It’s (Not So) Grim Up North



Or maybe it’s Radio 1’s. Either way, whenever the avoidance of coursework means switching on the TV, radio or a generic on-demand player, it seems the UK’s public service broadcasters have forgotten something. The UK.

Stuck watching T4 on Sunday for reasons all students are quietly knowledgeable about, I realised that I was in fact watching a consecutive order of famous southerners including Alexa Chung and Rick Edwards. Then there’s Alex Zane, Dave Berry and switch onto DAB and there’s Fearne and Reggie, Jo Whiley. Flick open a magazine and there’s Kate, Amy, Lily Allen, Daisy Lowe, even Jodie Marsh commands column inches with whatever part of her body which decides to slam itself against a camera lens.

Maybe it’s just me but there seems to be some form of a prized list of people who are continually hired to provide the alabaster faces and Estuary voices for noughties cool television. It is pretty much the list in which almost all schlebs are affiliated to London (particularly Camden Town) by name, friend or shag, if you believe Heat. And like the pop ‘n’ trash culture addicts in the Heat adverts, I’m a believer. Of course, everyone knows about Insanity Artists, but their roster thankfully has Colin Murray and Edith Bowman to provide a bit of phonetic balance.

So where’s the talent from above the Watford border? There’s Nick Grimshaw, presenter, DJ and general good looker, AKA the local lad who’s gone to the big smoke and done pretty well for someone born without a London postcode. Mate, he’s probably bought one by now.

Yet given Grimmy’s success, what kind of future is bidden for any of you lot if you fancy getting paid for doling out screen banter? Can you be taken seriously if you’re not an LDN aficionado?Nick Grimshaw

Take Steve Jones, the bold hunk o’ brawn who’s from Wales, rather than London. But don’t you get the feeling that he’s more the token buff country-bumpkin-gone-slut object who happens to have a Welsh accent? Why is his personality as production line as the next? Granted, not all Welsh people act the same and he might not be hired for giving his point of view, but surely we could do with at least some distinguishing traits or native quips other than the fact that he’s a flirt and makes Miquita Oliver look attractive and sound funny, not just facetious. (Remember that the latter is still employed despite the fact that she apparently thought it hilarious to take the piss out of feeling suicidal at a suicide charity fundraiser.)

Nevertheless, even the dust Simon Amstell leaves behind is preferred over the talent up here in the fantastic north. So obviously this brings up another question. Where are the talented northern women? Cheryl Cole and Lauren Laverne fly the eye candy flag for the northeast. And I guess, close to our green gardens of Piccadilly, we have the Corrie and Hollyoaks rolodexes and that Agyness Deyn.

londonsetBut try to think of anyone northern with the same (debatable) presenting prestige and track record as Fearne Cotton. Chris Moyles may have been a Radio 1 saviour at the beginning of the decade, but it seems he is stuck there, unremarkably. He is still the broadcasting stalwart with an ironed-out Leeds accent. Anyone else? Probably not. I can’t think of anyone, and neither can my mates. Which made me wonder. Off the top of your head, can you even name someone northern used in the media for anything other than soap opera, reality TV, comedy, or worse, short-lived comedic value? See. It’s difficult to reel off a bunch of names. Not like you can with southerners. Even Peaches Geldof has to get a mention despite blatant Winehouse copycat tactics.

There are no answers other than the obvious: the X Factor panel is more regionally representative than Radio 1, E4, T4 and many personality-based programmes across the channels. Don’t you get it exec producer? Hire diverse talent! //Published Student Direct 10th November 2008

Veggie Don’t Preach!


Vegetarians need to learn to get off their high horses.


You see, veggie students, I went to Barcelona with some friends, and with all that culture, sunshine, those good-looking civilians and massive measures of alcohol, I tried octopus. No, screw that, I ate a baby octopus! Evil, right? Eating fried gangly tentacles with chewy suckers and hunks of head; I should be burned at the stake (or should that be Quorn steak?).

Before Barcelona I had been a meat-free, cruelty-free consumer for five years, but it finally got to the point where I just let my morals take a holiday as well. It’s not as if visiting Iceland would make me want to eat reindeer rump. Honest. Honest!


I just thought, hell, what am I doing holding back my Euros from the dizzying culinary talent that’s bubbling all over the city for yet another aubergine and queso lasagne? Just this once, said the clichéd part of my brain. I’d never done it before. It’s not like I’ll get addicted the first time. It’s just one tiny octopus. Oh God no. Here comes the guilt. Sickness. Headache. I could picture it there and then, being tried in vegetarian court: the motive indeed was murder, evil Jane!

But how did I get to this stage? Maybe it’s because I haven’t been around enough vegetarians to bolster my own beliefs, maybe it’s because my yoga teacher left me in a rather physical state of limbo. Or maybe it’s because I’m realising that my version of vegetarianism rests only on personal choice. I do not hold religious beliefs; the vegetarian aspect is simply part of a chosen lifestyle.

That’s why I find it so irritating when the veg-beasts complain every time someone – anyone – eats meat. I used to be this annoying when I was 16, but have since grown out of my judgemental ways. It’s their choice, the same way that choosing Soya over cow-juice is a choice, unless you’re lactose intolerant.

I’ve decided not to have a go at my meat-eating friends, not just because I realise they’re actually doing that already in order to make the seven-year-old beef bits escape their colons (poor buggers), but because I have nothing to do with their ideologies. Basically, if I don’t preach and let them live their lives how they want to, there will be a lot more mutual respect at the dinner table.

Please don’t assume that I’m some middle-class poser (I was born in Crewe, so this is near enough impossible); I love being veggie. I just can’t the stand pseudo-moralistic lectures any more. In the veggie community, it seems the snobbery is getting worse, and amongst many students, it’s broccoli at dawn. Eavesdropping on some new diners in a favourite café, I discovered a surprising (and highly entertaining) hierarchy.

Before you even get to the bottom, you get the “total, like, fakers”: fish-eaters (which I thought was quite offensive to the Rastafarian community, but I wouldn’t know because I ate an octopus on holiday). Then at the bottom, apparently, are the lacto-ovo veggies (milk and cream cake veggies). Then you get the ovo-veggies (yes to unborn chicks, no to calf fodder) and lacto-veggies (what I am most of the time). Next


are the vegans (no exploitation apart from deforestation for soya-bean crops), followed by the fruitarians (no cropped vegetables allowed, you must sit under the apple tree and wait), right up to the raw food group (the basis of Nicole Kidman’s diet, allegedly).

See how ridiculous all this one-upmanship sounds? I think that if you make an informed decision when you can, even if it’s to eat meat on a moralistic but not holistic level, then a substantial contribution against exploitation is being made. Some just make better commitments to the cause than others, as with everything else in life. But there’s no need to belittle others when sizing up the opposition. Because, when it comes to the real world, I would rather have humans for friends than strings of mincemeat.

Rant over. By now most vegetarians will be fuming, throwing SD down in hatred, venting their rage by imagining a giant octopus called Barry who happens to be eating a fried Jane on his holiday. However, a happy ending draws near. The octopus found its way back to the waters after fighting hard in my stomach, possibly in my conscience as well. Finally, out of sheer, unstoppable queasiness, the dead creature escaped in a flurry of sick. //Published Student Direct 13 October 2008


2 responses to “★COLUMN

  1. “the alabaster faces and Estuary voices for noughties cool television.”

    I KNOW! I swear to God if one more noncy peaches-geldof type gets a job because they know how to go to topshop, I’ll retreat into a world of pies, brick-rowed terraces and northern accents. At least these things are genuine.

    Hey Jane!

    M x

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