The Breakfast Club – A Depressing 25th Annual Class Reunion
The Breakfast Club, for those who haven’t seen it, is a hard-hitting John Hughes documentary that detailed what went on in an average American high school detention in 1985. The students in the documentary graduated in 1986, one year after the documentary’s release, and, like most nostalgic, middle age crisis sufferers, they all attend an annual reunion for Shermer High, now run by the son of former Principal, Richard Vernon - creepy. For obvious reasons I wasn’t invited to the reunion (mainly due to the fact that I had never attended Shermer high), but thankfully, I was free that night, so I decided to head down there anyway and find out what The Breakfast Club were getting up to these days. In my head it was research for a puitzer winning article, a real Human interest story; I mean, everybody loved it when Justin Lee Collins bought Grange Hill back together, and now I had an opportunity to do the same thing. Unfortunately, the Grange Hill reunion clashed with the Shermer High reunion, so I had to make a choice between the two. Eventually, after flipping a coin, losing it down a drain, and breaking my knuckle after punching the pavement in frustration, I decided, through a fog of pain, to head to Shermer High as it was closer to my house, and I knew the bus route fairly well.
Unexpectedly (well, not that unexpectedly), I was refused entry by the security guard outside the auditorium, who, I might add, was excessively aggressive in his insistence that ‘[my] name [wasn’t] on the list’. Knowing there was no way into the building I decided to do the next most logical thing. After the auditorium was evacuated due to a bomb threat, issued by a still unknown, and most likely very handsome, terrorist, I found myself surrounded by a giant swarm of middle-aged former Shermer High students. Now amongst the former students, I realised I had no idea how I was going to find The Breakfast Club-ers. Thankfully, I recognised John Bender almost immediately when he tried to steal my wallet. The, still floppy haired, Bender was gracious at being caught and only stabbed me twice whilst agreeing to be interviewed about The Breakfast Club. What he told me shocked me at how libelous it would be in print. So after many minutes of soul searching, the revolutionary inside me (no homo) sat me down, metaphorically, and persuaded me, again metaphorically, that the world should KNOW exactly what happened to the breakfast club.
So here it is:
Then: The Criminal / Now: On the run for Fraud, Embezzlement, Perjury, and Multiple Attempted Murder charges
Bender was always a criminal, and it was hard to imagine he had really changed when the cameras stopped rolling; even his symbolic one-armed salute (non Nazi, I hasten to add) wasn’t entirely believable. This was because he hadn’t changed. He and Claire eloped together a few months later, disappearing into the seedy underbelly of New York City. Before running away, Bender had stolen a swathe of important documents from Claire’s terminally ill father. After forging Claire’s father’s will, Bender assumed control of Mr Standish’s business and proceeded to ransack it’s finances, embezzling half the money into offshore bank accounts, and spending the other half on his and Claire’s drug habits. Claire left Bender in 1998 and disappeared again. Bender, meanwhile, was arrested on charges of embezzlement, which he denied. He was released on bail but arrested again moments later on perjury charges, which he also denied. After, eventually, and I mean eventually, being sentenced to three consecutives life sentences, Bender managed to escape from jail only 2 years later, having hollowed out a tunnel that allowed him to crawl through miles of sewage pipes to freedom. Now on the run from multiple law enforcement agencies, he had decided to return to his old High School to go out in a blaze of glory. He claimed he was ‘annoyed’ that the bomb threat had ‘outshone’ his prepared, now scuppered, Columbine-esque vengeance on the world.
Then: The Athlete / Now: Charity Shop Worker, Transsexual
Andy remained a star Athlete after the documentary, even earning himself a scholarship to California University, where he excelled on the University Wrestling team. Notable among his team-mates was future ‘America’s Best Dance Crew’ host AC Slater. However, after graduating Andrew suffered a mental collapse, that saw him undergo several successive trips to rehab, during which time he decided to undergo a sex change operation. Still just about in the public eye, Andrew’s story made major headlines and a tell-all book was released by the former wrestler. The book, ‘The Broken Fast Club’, revealed the years of macho intimidation Andrew had suffered at the hands of his sexually insecure father, the testosterone supplements he had been made to take, how his entire family stood by and ignored his increasingly blatant Rowntrees Randoms addiction, how he was beaten up at school for masturbating openly in the male changing rooms whilst shouting ‘Mr Winky wants to cryyyy!!’, how a string of homosexual affairs at University had not actually given him HIV as he had previously claimed, but it was in fact due to an illicit sexual practice with an innocent orangutan, and how he believed changing genders would grant him eternal life. Regrettably, his body, having been exposed to so much excess testosterone when younger, could not sustain itself after being flooded with estrogen, and collapsed internally. Andrew was left a genderless freak. His compensation paid for a wig and plastic surgery, but left his confidence shattered. He was last seen working in a British Heart Foundation store under the name Verity.
Then: The Brain / Now: Disciple of Gongzxlorr
We all remember Brian as the nerdy one that wrote the essay to Principal Vernon, which I might add, fell well short of the specifically specified 1000 words. Tut, tut. Brian apparently kept to himself after the documentary aired, becoming a recluse, as the shame of his virginity manifested itself incessantly, through the muffled sniggers of everyone else at school. Brian eventually found his way into teaching, achieving a passable PGCE mark, after wasting years completing a myriad of meaningless degrees online, amongst which he studied ‘Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows’, ‘Philosophy and Star Trek’, ‘The Art of Walking’, and ‘Cyberporn and Society’.Brian was entrusted the prestigious position of kindergarten teacher at Sherman Junior – the school offering a lifeline to its former highest achieving student. However, it was in March 1999 that Brian Johnson’s life would change forever. For it was on the 16th of March 1999 that he was arrested on charges of child molestation and possession of child pornography. He evaded capture for several months and even attempted suicide once, but the flare gun he was using misfired and blew off all but the littlest toe on his left foot. The charges were eventually dropped (reportedly after a plea of insanity) in exchange for Brian’s participation in an experimental lobotomy program, designed to remove all predatory sexual instincts from the victim…sorry, subject. An ill-fated, and formerly unknown, side effect of the procedure meant that Brian was also deprived of his only asset – his intelligence. Upon his release back into society, the newly abstinent, and significantly denser, Brian was quickly absorbed into a mid-Western cult, the Disciples of Gongzxlorr, who felt they would benefit from Brian’s ‘semi-celebrity status’. It was an unwise move that forced the, deranged, yet otherwise peaceful, cult to move out to a ranch in the country, rejected and mocked by all of society. There, Brian and the other cult disciples still wait; all of them together, waiting for the world to end (which isn’t actually a remit of the Disciples of Gongzxlorr, but just something they do to kill time).
Then: The Princess / Now: DECEASED / Formerly: Stripper, Drug Addict
They say that weed is a gateway drug; that if you smoke a joint then you’ll eventually end up on heroin. But just as easily, you could be stabbed in the arm with a dirty needle, and pumped so full of heroin, that you eyes pop, and bleed everywhere, as your body twists into a malformed husk. Either way, you end up a junkie. Claire Standish, unwisely and unwillingly, took the latter path. Having run away from home to elope with Bender, the pair headed to New York City, before disappearing for a few years. It wasn’t until 1995 that they surfaced as a married couple living on government handouts, and whatever money Claire bought home from stripping. Ironic, isn’t it, that she was once ashamed of being a virgin? It was during this time that Bender introduced Claire to Heroin, through the aforementioned method. After being robbed of her inheritance, by Bender in 1998, Claire couldn’t afford to take Bender to court and so slipped (read: dived headfirst) into a downward spiral of drug and alcohol abuse. It was such a drastic fall from grace that by the end Claire was drinking heroin and injecting vodka into the veins between her toes. She was discovered dead in 2002, having lain undiscovered under a pile of newspapers, for 2 years. The coroners claimed that it was a miracle she could be identified at all, and that it was only through dental records that the feat was possible. Rest in Peace Ms Standish-Bender.
Then: The Basket Case / Now: Living Beyond the Will of God, Billionairess, Possible Black Widow
In Bender’s own words ‘the make over Claire gave to Allison, changed her forever you prick’, and I am inclined to agree with this statement, knowing what I know. What he told me next was this: Having formerly been a social misfit, Allison found that with a bit of make-up she could control any boy she chose. She finished top of her class, and graduated with merits, distinctions, and even a merinction – something her professor made up on the spot at her graduation. It later turned out he was having a stroke. Armed with a distinguished degree and the malevolent charm of Cat Deeley, Allison quickly worked her way up the corporate ladder. She would hand out blowjobs left, right and centre, simply to move up a pay bracket. She became CEO of Coca-Cola at age 27 but soon left when she married her first husband, Steely White, an oil tycoon from Texas. Unfortunately, her happiness didn’t last long as Steely soon tragically died of poisoning, stabbing and shooting all at once, leaving his entire fortune to Allison. Two short rebound marriages followed, both ending in the Husbands tragic passing away, both due to almost identical cases of poisoning, stabbing and shooting all at once. Come 2006, Allison found herself with an estimated fortune of $1.4 billion and not a single police warrant to her name. Her wealth bought suitors and investors, the latter of whom were always warmly welcomed, whilst any prospective suitor poorer than Allison was swiftly turned away. In fact the only suitor to ever enter Allison’s mansion was Sheikh Abdul Jabeer Naseem, but he too was quickly ejected, when it transpired that Allison was an extreme racist – but the more left unsaid about that, the better. Her investments bought her more wealth, but also more fears: a fear of dying and someone stealing her money, a fear of the outside world that so clearly conspired against her, and a fear of gravity. The last record of formerly reformed basket case, Allison Reynolds, can be found in a National Geographic cover article, that detailed, in great depth, how she now lived inside a bubble in a specially constructed anti-gravity chamber, designed to let her live to the ripe old age of 406.
My 24 hours on ‘I’m a Celebrity…’
‘Freddie Starr is…sick! We…need…you..!’ wheezed an ITV producer down the phone to me. I paused a moment, solely for dramatic emphasis, and nodded my acceptance of his terms before sliding back and relaxing my head under the soapy foam of the bath. Upon emerging from the suddy depths I noticed that besides having a beard of Da Vinchian proportions, I also still had a question to answer, mainly because I hadn’t given an audible response, instead opting for a nod as quiet as a demon’s whisper.
‘Yes’ I shouted exuberantly down the phone.
‘About bloody time, how long did you expect me to hold for?!’ replied the producer, masking his excitement with feigned anger.
And that’s how it all began – my tenure in the jungle that is, not my frosty relationship with the ITV production staff (on a serious aside, I’d just like to say that I highly doubt any of the so-called staff on ‘I’m a Celeb…’ could even cut it on CITV, so what they’re doing in the jungle is beyond me). Anyway, Several hours later I was at the airport.
And several hours after that I was on the plane.
And several blocks of several hours later I was touching down on the soil…well, dust, of Australia – Britain’s problem child, and sadly proud of it (Ed. Is this racist?)
The reason for my sudden appearance of the jungle was nothing more than fate, sure, ITV clarified several times that Freddie Starr was deadly ill, but I knew better. Producers claimed that Starr’s (in my opinion over) reaction
‘Could be due to a spider bite, he might have reacted badly to a leech or a tic, or even a snake he hadn’t noticed. He might have reacted badly to the bark of a tree he leant on, or a leaf he touched in passing.’
The bold font is my own choice, but I think you get the picture. ITV were desperate to get rid of Starr at any cost and their haphazard press release just goes to prove that; I mean, spiders, leeches, and tics? He was under the care of Britain’s seventh most loved television channel (after BBC1, BBC2, Channel 4, Sky One, UK Gold, MTV, Cartoon Network) in the Australian jungle for god’s sake, it’s not like he was being babysat by Noel Edmonds at the Deadliest Insect exhibit at London Zoo – a sure hotpot of disaster. What it boiled down to in the end was that Starr was never the ratings winner I was, and I had the VHS of that episode of ‘Big Break’ I was on, to prove it.
With a minder carrying my luggage I made way into the jungle, looking around in awe as the early morning sun shimmered off of the leafy dew. I saw that the jungle was the real deal – there were trees, there was dirt, there were insects, and high above, somewhere, in the canopy were Ant and Dec, most likely making sarcastic comments at my expense – the Geordie bastards! That first day was wonderful. I met the other contestants, lovingly referred to as ‘guinea pigs’ by the production staff, took a tour of the campsite, settled myself in, and spent three hours on the phone with ITV lawyers convincing the Australian immigration service that yes, I did bring something to their economy; namely my raw charisma, my wry sense of humour and my animal magnetism (non-metaphor).
Unfortunately it was my animal magnetism (metaphor) that caused my first discomfort in the jungle as I awoke that first night to find myself covered in all sorts of creepy-crawlies. I screamed loudly, prompting TOWIE star Mark Wright to ask Lorraine Chase if she was ok. Lorraine was still sleeping softly so Mark turned his attention to me and asked if I was ok. I nodded quietly, confused as to how such a masculine yell had been mistaken as Lorraine’s. I’d seen Mark before on that god awful ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ program, but I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt but casting him spuriously aside
‘Awwite guvnor,’ I said, cleverly disguising my Bristolian / Surrey accent behind a thick fog of what I presumed ‘essex-ness’.
‘Ay?’ he responded quizzically.
‘Year, just finking bowt da bunse I’m a get from dis gig innit, it’s reem!’ I cursed myself inwardly for using the showbiz term ‘gig’, but I think I covered myself by using the now nationwide detested ‘reem’.
‘What are you talking about mate?’
‘Don’t you know? Just reemness innit. ‘ere get that grin off ya boat and get dis down ya reem greg,’ I said as I offered him one of the insects crawling over me to eat.
‘Nah thanks geezer, I’m alright, I was just checking youz was alright, I’m going back to bed now, need me beauty sleep!’ He laughed as he said it.
‘Dench reem innit’ I shouted back.
Mark looked at me and then went back to sleep. We wouldn’t speak again for the rest of my time in the jungle.
The next morning I awoke coughing as the smoke from the campfire wafted lazily over me. I thought this curious, as I had deliberately laid out my sleeping bag down wind only yesterday. It seemed as though 3 years of cub scouting had been a waste. Eff you Baden-Powell. Anyhow, I noticed Mark sat next to the woman from Real Hustle and waved at them. She waved, he didn’t. I had watched ‘The Real Hustle’ before and I decided that Jessica-Jane Clement’s wave had been just a little too keen for my liking. After hiding all my valuables (Iphone, DS, Herbs – rules were a LOT more relaxed this year…or I just hidden that stuff damn well!) behind a nearby tree, I wandered down to the campfire to get to hang out with my fellow ‘guinea pigs’.
Breakfast was a quiet affair, as Mark regaled one and all how he confused my frightened yelp with that of Lorraine Chase the previous night. As he made the others laugh, I made a mental note never to get stuck in a burning building with Mark as he would most likely laugh at my screams for help, rather than do anything useful. The morning fire was cheering me up, as was knowing that my valuables were safe from any ad-hoc heists, and seeing how Mark was boring everyone else I seized my opportunity and launched into a morning sing along with the camp.
Now, the word raucous is used a lot these days, but let me assure you that it wasn’t used once in this event, as my sing along quickly crashed and burned. No one, not one single person joined in, including Dougie from McFly, and he’s in a band!
‘But you’re in a band!’ I would tell him later on.
‘I know, but I was embarrassed,’ he would confess (also later on), ‘with McFly it’s different. Screaming girls don’t demand anything other than a catchy chorus and a pretty face. But sing-alongs? Sing-alongs need harmonies and a strong voiced leader to start them off’
‘I carried that harmony well,’ I would insist.
Dougie, without needing to nod in agreement, would stay silent in agreement. I understood him loud and clear.
It was my first full day in the jungle (and it was to be my last :-( ) and there had been no trials, no fun, and no sing-alongs (and not for lack of trying on my part, let me tell you!), and as the evening sun began to set, the wrinkles on ‘Benidorm’ actress Crissy Rock’s face began to deepen as the shadows caressed her leathery skin – at the time I thought she probably should have used a stronger factor sun-cream when on the set of ‘Benidorm’ – but this manifested itself as a whisper to former Jockey Willie Carson in the vein of ‘leathery old bag has probably got skin cancer!’. This coaxed a giggle form the excitable little leprechaun (Ed. Offensive?).
Well, anyway, an hour later I was escorted out of the jungle and put back on a plane to Britain post haste. Now, I’m not going to sit here behind a computer screen and sling faceless accusations around, but Willie Carson is the only person I made that comment to and he laughed. He LAUGHED, ok? Now, if Willie Carson then repeated that comment to a certain someone else, perhaps Coronation Street actor Ant Cotton, and a certain Coronation street actor didn’t get the obvious satire…then shoot the messenger! Do not shoot the source! Absolutely ludicrous I tell you. In fact I made all of the above comments – word for word – in the internal tribunal that ITV held for me. I may also have implied that I didn’t care for Cotton’s acting ability, but I’m an Eastenders man – it’s a given