Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Maybe Denise didn't boob after all

Denise Welch

Like lots of people, I cringed when I saw 53-year-old Loose Woman Denise Welch, clearly drunk, watching the bubbles burst on her exposed boobs as she hot-tubbed with 18-year-old Frankie Cocozza on Celebrity Big Brother.

You have to admit, even a basic description necessitates lots of verbs and nouns which imply a serious lack of dignity; drunk, exposed boobs, Frankie Cocozza, Celebrity Big Brother ... it doesn't read well.

Welch took a hammering in the Press and online, where she was regularly accused of being 'disgusting', 'shameful', 'an old tart', 'an ugly midden' and a 'drunken trollop.'

The advice was pretty predictable and repetitive - 'act your age.'

So it was something of a surprise when she won the Channel 5 popularity contest last week.

She looked suitably sheepish when faced with the playback of that notorious pool party, as well as a number of other occasions when she'd fallen over, overdone the double entendres, failed to secure her clothing properly and suffered various other little topples which often come with too much tipple.

But she also looked so genuinely shocked and overjoyed to have won the show that my frosty heart melted a little, although the voices in my head kept saying, 'Well, it wouldn't be me.'

In interviews this week, Welch has failed to properly apologise for, or even look convincingly ashamed of, her CBB behaviour.

Though she admitted on Wednesday that Hot Tub Boob-gate 'wasn't my best moment,' she also said, perking up, "But I just don't think the nation should be deprived of my natural assets."

As for her children - for whom the nation had all, of course, been praying - she said they weren't particularly surprised by her behaviour, and told her, 'Mummy, we'd have been more bothered if you'd been horrible to someone in there'.

But she hadn't. Instead she'd been a mother hen, always throwing her arms around shaky young girls and nervous teenage boys, making sure they were okay.

She spent hours listening to other people's problems, empathising with mothers missing their kids and minor celebrities who'd taken a verbal beating in the Press.

I've thought a bit about my initial, sniffy response to Welch (and not just because I had a column to write) and I've concluded that the problem with her behaviour isn't that it was unacceptable or 'disgusting', it's that I have a stick up my backside about the importance of maintaining one's dignity at all times.

Actually, I've concluded, the ability to say 'sod dignity, I'm going to get drunk, loosen up and enjoy myself - even, gasp, when I'm 53,' is a rather admirable thing.

And I, like lots of other people in this judgmental country, could do with relaxing a bit.

I'm the sort of person with an internal self-control monitor which, certainly since my spirited tequila days a decade ago, never lets me down. I don't drink much, and when I do, I always know when to stop - before I start looking stupid or need assistance of any kind.

But what's so great about never looking stupid? Looking stupid is proof of confidence, courage, trust in other people, a willingness to show vulnerability which invites people in, rather than implicitly suggesting they keep their distance.

It makes people loveable and approachable - qualities which made Welch, the daft, blousy soft old fool, so ultimately popular in and out of the Celebrity BB house.

Despite her soapy fiftysomething boobs.

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