I was speaking to Mrs Jones this evening, who reported that her grandchildren, my nieces, the Young Miss Joneses have become very excited about Dancing On Ice. I would probably be quite excited about Dancing On Ice too, if I was under the age of 8 and had never seen Strictly Come Dancing.
Similarly, I might be excited about Lark Rise To Candleford if I had never seen Cranford. As it is, the first series of bland, bloating Candleford (Blandleford, heh) was forced down my neck while I was still digesting Cranford, and I simply had to turn away for fear my jaw might dislocate, all the better to enable a foul, projectile jet of petticoats, raucous village-idiot laughter and Julia Sawalha to cascade forth.
This is unfair. I like Julia Sawalha. Long-term readers will recall how she informed my fashion choices as a teenager.
I have flirted with Dancing On Ice. Actually, I think we both know it went further than that. And even though we are pretty much over now, we will always have Steve Backley and, in some kind of light-entertainment nostalgia cocktail that seemed to have been blended just for me and the girls I shared a house with during our university years, Torvill and Dean dancing to Take That.
But there is a stigma attached to Dancing On Ice, in some quarters at least. A few weeks ago, I went with Miss L to see the Strictly Come Dancing live tour. Or possibly Live Tour. We had fun, in spite of the funereal atmosphere in the O2 arena. I blame this on the hangar-like performance space, and also the large number of utterly disinterested husbands present on spouse chaperone duty ('I'll come with you, I'll wear an item from the more respectable end of my knitwear spectrum, I'll pay out for a programme. But if you're asking me to uncross my arms at any point during the performance…') As a result of this abject crowd lameness, I'm slightly ashamed to say I found myself attempting to over-compensate, cheering and goading like a commission-famished holiday rep.
In addition, we were forced to endure what I can only describe as a warm-up man, whose Herculean labours of hate were to induce mass clapping along to a playlist of dated party music, incite Mexican waves of varying success, and persuade individuals to leave the safety of the crowd, take to the floor and perform their signature moves to earn a prize that literally £5.99 could buy – Len Goodman's autobiography. Under the spotlights, Mr Warm-up's rictus grin and perma-tan are utterly robust, yet you know as the real show starts, he will roam the lonely corridors and dressing rooms like a ghost, painting on a sad clown's upside-down smile with Cherie's Lunghi's lipstick by the glow of a lightbulb-garlanded mirror.
Anyway, my point is, during the interval, I was standing in a queue to buy bad tea and unremarkable chocolate and I heard one of the women standing behind me whisper to her friend, in the same embarrassed way that women in adverts ask their friends if they've ever had intimate feminine itching: 'Are you watching… [pause while she dropped her voice the remaining few decibels] Dancing On Ice?'
It was as though, in watching it, she was somehow cheating on Strictly.