Gavin Haynes' Sleepless Nights

Remember When the Brit Awards Were Amazing?

By Gavin Haynes

It's difficult to understand why people still watch the Brits. In their new, wire-scrubbed, professionally finessed incarnation, they prohibit the one thing anyone ever bothered tuning in for: pop stars making themselves and each other look like wankers. Currently, British pop music has no petty tribal feuds. Everyone gets on with each other too well. There's less beef than a Findus burger and fewer characters than Steptoe and Son. Which means that, these days, the Brits is really only useful as a sedative, something to have on low in the background as your £2 pizza goes stale on the plate and you distractedly refresh your Twitter feed to see if John Niven's threatened to kill everyone yet (spoiler alert: he has).

But as much as being stuck in a lift with Emeli Sande would only be interesting if the cables were to snap, no one needs Jarvis Cocker to go round wafting his arse at people any more. Anyone who's picked up a newspaper, turned on a TV or looked at the internet in the last couple of days will know that we have plenty of "Classic" Brits moments to be getting on with already. They're all folklore now, in the purest sense: stories that have become dislodged from their moorings in fact through sheer repetition, warped into half-truths by people who've never even bothered to examine the original footage.

They're a kind of newspaper folk art, a news-filler religion: crude drawings of mythical creatures that roamed pop culture in days of yore, revived once a year in free-sheet sidebars and blog posts written by people doing work experience at Yahoo! Music.

So here's a run-through of the Greatest Ever Moments in Brits History, from back when it wasn't just complete shit. At this point, I can barely remember actually seeing any of them myself, but I'm pretty sure this is the way things played out.

MICK FLEETWOOD & SAM FOX
Mick Fleetwood was a 9-foot tall man who most resembled Robert Wadlow's older brother. Sam Fox was a pair of breasts in high heels. And she needed high heels because she was only 2-foot tall – and that was mainly tit. Hilariously, the organisers had decided to pair them together. So you can guess what happened next.

If you watch it now, your eyes will swivel inwards out of cringey embarrassment, and your sphincter will fuse to itself as you wince through their lamentable co-presenting. Everything that could go wrong did. Mick forgot he was real and started trying to walk through walls. Sam's tits forgot their glasses and so they couldn't read the autocue. Jonathan Ross announced that Mick Fleetwood's mother had died on live TV. Jethro Tull's performance was awful – like watching terror porn through a gap in a chopped-up corpse. After that, the Brits were the Chernobyl of awards shows – it would take decades before human beings could even venture near them.

JARVIS VERSUS JACKO
Michael Jackson had planned to have himself reincarnated as the Son Of God on live TV. He was essentially going to topple Christianity and replace it with Michaelianity in British primetime. To this end, he had spent nine months digging nails into his palms in order to create convincing stigmata. He had stored over 10,000 litres of holy water in a reservoir beneath the concert hall. He had his armed goons stationed around St Peter's in Rome, just waiting for his signal.

But then Jarvis Cocker, the only sane and wise man in Britain, stood up to this bloated egomaniacal heresy. Climbing onstage, Jarvis inserted various objects into his rectum for nearly 30 minutes: starting with a brochure, and ending with an entire water decanter, until the sheer indignity of what he was doing persuaded Jacko that the time was not right to establish a new world order. Jarvis died as a result of his Herculean efforts (and the water decanter), but has since been revived and pronounced Christ Of Britain.

GERI HALLIWELL AND THE UNION JACK-OFF
While performing with The Spice Girls, Geri Halliwell wore a short dress with a Union Flag on it. But you could see her knickers. Everyone knew immediately what the implications of that were. Beneath the knickers, the flange. And beneath the flange, the softer bits of flange.

Scandalised, a nation could only look on agog as Geri preached a twin gospel: one, she was British. Two: she was a radical girl power feminist engaging in a kind of Baader-Meinhoff of knicker-flashing. Instantly, a generation of tween girls understood two things: one, they were British. Two: the best way to attract a man is through radical feminism of the sort Geri was engaged in.

PRESCOTT VERSUS CHUMBAWUMBA
In 1998, John Prescott was the symbol of everything New Labour had become: a government. They made policy. They spoke in the House Of Commons. They carried red boxes. A nation retched under their foul yoke. Until, that is, plucky anarchists Chumbawumba decided that the world would be better off if they engaged in reasoned debate with Prescott about the importance of labour market reforms.

So they got a big bucket of water. And Danbert Nobacon ran out front and poured it over the Deputy PM. Sadly, Prescott had them all executed for making him look silly, and so New Labour would continue to flourish in its evil for many more years.

ADELE FLIPS THE BIRD
Having been absolutely massive all year, it came as no surprise when Adele won the album of the year gong. What did come as more of a surprise was when James Corden came and cut her off mid-way through her acceptance speech. Shortly after she'd finished thanking God, her agent, her parents, everyone who ever believed in her, everyone who ever had a dream, the industry, Krispy Kreme, Len Deighton and the inventor of the minor key piano ballad, Adele's flow was cruelly cut in half by international hate figure James Corden. Corden told the audience that Adele wasn't going to be allowed to keep on talking indefinitely because even the universe was essentially finite.

Well, as you can imagine, Adele was heartbroken. She had been dreaming of this moment all her life. And that dream had never once featured a sudden coda in the form of James Corden. What happened next was essentially the final scene of Carrie writ large. Adele raised her right hand. She put four of her fingers down, in a kind of fist. She left one up. The middle one. That finger became a monument to sticking it to the man that would last for all time, a British version of RATM playing on top of the White House with Hugo Chavez on bass and the "indie guy" from that year's X Factor on keytar.

Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes

Image by Marta Parszeniew.

Previously: Why I Feel Sorry for the Pope Who Hung Up On God

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