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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Sunday 9th January 2005

Never mind the Brits...here's the Sex Pistols


Yawn, yawn. Here we go again. First we had the Greatest Briton. Then we had the nation's best-loved film. Now, the organizers of the Brits are asking us to vote for the best single since 1977.

Why 1977? The purpose of the competition, apparently, is to celebrate 25 years of the Brits and--wait for it--the Brits began in 1977. But hold on a minute. Doesn't that mean the Brits are 28? Presumably, the reason the organizers are pretending it's the 25th anniversary of the Brits--and they've helpfully put together a list of 25 singles to choose from--is because 25 is a more memorable number than 28. In other words, the whole thing is a bit of PR flimflam cooked up by a couple of half-witted marketing men after a particularly long lunch at the Groucho Club.

The list of singles is staggeringly banal. Will Young's 'Leave Right Now' is included, but not 'God Save the Queen' by the Sex Pistols; Sting's 'Fields of Gold' is there, but not 'Roxanne' by the Police; ABC's 'The Look of Love' is judged worthy of inclusion, but not 'Miss You' by the Rolling Stones. Indeed, the compilers seem to be completely unaware of the various trends that have animated pop culture over the last 28 years. There isn't a single ska record, for instance, nothing by the Specials or Madness or the Beat. Acid house is completely ignored, as is dance music in general. It's composed, more or less exclusively, of the kind of muzak you hear played at low volume in shopping malls across America's midwest.

For some reason, Radio 2 has elected to join forces with the Brits and invited its listeners to whittle down the list to five records from which the Brits judges will select the winner. Surely, this flies in the face of Radio 2's concerted effort to inject itself with a bit more street cred? What's the point of hiring Jonathan Ross, Dermont O'Leary and Mark Lamarr if you're going to be associated with such a middle-of-the-road competition? You might as well bring back Simon Bates.

My advice to any Radio 2 listeners tempted to vote in this ludicrous poll is to ignore the pitiful selection drawn up by the brain-dead panel and "write-in" their own candidates. For what it's worth, here is my selection of the best 25 singles since 1977, none of which are included on the Brits list:

'God Save the Queen' by the Sex Pistols

'Teenage Kicks' by the Undertones

'Another Girl, Another Planet' by the Only Ones

'Another Brick in the Wall' by Pink Floyd

'Killing An Arab' by the Cure

'Less Than Zero' by Elvis Costello

'Come On Eileen' by Dexy's Midnight Runners

'Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll' by Ian Dury and the Blockheads

'I Don't Like Mondays' by the Boomtown Rats

'Miss You' by the Rolling Stones

'Too Much Too Young' by the Special AKA

'Madness' by Madness

'Mirror in the Bathroom' by the Beat

'Where's Captain Kirk' by Spiz Energi

'Ace of Spades' by Motorhead

'Going Underground' by the Jam

'Karma Chameleon' by Culture Club

'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' by Wham

'Tainted Love' by Soft Cell

'Relax' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' by the Smiths

'In the Name of Love' by U2

'Blue Monday' by New Order

'Common People' by Pulp

'Firestarter' by the Prodigy

BELLE DE BORE

Am I the only person who's growing a little tired of the whole Belle de Jour phenomenon? Belle de Jour is the nom de plume of a high-class call girl who records her adventures on the Internet, though many people suspect that she's actually a journalist perpetrating an elaborate hoax. Indeed, several newspapers even "outed" me as the prankster behind this scam, a claim that went down very badly with my wife. She got the wrong end of the stick and thought I was writing a book about my relationship with a high-class call girl.

Last year, Belle de Jour landed a six-figure book deal, a fact which led to a renewed bout of speculation. The names in the frame included Erotic Review editor Rowan Pelling, a writer called Isabel Wolff and a little known author called Sarah Champion. All three have denied it. The book is being published on January 20 and, like most people who've been following this story, I assumed the real Belle de Jour would unveil herself at the launch party. This was the moment we'd all been waiting for.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this is going to happen. I've just learnt from the publisher, Orion Books, that she intends to keep her identity secret for a while longer, presumably in the hope of prompting another round of speculation to fuel book sales.

I can't help feeling this strategy will misfire. You can only keep people guessing for a certain period of time before they lose interest--and this particular game has been going on for long enough. I feel like someone who's slogged through an 800-page mystery novel, only to discover on the final page that I'm going to have to read the sequel to find out whodunit. Enough is enough.

Belle de Jour, the time has come to put us out of our misery. If you leave it any longer, by the time you finally do take off the mask no one will give a fuck.

LIBEL WARNING

Oh dear. I've spotted a libel suit waiting to happen. The director of a play called Sketching Lucian, a portrait of Lucian Freud, has sent a copy of the script to the famous artist. "I'm aware that Freud can be touchy and parts of the play aren't entirely complimentary," says the director, Mike Miller, "but he's said he's curious about it so the script is in the post. It'll be interesting to see his response."

If Mr Miller is under the impression that Freud will respect his freedom as a fellow artist he may be in for a nasty shock. I predict that the egocentric old monster will immediately pass on the playscript to his solicitors and ask them to threaten Miller with a libel writ unless he consigns the manuscripts to the flames.

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