Books: Visions Before Midnight — Hot lolly |
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Hot lolly

A nature programme entitled We Call Them Killers (BBC2) had killer whales. A man played the flute to them. Until they move they look oddly like fibreglass models of themselves. The same applies to the Osmonds (BBC1), who were with us every night of the week. Nothing — certainly not the BBC — threatens them. The last time I cast aspersions on the Holy Family in this column, letters and petitions arrived by the lorryload from weenies and micro-boppers beside themselves with rage. I got a Snide Reporter of the Year scroll with two hundred signatures on it, some of them in cat’s blood. One little girl said that she hoped my finger would get inphected and drop off. The tots really care all right, and are ready to forgive the Osmonds their hideous cleanliness in the same way my lot used to forgive Little Richard the foam that dripped from his teeth when he sang ‘Tutti Frutti’. I can’t help feeling we got better value for our money, but no one stops the wheel.

The Osmonds are capable of some sweet harmonising and guitar-picking offstage, but on stage their act is utter corn — laborious mimes to playback, sub-Motown choreography and mirthless humour. Merrill looks like Philip Jenkinson and little Jimmy (once again the Bad Sight of the Week) must appeal only to children so young they can’t cut up their own food. The star, of course, is Donny. He is a cow-eyed, fine-boned lad of the type you see languishing angelically in a Boticelli tondo. His acreage of gum is a testimonial to the stimulating properties of the electric toothbrush. His line of patter is based on the sound principle that any reference to the opposite sex, however oblique, will cause its younger representatives to attain orgasm. ‘We’re having a fantastic time here in Britain. There are so many girls.’ (From the peanut gallery, a vast cry of ‘Eeegh!’.) ‘I have a confessiona make, you know? Yesterday I was talking to this girl...’ (Yaaagh!)

Interviewed by the dutifully attentive Noel Edmonds, Donny sweats like a hot peach ice lolly. ‘There must have been a time,’ ventures Noel perceptively, ‘when you realised you were being singled out.’ (Eeyaagh!) ‘I love it.’ (Aaangh!) ‘The fans want to get near to you.’ (Wheeoogh!) ‘I love it.’ (Mwaangh!) ‘You don’t mind being pulled around?’ (blaaeegh!) ‘I love it.’ (phweeyaaoogh!) The toddlers are practically suiciding off the balcony, flailing one another with teething rusks. The young in one another’s arms. Those dying generations at their song.

18 August, 1974

[ The original unedited version of this piece can be found in our Observer TV column chapter ]