It may be 'only a gameshow', but I have some important advice for Craig and co

Two days ago, a leader in this very newspaper pronounced our affair with <i>Big Brother</i> officially defunct
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The Independent Online

Two days ago, a leader in this very newspaper pronounced our affair with Big Brother officially defunct. Been lovely knowing you, but time to move on. No, nothing you've done, nothing you've said, we just need our own space for a while. Have a good life. Oh, and it might be better if you didn't ring.

Two days ago, a leader in this very newspaper pronounced our affair with Big Brother officially defunct. Been lovely knowing you, but time to move on. No, nothing you've done, nothing you've said, we just need our own space for a while. Have a good life. Oh, and it might be better if you didn't ring.

In this harsh declaration of human fickleness I spy my window of opportunity. If the party really is over for everybody else - and I am a man who believes what he reads in the papers - then it is now safe for me to come out and admit it isn't over for me. Nothing becomes a writer so much as being out of step. Behold, then, the last person standing, still wondering what it means that Mel puts on a raincoat the moment she wakes up.

It's been the dressing that's fascinated me all along. Why do the girls wear bikinis all the time? Why are the boys always in their shorts or their designer underpants? It's a house, for God's sake! I freely acknowledge that it's a while since I shared a mixed-sex dwelling with people my own age, but have things changed so much in the past 20 years that beachwear is now de rigueur indoors?

I've seen the T-shirt - "Life's a Beach" - but I never realised I was meant to take that literally. Life's a beach, the living-room's a beach, the bathroom's a beach, even the kitchen's a beach. Happen not to feel beachy in the morning and you're stuck. Hence Mel's raincoat. Life appears to have grown simpler since I last took an interest. The indoors is now the outdoors, and it's either beach weather or it's raining in both places.

What happened to the dressing-gown for negotiating the tricky period between opening your eyes and taking breakfast? Is there now a generation of people who possess neither a bathrobe nor a peignoir? Not a housecoat, even?

I grasp the principle that we must no longer wear anything that obscures the contours of our bodies, but not all dressing-gowns have to be bulky towelling jobs. I know a terrific ethnic shop in Covent Garden where you can buy kimonos and jubbahs made out of the lightest fabrics, which move sinuously over your breasts and muscles, since that's important to you, but which are substantial enough to stop you hugging cushions to yourself when you are feeling especially exposed.

And while you're in Covent Garden, Craig, how about a shirt? Not a T-shirt, not a sweatshirt, not a vest, not a football strip, not a flak jacket, but a shirt, a shirt-shirt, with cuffs, with buttons down the centre, with flaps that you tuck into your trousers (remember trousers?) and with a boned collar that you don't necessarily have to do up, though I have to say that in the evening, over dinner, over gentle banter and After Eights, a tie wouldn't go amiss. Nice for other people, if you know what I mean. Sophistication, ceremony, sense of occasion. If nothing else, a signification that you understand the difference between the dinner table, the bedroom and the beach.

Of course, it's always possible that Channel 4 has forbidden formal wear for the same reason that Tony Blair has spoken out against suits - so that the new pathology of ordinariness and sameness should prevail. It's easy to forget that we are not watching real life as it happens, but a dramatic construct every bit as cut and jiggled as a soap opera. Which is why I think it's been unfair of critics of the programme, or at least of critics of the dramatis personae, to complain about the poor level of conversation in the house.

How do we know that Channel 4 hasn't edited out every reference to Kant and Schopenhauer? Television does that. Television executives don't like it when you say "Schopenhauer" on telly, even at a quarter past midnight on an arts slot, supposing you can find an arts slot. Say "Schopenhauer" in the hearing of anyone senior at BBC 2 and you'll never work on their patch again. How much the less likely are they, then, to welcome Thomas doing his Aquinas shtick with Anna when the whole country's watching.

Fair enough. Horses for courses. Dress sense aside, the only times the inhabitants of the house are truly embarrassing are when they let their culture show - body-art and New Age mysticism and all that. "I've been having this vision," Nicholas used to confide, before they threw him out. But they threw him out for the wrong reasons. So he broke the rules! Rules, schmules. What he should have been thrown out for was prophecy.

Never mind that every 16-year-old in the country now has 10 O-levels and 15 A-levels; if Big Brother tells us anything about the young, it's that they've got shit in their heads.

This is different from dumbing-down. Dumbing-down implies the emptying of minds. What we've been seeing in the Big Brother house are minds that have too much in them - too much mystic burble, too much bad psychology, too much George Michael, too much knowledge of the history of the gameshow. A good mental evacuation when they come out is a necessity. Literally, a brain-wash.

In the meantime, I will go on watching, even if no one else is. We're down to brute sexual competitiveness now. Thwarted desire, jealousy, genital vengeance. And the man who is tired of looking at those is tired of life.

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