The Disembodied Head of Neil Sean Just Wants to Be Loved

by Tom Jenkins

The rumours are true. I am but a disembodied head – the virtual made flesh. I, Neil Sean of the Metro newspaper’s The Green Room, Sky and Fox News and Travelodge’s former writer in residence, sprang forth from the lager-addled mind of an overworked subeditor with a hacking cough that could wake the comatose. I was just a crude pixelated head at birth, the virtual mouthpiece for bite-size chunks of celebrity tittle-tattle in a free newspaper. Then, one morning, I was brought into being by the sheer kinetic force created by hundreds of thousands of commuters simultaneously flicking to Rush Hour Crush.

Oh, how this lonely showbiz hack would give it all up – the parties, the travel, Darren Day’s phone number – for his own rush hour crush, his own shot at love. This morning I found myself browsing the lonely hearts ads again in the window of the Londis. Mine has now become so discoloured it looks like it’s been dipped in tea. Or dog shit. Tinder was a disaster, of course. Those clever guys at Sky and Fox may be able to work wonders from the neck down on screen, but turning up for a date minus legs, arms and a torso is a no-no, even in the so-called digital age. Perhaps they find it disconcerting to think about where the food goes?

So, I find myself sitting here alone, looking out over the mid-winter expanse of Balham, tucking into a steak and kidney pie and working on some fresh ideas for 2015 – fresher than this pie at least (Londis again). The latter half of last year wasn’t the best work-wise. Fox stopped calling a while back and luckily NBC came to my rescue, but that relationship is beginning to sour. My proposal for a TV adaptation of the popular family game Guess Who? was shat out by know-nothing execu-divs like an oily pinball. The book (Live from the London Palladium – as if you didn’t know) did OK I suppose, but I’m starting to feel like the door of the proverbial palladium may be swinging shut.

I think it might be the Twitter spat I had with ‘comedian’ Dave Gorman, the human equivalent of a brown leather training shoe with pubic hair stuck to its Velcro fasteners. He accused me of being a shoddy journalist who liked to pick on female celebrities for their looks. Apparently I’m economical with the truth. Well, excuse me but I think I’m doing ok considering I’m just a head. The truth is overrated anyway. The people want to be spoon-fed gossip like giant babies – it’s just that someone’s switched the food. It’s all TOWIE this, and Made in Chelsea that. A certain features editor told me I was out of touch, but that mouldy old carrot stick wouldn’t know show business if she fell through the stage of the Theatre Royal into a bath of warm champagne, with the ghost of Sammy Davis Jr on loofah duty.

It all started so well. Sky loved the fantastical backstory myself and the Metro gang concocted: a kitchen-sink-glitz upbringing under the tutelage of a showbiz scribe mother and a northern comic father in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, followed by an early career on the stage and even time as a ghost singer for Stock Aitken Waterman. OK, that last bit might have been dreamed up after one too many from the Friday drinks trolley. They said the whole ‘no body’ thing wasn’t a problem and something similar had been done before (clue: he wasn’t Britain’s answer to Will Smith after all).

Interviewees were briefed beforehand and the plebs watching TV were none the wiser, thanks to all sorts of computer trickery. Then Fox came calling and before I knew it, Jennifer Lopez was running her hand back and forth underneath my neck stump like a demented snake charmer.

Sure there was the odd jibe – they’re ever so laddish over at these big news organisations, always talking about “smashing” this and “ruining” that. “Oi Gamesmaster” would be the usual taunt. Our friends on the continent and in the Americas may want to Google Gamesmaster, and while you’re at it marvel at the fate that has befallen once floppy-haired presenter Dominik Diamond in the intervening years. It’s like he’s exploded and been put back together using pastry grease and spit.

I’m trying not to get too disheartened though. As the great Dame Shirley Bassey once said, “You don’t get older, you get better.” Love her, the mad old cow, but at the moment it feels a little like I’m trapped in a snow globe that’s being shaken by a snotty two-year-old, high on Nutella. All was calm and now it’s blowing up in my face. I’ve eaten the marzipan roof and now there’s nothing left, mother. Scold me. Hold me. Correct my spelling. I didn’t ask to exist, you know.

Anyway, I’ll just have a look to see what’s on the TV, put my feet up with a gin gimlet. Oh for fuck’s sake, fucking Miranda. What a …


Illustration by Daniel David Freeman

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