On Saturday night, amid the happy festivities of the Strictly Come Dancing final and a Mexican Christmas dinner, I confessed to some of my oldest friends a secret that had been unsettling me considerably of late.
I felt sure I would find a sympathetic, non-judgmental ear among those who had consoled and cheered me through the best and worst times of my life.
I told them that sometimes, I really like to read the Daily Mail website.
Suffice to say, it was not exactly the warm embace of kindly understanding I was expecting.
Luckily we had the Strictly spectacular to distract us from my intelligentsian faux pas, and we were soon happily united once more in our joint conviction that Tom Chambers deserved to win since he had sheer dancing joy in his heart, and Rachel Stevens did not as she was essentially a dressage pony, picking up complicated steps with docile adroitness, but prone to confusion when the bridle is loosened. This was evident in their showdance, where she expertly allowed Vincent to carry her over his shoulder/around his waist/over his waist/around his shoulder, but when she was required to skip around the floor, inciting the crowd to hear the music, close their eyes, feel the rhythm, she seemed prone to adopt an expression reminiscent of someone watching their pants go round and round at the launderette. For us, it was a wildly underwhelming showdance, in pointed contrast to the 5,000-piece-jigsaw, intricate steps of their Argentine tango. And, moreover, is there any dancing sin more heinous than squandering the Flashdance theme on sub-standard moves? Let there be no debate. There is not.
Tom and Camilla, in contrast, won us over by having Actual Real Fun and also appearing, with some of their goofy clowning, to channel Torvill and Dean's classic Barnum routine. Or was it Mack And Mabel? Basically, I know some really hardcore Torvill and Dean fans.
As for Lisa and Brendan's clumsy youth-club-expressive-dance-display erotica? My eyes, my eyes.
In the days after the final, and despite the disapproval of my comrades, it was to the Daily Mail that I turned to see the fall-out of Tom's victory, and whether this was further indication that the country was on its knees, what with the scandal and outrage of him being in the final in the first place, thanks to Bungling BBC Bosses (TM). In fact, Tom got off pretty lightly, what with him being middle-class, impeccably well-mannered and kind to the sick and elderly. The BBC less so, predictably, with one peer demanding the corporation publicly release the viewers' voting figures. Seriously? What does he think that's going to show? That the BBC had fiddled it? That one suit-and-trainers had said to another, over some Sainsbury's Basics Rich Teas, in a meeting, 'You know what? Let's just rig it. It's not like anyone's keeping much of an eye on the old phone-vote fraud at the moment. I think everyone upstairs will be prepared to risk it.'
Don't retired MPs have better things to do, like saving hospitals and presenting horticultural prizes? OK, I should be fair and clarify that this one was actually trying to suggest that where Strictly Come Dancing voting reforms lead, national political ones may follow, which is a nice idea.
I for one could not say for certain whether Gordon Brown or David Cameron would prove victorious in a dance-off. Dave might ace the ballroom, but the Latin could be anyone's game.
38. QUEEN ELIZABETH OLYMPIC PARK, LONDON
11 months ago