The Col­umn with Canon Rev Dr Rod Garner Good ser­vice worth more than star­dom

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WITH the prospect of ei­ther be­ing im­mi­nently nuked by North Korea or washed away by hor­ren­dous floods or hur­ri­canes, I did the nat­u­ral and proper thing and turned for help to the telly. Ini­tially there was not much by way of com­fort un­til I raised my eyes to heaven and, be­hold, there ap­peared be­fore me The X Fac­tor. The lat­est show (four­teenth sea­son if I’m not mis­taken) is back to get us through the gloom and I have to say it cheered me up a bit.

Lord Si­mon Cow­ell still reigns over all things.

A de­cent shave wouldn’t go amiss but those won­der­ful teeth came gleam­ing through the screen to bring light in the dark­ness.

For this lat­est sea­son he has toned down his Mr Nasty im­age and was sur­pris­ingly gen­er­ous in his praise for some of the acts.

Even the duds were spared hu­mil­i­a­tion.

Not quite a con­ver­sion of char­ac­ter, so to speak, but a def­i­nite im­prove­ment.

Sharon Os­bourne was also back on the panel, ra­di­at­ing the en­ergy of youth and flirt­ing out­ra­geously with the lads from Liver­pool, all af­ter the big break. She must drink mir­a­cle juice each morn­ing to look so young but trust me there will come a time when, even fo r her, cos­metic surgery will be in­evitable.

The two other fe­male judges also looked smash­ing.

I couldn’t re­mem­ber their names but their lip gloss sug­gested real star­dom.

And the way they took to the floor be­hind a con­tes­tant to do some nice im­promptu moves to a Bond movie sound­track put to shame all those cyn­ics who think it’s all rigged or re­hearsed.

Dear old Louie Walsh in his crisp shirt smiled a lot, said lit­tle and seemed to be dream­ing qui­etly of lu­cra­tive record­ing deals when the more promis­ing acts sparked into life.

Con­tes­tants still scream or weep, de­pend­ing on the ver­dict, and a diminu­tive grandma is of­ten hov­er­ing anx­iously back stage with a large hanky and a big hug in case the ship goes down.

What hasn’t changed at all is the fre­quent in­sis­tence of aspir­ing stars that they have to win.

It means the world to them and there is no way they can go back to what they were do­ing be­fore the au­di­tions.

Even to get to boot camp would be a taste of Par­adise.

I tend to won­der what their col­leagues back in the burger bar, su­per­mar­ket or call cen­tre feel like when ef­fec­tively, what they are do­ing from 9 to 5 is be­ing rub­bished by the next Ge­orge Michael or Lady Gaga.

A celebrity cul­ture has no place for the hum­drum and dis­misses rou­tine jobs as bor­ing or de­mor­al­is­ing.

Ok, some are (I did quite a few in univer­sity va­ca­tions and be­fore) but if we have the gifts or tal­ent it’s right to make the best of our abil­i­ties. But unglam­orous or un­ex­cit­ing work doesn’t al­ways have to stink un­less we choose to view it that way.

Tasks done well with a mea­sure of pride and ci­vil­ity can be a bless­ing for all con­cerned.

Pre­par­ing drinks and burg­ers (and thank you all you guys at McDon­ald’s Kew who al­ways make me wel­come and make ex­cel­lent cof­fee), stack­ing shelves, changing bed sheets, mend­ing a tyre or deal­ing with ir­ri­ta­ble cus­tomers at the end of a phone – all th­ese and more are nec­es­sary to make the world go round and to pay the rent.

Good ser­vice in any form is al­ways wor­thy of ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

Lip gloss and lus­trous locks add sparkle to a Satur­day night, es­pe­cially when the world is over­whelm­ing us.

But a gen­uine smile at the counter, a meal served well, a clean toi­let, a reli­able re­pair or a help­ful voice when we are in a fix should get our vote ev­ery time.

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