Voices

Jack and Dani’s split sums up our horrendous year

The ‘Love Island’ couple were a ray of hope – the ultimate happy ever after...
(ITV/Rex)

Honestly I’m not sure my nerves can take much more. This year has been a truly difficult stretch for the UK and as it comes to an end many of us are reeling with exhaustion and depression and, god, it’s boring now. Sometimes I feel like the whole country ate a cursed toadstool a couple of years ago and we’ve been dealing with the jinx ever since. Who’d have thought that David Cameron was the ultimate bad fairy? Granting what many people thought was a wish, but which turned out to be the most poisonous of chalices/a bucket of shit (depending on which way you look at things).

And now, on top of the country teetering on the brink of the biggest political and financial abyss known to man, Jack and Dani have split up.

Remember Jack and Dani? Our rays of hope for the future. They were part of our glorious summer – that brief interlude when the politicians were on holiday and for a few sweltering weeks we could ignore the fact that Britain was eating itself alive and concentrate on something intrinsically simple and good instead. Because, once upon a time back in July, two young people met on telly and fell head over heels and the nation sat back and sighed with relief. This felt right. This felt like destiny. See, sometimes stuff just works itself out – just look at Jack and Dani.

Looking back now, Love Island, despite being a reality TV show, had all the elements of a fairytale. There were goodies with strong hair and white teeth, and baddies complete with beetle black eyebrows, bosomy wenches and slightly thick henchmen. And in the middle of the enchanted villa, there was Jack and Dani, a pair of innocents in bathing suits reminding us that sweetness still exists and niceness can conquer all.

There was Jack and Dani, a pair of innocents in bathing suits reminding us that sweetness still exists and niceness can conquer all

Jack and Dani were the Meghan and Harry for the Nandos-eating kids. I genuinely believe that if they’d had a televised marriage ceremony – preferably involving a pool party with loads of inflatable unicorns – immediately after the series ended, the viewing figures would have vied with the royals. Because this was the ultimate happy ever after for the everyday couple. This was the reminder that happiness is within reach – you only have to meet “the one” once and bingo.

Only now it’s over and I’m gutted. I trusted Jack and Dani to be the good thing that came of out of these difficult days, a beacon of hope against a back drop of name calling and bitter recrimination. I wanted Jack and Dani to last the course, to confound expectations and to give us years of OK! front covers with massive Xmas trees, ridiculous matching jumpers, puppies and possibly babies, because we’re not having enough happily ever afters in this country at the moment and I think it’s making us anxious.

OK, it’s making me anxious and, in order to deal with this anxiety, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. Here goes: my name’s Jenny Eclair and I’m using romcom therapy to make me feel better. Basically I’m digging out schmaltzy films that make me laugh and make me cry and then make me laugh again. That’s right – I’m swapping my Scandi noir for Miss Congeniality. I don’t want murder any more. I don’t want intrigue. I want fluff and goofy girls falling over and silly misunderstandings that all come good in the end. I want snow on upturned noses and kissing in parks.

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ made me laugh and cry so much I thought I was having a hernia

In the past the words “feel good” used to make my buttocks clench with bad temper. Feel good? Ha! Don’t you try to emotionally con me mate, don’t try and manipulate happy tears out of this face, because it just ain’t happening. I was the one that sat through Mamma Mia! in confused horror. Not any more: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again made me laugh and cry so much I thought I was having a hernia.

Real life has become so grim that I don’t want to be faced with any more of it. I don’t want to see any more disappointment and upset, so I’m deliberately seeking out screen stuff to counteract all this misery. Last night I watched the made-for-Netflix movie Dumplin’, the uplifting tale of a fat girl done good via a small town beauty pageant, complete with Jennifer Aniston, drag queens and a Dolly Parton sound track. Was it any good? I’ve no idea (The Guardian gave it two stars).

Did I enjoy it? Hell yes. I sang along, I wept, I laughed, I spilt wine down my nightie, I had a ball. For two hours I forgot that the rest of the world thinks we’re idiots and the coming week is anyone’s guess. For two hours I let my brain turn to mush and I felt so much better for it. But it can’t go on – I’ll go mad. So please, Santa – all I want for Xmas is for Jack and Dani to get back together. Oh, and a second referendum, thanks.