What defines a ‘celebrity’ and who or what decides whether such a description is merited? This latest topic at the Olympian breakfast table had found the celestial family as sharply divided as usual, though – unusually – this divide was age-oriented, rather than along lines of gender, with the Father of the Gods stubbornly traditional whilst the younger of his offspring cast a wider definitive net.
Laid down more than two years ago, soon after the family had immigrated from Greece to the Rock, Hera’s sole domestic rule, that her brood should sit down together for at least on meal each day, had remained firmly in place. So, as Zeus tucked into toast slathered with a mix of Gentleman’s Relish and Roses lime marmalade; Dionysus sipped his first bloody Mary of the day; and the other gods and goddesses squabbled over whose turn it was to have the last helping of Coco Pops, the Olympian family regularly discussed a range of subjects… often focusing on the latest foibles of the local mortals.
In the days between Christmas and January 1st, talk had turned to New Year’s resolutions and the search for a commitment that would be easy to make and easy to keep, while creating minimum discomfort for the family. Zeus had been at his curmudgeonly best, and there was unanimous support for this proposal that the gods no longer would move out of the way of pedestrians so engrossed in their mobile phones or iPads that they were not aware of anyone in their path.
Hera had neither forgotten, nor forgiven.
The decision had been taken six days ago, but steadily drumming rains that had begun on January 2nd had kept the Olympians indoors, so that it had not yet been put to practice. Poseidon – who had been out and about and ‘didn’t mind a bit of wet’ – reported that the rains, flooding the ill-serviced drains in Glacis Road and turning Casemates into a shallow pool of moving water, had kept the bulk of Gibraltar indoors. There had been no-one to confront, dig elbows into.
The gods, similarly deprived, had turned to the mindless panacea of television in an attempt to find amusement. Their own past lives on Olympus and in the multi-tribal climates of the eastern Mediterranean had contained more excitement and drama than anything found in TV soaps. Between them, the all-knowing Hera and ever-wise Athena could answer every quiz question – almost before the host had voiced it – and, though she had abandoned the hunt to pursue feminist gender issues, only Artemis showed any interest in the multiplicity of wild-life and nature documentaries.
Remote on Olympus and with a steadily-dwindling congregation of worshippers, after the death of Archimedes Zeus had paid little attention to any developments in the scientific world. He had been mortified when, attracted by the title ‘Supernatural Wonders’, he had learned from some mortal named Brian Cox – a laid-back, somewhat scruffy physicist who didn’t look at all like professors were supposed to – that a large planet discovered four centuries previously by the Italian Galileo Galilei had been named Jupiter, after his junior Roman cousin. Even more irksome was that the huge planet’s four moons were named after a quartet of Zeus’ own past amours – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.
References to Inachus’ daughter Io, who had been his favourite, were particularly hurtful, for – although he had transformed her from a young woman to a heifer – Hera had swiftly uncovered this particularly infidelity… and had neither forgotten, nor forgiven. Indeed, after the previous year’s ill-fated visit to the Jupiters in Rome, where she had discovered the popular dish Escalopine de Veau on a restaurant menu, the dish appeared regularly at dinners in the gods’ penthouse apartment, as Escalopine Io.
How can insects have any rights… and who are these celebrities?’
As the rains continued it was Aphrodite, mindlessly flipping from channel to channel on the 60-inch TV screen, who discovered ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ – a suitably inane programme to wipe the weather from their minds.
‘They take a plane-load of celebrities into the Australian bush where they face various tasks and ordeals in a knock-out competition,’ she explained to Zeus. ‘Things like putting their heads into glass jars full of spiders or other wriggly things. Or making them chew live worms and insects.’
‘But why would anyone want to do that?’ her father wondered.
‘They don’t want to eat them – that’s the whole point. They do it for the money.’
‘The programme has dropped anything to do with live creatures,’ Hermes intervened. ‘They say that it’s a violation of their animal rights.’
‘Ah! more of that political correctness stuff,’ huffed Zeus. ‘Anyway, how can insects have any rights… and who are these celebrities?’
[Which had started the discussion that for the past week had table-hopped from breakfast to breakfast after the family discovered that none of them recognised the names of any of the ‘celebrities’.]
Her iPad ever ready, Athene had Googled ‘Celebrity – definition’, and read out the result of her search: ‘A celebrity is someone who is famous, especially in areas of entertainment such as films, music, writing, or sport. … If a person or thing achieves celebrity, they become famous…’
‘But we haven’t heard or read of any of these people camped out in the Australian bush,’ said Hebe. ‘I think there have been a few politicians who lost their parliamentary seats and have been on the programme.’
‘Well, they’ll have had plenty experience of nasties. Look at what happened in the British elections last month,’ ever sensible Hera pointed out.
‘An American artist called Warhol claimed that “everyone has 15 seconds of fame” – does that make every mortal a celebrity?’ added Apollo.
‘If fame is the criterion, I must be a super-celebrity.’ Zeus pushed out of his chair and posed with a thrust out arm gripping a clutch of thunderbolts. ‘Ive been famous since the beginning of Time…’
‘On that basis – we are all celebrities, but I don’t think I want to go to the Australian jungles – let alone being got out,’ said Aphrodite and pecked at a spoonful of Coco Pops.