Ant McPartlin has his hand on my shoulder and things are happening to me. For example, I’m sweating in a strange place: my buttocks. And I’m unexpectedly aroused by Ant McPartlin’s hand on my shoulder. I love Dec (always have done), but I think I’m developing feelings for Ant. He’s tender, and his sense of humour is subtle. I can’t believe I never noticed this until now, of all bloody times, of all bloody places. I look round and Dec is picking at a dried ketchup stain on his tie. I look at Ant’s hand on my shoulder. He has beautiful fingers. My buttocks sweat some more.
I’m worrying that my perspiring arse will create dark patches on my dress. Oh well. I’ll try to keep facing the audience, but my natural tendency is to turn round and sing with my back to them. Concentrate Jodie. You can do this.
The audience is cheering and Ant McPartlin says ‘break a leg’ or ‘good luck’ or ‘go get ‘em babes’ or something. I’m walking onto the stage and the audience quietens down. My stomach shrinks and I think I’m near the middle of the stage but I’m not sure.
Simon Cowell is the first to speak. ‘Hallo sweetheart, tell us about yourself.’
I accidentally bop myself on the nose as I move the microphone closer. It makes a loud flumpf sound and the audience go fucking wild, man. Cheryl Cole simpers and wrinkles her Geordie nose. Dannii Minogue smiles like a bitch, or rather she would if she could actually move her botoxed face. Louis Walsh is swinging around in his seat, looking back at the audience, looking at me, looking back at the audience, looking at me.
‘Um. My name’s Jodie, I’m from London, and I want to change the world.’
‘Well this isn’t a Miss World contest, but never mind.’
So droll, Simon Cowell. You wanker.
‘What are you going to sing for us?’ Louis asks. Obvious fucking question.
‘Earth Song,’ I say.
‘Wow. Tough song. Good luck.’ Simon sucks on his pencil and leans back in his seat. Yes. He looks good tonight. That beautiful bastard. ‘Whenever you’re ready then darling.’
I decided I wanted to go a cappella, so here I am, going a cappella. I look at my feet for effect and then I look up at the audience slowly, for effect.
“What about sunrise?
I’ve started perfectly.
What about rain?
What about all the things that you-“
Oh shit. I realise that I’m no longer facing the audience. The audience are cackling and I’ve stopped singing. The audience are still cackling and I can feel my buttocks sweating. I look out to the wing and I can see Ant and Dec, both gesturing frantically for me to turn back round.
‘Er, Jodie?’ It’s Cheryl. ‘Are you ok?’
‘It’s not my fault I’ve got a sweaty arse! Blame Ant McPartlin! He’s done something to me! He’s got beautiful fingers!’ I look across to the wing again and Dec is having a seizure of giggles and holding onto Ant for support. Ant just stares at me, and shrugs Dec’s hand off his shoulder. I think he smiles.
I slowly turn back round.
‘I’m sorry. It’s a tendency I have. I don’t realise I’ve turned round until it’s too late – I’m completely numb to it.’
‘Well,’ Cheryl says, ‘why don’t you have another go. You started beautifully.’ She simpers and wrinkles her Geordie nose again. Simon protests by rolling his eyes. Dannii Minogue tries to move her botoxed face but can’t. Louis Walsh is leaning forward in his chair, eyes wild and completely mad. The audience whoop and chant my name.
‘Oh alright. Once more,’ Simon says, capitulating. The he adds, dryly, ‘With feeling.’ The other judges groan at Simon’s stupid gag but then everything goes quiet and it’s left to me to start singing again.
I start from the second verse, because it’s the most powerful.
“What have we done to the world?
Look what we’ve done.
What about all the peace that you pledged your only son?
What about flowering fields?
Is there a time?
What about all the dreams that you said were yours and mine?
Did you ever stop to notice
All the children dead from war?
Did you ever stop to notice
This crying earth, the weeping shores?”
I pause, for effect.
When I finally disimprison the chorus of ‘aah-aah-aaaaaah-aryeeyah-aahyeeyaah, aaah’, my arms are outstretched, and members of the audience pull their lighters out and sway them slowly in the air. It’s a rarefied and pretty sight. I look at the judges, and they’re all crying. When I start singing ‘ooh-ooh-oooooh-ooweeyoo-ooweeyoo, oooh’, the audience joins in, the judges join in, the people at home join in. Louis and Dannii hug. Cheryl and Simon kiss with tongues. Cameramen swell with joy. Producers call executives. Executives call the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister goes to the UN. The debt is dropped. AIDS drugs are given out for free in Africa. Rainforests are preserved. CO2 emissions cease. World Peace is declared.
I finish a repeat of the chorus and chuck the microphone on the floor. I moonwalk off the stage, and Ant McPartlin offers to buy me dinner. He sweeps me off my feet, and I peek over his shoulder at Simon Cowell, who gives me a congratulatory wink. You did it kiddo, he seems to say, and my buttocks stop sweating.