Pop culture 'heroes' different world over
I imagine that, for a British expat in New Zealand, there are many mysteries to which you must become accustomed.
The eternal-burning question of what compels a Kiwi to put beetroot and/or pineapple in a burger, for instance.
(Answer: because it tastes jolly delish, der.)
But it's mutual.
If there's one thing that I have had great difficulty in grasping, it is . . . Gary Barlow.
I can see you right now, face crumpled: Eh? Who?
That's exactly what I said.
Gary Barlow is, apparently, a former band member of Take That (Eh? Who? Told you this was mysterious). Gary Barlow is a non- Robbie Williams member of Take That.
If you're anything like me, your face is still crumpled. But the Brits love this guy.
Gary Barlow is everywhere.
Every morning, when I open Metro on the Tube and settle in for yet another tedious commute, Gary Barlow's face stares back at me.
Every time I watch the television (arguably, not often - aforementioned commute really chews into TV watching time and, also, I'M IN LONDON WHY WOULD I WATCH TV) Gary Barlow's face stares back at me.
Gary Barlow was on The X Factor. Gary Barlow was the brains behind Take That's successful comeback. Gary Barlow has got a blimmin' OBE.
(Gary Barlow has met the Queen. Whaaaaaaaaaat?)
I mean, I get it.
I'm sure Gary Barlow is very hardworking, and talented, and well done Gary Barlow.
I've just got absolutely no idea who this guy is.
But Gazza is just the tip of the iceberg.
When I see the covers of magazines here in the UK, the faces of many an errrm, megastar meet my gaze.
(Their gaze is probably far more smouldering than my gaze. When I'm in the supermarket I am a rumpled, tired mess, bewildered by any and all decision-making, incapable even of remembering how to form the word "salmon".)
Here in the UK, they are big fans of celebrity "reality shows" that verge on making the GC look highbrow.
(Okay, that might be a stretch.)
Celebrity Big Brother and this other one, where they send a bunch of people into the jungle to sit around and whinge and talk about how famous they are, were the talk of the town a while back.
So let's play a little game. See how many people you recognise starting . . . Now.
Amy Willerton. Rylan. Dappy. Luisa Zissman.
Yeah, me neither.
You might be wondering what on Earth this has to do with life in general. But not knowing who Lee Ryan is has serious consequences, I can assure you.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a pub quiz that doesn't include a pop culture section?
(Now seems as opportune time as any, to mention that my pub quiz team is called Quiz in Your Pants. Tres risqu.)
Nope, give me a real celeb any day.
Mike Hosking. Jaime Ridge.
The dude who plays TK.
Oh, wait . . .
The Southland Times