World of Chig   

Departing Gest

Shocker! He'd been the favourite until 24 hours ago, when Jason Donovan overtook him, but now David Gest is out of the jungle! I felt sure he'd finish second, but he's fourth. The way is now clear for my new Antipodean chum to win. He came in my post today as well, if you'll forgive the expression. EMI are using Jason's newly raised profile to release a repackaged Greatest Hits on Monday. Obviously, I've had his previous Greatest Hits CD since it was released in 1991 (and that was free too, as my best friend worked for Warner, who distributed PWL at the time), but if the lovely people at EMI insist on sending me Jason Donovan freebies, I will not complain. (They've used one of my fave classic Jason photos for the new cover too.)

PS. After only 24 hours, this blog is NUMBER ONE on Google for David Gest's supposed maid, 'Vaginika Semen'. Result! Hello, Mr Gest. Lovely to have you here...

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This Saturday's X Factor songs

Six of the eight songs for this week's X Factor were revealed in tonight's Aftermath show, which also showed Eton Road packing their valises and leaving the house on Monday. (Farewell boys, sob, sob. Love you all, mwah, mwah.) The merciless plugging of MOR artists continues apace, with Barry Manilow this week. Christ on a bike. Two of the songs weren't revealed. If the MacDonalds don't get votes from the whole of Scotland for this song, I'll eat my kilt. (Happy St. Andrew's Day to you both, and happy birthday to Brian for two days ago. Twenty now. Old enough, if you know what I mean.)

If we learnt one thing last Saturday, it's that no one's safe, after Ben did two blinding performances and still ended up in the bottom two. That Leona/Ben final doesn't look so safe anymore, even though the bookies still have them as the top two. My ten pound bet on the MacDonalds at 12/1, before the series started, looks less stupid with every passing week!

Theme 1: Barry Manilow
Theme 2: Their own choice

Leona: Could It Be Magic? / Without You (Nilsson/Mariah Carey)

Ray: Mandy / My Way (Frank Sinatra) (Two songs on a stool with no dancing = doomed, surely?)

Ben: (Manilow song not revealed.) / Somebody To Love (a cappella) (Queen)

MacDonald Bros. (Manilow song not revealed.) / Shang-A-Lang (Bay City Rollers)

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Jan Leeming achieves her ambition

For the love of Vaginika Semen! Looking good Jan...

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Tomorrow's X-Factor songs

Only six acts left, with a theme of Number Ones, making 1,046 songs to choose from, and what do they do? They pick two thirds of the available options from Wet Wet Wet. Whatever happened to variety? Once again, the MacDonalds pass up an opportunity to do a decent, uptempo song, and once again I will say that they are doomed to bottom two status. If I keep saying it, one day it will come true. Not that I want it to. I just want them to do an uplifting, rocky song.

Tomorrow's Number One songs are:

Louis's two-ee:
Eton Road - I Don't Feel Like Dancin' (No.1 for Scissor Sisters)
MacDonald Bros. - Love Is All Around (No.1 for Wet Wet Wet)

Sharon's chanteurs:
Ben - With A Little Help From My Friends (No.1 for Joe Cocker AND Wet Wet Wet AND Sam & Mark)
Robert - You Are Not Alone (No.1 for Michael Jackson)

Simon's sidekicks:
Leona - Bridge Over Troubled Water (No.1 for Simon and Garfunkel)
Ray - Livin' La Vida Loca (No.1 for Ricky Martin) This will NOT be performed in a swing style!

I'm looking forward to seeing Eton Road do Scissor Sisters. I'm imagining Anthony doing his falsetto Jake Shears impression as I write. I imagine Leona will 'nail' her song too. So, bottom two prediction: Robert and the MacDonalds. Simon will save Robert, the Macs will be gone, and I will have to resort to my DVD of the ABBA show (thank you James!) if I ever want to see Brian MacD's lovely smiley face again. Sigh.

I won't be watching the show here at home tomorrow, so there won't be any real time updates. Enjoy!

(PS. Have you read the NOTW's 'revelations' about Eton Road and Ray? They rehearsed together before the first auditions! There are photos to prove it! Scandal! Not.)

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Time (Clock Of The Heart)

It's back to a female voice for the speaking clock. Sara Mendes da Costa is the winner, announced on Children In Need tonight, of the competition to provide the nation's timecheck, 'sponsored by Accurist' for the next twenty years or so. With a name like that, I wonder if she could record the times in Spanish too? BT could offer it as an alternative service. Anyway, she seems very nice, and her voice is warm, yet crystal clear and precise, which is ideal (and probably explains why she works as a voiceover artist).

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My lovely friends Jackie and Simon (left) have produced their first baby, today at 00:58. Well done to both of you and best wishes to baby Thomas!

(Artist's impression only. Actual baby may differ from the one shown.)

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I'd just like it to be recorded here for posterity that Aston Villa were third in the Premiership for 24 hours until this afternoon. We're not used to this. We're fourth now, after Arsenal won today and leapfrogged us.

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Tonight's X Factor

Simon's trio:
Nikitta - The Last Dance (Donna Summer)
Ray - Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
Leona - Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word (Elton John)

Sharon's pair:
Ben - I Don't Want To Miss A Thing (Aerosmith)
Robert - Always And Forever (Heatwave)

Louis's groups:
MacDonald Bros. - She's The One (Robbie Williams)
Eton Road - From Me To You (The Beatles). Four cheeky lads from Liverpool doing a Beatles song? Wonder where that idea came from?

Based on that selection and the last weeks' performances, I would expect to see Nikitta and the MacDonalds in the bottom two, or one of them plus Robert again. Nikitta's performance can only evoke unfavourable comparisons with Brenda, who did a brilliant version of the same song last year.

If the last three in this competition aren't Ben, Eton Road and Leona, probably with Ray as fourth, I'll be very surprised. How about you?

20:05 UPDATE (after programme one)

Bloody hell! Where did Robert drag that performance from? That was fantastic. I would put him and Leona as my top two; they saved the best two acts for last. (Leona still doesn't appeal to me at all, but her singing tonight was almost faultless.) This week, I'll stick with my pre-show predictions for the bottom two. Nikitta was out of tune again. (Louis must have heard a different performance when he told her, "you nailed it".) The MacDonalds were the best they've ever been, but everyone else except Nikitta was better. The decision will be Sharon's. Hard to predict.

The bigger question is...why have ITV swapped Millionaire and Family Fortunes around?

I feel sorry for Nikitta, but once again it was the right decision tonight. When three acts were left, including Ray, I was gobsmacked that it wasn't the MacDonalds and Nikitta in the bottom two. I thought Ray was great - again. Anyone have any ideas why he didn't get the public's votes?

Next week's guests are Westlife, with Number Ones the theme. The MacDonalds could do Mull Of Kintyre...

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World's Oldest Woman Found In London Today

"How long have you been coming?", asked the BBC's Clare Balding this morning, as she thrust her microphone in the face of an elderly woman watching the Lord Mayor's Show in London. "Every year," replied the spectator, "since it started."

To be fair, she was looking pretty good for an 800 year-old.

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Don't say you haven't been warned!

An absolute gem, courtesy of today's Popbitch mailing.
Isn't that 'sick man' John Waters?!

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He never said.

Well, well, well. It was only a month ago yesterday that I met and chatted to the lovely Jason Donovan, and now he's immediately the bookies' favourite to win I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! Funny, he didn't mention it.

Once again, it's a strange, yet possibly brilliant, mix of people, but at least there's only one I've never heard of. Step forward, Phina Oruche! Jan Leeming fulfils the Jenny Frost role by being of minor interest to Eurovision fans. She hosted Eurovision in 1982, after Buck's Fizz had brought the contest home to, er, Harrogate.

I like Myleene Klass rather a lot, Toby Anstis is a decent bloke, and David Gest is, er, unusual. TV addicts may recall that all three of these featured in a programme together only a few weeks ago; five's Friday night variety contest for celebs. Myleene co-hosted, Toby was a contestant (as a dancer) and David was a guest judge. Mr. Gest has already put up with Liza Minelli, so a few bugs and snakes shouldn't be any problem. The second best contestant (after Jason) is surely Matt Willis, fulfilling the Antony Costa ex-boyband role. From The Priory to the jungle - it should be very entertaining, especially when they're allowed alcohol. Lauren Booth has the potential to make Tony Blair's exit a little sooner than he planned, if she spills any family secrets; she's his sister-in-law.

Finally, I wonder if Faith Brown has learnt to 'do' anyone new since Maggie Thatcher? We'll find out next week. I'm hooked already.

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Giant, killed

Manchester United are three points clear at the top of the Premiership.
They are the holders of the Carling Cup.

Southend United are struggling, three points astray at the very bottom of the next league down, the Championship.

Yesterday, Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated twenty years in charge of Man United, in an age where the average length of tenure for a Premiership manager is just over one year. So how did his team of pampered millionaires repay him tonight in their Carling Cup game? They were knocked out, 1-0 at Southend.

Unbelievable. That's one of the most amazing results in the 47 years of the competition.

My friend Joe, a Southend supporter, was at the game and rang me afterwards. I think he was still in shock.

(PS. Continuing the theme of the previous post, Man United had a David Jones playing for them tonight.)

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Keeping Up With The Joneses

It's time to stop being coy. Please feel free to come forward with your guesses for the Jones quiz below. I know you know most of them, but only nine have been named (or hinted at enough that I know you know, if you see what I mean). I'll give some clues for the remaining eleven.

The correct answers so far:

8 = Quincy Jones. Correctly guessed by Simon.
9 = Jesus Jones, which Simon also knew.
10 = Donell Jones. Good guess, Mike!
14 = Shirley Jones (shown with David Cassidy). Mike clearly knew this one. I wouldn't have had a clue. The Partridge Family's TV show was just a little too early for me.
15 = Paul Jones of Manfred Mann. What a stunner he was too. Well done Mike again.
17 = Mick Jones of The Clash. Mike correct again.
18 = Norah Jones. Mike again.
19 = Tom Jones. He was first on the organisers' list to entertain the Joneses last Friday, until someone pointed out that he was born Thomas Jones Woodward. He was crossed off the list and not allowed to attend. Whereas...
20 = David Bowie, born David Jones, as Mike and Simon both knew. He would have been able to attend, but I've no idea if he did. I didn't include his namesake, Davy Jones from The Monkees. I thought twenty Joneses was more than enough!

Now some clues for the others:

1, 2 & 3: Oh come on, just name them. You don't need clues.
4: Drawing a blank on this German duo?
5: Just the one freshly squeezed meteorological hit.
6: Knows 13 and 19 pretty well, the pretty boy.
7: No New Songs, just the 80s revivalist tours.
11: But did she mean with Di or Camilla?
12: He's a handy man with good timing.
13: Very close to 6 and also a hit with 19.
16: Without her sisters, but on the Queer As Folk soundtrack. (Yes, the picture is from this year's Manchester Pride!)

Go, go, go!

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Have you recorded the weekend's X Factor shows, either on DVD or on tape? My sister's DVD recorder has apparently failed to record them, so now I don't have a copy of the programme to send to my friend in Sweden, as I promised. I will pay for a copy in either format!

Yours, in desperation,

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Tonight's X Factor challenge

Here's a brief checklist for tonight's X Factor. See how many you can tick off.

1) Louis tells a performer that 'you really owned that stage'. (Not sure. Did he?)
2) Simon overstates Leona's talent. (Yes!)
3) Louis says of Ray that 'the mammies love him'. (Possibly not, for the first time.)
4) The MacDonald Bros. disappoint yet again, because useless Louis has assigned them a slow song AGAIN (ie. Fernando), when what they really should be doing is a rocky, up-tempo number (ie. Voulez-Vous?, Does Your Mother Know?), in their own style and their own clothes (ie. jeans and leather/denim jackets). (Yes, sadly I was right. They'll be in the bottom two.)
5) Ashley sings out of tune AGAIN and gets away with it AGAIN. (Yes! Verses were okay, but choruses flat as pancakes. Also fluffed the words slightly AGAIN.)
6) A judge tells a contestant that 'you made that song your own'. (Yes! Louis said it to Ben.)
7) Everyone mispronounces the name of tonight's special guest, Björn Ulvæus. It rhymes with 'churn', not with 'worn', but will anyone manage it? He's only been famous for 32 years... (Yes, sadly, Kate Thornton gets it wrong every time.)8) Eton Road do one of the best performances again, but Simon slags them off unjustifiably, because he's really worried they're going to win. (Yes, again.)

I've already had texts from my Swedish friend, asking me to send a copy of tonight's programme over to Helsingborgs for him.

Here's what they're all singing in tonight's Abba special:

Simon's team:
Nikitta - Dancing Queen
Ray - Waterloo
Leona - Chiquitita (She didn't know the song before this week.)
Ashley - The Winner Takes It All (He didn't know this one before either.)

Sharon's pair:
Ben - S.O.S.
Robert - Take A Chance On Me

Louis's groups:
Eton Road - Does Your Mother Know? (So suitable, musically and lyrically!)
MacDonald Bros. - Fernando

I'm looking forward to that Eton Road performance. They're really starting to impress me.

Does anyone know if there's some repackaged Abba 'product' coming out soon? I'm not aware of any. (Update: Yes, there is. Thanks to Ice in the comments box. An album called 'Number Ones' is out on Monday. It contains their nine number ones and 22 other tracks. Everyone already has Abba Gold. Why bother?)

If not, this week is a welcome break So, this week is a continuation of the blatant album plugging that's dictated the themes and special guests so far. Here's the evidence:

Week 1 guest: Lionel Richie: Album released five weeks earlier. Single released three weeks before the show - failed to make the top 40.
Week 2 guest: Rod Stewart: New album released two days later.
Week 3 guest: Tony Bennett: New album released two days later.
Week 4 guest: Björn Ulvæus: Yet another repackaging of Abba's hits released two days later.
Week 5 guest: Rumoured to be Julio Iglesias, who has a new album out on Monday. What will the contestants sing? Seven versions of Begin The Beguine?

I think I'll consult the album release schedules for the next few weeks, to see who the rest of The X Factor's guests will be.

UPDATE (after programme one):

My scores for tonight's performances (out of ten):
Nikitta = 5 (Flat all the way through.)
Eton Road = 8 (Excellent, sexy and in tune, although sometimes they look a bit like 'The Odd One' and his backing group.)
Robert = 7 (Based on the reprise - I had a phone call when he was on!)
Leona = 6 (I just don't like her style of singing, but I'm trying to be objective.)
MacDonald Bros. = The blond one rescues them again vocally, but this was as karaoke as I'd feared and that guitar solo was weird. I love this two, but I wish they could shine.)
Ray = 9 (Amazing! Thoroughly professional, confident performance. Great to hear Waterloo done in a totally different (swing) arrangement. It worked!
Ben = 9.5 (I wrote down 'sounds like Meat Loaf' before the judges said it, and I meant it in a good way. This was superb.)
Ashley = 5.5 (Okay verses, but lost the tune in the choruses. He's okay on the low notes, but not in the high notes. For some reason, Sharon says the complete opposite of this. Does she know the difference between high and low? He also forgot the words at the end. During the song, he also sang 'about WHAT we've gone through' twice, which just grates when we all know the words of Abba songs so well and know it's 'about THINGS we've gone through'.)

My bottom two: Nikitta and Ashley, but it'll probably be Nikitta and the MacDonald Bros. Simon will save Nikitta, Louis will save the boys, and then Sharon will be torn, because she has criticised both acts, but she'll send Nikitta home, for the sake of reducing Simon's four acts. Hopefully. It's gonna be tense!

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Today in Cardiff, there's a gathering of Joneses going on. They're attempting to get 2,000 people called Jones together, including the scrumptious Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones (left), who is co-hosting. (Blue Peter has suddenly experienced a resurgence of popularity in Chig Mansions, since I've been off sick.) This will smash the world record for the most people with the same name gathered in one place, which currently stands at 583 Norbergs. They met up in a place that's also called Norberg, in Sweden, and sang a song about the Norbergs too. As you would.

You can see the BBC's video report on today's record attempt here. (Click on 'BBC News in audio and video' at the top, then 'Entertainment' in the drop-down menu.) The reporter is Emma Jones (of course), but the man organising the event is called Hughes. Huh?

I've just rung my friend Simon, fellow blogger of these parts, and asked him if he's in Cardiff with his namesakes, but he isn't. He did say that several people have asked him the same question today. He has promised to write something later about this momentous gathering of his extended family. (No pressure then, Si!)

The entertainment in Cardiff today is all being provided by artists called Jones, including the scary woman in picture number 1 below. I'm not sure if they'll be emulating the Norbergs and singing any songs about the Joneses, but they certainly have a few to choose from. Here's Chig's Chart of Jones hits, which includes all twelve UK top 40 hits with Jones in the title, according to As you can see, there are some Scandinavians currently at the top of this pile as well. Aqua had a Norreen and a Nystrøm, but no Norberg.

Position - (Original Chart Peak) - Title - Artist - (Year)

01 (01) Doctor Jones - Aqua - 1998
02 (04) The Ballad of Tom Jones - Space with Cerys of Catatonia - 1998
03 (05) Nathan Jones - The Supremes - 1971
04 (07) Angela Jones - Michael Cox - 1960
05 (12) Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul - 1973
06 (15) Nathan Jones - Bananarama - 1988
07 (17) Jones vs. Jones - Kool & The Gang - 1981
08 (24) Delilah Jones - The McGuire Sisters - 1956
09 (26) Jonestown Mind - The Almighty - 1995
10 (28) Mr. Jones - Counting Crows - 1994
11 (31) Tom Jones International - Tom Jones - 2002
12 (32) Me and Mrs. Jones - Freddie Jackson - 1992

And now, it's time, once again, for the Friday Fun Pop Quiz! Two weeks on the trot! (Please make the most of this, while I'm off work. This has taken bloomin' ages to prepare. The words 'rod', 'own' and 'back' have been muttered.)

Here are twenty hitmakers called Jones, in one way or another. (It's a bit cheeky!) They've all had top 40 hits in the UK, but not necessarily under the name of Jones. (Tee hee.) Can you name them? In the comments box please. As many as you like, but if you do happen to know them all, please just name a handful and let some others have a go. Thank you kindly. Answers from you by Monday night at the latest. I'll fill in any gaps on Tuesday. Have a good weekend!

Name the Joneses
(Ignore the well-known man in number 14 - it's the woman we're after.)

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Now we are...

Who would have thought, when I wrote the words, 'My first attempt!' here in the early hours of Friday 2 November 2001, that I'd still be here five years later, churning out irrelevant nonsense? Not me, probably. That week in 2001, I had just been to see Soft Cell at Birmingham Academy, and wrote about it. Last week, five years and three days later, I was in the very same venue watching Lordi. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose...

Happy Birthday dear blog and a big thanks to all those people who have given technical assistance and comments, both here and in the real world. I remain convinced that there are about about six people who read this regularly, even though viewing figures are higher than ever. I'm not fooled. Be warned, if you ever mention a certain Russian pretty boy singer, an ex-Brookside actor and last year's X Factor winner, you are destined to receive dozens of visitors per day, for months without end, it seems. None of them stay; they're just looking for pictures of Dima, Phil and Shayne. Damn! I've mentioned them again.

Two separate people said to me over the Summer words to the effect of, "I often look at your blog to see what you're up to" and I had to tell them that this isn't a very reliable source to see what I'm up to at all. If this blog was representative of my life, I'd be very concerned! It's very random, and it's a fair bet that the more I'm doing, the less is happening on here. If I'm not doing much, there's more time to write nonsense here (except when the 'not doing much' means 'ill in bed'). However, I'm grateful that those friends are reading. I'm grateful that you are reading. Yes, you. Hell, I'm grateful that anyone is reading, especially when you leave comments, because the feedback is what makes it all worthwhile.

Here's to five more years, if we can get the thyroxine levels stabilised...

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It's All Saints' Day... here's the video for Rock Steady.

The single is out next week, 6 November, according to Amazon here. Someone should tell All Saints' official website, which seems to think the single was released on 18 September. (Go to the Music tab, then Singles.) Yes, that's September. Marketing people, huh? You just can't get the staff...

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