Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Frumps with Bumps

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Frumps with Bumps

Article excerpt


BEING someone who, for years, was convinced that Bob Marley worked for the Robertson's fruit preserve company (it was his rendition of "wi jam in ... wi jam in ..." that threw me), I'm reluctant to start criticising other people's accents. However, I've noticed that British prime ministers are invariably given a vocal makeover by their PR people, and that they always end up with a bizarre speech defect as a result, be it Ted Heath pronouncing "house" as "heeowce" or John Major making "want" rhyme with "pant."

Lady Thatcher was even taught how to lower the pitch of her voice, and underwent a complete manual evacuation of the vowels, but she still sounded mental (chiefly on account of referring to herself in the first person plural, and screaming playground insults like "frit" across the House of Commons floor), meanwhile, Blair has been coached by the makeover people to move between RP and estuary English, to ingratiate himself with different audiences, and to pronounce "summit" as "summert".

What's more, I've recently spotted a sure-fire way of telling when our PM is lying. His lips move.

This is the age of the makeover, be it of politicians, houses, hairstyles or clothes, and television provides fertile ground for self-professed "style and fashion gurus" to practise their dubious trade on the unwary.

These manipulators claim to possess magical powers which somehow endow them with the ethical right to dress and undress their pliant human dollies, but as with the Wizard of Oz, once you slip behind the scenes and see them in close-up, you realise that there's less to them than meets the eye.

That's certainly true of Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine, the presenters of BBC2's What Not to Wear, because they're a couple of frumps in brown who, nevertheless, criticise the alleged sartorial failings of others ("you look like a bag lady ... like a balloon ...") with a gusto and intensity that makes one assume that they never look in the mirror.

If they did, perhaps they'd realise that this was a case of Dear Kettle, Yours Sincerely, Pot, because neither of them is exactly a spring chicken.

Ms Woodall is so flat-chested and preoccupied with the size of other women's bosoms that I've started wondering if maybe Trinny is a trannie, and Ms Constantine has more black roots than Kunte Kinte.

Incidentally, I've discovered that the reason the TV series Roots (in which Mr Kinte appeared) is no longer shown here is because the rights were bought up some years ago by the Ku Klux Klan.

Apparently, they like to show it at their annual conference in Louisiana, only they show it backwards, so it has a happy ending.

Admittedly, even I have larger breasts than last night's makeover candidate, the engagingly scruffy Lucy Peck, but I cannot recall ever seeing a programme so relentlessly obsessed with drawing attention to the flatness of a woman's chest. …

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