Wednesday, 16 April 2014

My mates were on the telly

My mates were on the telly last night. This shouldn't be exciting any more. It's 2014, for a start. Nowadays, anyone can be famous if they want to be, and entirely on their own terms. Beauty and lifestyle vloggers from YouTube are now so pulsatingly popular that a public appearance has been known to bring Covent Garden to a standstill. Being on the telly shouldn't still be such a big deal.

My mates, who were on the telly last night

Another reason why my mates being on the telly shouldn't excite me any more is because it's 2014 and this means that I should be old enough to know better. The day before my mates were on the telly (which was last night) was my 34th birthday. I am old. And wizened. Bits of me hurt and other parts smell and I can never quite guarantee which bits are going to fall into which category. I am older now, in fact, than Pete was when I first met him. Pete is one of my mates (who were on the telly last night).

But guess what? Your mates being on the telly is still exciting. Thrillingly so.

We decamped to their local boozer in Hove for the hottest premiere that Sussex has seen since the Norman Invasion to watch. Any locals hoping to watch the Arsenal -West Ham Premier League match were squirrelled away in a room upstairs so as not to bother the people who were watching a televised gardening contest. But no matter, the atmosphere we all created was just as giddy as any communal pub football-watching experience of my life and far more good-natured. Opposing contestants were booed like pantomime villains, and when our heroes prevailed and won the preserves making test at the end, the roof came off. All told, having the gardening on instead of the football may appear to be a bold shift in conventional pub dynamics, but it was an unreservedly successful one. If nothing else, there was a buffet.

Next week my mates will be on the telly again. I'm not sure how I'll cope not watching it in a pub. For a start I won't know when to cheer. I'll probably have to make up all my own chants, too.

Your mates being on the telly is still exciting. However, it's not quite the same as it would have been in the past, because Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet and the internet has allowed the invention of Twitter. Twitter is an instant feedback sluice, a ceaselessly-flowing pipe of data and opinions, thoughts and feelings. Put another way, it's a shitfunnel, and this shitfunnel is going off in your face. Trepidatiously, I began to explore what other people were making of my mates being on the telly last night.

As I have mentioned before, I am now old. Old enough, at least, to not be surprised by people. And I've been on and around the internet for over a decade, so pretty much nothing shocks or offends me any more. So imagine my surprise when this was the very first tweet I saw on the subject:

hashtag: ponces

I wasn't surprised that people didn't like them per se, as we all know that not everyone is going to like you or like your friends. Also, television programmes are by their very nature never the whole picture. They are edited and re-ordered to fit a third party's view of what the narrative should be, with one eye always squarely on entertainment. Someone who doesn't like what they see of you on TV may be pleasantly surprised if they had to deal with you in real time.

I also wasn't surprised that someone who didn't like something had said so on Twitter. It is, after all, a shitfunnel and it's going off in your face. No, what surprised me is that I actually bristled. I bristled! How dare someone I don't know not like my mates (who were on the telly last night). He doesn't even know them! How can you dismiss someone without knowing all the facts?

Oh god, what was I doing?

Against my better judgement, I took another handful of blood pressure tablets and yomped in yet further. Predictably, there were just as many nice comments as nasty ones. Naturally, I found myself agreeing with these and growing increasingly convinced that the people tweeting them and I could grow to be firm friends.

This is, as far as I am concerned, the only rational response any human being could have had

Meanwhile, Lincoln WI approve. Summer Fetes in Spalding may have special guest jam judges this year

I think the positive comments very much outweighed the negatives in the end and so my researches were, on balance, a nice thing to do. My mates were on the telly last night but now they also represent many things to many people. They are everyman heroes, tweed-wearers of the year, nascent gay icons and the beards that just won't quit.

The only one of these things which started to niggle me, in fact, was the use of the word "hipster". "Hipster gardeners", "fashionably-bearded" and "hipster ponces" are all terms I have seen used. As I see it, "hipster" is just the fashionable term for people who try and be fashionable. Being fashionable is a reactive process, whereas Gary and Pete are proactive people. They don't look or dress like they do out of any notion of kowtowing to current trends. They are bringing sexy back on their own terms. Or, to put it another way, they're both too old to be hipsters. A hipster in their 40s would be a pathetic sight, and I think it's impossible to argue that either of our heroes is a pathetic individual. If nothing else, they kicked all your arses up and down that jam tent. Their bouquet was under-rated, too. Renaissance men. Upstanding men. Real men. There's no artifice or pretension there. So bloody shut up with the "hipster" thing, you idiots.

God.

I mean, I might be biased. Next week I will probably be watching the show on my own with Twitter open and I can't guarantee that I won't wade in to any number of futile internet arguments. If this experience has taught me anything, it's that I've learnt nothing and can't be trusted to be rational when there are Feelings floating about. Now, disclaimers out of the way, I'm off to find some more proper, constructive appraisals of last night's show.

It's possible, but they'd only be their own bits that they'd severed by mistake

This is the sort of unnerved feeling you get just before you realise it is, in fact, lust

If you would like to know or see more (and by the way, you definitely do and should) then you can follow my mates (who were on telly last night) on Twitter here: @vegetablismuk, like their Facebook page here: Vegetablism or read their website here: Vegetablism.co.uk. You can also watch them being on TV thanks to the wise owls at the BBC who invented the iPlayer: The Big Allotment Challenge episode 1

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