I need a lie-down.
Not since Rabbit-Proof Fence have I seen so much walking done by a bunch of girls who could really do with a feed. They stomped. They clomped. They paused. They posed.
All in the name of the 'Walk A Mile In My Jimmy Choos' episode of Australia's Next Top Model. Bless 'em. Now SIT. Good dog.
· Our modules start the episode by being herded, Brady-In-A-Station-Wagon style, to a Hoyts cinema, where they're met by Joydhi (who nearly turns herself inside out pronouncing "Hoyts") in a long gown which makes her disturbingly perky boosies look almost magnetically opposed. This week's theme is The Catwalk, which means the girls will be taught how to walk. Now, you and I know how to walk. Two-year-olds know how to walk. Day-old fawns know how to walk, and hell - even Heather Mills is getting the hang of it. But these girls need a week to learn how to do it. I know, I know – there's more to runway walking than just Left, Right, Repeat. It's more Left, Right, Suck, Jut, Pout, Wink, Flick, Smoulder, Bounce, Wiggle, Repeat. Still – it only takes an afternoon to learn how to knit. While the girls tuck into some popcorn (Alice just nibbles on the air trapped inside), a film montage of some of the World's Best Walkers is screened, and surprisingly, Kerry Saxby is overlooked. Possibly because of the whole looks-a-bit-like-an-Afghan-Hound thing.
· Walkies Part One – in which we're off to a place called 'Moulin Rouge Down Under', which I could make a million Moulin Rude jokes about, and the girls meet Mink, a model and catwalk coach, whom Paloma deems amazingly attractive for "someone in their thirties". Fair enough – Paloma's pretty articulate for someone in the slow kindergarten class in the outback. Mink has a bit of a Cruella De Vil complex, and seems to be speaking through an Evil Disney Queen translator. She tells the modules to "get up on this runway, and blow me away", and I'm sure a couple of the girls would like to do just that. Constructive criticism spills poisonously from Mink's petulant mouth, with helpful gems like "Stop clomping", "You're dead in the face", "Windmill arms", "I'm bored", and "Next!". She only shows a glimmer of personality when she tries to encourage Jane to loosen up by waving her head and arms around and screaming. You put your left foot in. You take your left foot out. You get a sneer and a tattoo, and you shake it all about.
· Mink introduces Lauren G, apparently one of the "best walkers in the business", to show the girls how it's done. Lauren is a very good, albeit jaunty walker, who is in no danger of publishing a book of her own bittersweet anecdotes any time soon. She declares the "stomping pony" walking style Officially Over, which upsets Danika, who fancies herself as a bit of an equine specialist.
· JP turns up with his glued-on hair and readies the modules for some runway training – they're shown a rack of clothes and some "personal dressers". Learning to walk and dress oneself – next week: capital letters! An exercise involves dressing in two different styles, being "Sexy Gypsy" and "Street Creature", and walking down the runway in a manner appropriate to each style. It's uncanny, really – I, too, choose from two different styles every morning when I get dressed: "Hungover" and "Whatever Doesn't Smell Like Cheese". The girls change and strut while Mink spits invective at them - standouts are Anika, who seems to summon her inner sauce-pot, Alice and Danika. JP notes that he's starting to see the diva in Alice (until she stands side-on, when she pretty much disappears completely), and Jane comments to camera that "Alice is always a frikkin' diva. She shits me to tears, that girl". I see a bad moon rising. Excellent.
· Walkies Part Two – in which our lovable scrags are ushered off to the Queen Victoria Building for a surprise catwalk challenge in front of tens of people, and in which it appears more than half of them have received a memo instructing them to turn up wearing their most ridiculous sunglasses - Danika even stumbles under the weight of hers. Jordan is well-prepared once again for a challenge, remembering to wear her most un-removable belly-ring, and JP tries to pep up Sad Alice, because she's feeling sad. I've got my eye on that girl. She's all skin, bones and melancholy, but in an everybody-look-at-me-quietly kind of way. Karen Carpenter would've been proud.
· The show starts, and with the exception of some off-runway wandering by Steph H and a well-disguised Jordan shoe mishap, all the girls manage to look pretty professional and pissed-off. Is that a tautology in the fashion industry? Alice in particular did brilliantly, even despite the fact that she claimed it was hard not to slouch because her hair was too tight. A brief flash of the old Paloma emerges momentarily as she points out the schoolgirls watching the show who made distracting and rude comments, remarking with joyous malice "They're probably jealous. They're probably the fat ones who didn't get in". Danika, who is the self-proclaimed walker of the group, is pretty confident of winning the challenge because, as she so stylishly puts it, "it's my time to shine. This is my thingy".
· Our modules gather after the show for a critique, and the judges take it in turns to spell out the magnificent prize, which consists of a limo to a red-carpet David Jones show in an Alex Perry frock, some Paspaley earrings and some Jimmy Choo shoes. I really, really wish that Joydhi had been the one to tell the girls about the shoes, rather than Charlotte. I wanted to hear her say "Jimmy Choy Shoiirs". And perhaps "A limoy toy the shoy". Alice is proclaimed the challenge winner, and Danika's considerable jaw drops with disappointment, followed by some indecipherable sobbing. Alice chooses Steph F to share the prize, who is emerging in my view as the Cutest Little Sister In The World, and who may even have no distinguishable mental health problems or emotional hang-ups, a true drawback in the modelling industry. Upon seeing her prize earrings, Steph offers this week's "Oh More Gourd" moment.
· Walkies Part Three, in which the challenge losers are told to walk from Oxford Street to Circular Quay and back to Town Hall, just in time to see the challenge winners arrive for the DJs show in a limo. Anika, summoning the phrase from the depths of her vast vocabulary, dubs it the "Loser's Walk of … Losers". I know a 30-block walk should be interesting when caught on camera, but I'm momentarily distracted by the length-to-width ratio of a piece of A4 paper.
· Judge Charlotte Dawson emerges as this week's quote hero, starting when she picks the challenge winners up in a limo to take them to the show. After a short treatise upon the importance of limo-exiting grace and style, she claps her hands together, raises her extremely expressive eyebrows, and asks "Got Undies?". It's an advertising slogan waiting to happen – perhaps for a lingerie brand or a particularly terrifying roller-coaster.
· The next morning, some care packages from friends and family arrive for the modules, and they read and devour the contents with emotional gusto. There's not a dry eye, nose, or chair in the house, and it looks as if some of the girls may dehydrate from the exertion, leaving a loungeroom filled with ug-booted girl-raisins. To prove my long-held Apple Not Falling Far From The Tree theory, Danika looks up from her letter with a misty giggle and says "Dad spelt my name wrong".
· Walkies Part Four, in which the modules are photographed whilst on the catwalk in front of industry luminaries, underneath some of the stupidest hair I've ever seen. JP drags the scrags to a nameless nightclub and throws them into hair and make-up, never guessing that he's actually endangering anyone's health. Alice complains that the tightness of her ponytail is making her feel nauseous. I'm a tiny, tiny bit sceptical about the medical basis of this. It's a bit like complaining that Hockney's pool series makes your ingrown toenail play up, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, that the Back In Black album gives you gas. She goes as far into the foetal position as a handful of pins can, shakes, gurns, and accepts some encouraging words from JP, who later to camera offers one of my favourite stand-alone quotes of the episode: "Top models don't get headaches from hairstyles". Communicable diseases and thrush, sure. Far, far worse than Sad Alice's nauseating coiff, though, is the tress-travesty inflicted upon both Steph F and Paloma. I'm calling it a "Friar Tuck", partly because of its revolting, peanut-bowl inspired shape, and partly because the name can so deftly be shortened to "Fuck". As in "Oh, fuck. I've just lost, haven't I?". The fashionistas file in and take their seats, the clothes are really quite swish, and all the modules really do a superb job, but to be honest, after seeing the girls tramp up and down all episode, I'm a bit over it. And I think my pigtails just gave me herpes.
· We're finally at the Elimination Hangar, and the modules walk (what else?) in to face the judges. Joydhi greets the girls and drones through the prizes, which I think include hair extensions and half a Chiko roll. The mini elimination challenge today, just for a change, is to walk in heels for the judges, in case they've had their eyes closed for the last week. I'm talking to you, Shiny, Squinty Alex Perry. Charlotte Dawson snatches the quote-crown back from JP as she tells Jordan she's a little bit "g-g-g-g-gangstaaaaaahhhh!", and lets Sophie know that she wants to squeeze her cute bum. Jane walks like she's trying to get a broomstick through customs, Paloma alternates between sinner and grinner, and Steph F says she knows she walks like a truck-driver. It'd be a pink, fluffy truck full of marshmallows and kittens, but I see her point. Photos from the catwalk challenge (you know the one – where they walked up and down) are viewed, and I still can't get past the diaphragm-hair.
· The judges deliberate, and Joydhi calls out names one by one until only Angry Jane and Little Sister Steph F remain. Steph is told she has loads of enthusiasm but isn't improving enough, and Jane is told she has potential but no desire. In a toin-coss-esque decision, Steph F is given the elbow. Bye, Steph! Don't dance on any rainbows with prancing unicorns on your way out!
· Paloma, realising that I'm intensely disappointed in her recent and blatant displays of mental health, comes good as the departure of Steph F hits her hard. All the remaining modules gather around the shaking, sobbing, eyes-rolling-back-in-head Paloma whilst Steph quietly makes her dignified exit. Yup. Storm's a-comin'.
Next week, the modules continue on their search for fitness with a quick run, Ian Thorpe features as a guest judge, and Jordan and Paloma turn the bitch-fight volume up to eleven. Goals. Big soles. Game on, moles.