Speak To The Nation

A voice for all seasons

[written 2006]

Each decade seems to have its own individuality.  Examples like the 1950s Rockers, the 1980’s excess, even the 1890’s engineering.

However the 2000’s are too young and incomplete to judge but early indications are that the time we are living now may well be remembered as the time of celebrity.

In fact, a particular brand of publicly available, disposable celebrity that every young person seems to think is their inalienable right.

And I think maybe a little known Dutch company is to blame.

Endemol Productions devised Big Brother almost a decade ago but now its tentacles spread far and wide.  The phenomenon continues unabated and promises the dream of ‘being somebody’ to everyday nobodies.

The never ending contestants’ limitless desire to achieve a career [read richies] out of merely being known is almost eqaully matched by our own natural voyerism into these real-life soap operas.

So endemic is the problem that natural talent is being side-lined for manufactured pop-culture.

A good example of this is the huge list of singing competitions.  In the past to be a songbird usually meant teaming up with a writer and creating something, not rearranging someone else’s work.

And as a writer this gnarls at my groin.

It’s time to fight back and I’ll do it in my old traditional way – by joining them!

Although scathing about the concept of fame TV I actually have a desire to be part of it.

I too am seduced by the promise of eeking out an easy living and would relish the lightweight, unearned adoration that entails the lifestyle.  Cheap, but desireable nonetheless.

But Reality TV producer’s don’t come knocking at the door, at least not mine, so I need to get positive and the way I propose is to propose a way.

My idea is to set up a few video booths around the country and invite anybody who cares to leave any message they want.

They would be stationed in public squares, parks and stations and be the twenty-first century version of speaking at Hyde Park corner.

The messages will be recorded and sifted by a team of editors to extract the interesting from the banal, with the best featuring on a weekly programme.

Some may choose to record daily dairies, others may vent their spleen, but most will just be childish giggling and vociferous slang.

Not to worry, talent and interest will shine through and there will be gold amongst the dross.

I know you are now thinking that this has been done before.  After all, even the failed contestants of some singing shows get their chance to prove in a video booth why they were not selected the first time round.  So why would this format be successful?

The answer is money.

The twist would be that it would cost a nominal amount to record the message.  The booths would operate only on the basis of fiscal intercourse.

In the same way that TV companies love programmes that force viewers to pay by voting on a telephony device, producers would love a TV system that pays for itself to be made.

All I need now is a TV Production Company and I’ll be able to share the decade with the Dutch.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 13 Jun 2018
First Published:
 Version 2.03 in Jun 2006
‘Big Brother’ is a fly on the wall style documentary TV programme whereby miked up participants, chosen by their personalities and looks are grouped to live close to each other in a house surrounded by cameras to capture their every movement and conversation.  The footage is edited to entertain and as time progresses the viewers get a chance to vote out the least interesting characters thereby ending with a winner who receives a cash award
If you are thinking this idea is just YouTube which is a widely used free service please note that I offered this idea in Jun 2006.  YouTube was only founded as a web address in Feb 2005 and it took a few months to get funding and wasn’t formally launched until Dec of that year.  In mid 2006 it wasn’t that well known, certainly not by me.  In fact it wasn’t until 2010 that I uploaded my first video to YouTube

Looking Through Gary Gilmore’s Eyelashes

Face On

[Originally written in 2005]

The History

During mid September 2005 a surgical team made an announcement that they were to become the first to carry out a human face transplant and it unleashed a whole raft of press comment about the morals of such a procedure.

Too many commentators have taken the weak journalistic option of trying to stir up outdated, backward and religious prejudices by suggesting that there will be a moral outcry.  As usual this counters the brilliant scientific advancements heralded in these new procedures.

The additional twist this time is identity and the allegedly dubious grounds that taking someone’s face will mean adopting their identity and perhaps personality.  This is despite the surgeon’s assurances that the face is shaped by the bones, not the skin.

However, this does not deter those who think that the procedures could lead to cosmetic demands.

My personal belief is that if it did so what?  If someone is prepared to fund research through vanity then let them carry on.

And so what if it changes the way someone looks or raises questions about identity?  What rule says that identity has to be fixed?  If they bring out such a law I’ll grow a beard.  And so will my wife.

Famous Faces

Taking the arguments about altering identity a little further I note that one interesting thought that hasn’t yet been raised until now is the spectre that one day a celebrity may offer their face after their demise.  Think about the consequences for a while.

Currently playing on some sub-standard channel on my Freeview box is a programme called ‘I Want a Famous Face’.  This is the latest in the current trend of titillating, voyeuristic cosmetic surgery programmes that follows desperate wannabes sadly seeking to look like a celebrity because their own self-esteem is too low.

A natural extension to this idea is having the actual face they so desire.  And bidding wars could send the value of deceased celebrity faces sky high.  After all their fiscal worth in life is elevated, why not in death?

Been There Done That

These concepts are not particularly new.  ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ was a song was released following the real life transplantation of a dead killer’s donated eyes.

This spawned a fictionalised Hollywood film called ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’ suggesting that the transplanted eyes held secrets about how Laura met her demise.

‘Face Off’ was a grand Hollywood blockbuster featuring Nicholas Cage and John Travolta who as goodies and baddies respectively routinely swapped identities during the movie to maintain a high level of thriller element and not a small amount of confusion.

Even before that, in the grand old days when everyone was in black and white a film was released called ‘The Hands Of Orlac’ which featured a talented concert pianist who having lost his hands in an accident had a pair transplanted from a deceased killer.  The twist this time was that the hands were more concerned with stabbing than tinkering with the ivories.

The Future

So what of the future?

I predict that this will become commonplace.

I’ll further suggest that there will be routine face swapping.  Maybe a business face for the day and a party face for the evening.  Presently women change their hair colour, length and shape and tint their eyes with contact lenses so changing faces is a logical extension.

Maybe friends will have fun swapping faces to confuse their parents.

Of course, society will gradually learn to distrust external features and we will eventually be judged on who we are and not what we look like.

And me personally?  I have never wanted to alter my face, my desire is technically easier but way more complex.  I don’t want to look like Brad Pitt, I want everyone to think that my look is as good as Brad’s.

Oh, and I’m thinking about putting in a bid for Jennifer Aniston’s face.

Not that I want to wear it – just sit on it.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Opinions section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 1 May 2018
First Published: Version 2.02 in Sep 2005
The world’s first partial face transplant with parts from a stranger was claimed to be carried out on Isabelle Dinoire in Sep 2005 who had her face mauled by her dog.  The work was carried out by Dr Bernard Devauchelle, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Benoit Lengelé, a Belgian plastic surgeon, and Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France.  The operation was successful but her immune system’s response was difficult and she eventually died in 2016 following a long illness
An earlier transplant was reported by The Guardian on a 9 year old Indian boy, Sandeep Kaur, who had his face ripped off by a thresher machine in 1994.  His mother’s quick reactions allowed reconstruction of his own face by Dr Abraham Thomas, one of India’s top microsurgeons.  This is recognised as the first face transplant.  The Guardian reported that in 2004 Sandeep was training to be a nurse
‘I Want A Famous Face’ is an American documentary reality TV programme first shown on MTV which originally ran between 2004 and 2005
Gary Gilmore was an American double murderer who was successfully prosecuted and eventually executed in Utah in 1977.  Within hours two people had received transplants of his corneas
‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ by songwriter T.V. Smith is a single performed by punk band The Adverts produced in 1977
‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’ is a 1978 film written by John Carpenter and David Zelag Goodman
‘Face Off’ is a 1997 film written by Mike Webb and Michael Colleary
‘The Hands of Orlac’ is a 1924 film written by Maurice Renard
Jennifer Aniston is lovely

Celebrity Meal Friends

Fantasy Dinner Party [In 2005]

A list of the reprobates that you would have heard of that I’d ask round for dinner, should I feel like cooking.

I should add a caveat that I am not personally familiar with these people (a shame in so many cases) so my judgement is based on their media perceptions.  Having stated that I doubt that in real life Billy would not be funny or Demi would be ugly.

Not that I have just picked the men on their humour and the women on their looks.  If you knew the type of woman I usually found attractive you may question my Optician’s qualifications.  It is just that pretty girls often seem so offish.  I’m far more likely to like a woman that doesn’t fall into the best ten looking in the world.  In some cases they wouldn’t reach the top ten in the room.  Of nine.

Incidentally all these are listed alphabetically, in case you were thinking I had a particularly soft spot for Rowan.

I have kept my list to those that are living today (as far as I know).  Departed guests may have included Oscar Wilde for his fascinating conversation or Princess Diana for her fun and beauty.

Or even King Henry VIII, as he would be able to recall detailed stories of our past and I’ve heard he was fond of a meal or two.

Not that I’d be swayed by many of the historical greats.  Drake would just bleat on about his potatoes, Ghandi wouldn’t touch the beef, Mother Theresa would nick the tea towels and most politicians would be a singular subject bore (with the exception of Boris).

Finally, those that just missed out include Rick Parfait of Status Quo fame, because he is really at his best when with his guitar playing colleague Francis Rossi and there is not room for two others.

And Francis Rossi for much the same reason.

Plus, the lads would then outnumber the ladies and at present the list is so evenly split.

Until I add myself in of course.  So I’d have to invite the misses as well.  Provided she doesn’t go on about Russell Crowe all evening.  It would spoil my conversations with the girls!

Rowan Atkinson

My first choice is rubber-faced comic Rowan Atkinson.

I admire his work greatly and would be able to find out if he was as crazy in real life as his celebrity image suggests.

Plus, the only thing I know about Rowan outside his life of humour is that he is a real petrol-head, which makes him OK in my book.

Melanie Chisholm (AKA Mel C)

It was tempting just to invite the whole cast of Girls Aloud but the original girl-band would probably be more interesting to meet and there are two in my list.

The first is the token ‘northerner’ Melanie Chisholm.

I have no idea about her likes or mannerisms but Mel C has the voice of an angel.  It’s soothing tones are enough to melt my heart.

But although her singing voice is as pure as driven snow when she speaks it is more akin to coal.

So it’s her cute figure that swings it.

Billy Connolly

Who wouldn’t want Billy Connolly as a guest at their dinner table, except perhaps a prude.

He is renowned for his method of stand-up that doesn’t include rehearsal.  If he can produce that quality on stage he’ll be a riot one-to-one.

And if things start to get awkward I’ll just ask him about his connections with upmarket leather interiors for cars.

Ben Elton

Ben Elton wouldn’t just feature on my dream celebrity dinner table as a performer but he would also feature in my top ten authors, if only I could think of another eight.

Bill Bryson, if you were wondering.

Sarah Ferguson

Fun time royal Sarah Ferguson would provide a down to earth recollection of part of our living history.

I’m a royalist but few Royals would brighten the table as much as the ever-smiling Duchess of York.

She’d be fun, I can see it in her eyes.

Stephen Fry

Quite an interesting choice is the know-it-all Stephen Fry.

I’m sure conversation with Stephen would never run dry.

He’d be the best at recounting celebrity anecdotes.  Or, as it is known to you and I, dropping names.

Geri Halliwell

My second Spice Girl is Geri Halliwell.

I think she has received unfair treatment by the press for no other reason than being the oldest in the group.

But I see Geri as a girl of wide experience and great fun.  Of which the press would interpret as having been around a bit.

Well she can come around to mine anytime.

Amanda Holden

A hometown connection would be the catalyst to invite Amanda Holden to my dinner party.

We share common acting roots within our local community so we’ll be able to share stories about the poeple we know.

And sharing stories with such a pretty woman would be hard to resist.

Boris Johnson

You need at least one token political person in such a gathering but for the reasons stated above I’d struggle to justify many.

I considered John Major as he often talks sense, Tony Blair because he is an incumbent Prime Minister or Lady Thatcher as she is a living legend but I doubt that I could share friendships with these people.

No, for coupling political nous to a sense of fun I’d pick Boris Johnson.

He’s welcome, if he can find the address.

Demi Moore

And last, but by no means least the stunning Demi Moore.  Who, lets face it, could only be bettered by being a full Moore.

With Demi I could chew the Hollywood fat and get a low down on all the top people in the dream business.

There would be the gaping mouth and dribbling chin to contend with of course.

But she will just have to put up with that.

Author: Vince Poynter

From the Top Ten section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 16 Feb 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005