeback single across two years in which she has tried different genres, from the life-affirming warm Jack Johnson tones of Daylight to her chavtastic floorfiller of last Spring with David Guetta - When Love Takes Over. This time Grammy-winning Kelly has gone minimal with some serious boom pah pah percussion making an appearance à la Stingray. The new sound is the closest Kelly has dared venture towards her Destiny’s Child heritage, with a return to their early trademark ghetto-gospel hollers.

Smooches sounds a bit like a really stripped down version of Beyoncé’s Diva, or Keri Hilson’s Turning Me On. This is no doubt down to the producer of all three songs Bangladesh.

The minimal sound is cool but I don’t see Smooches saving Kelly’s career. The song's just a bit boring and the sad truth is, she just isn’t Beyoncé and she’ll never defeat the constant comparisons between the pair. And with every new genre that Kelly tries she meets new rivals that blast her out of the water. She was possibly onto a winner with David Guetta, especially after the earlier success she had with the Freemasons remix of her hit Work. Everything Kelly Rowland does is controlled by Beyoncé so if she is ever going to mount a new pop throne it has to be in a different realm of the musical kingdom.

I really rate Kelly Rowland, she remains an unsung hero and her 2006 album Miss Kelly is an R’n’B classic that deserved a much bigger reception. Like Michelle though, Kelly will live out her musical life in Beyoncé’s all-encompassing shadow. Beyoncé, like her much younger pop contemporaries Rihanna and Lady Gaga, is a post-Madonna phenomena. Kelly was cool, Kelly is cool, but no matter how much we want her to be a success, she will always be just a part of the Beyoncé story.

DOWNLOAD Smooches straight to your iTunes from Media Fire here - DEAD LINK

See what The Jack of Hearts had to say about Ciara

Justin Bieber Comes Out As Gay: The Trials &Tribulations of Intelligent Online Media

Justin Bieber passed the UK age of consent earlier this month and suddenly everyone online announces that they know he’s gay?! Give the kid a fag break. The dust from his first little single, Baby feat. Ludacris, has barely settled and Britain’s army of teenagers are all pointing the pink finger. There’s an online battle going on where for every girl who fancies Justin Bieber there’s a jealous male classmate announcing with venim “He’s SO gay, just LOOK at him, he sounds like a GIRL!” Oh cruel Britannia, you’re so brilliant.

We’ve known Justin Bieber was going to be massive for months now, like seeing a Spanish Armada loom on an oceanic horizon, young Justin has been a worldwide trending topic on Twitter for weeks with thousands of fan pages launching every second like arrows flying through the Agincourt air. Press releases have been piling into inboxes with the intensity of Harry Potter’s first Hogwarts invitation. “Not now” gossip columnists have been muttering since Christmas, “who is he anyway?” But the day is here, Biebergate is upon us and not even the mighty Simon Cowell can stop it. (Although at least the Justin Bieber gay jibes might ease the spotlight off Joe McElderry, allowing him to finally throw some glitter on and go dancing to S-Express in the shadows of Soho where he can fling himself across some moustached muscle man while Tweeting "Thanks for the Haribo fans, the fried eggs are my favourite LOL").

So crazy are girls (and gays apparently) for Justin Bieber that poor old Robert Pattinson has been marginalised into an old pale vampire who is so five Tweets ago. Chin up R-Patz, it happened to Seth Coen (no - we never did learn his real name), it happened to Ben from A1 and it happened to Adam Rickitt.

As always, gay gossip maestro Perez Hilton has a lot to do with this, pushing Justin’s popularity, and constantly slating R-Patz’s co-star girlfriend K-Stew.

So yes. Justin is mancandy/jailbait with his smooth cheeks and impossibly conditioned hair, but only because he is being marketed at young girls who want a pretty boy pin-up next to their pony poster, right? Surely Justin Bieber isn’t being marketed at a gay audience? Is he? How pederastic can PRs get?

Upon Googling ‘Justin Bieber Gay’ a series of lively web forums appear at the top of search, all riddled with haphazard evidence that teenage pop star Justin Bieber is gay, and most probably all peddled in-house to garner traffic and unique users.

Gay gossip website After Elton announced that Justin Bieber came out to Oprah Winfrey, stating that he is gay. The site even congratulated Justin with a raised eyebrow - “only 15 years old! People come out younger and younger these days.” But this piece was immediately followed by an editorial note saying “This is an item posted by a reader in the forum and NOT something that we are reporting. In fact, it is likely a rumor.” But they are reporting it, and why? Why have journalists stopped doing research and checking their facts?

Because digital media is about traffic and hits, not factual content or insightful debate.
Or shall I say “Because gay digital sex Macaulay Culkin naked is about porn traffic and Beyoncé hits sex Ashley Cole gay, not factual content or Maggie Smith dies”

And so there is no smoke without fire. The fire being fictitious forums full of gossiping kids and the online strategists enjoying the sickly sweet traffic jam of it all. Some have written their own fake news stories, while others have said Justin Bieber can safely be classed as gay simply because he has a high-pitched voice!

There is (of course) a Facebook group simply called ‘Justin Bieber is Gay’ (yes, Gay with a capital G people, we’re talking lip gloss before breakfast here). The group is actually quite spiteful too, with its succinct and scientifically illogical itemisation of Justin’s sexuality: “He is a fag – his balls have never dropped.” Still, more than 50,000 people have joined it.

In writing this post I am proving my own theory correct, bulldozing my way into an SEO goldmine of all things Justin Bieber and all things gay. I can hear the resounding clicking of gaydreamers entering my blog, the clicking of drag queens’ heels as they march from Google into the Jack of Hearts. Mwu-har-har-hargh. I might do some misspelled phrases too, just to maximise my reach, like "Justin Beiber is Gay" or "Justin Beeber is Gay". That's better.

And who knows, maybe Justin Bieber is gay. And who actually cares anyway? The girls who admire him are never going to actually meet him, and there's a record deal hand so far up his a*** that there's no room for anything else anyway.

I feel a bit bad now, so I’ve just bought Justin’s stuff off iTunes. He’s quite funky actually. I like the song Bigger with its Pharrell style synths and live percussion a la Amerie. *Does a jiggle and flicks hair* I also quite like the ballad First Dance with Usher. Sort of.

Aw, give it three years - Justin will have a beard, a girlfriend, a Greatest Hits in every petrol sation, a rehab track record and we can all sit back and laugh at how we once thought he might be a gay. God forbid!

After Elton announces that Justin Bieber is a homosexual

Visit the Facebook aftermath here

Watch Justin’s video to Baby here


Continuing today's Goldfrapp theme here's a byte-size paraphrasal on each of their albums, just so you're clued up and ready to goss on all things Alison:

Felt Mountain (2002) "Ooh-Ooh". A match made in heaven as Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp create a wondrous and bizarre musical aura on their first record. NME ears are pricked.

Black Cherry (2003) "Choo-choo". Welcome to popgasms city with ruby slippers and bleeding scratches, adolescents everywhere start marching to school with Train and Strict Machine.

Supernature (2005) "Woo-woo". Alison ascends the tin spires of pop minimalism while Will writes a keyboard homage to T-Rex. Ooh La La plagues TV adverts everywhere but sadly Number One doesn’t do as it says on the tin.

Seventh Tree (2007) "Twit-twoo". The band take a downtempo departure and consequently a sales dive. Some relish the summery sound while other fans pretend the album doesn't exist. Still, A&E receives good airplay.

Head First (2009) "Tu-tu". Goldfrapp backflip onto the pop throne once more, 80s twist back in their grip, with new single ‘Rocket’ leading the way with its retro laser gun glamour.

Head First: Goldfrapp's New Album, Alison's New Girlfriend, No New Sound

WOW. Just in time before we all freeze forever under the never-ending bleach midwinter of Queen Gaga and her Lame Monster, Alison Goldfrapp has slipped out of her gyppo skirt and back into a pink PVC jumpsuit to save us all from faux-glamnation. This time Goldfrapp take inspiration from the recent wave of French electro like hot label Valerie Records, and less from the obvious 'Madge Stefani' source pool that Gaga swims in.

The new record Head Start will hit cyber shelves next Monday, although the media will perhaps dedicate more inches to the fact that Alison now has a girlfriend (ooh-ah), film editor Lisa Gunning, whom she met on the set for Nowhere Boy.

So plastic and supercharged is Goldfrapp’s fifth album Head First that its nine short tracks make a micro-electro total of only 38 minutes! Music critics are predictably suspicious of the release, accusing the duo of following the pop curve this time instead of pulling it along as usual. It is unlikely that anything from the album will be anywhere near as good as Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ or ‘Monster’, still, the record might at least give that insipid tramp Ke$ha a smack in the pop gob.

Goldfrapp’s last album Seventh Tree saw an unexpected career turn (and a due plunge in sales) for Goldfrapp as they swapped glitter for wicker and ran to the forest – a brave berry-picking pop path that sadly nobody followed. It was at this stage that the media started dubbing Goldfrapp and anyone else with a candle lantern as ‘folktronica’ – one of the dullest gems in the journolingo crown of scorns, a nefarious new micro-genre that even the insuperable Patrick Wolf was unwittingly classed as.

So it’s nice to see Goldfrapp back on track, racing from the woods with metaphorical rocket-boosters and Van Halen turned up loud.

The Guardian’s Kitty Empire dislikes Head First, sitting on the fence in her review with her conclusion “a decent but unsurprising album”, whilst the BBC’s Ian Wade showed slightly wider margins of enthusiasm exclaiming excitedly “the duo has put away the maypole and mummery of 2008’s folk-flavoured Seventh Tree, and rummaged through the box marked big synths, lasers, jumpsuits and all things shiny.”

The first single Rocket is a soft-pop marriage between Van Halen’s iconic Jump and DJ Sammy’s remake of Boys of Summer, with some Cyndi Lauper shades and a pinch of Felix Da Housecat. Listen to it yourself on YouTube now.

Read Kitty Empire’s review on here

Read Ian Wade’s BBC Music review here

The suspense is thrilling me. I hope Sam Taylor-Wood makes Alison Goldfrapp the Godmother of her baby.

Corden Him Off: Fat He May Be But James Corden Just Isn’t Funny

James Corden would have made a poor Butlins red coat, so why is he TV royalty? He’s the party guest who stays too long, he’s the guy who takes the glamour out of male bonding. Forget a league of his own – he doesn't qualify for comedy’s third division.

James Corden’s mug never fails to put a downer on the start of my day. Luckily Sky 1’s new show A League of Their Own isn’t advertised on the Victoria Line. It is, however, pasted across the majority of London buses this week, and so as I walk from the tube exit to the revolving doors of the office each morning, the chances are I will be subjected to seeing that smug blob - the bane of my telly watching schedule – the intolerable James Corden. Dolce &Gabbana, if you’re reading this, please pay for Gisele’s wonderful face to be reinstalled onto the side of the 253 before I throw myself beneath it.

The Corden craze crept up on us all slowly. There was a non-speaking part here and a butter commercial there and then BANG somebody casted Corden in the televisation of Alan Bennett’s gay-but-not-gay play The History Boys.

At first we thought James Corden was a closet gay himself, no doubt chasing Russell Tovey backstage on-set and managing to blag his way into being flatmate’s with his co-star crush Dominic Cooper. Cool-headed Cooper predictably went on to find major Hollywood success in films like Mamma Mia and The Duchess, but before the door of fame clicked firmly shut, clumsy Corden managed to squeeze himself through.

He appeared in the moderately successful series Fat Friends, where he met Little Britain’s Myfanwy, also known as Ruth Jones, his future writing partner and the key to ubiquitous popularity. Gavin & Stacey was a great TV show, but judging by Corden’s other disastrous works we can safely say the success of it was down to Ruth’s writing talents not Corden’s lack of. Although of course we’ll never know for sure, because when the pair appeared on Alan Carr’s and Jonathon Ross’ couches respectively, cod-face Corden wouldn’t give Ruth a word in edgeways.

Roll on 2009 and cue the God-awful film Lesbian Vampire Killers, which nobody seems to have watched (myself included), but everyone agrees wholeheartedly was a pile of plank. It was also around this time that Horne and Corden’s arrogantly self-titled sketch show was aired, prompting insider bets as to how soon it would be axed. Horne & Corden consisted almost exclusively of two jokes, firstly that James Corden is fat, and secondly that he might be gay, or at least that there was something to be admired for Corden in physically normal men. How either of these subjects were sound targets for humour was any thinking person’s guess.

Once again gay rumours re-emerged as Corden kissed, embraced and skipped about naked with TV twink Matt Horne, followed by the pair’s presentation at the Brits alongside the greatest living gay pop icon Kylie Minogue. Critics unanimously slated the terrible sketch show Horne & Corden, wondering how anyone ever funded it, let alone sat through the duration of a pilot.

Gay suspicions dimmed as Corden began waving his girlfriend in front of the paparazzi like a new Barbie, and the ruby slipper of rumours passed onto the other foot as Matt Horne began DJ’ing on the London gay scene with drag queen superstar Jodie Harsh.

But just when our screens couldn’t bear the weight of any more Corden tellytastrophes TV bosses threw salt on our wounds, booking Corden for seemingly endless appearances, most of which involved nudity, obesity or kissing men, evidently a tried and tested route to inducing hilarity.

Still, it’s not Corden’s addiction to poking ridicule at gay people that annoys me most, nor is it his obesity. It is quite simply the fact that he is unoriginal, cumbersome and genuinely unfunny.

Does anyone credible out there actually look forward to watching James Corden’s appearances on television? Does anyone think “ooh James Corden he’s brilliant – I must tune in for that”? Or are TV producers marching ahead upon the incorrect assumption that the public admire him?

Anyone who’s been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival will find an abundance of brilliant, witty, entertaining and incomprehensibly talented comedians and actors. It just seems such a colossal waste of TV space to be commissioning James Corden. After his utterly crap sketch show you’d hope execs would have seen this.

Like you, I’ll be tuning into his Sports Relief diving sketch with Tom Daley, watching him rip off Peter Kay whilst no doubt mentally ripping off the teenager's Speedos, poor boy. Like me, I hope you’ll be thinking “What a boring, unnecessary and try-hard dive for British comedy”.

Above: The young Olympic diver and unwitting gay icon Tom Daley, a quintissential diva demand for a James Corden sketch these days, if David Beckham, Corden's first love, isn't available that is.

I Don’t Believe It: Richard Wilson is still alive

Is Victor Meldrew dead? Yes. He died in the final series of One Foot in the Grave.

However Richard Wilson, the actor who played Victor Meldrew, who I believed also to be long dead, is actually still alive and only 73.

The reason we’re discussing Richard Wilson this evening is because he is currently appearing onstage in the RSC’s latest production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The show has already enjoyed a sell-out run in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Do you reckon they’ll make him say his One Foot in the Grave catchphrase “I don’t believe it!”? Disappointingly they didn’t set Lenny Henry’s Othello in a Travelodge, so probably not.

Richard Wilson’s One Foot in the Grave co-star Annette Crosbie (now 76) will appear in the next episode of Doctor Who over Easter titled “The Eleventh Hour”

16-25 years olds can pick up Twelfth Night tickets for only £5

REVIEW: Michelangelo's Dream: Was the gay artist a predator or a PR prototype?

Would today's armies of supple Topman kids mincing off to school in their glittered bumpsters have been enough to soothe the longing of Michelangelo's gaze?

I went to see Michelangelo’s Dream at the Courtauld Gallery today – a collection of mythological and religious drawings that included the famous and endlessly copied item The Dream. Interestingly, some of the queer items on display are kindly loaned by Her Majesty the Queen. Originally The Dream was a serial presentation of faintly erotic gifts to a teenage boy that Michelangelo had become obsessed with- the young Italian nobleman Tommaso de Cavalieri. I’ve nicknamed the boy Cava for simplicity’s sake but also because we sadly live in a world where gay men no longer offer drawings and poems to their teenage pursuits but they do unfalteringly offer us plenty of cava.

The exhibition was surprisingly well attended, perhaps thanks to The Guardian’s generous double-page spread on Saturday. The crowd seemed to receive the abundance of homoerotic information well, although one visitor loudly announced “I don’t like drawings” and marched downstairs defiantly into the biscuit-tin world of Renoir.

The Dream is a confusing picture in which a naked man outstretches himself across a stone sphere atop a plinth while an upturned winged messenger blows a trumpet in his face for no apparent reason. The depictions of deadly sin which surround the main composition originally included a childish hand gripping a large phallus (placid if you ask me, but erect according to the guide book) but this was rubbed out at some stage by one of the drawing’s one-time owners. We are told by the accompanying text that there is some kind of rebirth going on, but we’re left in the dark by the exhibition’s curators as to what kind of rebirth this is.

I would guess that this sense of awakening and rebirth is an early example in art of what today we call “coming out”. Michelangelo clearly pre-empted the cultural necessity of gay liberation, and that a social outlet of homosexual desire was required in order for sinful predation to stop and for gay relationships to exist on a level of decency and mutuality. Michelangelo longed for his homosexual desires for Cava to be reciprocal but knew all to well that even if they were, there was little he could do about it in 16th century Florence, a city described by The Guardian’s James Hall somewhat scientifically as “ardently anti-sodomite”.

Today when a man comes out as gay he usually undergoes a reclassification of identity in the minds of his peers. The new sexual status finds its way to the top of his social profile – “My friend Tom who’s gay is coming later” etc. This cultural re-birth is sometimes frowned upon in Britain now by straights and gays alike – “Why does it matter that Tom’s gay? Did you need to tell me that?” etc. To Michelangelo, the possibility of talking openly about sexual identity was a lurid dream, utterly out of his reach, although not inconceivable.

Included in the exhibition is erotic poetry that Michelangelo wrote and sent to Cava, my favourite titled “You know that I know”, the middle-age equivalent to emo poetry on MySpace in which Michelangelo begs Cava to give him a sign.

Would Michelangelo’s behaviour be considered today as that of a “dirty old man”, predatory and perverted? He was in his 50s while pursuing this teenage Adonis afterall. Or would our present-day society of CK models bulging from billboards and armies of supple Topman kids mincing off to school in their glittered bumpsters be enough to soothe Michelangelo’s repressed longing?

We’ll never know for sure whether Michelangelo placed his skilled hands on young Cava’s globular frame. I like to think that he failed in his sexually ambitious quest and released his frenzy of Firenze passion on an unsuspecting studio assistant. If the beautiful and aristocratic Cava did fancy some lad-on-lad action, you’d hope he opted for an athletic palace pageboy or a sunkissed courtly hedge trimmer, not some aged and twisted sculptor, no matter how intellectually stimulating.

What we do know is that Michelangelo was a prototype for the PR industry and a bit of a gay whizz. For a start we call him by his first name Michelangelo, as if he were an R n’ B singer like Kelis or Cassie. I’m trying to imagine the world talking about me in 500 years time by my Christian name. “Have you read that book by Jack?” Unbelievable.

Secondly, the majority of Michelangelo books don’t bare a cover image of the facially decrepit artist himself, but a blazing shot of his gay masterpiece – the statue of David. Such genius.

Right. I’m off to write an erotic poem addressed to Euan Blair now. Too old perhaps?

Michelangelo’s Dream is at the Courtauld Gallery until 16 May. Mind the staircase (!) - it goes beautifully beyond health and safety.

For a more art-based review of the exhibition see Laura Cumming's Guardian review here.