The Vex Factor

From June 2013, this was an attempt at a pedantic rant. It was sort of in character, written from the point of view of an irritable, pompous blowhard who is out of touch with modern culture. As a result, it is no more than 97% in line with my actual opinions.

The other day a friend started talking about One Direction to me.

“What, like a pervy magician?” I asked.

“Not Wand Erection. One Direction. The boyband.”

Of course I knew what he meant. But as soon as I started thinking about it, I realised that I know actually know nothing else about One Direction, apart from their presumed habit of painting their penises black and white and ruining children’s parties. All I know is that they’re apparently the biggest thing since the Beatles first learned to slice bread all those years ago. I don’t know the names of any Wand Erection songs, the dance steps that presumably go with them, or even the names of the pop-imps (pimps?) in the band. I’ve a vague notion that one of them might have slept with Katie Price. But that’s not so much knowledge gleaned from gossip columns as sheer statistical likelihood.

The reason I don’t know anything about this particular incarnation of giggling Saturday morning peacocks is that I don’t want to, and in today’s world, I don’t have to. With freeview, digital radio and the internet, I never need know anything about what’s in the charts. I could spend a whole weekend listening only to punk covers of the Horst Wessel song. I wouldn’t. But it’s nice to know I could.

I’ve even found it relatively easy to ignore the TV talent shows, which I guess is how I’ve managed to avoid Wand Erection. I’ve seen the X Factor once in the last year, and after about 20 seconds, the judge Nicole Scherzinger pointed to the contestant who’d just finished singing, and announced:


And then she stopped, and looked pleased with herself, as though that non-sentence was an adequate return on the hundreds of thousands of pounds she earns for appearing on the show. Somehow, though, the crowd went nuts. But I don’t think they were shouting the same things as I was shouting at home:

‘“You are the difference?” The difference between WHAT and WHAT, you vacuous waste of atoms?!? That is NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH!! If you typed that sentence, a green wiggly line would appear underneath it, with a message saying “Fragment (consider revising)”!!!’

As the camera panned around the aircraft hanger studio, I found myself thinking that if it were to be suddenly and completely filled up with water, there wouldn’t be a soul in there that I would mourn. Not the vapid acts with their soap opera back-stories; not the smarmy, smirky, smuggy judges; and not the screaming berserker army of pubertal airheads in the crowd, shouting ‘I like the one with the floppy fringe, but my friend likes the one with the spiky hair. It’s such an exciting rivalry, it’s just exactly like a war.

“I wouldn’t mourn any of them,” I heard myself shouting. “Not even the cameramen and crew, because they’ve got constant access to heavy pieces of equipment, and occasional access to the back of Simon Cowell’s skull, and they’ve failed to put two and two together and make the six o’clock news. Let them all drown, let the purifying water cleanse the sins of the earth!”

My friend’s two daughters, who were the reason the X Factor was on the TV in the first place, ran crying to their mother, complaining that I was ruining the show. The mood of the evening changed and for some reason suddenly I was the prick. Unbelievable. Still, I’d managed to watch 35 seconds, a new personal best.

“Don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” Nicole Scherzinger sings whenever anyone doesn’t forcefully prevent her.

“No,” I now reply. “But I’m glad my wife doesn’t think ‘attitude’ is an acceptable substitute for proper sentence structure.”

My wife sighs. She wishes her husband was pleasant, like one of those nice young men from Wand Erection.

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