Life is like a bowl of chips
I am back from a few days in Turkey (which was lovely). At the airport I saw a copy of Jodie Marsh's autobiography "Keeping it Real". Although it was almost £20, I couldn't resist and read it all cover to cover on the plane. Then I made my fella read out the best chapters every night while we were on holiday - he did the voices and everything.
As with Jodie's web log, I can't recommend this book enough. It's opened up a whole new, almost mythical world to me - the world of Essex, and particularly Brentwood where Jodie lives, is populated (I imagine) by girls with large breasts, long white finger-nails and blonde hair extensions, while "fit lads" roam the streets and the "paps" (papparazzis) lurk behind every car, waiting for a photo-op. It is a place of huge Footballer's Wives-style mock tudor mansions, and every other shop is a Pizza Express, Tanning Salon or B&Q. In short, its utter mundanity is what makes it so exotic. I intend to go on a pilgrimage to Brentwood...
Anyway, back to Jodie's book - which is amazing - a kind of break-neck roller-coaster through the desperate, clawing world of minor British celebrities, their bed-hopping exploits and their excesses. I recommend three chapters in particular - first, the appropriately titled "The Worst Mistake of My Life" - which describes in detail Jodie's disastrous relationship with Fran, a nightclub owner. Jodie dishes all the dirt - including Fran's alcoholism, his addiction to Viagara, the weird bumpy spots on his back and shoulders that never go away (she thinks it's down to drink, but it sounds more like anabolic steroids to me), his "disgusting" foreskin, which means she won't give him oral sex, the skirt he keeps hidden away as a memento from his former girlfriend (she surmises that he wears it in private), his infidelities and his poo-stained underwear - which she uses to humiliate him publicy. This chapter also contains reference to a rumour that Jodie used to "lick the bumhole" of one of her ex-boyfriends. Jodie never denies or confirms the rumour.
If you can stomach all that, the following chapter - "The Decision" - sees Jodie discovering she is pregnant and then deciding to have an abortion once she realises that Fran isn't interested in her. The first few pages of this chapter are very harrowing and upsetting, but turn the page and it's all forgotten and she's off to Dublin, hand-picking a male harem for the night (and then sending them home when she's bored). This chapter then goes on to detail her bizarre relationship with James Hewitt - it's all very "I've danced with a man, who's danced with a girl, who's danced with the Prince of Wales." When she kisses him, all she can think is that this man has kissed Lady Di. They send each other dirty text messages and photos - and have a night out at the posh Lancaster Gate Hotel (James has French cuisine - Jodie has a bowl of chips). Then there is a description of a mad car chase through London - terrified Jodie and James are pursued by a huge fleet of paps - who are driving dangerously close to her car. She doesn't need to say it but this is JUST LIKE LADY DI AND DODI!!!!! However, it doesn't result in an horrific accident, but instead ends in a whimper, James gets bored and leaves the club that night with another woman - Jodie realises that Chelsea and Brentwood are very different worlds and she is more comfortable table-dancing at "Funky Buddha" (a popular club apparently).
My favourite chapter though, is a kind of ethnographic study of the world of lap-dancing, early in the book when Jodie is just starting out on her heady ascent to becoming "One of the most photographed people in Britain". For 4 months she works as a lap-dancer in a London strip club. Although initially terrified, she overcomes her fear and becomes outrageously successful. It is rare to find such a coherent first-hand account of this world from the perspective of one of the dancers.
I know a lot of people mock Jodie Marsh or simply dislike her - and I can see how the book could be simply used as more evidence against her (there's an element of Alan Partridge's "needless to say, I had the last laugh" in there) - but I simply can't hate her when there is so much to love and she clearly wants to be loved so much. Who am I to deny her that, or anything else? I want her to be utterly indulged.
I want her to become the UK's biggest gay icon - an ironic joke that she herself is in on.