The station's grand panjandrums are Rory and Wendy Alec, a confident but rather creepy pair of thirtysomethings. Mr Alec, who is Chief Executive Officer of god (an unassuming title), declared that Mezzo was "a most appropriate place" to bring the glad tidings about his station. "It represents the contemporary imagery we're using on the god channel."
This seemed an odd statement from a TV boss who lays great stress on showing "no sex and no sin", since the best-known piece of contemporary imagery in Mezzo is a large erotic mural by Allen Jones. "I meant that this is a very buzz-oriented place," explained the slippery Mr Alec, who sports an ill-advised Seventies hair-do. "The god channel is very exciting, very in-your-face, very busy. That's what we wanted to get across."
A "highly aggressive" advertising campaign will publicise the channel, though Mr Alec gleefully acknowledged that some might take offence at a poster declaring "God the father, God the son and god the TV channel." But he swiftly cleared up any theological ambiguity: "We believe in the triune God," then added with exemplary modesty, "This is not to say that we're equal to God. Heaven forbid."
Guests at the breakfast were subjected to a deafening sample of the daily fare which god beams across Britain. Tooth-rattlingly raucous and inane to the point of vacuity, it consisted almost entirely of material from American evangelical stations: the crucifixion story told in the style of a pop video; a long-haired rock star hollering at an audience of moronic youth about the need to be saved; a holy-roller faith healer working a miracle cure ("He hasn't heard a thing since he was two years old!") and a spooky commercial entitled "All dressed up for the most important day of your life" (the camera pans back from a dinner-jacketed youth to reveal he is lying in a coffin).
However, the company plans to "develop a new breed of Christian TV very much in the European stamp". Wendy Alec, a slender beauty who looks more rock chick than bible-basher, gave examples of topics to be covered: "Death and beyond, the occult, satanism - things that are relevant to today's society." The programmes planned for 1998 will "rock the heavens". Who was it who said "blessed are the peace-makers"?
One thing I like about this time of year is the perfume adverts which, like exotic seasonal flowers, briefly blossom in the pages of glossy magazines and on television. Mainly, they concern free spirits who feel a pressing need to demonstrate an olfactory exuberance. In press releases, the manufacturers strain every sinew (not to mention the English language) in an effort to flesh out the fragrant creatures who personify their whiffs. For example, we learn that Tocadilly from Rochas is "Part sorceress, part sprite who navigates the Web. A world of virtual reality where anything is possible. An open invitation to ultimate creativity!"
The Gucci Accenti woman, however, prefers a different kind of keyboard: "adagio leafing through a novel, allegretto on a visit to the Biennale in Florence, fortissimo when listening to a new Shostakovitch recording - and pianissimo when back in the arms of the man she loves..." From the same stable, Gucci Envy is a beast of very different stripe. "You want it. You want it bad. Sometimes so much it hurts. You can taste it, You feel you would do anything to get it. Go further than they'd suspect. Twist your soul and crush what's in your way..."
Drawing a veil over all this twisting and crushing, it is a relief to turn to the ordered mise en scene of Madame Rochas. "She's reading. The sun barely touches the silent room. She's sitting on the floor, she re- reads the letter. A huge baroque mirror captures the scene. She looks... pleased. Pushing a golden lock of hair back in place. Music plays in the background. 10.30am. The phone rings. Must dash: tennis, riding, lunch at the Ritz. No more time for dreams."
Clinique Happy is so chockful o' beans that it feels obliged to bellow in caps: "Perhaps you've noticed. Somewhere along the line, it's become COOL TO SMILE AGAIN. All that pouting and posturing that used to seem so chic now looks dated, if not downright dumb. JUST SAYING NO TO THE DOWN VIBE. As we teeter on the edge of a new century, THERE'S A POSITIVE ENERGY IN THE AIR. `Happy farms' - training grounds for happy wannabes - are proliferating. HAPPINESS CAN BE SEXY and it can be goofy." How true.
The most profound thinker of the fashion world celebrates his eponymous pong with a particularly Gallic meditation. "Jean-Paul Gaultier creates his own perfume and naturally baptises it with his own name. We all wonder, `Why did he not think of it before?' The answer is: `For the sake of eternity.' In order to take its place in the Pantheon of scents, it must mature before being born. It must take its time, it must exercise the mind of its creator. Timeless and eternal." Whether or not you agree with this deep pensee, it's not to be sniffed at.
At the risk of sounding like the worst sort of barroom bore, I've recently had a couple of encounters with the medical profession. Thanks to an ultrasound scan, I now know what my kidneys look like - rather handsomely scrolled, if I say so myself, like an elegant pair of French curves. I could even see the knotty bit of gristle which Jennifer Patterson explained how to remove when cooking devilled kidneys in Two Fat Ladies. Everything proved to be hunky-dory, but I'm a bit disappointed that the doctor who wielded the instrument (the business end is like a very large underarm deodorant) didn't offer to give me a picture. I would have enjoyed passing it round. "Here's the very first picture..." "Of your kid?" "No, kidneys."
I have also completed a course of dental treatment amounting to just under five hours in the dread chair. Something called "root planing" - don't ask, you wouldn't want to know. Enduring these sessions of yawning tedium, I became overly familiar with the ceiling of my dentist's surgery, which is decorated with a selection of posters. However, the intended distraction was not always successful. As the hypodermic went in and numbness coursed through my arteries, I wished that pride of place had not been given to a large picture of an exceedingly spiny, snow-covered cactus.Reuse content