Where are they now?
As fireworks exploded triumphantly over the Thames and midnight struck, Big Ben bellowed 12 defiant gongs to the world. The very epitome of “strong and stable” in the post-truth era, the intimidating battle cry somewhat undermined by the zimmer frame of scaffolding propping him up, he marshalled in a new year most hoped would be slightly less farcical than the last.
It wasn't just that 2018 saw scientists apply a doomsday clock to our planet, but also global political chaos, a gigantic Facebook privacy scandal, the rise and fall of various crypto-currencies, the leaders of the US and North Korea publicly comparing dingles and most worryingly, Bros staging a comeback.
As real news threatened to outdo satire in absurdity and fake news threatened to outdo real news in reach, a bewildered Great Britain staggered drunkenly through Brexit into 2019, bleary eyed and looking for the edge of a table to lean on (though the consensus of top economists is we're going to knock over a few more pint glasses and throw up in the back of a taxi before we make it home safely, so strap in...)
Since 2018 saw all semblance of normality, reason and journalistic integrity left floating down the river like a spent firework, let's look at some of the most iconic public figures of recent years and, in the hope of unlocking the secretes to our future, ask, “where are they now?”...
Throughout the 90s, Alan Titchmarsh was one of TV's most enduring hard men. The gruff Yorkshireman cut his teeth presenting the Chelsea Flower Show for the BBC but didn't truly become a household name until both Gardener's World and Ground Force propelled his no-nonsense, tough guy persona into the stratosphere. His imposing stature and propensity for secateurs quickly landed him the moniker Alan The Blade, whilst his bellowed catchphrase “Fucking weeds!!” became an instant classic amongst viewers young and old. They tuned in in record numbers to see him dispensing horticultural justice to unwitting flora and a reader's poll in Gardening Monthly magazine revealed “one HUNDRED percent of readers” wanted to have “sex”, “sexual intercourse” or “sexy times” with him - “...even the men and the lesbians” proclaimed a mud-caked Titchmarsh on a subsequent edition of Ground Force.
After a particularly fiery episode of Gardener's World where he called a wayward geranium a slag before dispatching it with a Flymo, he became bookies' favourite to play the next James Bond. Confounding an expectant public like slugs after his lettuce, Alan opted instead to parlay his reputation for tough talk and violence into another sweet presenting gig, this time on Songs of Praise. By aligning himself with the top boy himself, Alan's ascent to near untouchable status was complete.
The legendary brawler's since descended only periodically to kick the shit out of a Ming vase on the Antiques Roadshow and headbutt a macaroon on the Great British Bake Off, but the nation takes comfort just knowing he's watching over us if it all goes south.
Since the early 2000s, social hand-grenade Jordan (played to perfection by shy, retiring Katie Price) provided the public with one of its most enduring soap opera characters. Her storylines were the stuff of tabloid dreams, replete with celebrity spats, love triangles, illegitimate kids, booze, botox, drugs, sex and Peter Andre. A mainstay of the gossip columns, for every admirer of her candour and business savvy, ten detractors took issue at the trail of destruction she left in her wake. It wasn't so much the trail of destruction itself, but her apparent desperation to sell everyone tickets to it.
Somehow finding time between the public feuds with exes, ex friends and x-list celebs to spill all in a hundred interviews about just why it was they were all bastards and why exactly she'd probably never probably shag them again probably, she also managed to notch up three short-lived marriages, five elaborately-named children, a couple of serious driving convictions, one bankruptcy (of an estimated £45 million estate) and many, many books; some are autobiographies, the rest novels, all presumably writted worser and more difficulter to read than this last sentence.
But then it happened. Last year Katie Price finally revealed her hand to a stupefied public. Far from watching a life off the rails, it seems we'd been witnessing a genius at work, using her own hard-fought fame as a petri dish - In 2018, Professor Katrina Price was finally awarded the Nobel Science Prize for her continued research into Chaos Theory. Her 2004 exposé, “Jordan: Pushed To The Limit” is now widely regarded as the quintessential thesis on entropy. Fellow academic Dr. Angela Boundscroft Phd. summed up the esteem of the scientific community at a recent forum. “For years a true understanding of entropy has remained beyond our limited grasp. It describes an innate lack of predictability as order turns to disorder, whether at a systematic or molecular level. By its essence it therefore eludes our efforts to predictably harness its huge potential power, but Jordan... I mean Katie Pri... sorry, Professor Katrina Price, she was the first to truly master it, to make chaos predictable. Her 338 page paper Love, lipstick and Lies is the reason many of us work in this field; it's landmark research. I mean, she's fallen out with the entire cast of Hollyoaks during the prologue and by the second chapter she's had her tits done more times than she's had hot meals.... It seems it was neck and neck but then she skipped lunch....”
Now working alongside top nuclear physicists at CERN in Geneva, the former glamour model hopes to unlock the secrets of the universe with her research into atomic particle theory and whilst New Scientist's gain may be Heat's loss, the gossip columns probably won't have to wait long as she's just started banging the bloke with the keys to the Large Hadron Collider....
Pitt's marriage to Angelina Jolie crumbled in 2016 when she discovered he'd been leading a double life the likes of which Tyler Durden would be proud. Following drink and drug-fuelled LA parties he attended while Ange was stuck home with the 27 children, the Fight Club actor would then regularly disappear for stretches of up to three weeks. With a heavily bestubbled Brad citing everything from alien abduction to good old fashioned affairs when trudging home to beg forgiveness, Jolie eventually found the truth was even more bizarre...
For several years, the former World's Sexiest Man had been using his frequently dishevelled, inebriated state to work in Hollywood as Benicio Del Toro, even going so far as to inadvertently win an Oscar in 2000. Fellow attendees failed to notice the ruse when a paralytic Brad Pitt disappeared from his table halfway through the Academy Awards in search of a kebab shortly before “Benicio” staggered onto the stage to collect a statuette for his role in Traffic. Del Toro's near unintelligible acceptance speech involved him repeatedly asking for more garlic sauce and saying he'd lost his chips. Hailed at the time as a masterclass in Puerto Rican subversive humour, the subsequent revelations that it was none other than a shit-faced Benjamin Button cast the episode in a very different light.
The irony that Pitt, though nominated several times, has never actually won an Oscar when playing himself playing a character was not lost on his former wife who told the National Enquirer that Brad's jealousy of his craggy alter ego's success had led to more excessive drinking, thus resulting in more Benicio. A look at IMDB shows that Del Toro has six films slated for release in 2019, while Pitt seems to have a rather large gap in his schedule...
As a young man, Lotney “Sloth” Fratelli never stood out. He was a C-grade student, athletically unremarkable, artistically mediocre and described by a classmate as “...a nice kid but not someone you'd remember after Prom”. That all changed when Sloth found himself at the centre of a news story that enraptured the world. A group of charismatic children from Oregon, the self-proclaimed “Goonies” found themselves pitted against a merciless criminal family as they sought lost pirate treasure in an effort to save their homes from demolition at the hands of ruthless real estate developers. It sounds like something from a Hollywood movie, but it was real life and the part Lotney Fratelli ultimately played in aiding the Goonies turned him into an overnight global sensation. His catchphrase, “Hey you guuuuuys” was taken up by pretty much anyone shouting to their friends down a street and when designing his own costume, even Superman copied the T-shirt he'd worn. Despite his global fame, the object of a million teenage crushes, it was Sloth's matter-of-fact humility which viewers responded to when he won Celebrity Big Brother in 2017 - A humility he said he owes to his work as a baker's apprentice in Huddersfield throughout the 90s. “You can learn a lot from pies” Fratelli said in a 2006 interview. “...and bread. You can learn a lot from bread. Pastry is also something you can learn a lot from.”
Shunning the on-air advances of Professor Katrina Price, as well as the book deals, chat show appearances and endorsement offers his fellow BB contestants tripped over themselves for, Sloth returned to Huddersfield to become the face of Greggs.... although sales have since seen a 42% decline.
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter has absolutely dominated the music and entertainment world for the best part of two decades. One of the planet's most beautiful, stylish, successful women, with a net worth of $355 million, she's sold over 100 million records, won 22 Grammy Awards and counts the Obamas as close friends.... which is why everyone was left stunned in 2018 when she came from nowhere to take the top title at The Torremolinos Darts Open.
Having already witnessed her breathtaking assault on the group stages, a packed, absolutely leathered crowd sat dumbfounded as the singer and actress made her way out to the oche on finals night, supping from a pint of John Smiths in between drags on a duty free Rothmans. Opponent Raymond van Barneveld briefly delayed play by asking the former Destiny's Child to sign his shirt, but spectators weren't made to wait long for a result, with Knowles-Carter taking him apart in straight sets. Checking out on her final leg with a coveted nine dart finish, she lifted the BDO trophy after a mere 21 minutes of play, having consumed just three cigarettes and four pints of bitter – a new record low for any professional game of darts. Nevertheless, Beyoncé made up for it afterwards, drinking into the wee hours with several players and lucky fans.
Last seen staggering down Calle San Miguel at sunrise with toilet paper stuck to her shoe and wearing one of those hats with big straws leading to beer cans on either side, the A-lister was inexplicably well turned out whilst accepting an MTV award in L.A. some 14 hours later. When quizzed about her budding new career by reporters, a tight lipped Knowles-Carter remained aloof.
Pundits are chomping at the bit to see if she repeats her surprise win at the 2019 Torremolinos Open but refuse to rule out the possibility that she may instead choose to dominate the world of cricket, curling or indoor bowls.
In 2018, a barefoot David Cameron, dressed only in hessian sack and knotted head-hankie ascended a snow-capped mountain in Tibet to live out his days in a state of monastic simplicity. Shunning the comforts of the perfect utopia he had wrought through tireless work and utter lack of ego, he chose not to shade beneath the branches of the trees in his new Eden. A life's work complete, David William Donald Cameron crept past the everyday folk now singing in the gold-paved streets, frolicking in the Prosecco fountains and skipping through fields of Kinder Buenos. He politely ignored the crowds who cheered his progress, the thanks and accolades from every section of society he had helped. As waving children with perfect teeth picked Mature Cheddar and Caramelised Onion Chutney Kettle Chips off the vines they now sprung from, Saint David simply nodded with satisfaction. He cared not for the adoration, nor the hundreds of thousands to be made on the after-dinner circuit, the six-figure publishing deal for his memoirs, the outrageously-salaried work for a US electronic payment firm or stewardship on a billion dollar UK/China investment initiative. No, Saint David the Humble had all he needed. A hessian sack, a knotted head-hankie, a soul at peace with the knowledge all he had ever done, he had done for others and an extremely large, shiny pink face to shield his fragile body from the biting Tibetan wind..... although deep down Saint David the Humble, King of our Hearts knew he would probably use it instead to protect a mountain goat or hare or yak or something - such was his way.
Although the whole world would love David Cameron to come back so we can properly THANK him for all he did, it seems for now at least, he continues to tread a higher path. God bless you David.
Well there you have it, I think that's everyone.
Celebrities don't just entertain us with their talent and good looks. Their exemplary lives provide us with a roadmap to success, dignity and moral behaviour. In compiling this comprehensive list of icons of our time and asking the question “where are they now?”, both in the article title and at the end of the third paragraph and then answering the question in subsequent paragraphs, I'm just glad I've been able to shine a little light in the darkness and clear up any confusion whatsoever about where it is we as a nation go from here.
There's no need to thank me, just don't balls up 2019, ok?
Ian Greenland is a freelance photographer and writer (allegedly)