What follows are a couple of competition entries that didn’t get anywhere. Although now I can only see their flaws, its nice to have them on record somewhere and while I’m still writing the book its the most you’re going to get on here.

The first one is a bit old, so reference’s Cheryl Cole.

Sticks and Mud

The eternal contradiction of pop culture is that no-one defends it but it sells, and sells big. Millions of people fall over to denounce Eastenders as depressing grey brain porridge with the wit and sophistication of a Punch and Judy show, but it’s run for 26 years and still keeps spinning its tawdry web of misery like an immortal cockney spider nihilist. He-man ran for a magnificent 130 episodes and shifted countless lunch boxes and action figures but if you try and engage someone in conversation about him they’ll look at you like you just rode in naked on a rainbow surfboard.

X-factor is an interesting case, although being the very epitome of pop culture and drawing the sneers of everyone who would rather watch an opera, in the delightfully orchestrated move to, and sacking from, the American version of the show Cheryl Cole has all the elements of a tragic hero the subject of countless operas and classical plays; her own hubris sown in the first act being her downfall in the third.

It’s not just the accent, I mean of course the accent was always going to be the problem. it’s a cartoon Geordie parody that bears as much relation to the real thing as Pirates of the Caribbean is a historical document about the shipping lanes of the 18th century. American TV has subtitles for accents of other Americans. How can you be expected to be respected on a panel of judges in a country where the highest chart position was as a guest vocalist on a will.I.am record?

But now they know her name so and she can take another run at the American charts. She can return here the fallen angel, a figure we crave in our headlines. And Simon can add another wing to his house.

And we loved every second of it, some of us actually invested in ‘Our Cheryl’, some whooping at the success of the pin slid into red headed gris gris dolls, and some loving feeling of superiority sneering at the whole affair. But all of us bound by the common story.

Pop culture is the shared experiences of the global village, in cave men days we would be able to sit round the same camp fire and tell stories about the time that guy fell in the mud, or the time Gurp found a particularly interesting stick that was larger than the other stick he found yesterday and we would bond over that.

Now we sit around different camp fires in massively different villages.

Our pop-cultural fragments are the fragile handholds we grab as we hurtle down the gravity well towards the future. They are the flags we use to signal to each other. They are the short-cuts we take to other people.

They are as important.
They are our sticks and mud.

The second is the most recent and looking back owes quite a lot to  Kurt Vonnegut.

IV Blue

Welcome to the Earth Ivy Blue, it’s cramped, wonderful, dirty, quick, and, if Mayans are to be believed, irretrievably doomed. but if we are all sucked into an eagle headed gods nostril in December then don’t feel too hard done by – your first year on the planet is generally spent sleeping, sucking on boobs, and shitting yourself indiscriminately; I only get to do that on the weekends.

First of all, sorry about the name. To be fair to your parents neither of them have a surname so they had to come up with something from scratch. Yes, it does sound like a second string Batman villain but you see, mommy and daddy are something we call “famous”. Which means they don’t really have to follow the same rules as most of the other people they share this planet with (also see: “rich” in the handbook). Just be happy that they didn’t go for the alliterative option, like poor Zowie Bowie or Rolan Bolan, the twee like Apple Paltrow or Fifi Trixabelle Geldof, or even the plain old bugshit mental route like poor Moon-Unit Zappa.

It’s a very special year to arrive, 2012 is the year of the London Olympics, which is kind of a very expensive sports day that the entire world is invited to. There’s going to be all sorts of running and jumping about and in the end everyone will go home with some nice medals and London can use the big buildings it built specially for the Olympics to let people without houses to sleep in, or turn them into giant Job Centres or something.

You will have to excuse us at the moment Ivy, we got a bit confused about our sums so a very small amount of people ended up with lots of money and the rest of them didn’t really get any. Now the people that got the money are keeping it and not playing with us anymore, which has got lots of people cross.

Not that you are ever going to have to worry about this though, because your Daddy helped develop one of the most progressive forms of music that came out of the twentieth century, and your mommy wiggles about and peddles a water thin version of something called ‘feminism’ which is the brilliant idea that people shouldn’t be made to feel bad because they don’t have a certain set of private bits. Anyway they have enough money to make sure you never have to meet any of the cross people and your private bits will be nobody’s business, unless you put them somewhere you shouldn’t, then for some reason it’s everybody’s business.

Please don’t worry too much about the Mayan thing. the Mayans never stuck around in any major way because they were too dumb to realise that over-farming the surrounding natural resources would have major ecological ramifications, luckily were smarter than that now. I think.

Just remember, being scared is normally worse than the thing you’re scared of, you should only stroke most animals one way, and people are, generally, nice. The rest you’ll have a lot of fun figuring it out for yourself.

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