Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Apprentice: Our Verdict

Season nine of The Apprentice kicked off last night. There were all the usual trappings: Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights, contestants striding purposefully round Canary Wharf, over bridges, wheeling their little suitcases and the narrator reminding us to marvel at Lord Sugar and how he clawed his way out of the East End into a life of wealth using nothing but a wrench, a broken bottle and a dream.

If it’s possible, the candidates seem even worse this year. Sixteen businessmen and women all vying to win £250K investment from Lord Sugar himself. ‘I’m prepared to drown the others if I have to’, ‘I just won a ‘coldest heart’ competition for stamping on a child’s ice-cream’ – I’m paraphrasing but you get the idea.

The first thing to note about this year’s candidates is they all had utterly lunatic eyebrows. Monobrows, brows drawn on with a biro – this group have every type. It was distracting initially, but then we were into the first task.

Leading the girls there was Jaz who describes herself as ‘half machine’ (I couldn’t work out which half) and leading the boys was Uri Geller lookalike Jason who proclaimed, ‘my intelligence is like a machete’ (whatever that means).

Each team had to shift a shipping container’s worth of tat including: union jack mugs, Chinese waving cats, ukuleles and toilet paper in just one day. Cue lots of shouting into phones, taxi rides and massive amounts of ‘I’m talking, I’m TALKING, let me finish, I’m the best, I’m the tallest, my eyebrows are drawn on!’ and so on.

Jaz’s project managing style could be summed up as ‘hyperactive holiday rep’, with a demented smile and motivational speeches shouted into the faces of chilly, sceptical looking team mates, who clearly just wanted her dead. Whichever half of her was a machine, it went on the blink fairly early doors.

They got off to a bad start, with ‘ruthless’ Rebecca selling two cases of water for £15 and as the day progressed the team ended up wandering hopelessly around a boarded up China Town, trying to flog Lucky Cats to bewildered shop keepers. The in-fighting didn’t disappoint either with classics like Luisa exclaiming to Leah, ‘I’m in sales and you’re just a doctor’. Ah the topsy-turvy world of The Apprentice.

The boys team weren’t much better. There was Welshman Alex, owner of the most demonic eyebrows of all and who bore an uncanny likeness to Dracula. After accidently dropping and smashing a lucky cat on the pavement, he expressed concern that they shouldn’t carry the ukuleles into appointments, to avoid looking like ‘purveyors of tat’. Sorry Jason but I think that ship had already sailed. Neil wasn’t too bothered about the smashed cat, exclaiming ‘I despise cats to be honest’. Wow, who despises cats?

At the end of the task, each team had made a few quid, but had unfortunately spent over £4 million each on taxis.

Winning by £58 was Uri Gell…sorry Jason and the boys. Desperate to be noticed, Tim made a full-body cringe, self-promoting speech, as the underwhelmed panel (Nick, the newly coiffed Karen and Sugar) looked at him in violent disgust before Shugsy silenced him with a, ‘shut up, you won’.

The girls were sent to the losers’ café to snarl and point fingers at each other over polystyrene cups and then back to the boardroom where it was inevitably project manager Jaz who got the chop. She did admirably try grabbing around, like a drowning woman, momentarily getting hold of Sophie who, being Chinese, she insisted had portrayed herself as an ‘expert on lucky cats’. I wish I had that on my CV don’t you? Also, I don’t think I was alone in wishing Lord Sugar would give a lucky cat wave as he said ‘You’re fired’, but he didn’t.

First published by Cambridge News

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Five songs to add to your Summer playlist

Can you feel that? A strange feeling creeping across your skin and making you want to take off your jumper? It’s warmth! The endless winter seems to be ending, and the sun is finally out! It’s only early May but, without getting too carried away, we’ve suffered enough. I for one cannot wait any longer so, let’s crank up the stereo and celebrate the long weekend by throwing on some summer favourites.

Here are five scorching tracks to get you in the groove this bank holiday weekend:

1. Mungo Jerry – In the Summertime

An undeniably feel good intro, leading merrily into Mungo Jerry’s shaky voice, singing about Summer. It’s as if he’s been out enjoying the sun so much his voice has started packing up. What’s not to love about that? The sun is out and Mungo’s got women on his mind However, there are some troublesome ethics in his song, such as the instruction to ‘have a drink, have a drive, go out and see what you can find’ – no Mungo, that’s very dangerous. Or the notion that ‘if her daddy’s poor, then just do what you feel’ – suggesting a tendency for exploiting the lower classes when the sun comes out. Mungo, come on man, it’s a nice day, let’s not turn it into a crime scene.

2. Madonna – Holiday

Do me a favour will you? If you’re going away this summer, have this downloaded and ready to press play the minute you walk out of the office door/school gates. Nothing will bring you more summer joy than this Madonna classic. You’ll be like James Baskett in Song of the South, but with a whole flock of bluebirds on your shoulder. And some on your head. And one to carry your suitcase, in its little blue beak. A great song that makes you feel like going on holiday immediately.

3. George Michael – Club Tropicana

Following on from ‘Holiday’ – When you and Mr Bluebird arrive at your destination and put down your suitcase, he gives his beak a little rub, (that was heavy you cruel brute, how could you make him carry that all the way here? He’s just a tiny little bird!), let’s keep everything crossed that you’re on exactly the same holiday as George Michael in, ‘Club Tropicana’. This summer jam has it all. Free drinks, fun, sunshine, sun tanning, strangers taking you by the hand? (Hmm maybe not that bit George). A perfect summer Bossa Nova which makes you want to buy cocktail umbrellas and get a paddling pool for your back garden.

4. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime

‘Drums please!’ Is there anything that evokes a summer feel-good vibe better that this old school classic from our favourite rapper/movie star Will Smith and his jazzy mate, Jeff? No, I don’t think there is. If you could bottle it, this would be pure summer, distilled into four, smooth minutes of sound. Basketball courts, barbeques, washing your car and then driving at 2 miles an hour? That sure sounds like summer in Cambridge to me.

5. The Beach Boys – I Get Around

There are so many summer classics from this group, it’s very hard to choose just one. Their entire catalogue sounds like it was recorded by a beach, with a load of buddies hanging around outside the studio, in dusty cars, having sodas and other Californian-style fun. Beach Boy harmonies are world famous mainly because they make us feel happy and sun kissed even though, sometimes the lyrics are a little dubious. These guys get around. They never, ever miss with girls. They’ve got a car and basically they’re just going to do whatever they want ok? That’s the gist of it. Wa Wa Wa Oooh indeed.

That should keep you going for half an hour. Enjoy the sunshine!

First published by Cambridge News