What would be the first thing to enter your mind if you were to think about models?
Behave yourselves, you lot at the back.
Most of you are probably thinking about strange, other-worldly creatures. Normally stick-thin. People who are aware of the general concept of chip shops, but have no truck with the idea in practical terms. Dodgy fake tans often feature, too.
Orange twiglets wearing oversized sunglasses, then.
UK fashion retailer Next - purveyors of clothing to people for whom the word 'hip' doesn't need to be followed by 'replacement' - are keen to see if this vision of models still holds true. They're running a competition for normal folk to see if they're worthy of being made a Next model in 2011. The competition, called, with unerring creativity, 'Make Me The Next Model 2011", is running until the end of this month. Those voted into the top 250 get to go to a live event where industry experts make their choices.
As you would expect, the usual run of wannabe twiglets - male and female - are there to be seen. There is pouting a-plenty. The afore-mentioned satellite-dish-sized sunglasses are abundant. It's sickeningly shallow.
I think something should be done. Real people don't look like this, do they? Certainly those wandering around my local Next don't.
No. Before you ask, I'm not putting myself forward. I'm the wrong side of both 40 years of age and 17 stone in mass. Even with my infinite levels of optimism I can't see that taking flight.
But my friend Barry has entered. He's a normal bloke, is Barry. Some of you may have seen him on The League, the short film I wrote a year or so ago. He's a good actor, radio DJ and all-round decent chap.Well, actually, Barry is probably not the name his family uses. His actual name is Barinderjit. Here he is:
In his own words, he's a "slightly overweight Catholic-school-educated-Sikh-Geordie-George-Clooney-lookalike". He started off in position 1,700-odd, but in the last few days he's broken into the top 750 and is now in the 500s. More and more people are getting on board with this.
I think he'd represent Next very well indeed. And there's something about the image of all these Tango twiglets at the event in London being confronted by Barry that makes me smile.
But he needs your votes, people. You can vote for Barry here. I seriously recommend that you do so.