Dead Set / Pitchforks out for Kerry Katona

As I write, I’m listening to Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie. I’m very fond of Satie, who is an incredibly imaginative writer, as well as a wonderful composer. However, the room appears to have shrank and, try as I might, I can’t seem to squeak out a crumb of humour as it’s playing, which is a disservice to the man himself.  My mind has been clouded over with Royal Dalton.  There’s something about classical piano pieces that render the listener hypnotically earnest. I couldn’t fathom a having a dinner party while this kind of music was on in the background. I’d imagine that even those not from England would lapse into affected Sloaneyisms. They’d voice opinions that they don’t even have on modern art, and I’d be stood there, out of my depth, wondering if its impolite to chain smoke in my own flat, ashamed of my Northern Irish accent that makes everything I say sound like a threat. I can’t ever say the word “knee” in any context because people stiffen and ask, “Did you say you were going to do my knees?” Jesus, of course not. I have family members to do that for me.

(I couldn’t have a dinner party anyway, unless everyone wanted to sit on the floor picking cat fur off their trousers and drinking warm Londis wine from an ancient cracked mug that was sprouting pale green downy fur).

Ah, Pulp! Much better.  

Yesterday, Rob, myself and my rather fetching facial herpes toddled down to Piccadilly Circus to attend the premiere of Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set. Some people had come dressed as zombies but I had no desire to relive the four days of utter discomfort in which I was so saturated in fake blood that I had to use a jack to prise my legs apart every time I got a spare second for a wee. I hung around in the foyer with my head in a trough of popcorn, occasionally having, “Oh, that’s her” moments when my eyesight wasn’t obscured by hot butter.

Dead Set is a short horror series starting tonight on E4 (watch it or I’ll burn your family) and gorily climaxing on Halloween. I had my reservations about it; the setup consists of the end of the world with what may be the last survivors battling for their lives in the Big Brother house. There’s the plucky runner, the bastard producer and the hapless housemates whom we hate on sight but then eventually grow to care for, or at least not break into rapturous applause when they’re ripped in half.

It could have been a compendium of amusing verb-noun swearing (“You fucknut! You complete shitbasket!”) self consciously signposted with clunky satirical swipes. As it stands, though, I’m surprised that E4- home of American exports like Desperate Housewives and uselessly frothy list shows- agreed to make it. It starts off as sharp commentary on the underbelly of television and then descends into brutal, kinetic gore. It’s relentless, tense, hopeless and genuinely horrible. With the occasional amusing verb-noun swearing. It also featured newsreader Krisnan Guru Murphy, who seems to be my generation’s Patrick Allen.

What always irks me about zombie films is that they never use the word zombie. If you’re setting a zombie film in 2008, then your characters would know what a zombie is. The skipping around it with “the undead”, the “living dead” and, “Oh fuck, it’s THEM!” is lost on me. Likewise, Dead Set followed the 28 Days Later school of shaky camera work, which is distracting and irritating because you can’t actually see what the hell is going on. Maybe that’s the point, but a few times last night I was confused when zombies poured in from nowhere and became a blur of blue skin and bad teeth while I struggled to grasp who, if anyone, they were eviscerating.

I really enjoyed Dead Set, if enjoyed is the right word for leaving the cinema checking the irises of people’s eyes. Oh, and if you want to see me in it, just look for a flash of pink hair at the end.  It was also a testament to the power of television.  I hadn’t had a fried egg sandwich in six years.  I’ve had two today.

After the premiere, we stopped by the aftershow party to sample its free bar. Through the glaze of wine I had more of those, “Oh, it’s her” moments. I haven’t watched a series of Big Brother in five years but I still recognise the housemates as most of them spent a while plastered on the front cover of Heat magazine. I strolled up to a few of them to say hello and they were all obscenely friendly and sweet, even though next to their blonde, designer litheness I felt like a full stop, given that I was dressed particularly badly at the time. I met Andy Nyman, who I admire an awful lot, since I’m a fan of triangle headed modern day witch Derren Brown. He’s about five foot five tall and I was quite grateful to drape myself across his shoulder for a photograph, feeling like I’d stumbled into the land of My People, those without thirty yards of legs separating their oxygen starved heads from the ground. I said hello again to the make up girls, the director and Charlie Brooker, and was quite flattered that they all remembered me, even though it was hard not to since I was sporting a pink mohawk and my breasts had been determinedly wriggling out of my dress all day.  They were also effusive and lovely.  I said hello to Kevin Eldon, too, who I can’t look at without imagining in a nappy (not a weird sexual fetish of mine, just something from The Day Today).  I don’t get star struck and generally speak to everyone in the same way but I was a little by Kevin Eldon.

Saturday was a good evening, too, being the first of two days in which I found myself pleasantly tipsy. I’ve actually been in a good mood throughout the weekend. Yesterday before going out I watched “Boy A”, in which a former child killer tries to rebuild his life, and cried my eyes out. It’s one of those dramas where you find yourself pounding your fists against the screen howling, “WHY? YOU COULD HAVE BEEN ALRIGHT!” and your neighbours ring the bell and ask if everything’s “okay”, and then you fall into their arms mumbling something about bridges. In my actual day to day life, I rarely cry, even if I’m very depressed. I’m one of those depressives who gets the classic “flat affect” rather than bawling. When I’m depressed, I look like this:

and my vocabulary extends to grunting and gesticulating. But sad songs and films make me cry like a twat. Even not sad ones. I cried when I watched Ratatouille. Something about a cartoon rat not being accepted by humans, I don’t know. It’s a METAPHOR isn’t it. Likewise, I laugh when I really shouldn’t. At my grandad’s funeral, the priest was straight out of Father Ted, dully intoning something or other about god. He occasionally hiccuped and kept referring to my grandad as “she” and I burst out laughing. When we were given the body of Christ (a wafer thin mint), it got stuck to the roof of my mouth and I was uselessly trying to prise it off with my tongue. It finally dislodged and fell into my hand with a tiny wet slap, so I had to shove it back in a swallow it. Regurgitating the body of Christ like a mother bird. Then I performed the trick that all Catholics forced to sit through endless masses in their childhoods know about; bow your head as though you’re overwhelmed with piousness and laugh into your lap. If people behind you see your shoulders shaking, they’ll assume that you’re so overcome with love that you can’t control your emotions.

You can’t do that in America, though. When I was there on an exchange trip, rather than pretending to pray on my own, they made me hold their hands in the air and stand up so I felt like we were in the Wicker Man and that the alter was going to split open like Predator’s mouth and reveal a giant wicker Jesus. Aged twelve and precocious, I had written an exasperated note to myself in the bedroom talking about how I didn’t believe in god anyway, and I had told them as much. They found it and subjected me to an angry tearful lecture. Ah, happy memories.

In today’s non-news, Twatty Britain has been dusting off its pitchforks and driving themselves into a judgmental (quite literally, in this case) frenzy over a TV appearance by Kerry Katona. She’s a singer and reality TV star that appeared on a magazine show called “This Morning”. It’s broadcast at about 10.30 after the Jeremy Kyle show so is therefore watched by those who like the sensation of being repeatedly punched in the face.

Kerry has manic depression and is being treated for it. This was the appearance:

To me, it’s immediately clear that she’s still under the influence of medication. She takes an antipsychotic (which are taken at night time) and got to bed late. It’s early in the morning and of course she’s still going to be doped up. I am exactly the same at that time since I also take an antipsychotic. In my past job, they thought I was an alcoholic as I’d arrive at 9am and still be slurring my words. You have to take that type of medication really early if you want to function in the morning.

Kerry even responds to the presenter’s tactless questioning by naming the medication she’s taking. And yet, even with this, she’s being lynched over here, being called a drug addict, alcoholic slut and bad mother. The video is on Youtube in different guises and each one contains a ream of astonishingly ill-informed, abusive crap. Here she tries to speak out and says that people are prejudiced against those with bipolar disorder, which, as we all know, is bloody true (and in every sense; we can’t do jury service and those of us with the severe form of the illness can’t adopt or foster or work within certain places like British defence organisations). And yet the article is still rollseyes. Even the more rational people who accept her explanation are saying that bipolar disorder isn’t an “excuse”.

I don’t have much affection for her given that she’s a vapid, frozen food hawking popstrel with the voice of a haunted five year old but I feel really sorry for her here and angry on her behalf. People are ignorant, and some of the abuse (like calling her a slut and slag over and over- isn’t it great to be a woman?) is like a bad day out in BBC’s Have Your Say (the internet home of, “Get back to work you fucking scroungers!”) and makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

As her protests aren’t really endearing herself to anyone, I’m expecting a sobbing Jade Goody-esque TV appearance sometime soon in which she apologises for somehing she didn’t do.

24 Responses

  1. Today I wrote a review of Dead Set for Amazon (DVD is available for pre-order so I thought I’d pay for the genuine article rather than taping them off ‘telly. I partly wrote it because there were no reviews posted and partly out of a smug “I saw it before it was on the tellybox”. Not very endearing behaviour but there you go!

    Anyway, your potted review blew mine out of the water as I found myself unable to express what I was trying to say. Curse you and your superior literary talent!!! (Well, not really curse, more congratulations, but I’m going for the bitter angle!).

    I thoroughly enjoyed it (it was abpve my expectations) but you are completely right about the lack of the word “Zombie”. EVERYONE knows what zombies are now! You can’t be all post-modern and just pretend that George A. Romero (God use of a middle name initial if ever I saw it) never existed.

    Otherwise, fantastic. The shakey camera stuff was all stylistic and I’m fine with that. It’s like when any adrenalin pumping terrifying moments happen in “real life”, it all becomes a bit of a blur. The only part of it that annoys me is that it makes it so damn difficult to pick yourself out from the crowd!!! The DVD is gonna get a lot of pausing and momts of “THAT’S ME!!!! THERE!!!”. 🙂

  2. Damn my spazzy keyboard and lack of typo proof reading!

  3. I agree with you about Katona – I don’t particularly like her, but I don’t think her past behaviour justifies this – people are doing the equivalent of laughing at a bald cancer patient. (Except having cancer makes you instantly a good person, being mentally ill makes you an unstable and a target for abuse).

    A group of people in our lab were laughing at her for being ‘drugged and drunk’ on TV – even watched the video clip on youtube. I told them (quite forcefully) she was like that because she was taking antipsychotics.

    Only response I got was “she’s on more than medication!” (Do these people have any idea of WHAT side effects come with psych meds?)

    If I’d had a backbone I would have responded, “well the first time I took antipsychotics I was a complete mess the next day,” but I assumed they’d treat me like a headcase being ‘overreactionary’ (and, of course, start wondering about what iillness I had).

    Oh, and the other good reaction, “She isn’t on any medications!” – Personally, out of all the medications, I don’t think people lie about taking antipsychotics.

  4. Hey, about the feed break thing, it’s a problem with WordPress from 2.1 to 2.5; newer versions do the Right Thing automagically.

    Here’s a plugin that fixes the problem in the problem versions:

  5. This is, It’s not my site, I don’t run anything, it’s not customisable. For that you download WordPress and host your own site. This is just one of WordPress’ simple blogs you can’t use plugins with.

  6. Mmm. Fact 1: I love your blog. Fact 2: I have been obsessed by zombies since the age of 12 (it’s a long story, but for now just take my word). Fact 1 +2 = you on a zombie movie, YEAH! Alas, Fact 3: My tv set doesn’t have E (just 3 really fuzzy BBC channels).
    (which is more or less what zombies say anyway)

    Oh well… Can anybody tape it (zap it? Mp3 it? blog it? hell, I am not sure how you say this nowadays).

    Zombily yours


  7. “Regurgitating the body of Christ like a mother bird.”


    It reminds me of the time someone asked me why I wasn’t taking communion. I told her that I thought it would be a bit tacky if I threw up the body of Christ all over the floor.

    Also, the bowing head / shaking shoulders — classic. I don’t know how many times I have had to do that, and that is even now as an adult.

  8. Typing in the ad breaks. Geez, those zombies are quick on their feet *shudders*

    I’m really glad you brought up Kerry Katona. I’ve been waiting for one of the ‘bipolar bloggers’ to say something and thought no-one was going to.

    I keep hearing ‘Medication doesn’t do that to you’ from people who haven’t got a f-ing clue. Prescription drugs are still drugs, they’re still powerful, they still have side-effects.

    >>people are doing the equivalent of laughing at a bald cancer patient.

    Too right. If it wasn’t widespread knowledge that chemotherapy made you lose your hair they’d accuse the patient of pulling it out herself.

    I don’t care much for KK, for much the same reasons as you, and she may well have a drink problem (I think it’s fair to say that in her situation drinking what might be a normal amount to other people wouldn’t help her) but the horrified laughter, the baying that’s going on churns my stomach.

  9. Doll I just wok up and missed deadset Please don’t kill my family hahaha!

    Thats the first time I’ve seen the interview with Kerry Katona when I first went on lithium I was like that one of the reasons my ex split up with me think she was embarressed (nice and suppotive eh?)

    Is there going to be re runs of dead set on E4 this week?

    x x x x

  10. you know my thoughts on the KK thing – the chance of my letter being printed is nil mainly because those at heat no doubt agree with the readership that actually bipolar is just an excuse to explain away being pissed. lame.

    Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie


    oh, i actually did jury service – i got called in literally about 2 weeks after turning 18. i think it’s safe to say i had bipolar at that stage but luckily for me i still got 2 weeks off work as i wasn’t diagnosed. it makes me angry though – do they think bipolar people don’t have a sense of fair or right and wrong? do they think we’re going to let all the murderers roam free? jesus, i have a politics (and philosophy & history) degree (oh fuck, i sound like nicky wire 😦 ) which i obtained *while* bipolar – you’d think that would prove my mind is vaguely capable of understanding judicial concepts. and i assume that for the vast majority of bipolars this is the case – it is perfectly possible to live a normal, rational life while bipolar.

    i can even drive – i just had to get a letter from the doc saying i was ok to do so – surely if they’re that worried about us the same could be done for things like jury service and the other things you mention?


  11. Really enjoyed Dead Set last night, good to see something different on TV, its probably the only thing that isn’t a crime/science/docu show that I have watched in yonks

    looking forward to the next installments

  12. You’re in a zombie movie? Fucking cool! But it’s not a movie is it, is it a television series or a mini series or a made for TV kinda thing? Hope we get in in NZ, I’ll be milking the bragging rights on that one! 😀

    Love ya, sorry to hear about your recent worries, but glad to hear about how quickly your peeps banded ’round you and took care of ya. You’re really lucky to have people who care so much, and they’re the ones that we stick around and fight another day for, non?

    Tara Anne Taylor (<—fucking sucky ‘anne’ middle name, god my parents had no talent at naming children!)

  13. Turned on the telly faithfully at 10 last night to watch it…all the while hoping for a glimpse of said pink hair…but could not really do the whole thing justice as bf phoned and wanted to talk through most of it. What I saw seemed fairly grim and pretty dark…ironically not so much the zombies as the ghastly reality TV show with its cast of human horrors.

    I understand it’s on each night until Thursday? Anyway if so I’ll give it another go tonight.

  14. I’ve always rather liked Kerry Katona but recently I feel she is not helping herself with how she behaves. I saw her performance last week I was not impressed and I have no idea if she had been drinking of not or if it was solely the result of medication. Kerry is not exactly portraying herself in a good light with the programmes that appear on MTV.

    Her recent one screened on Sunday cleared showed her getting blind drunk in Marbella a repeat of what has been seen on other programmes. She may have Bipolar but she needs to take responsibility for her actions as well and mixing alcohol with the prescription drugs she is taking is really a no no.

    Now I read on Digital Spy today that her ex husband is filing for custody of the kids after seeing her on This Morning and I think he will get custody if any judge just watches her behaviour on the MTV shows.

    People say her hubby has been a big cause of her problems and I would think they are right, she may love him but you can clearly see there relationship is not a happy one!

  15. Hey.

    Charlie Brooker wrote an interesting piece based on an email he got from a reader about Kerry Katona. Jist of it was is that just because taking the piss out of her celebrity was funny doesn’t mean taking the piss out of her ails is. I can scan it and email it to you if you like. That or find somewhere still selling the guardian

  16. I read it and I agree with him. It’s disgusting and yep, being a woman seems to make it all the easier to kick her. There’s an astonishing amount of venom aimed at her, and although all of it is depressing and nasty, the most depressing is the “slut” “whore” “slag” “minger” comments which are totally irrelevant and of the flavour that would never be aimed at a man.

    And if she’s not well, how she’s “portraying” herself is neither here nor there. It’s not like she can just not be mentally ill for the cameras.

    For those who missed Dead Set, download 4oD.

  17. There seems to be this idea that because she’s given the media open access to her life she’s surrendered any claim on our compassion.

    If she was hiding it, it would be OK but because we can see it, we’re allowed to laugh at it.


    If I slashed my wrists and walked down the street naked and bleeding I’d hope someone would try to help me, not film it for youtube kicks. (Yeah, that’d probably happen. Humanity sucks.)

    She has limited control over her actions. We have a say in how we respond.

  18. hahaha! bald cancer patients though -am i right?!

    oh wait…

  19. In Scotland us mentalists can do jury service and the sky has not fallen. I am bipolar, I have been called up, and a friend with schizophrenia has actually been on a jury, that sat for 3 weeks and bored the living daylights out of her!

    The rule up here is: if you are attending more than 1 appointment a week for your illness, you can’t serve. So multiple appts with CPN, or day hospital, or crisis team – no jury service (not what you want in that situation anyway). But otherwise, you can serve.

    I got discharged before showing up as the accused changed their plea to guilty btw.

  20. I agree, the interview and the follow up the next day was terrible. If they had proof she was drinking they should have used it. Without it they should have explained the problems people with certain prescriptions and medical conditions face when the public are ignorant about their conditions.

    The ignorance, particularly on the second, show baffled me.

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  23. wow i feel sorry for KK. I thought she was drunk initially but after hearing her explanation i believe her…

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