Pancake night. The day when you use up all your ingredients that are about to go stale. The night when people will applaud the biggest and best tossers. The perfect night for the Brit Awards 2012.
With a shudder, I've realised that this is only the second of James Corden's three-year contract. Last year he did it without any attempt at humour, which at least showed he knows his limits. This year, in the gaps between promoting his autobiography, Corden has been claiming that he's discovered humility. He's put the way the nation cooled on him as being down to "the work not being good enough", which might mean that he's going to be trying a lot harder tonight. It's a frightening prospect.
We know that the show is going to end with eleven minutes of Blur. There was a time when the prospect of Blur doing eleven minutes on live TV would have filled me with delight and butterflies. But at that point, I would also have felt the same about buying pvc trousers or going into work with a hickey. For Alex James' sake, lets use a food metaphor: Blur have become like a quirky restuarant that have spun out into being a chain. The dishes might have the same name, but it doesn't quite taste the same.
It's twenty years since the KLF/ Extreme Noise Terror showstopper. Back then, Sir George Solti walked out in disgust, which might strike you as the sort of thing the Brits should be doing. Tonight, his ghost has already appeared on ITV2 telling Fearne Cotton he's really looking forward to Blur's appearance: "I hope they do a medley with Boys And Girls in it" he said, "and that they bring on an unexpected female vocalist as a guest."
What else can we expect? Clearly, part of the plan tonight is to try and make Jessie J as big a global star as Adele. Is that going to work? Isn't the idea of selling J to America a bit like selling Canadian cheddar in Somerset - there's going to be some takers who don't care that much, and it'll fill a sandwich, but really: why would you?
In case there are some of you who think that the Brits are some sort of anti-establishment howl of rebellious joy, I direct you to this tweet:
So much to see @Brit_Awards 2nite. Britschools' @officialadele, 11min performance from @blurofficial & all hosted by @JKCorden #shabbatronicYes, that's minister of state Jeremy 'Rhyming' Hunt throwing a shabbatronic hashtag into his timeline.
Jeremy Hunt saying "shabbatronic". For two hours. That'd be your Brits.
I'll be back at eight in a semi-official observer role. May the Lord have mercy on us all. (Refresh for updates, but not until about 7.45 as I'm going to have Nachos.)
ITV is currently showing a very dull programme about extreme fishing. Is this any way to prepare the nation for Coldplay?
(The nation responds that it's watching EastEnders, thanks very much.)
The Webuyanycar ad is on. This might be the best song we hear for the next two hours.
"This is the Brit Awards 2012, and this is Coldplay." Oh, god, just 120 minutes to get through.
Chris Martin looks like a recruitment ad for the marines from a nation that isn't too fussy. And so much dayglo.
Didn't Gordon Smart promise us Noel Gallagher? Was he hiding?
James Corden has come on. "How amazing were Coldplay?" he asks. Well, I suppose they set the bar low enough.
Jesus, that Brit Award looks like something from a disappointing Happy Meal.
First of the 'best album' packages is up, for Adele. Oh, we're getting a bit of talky stuff about how it was made. Adele is doing her best to make everyone forget why they took her to their hearts.
We're onto a Whitney bit. We've all been shocked, apparently.
Sure, it's nice to remember Whitney, but what about all the other artists who've died in the last twelve months? Is there a qualifying amount before you your death matters?
Second performance before we've even given out a prize. It's Florence And The Machine. Good to see the Brits keeping faith with Florence, even although, frankly, she's already fizzled out. Mainly through the over-exposure that her too-soon appearance at the Brits generated.
She's wearing a dress made out of solid gold, and accompanied by an entire Greek temple of dancers.
ITV Player has fallen over completely. Nice chance for the commercial network to show off its technical chops, eh?
Actually, this Florence performance would be a great entry for Eurovision. If we were Ukraine.
ITV Player comes back to life, with the QDOT strobing away in the corner. No prizes given out, but they're already running late.
What the hell is this frightening commercial? Mark Ronson, gymnasts, a vague song about "anywhere in the world" where we're "moving to the beat"? And table tennis? It can only be Coca-Cola throwing the kitchen sink into its Olympic campaign.
@dillpickle points out MyloXyloto sounds like something they add to sugar-free gum.
ITV taking the opportunity of the influx of a large audience to remind people they're the official broadcaster of Celebrity Juice.
First prize: Corden gets a chance to slobber over Kylie again (remember 2009?) as she comes out for best British Adele. Sorry, female solo artist.
Jessie J gets more cheers than Adele, though. Perhaps Adele isn't the sort of person you cheer?
Luckily Adele can be here to pick up the award, otherwise it'd be quite an awkward evening in prospect.
Fearne Cotton doesn't appear to have a role in this year's events, which must be the first time since about 2003. Should we send a search party?
Jessie J and Jack Whitehall come on for International Man prizegiving - Guetta, Blacc, Adams, Iver, Mars. Mars is here tonight. I wonder who'll win?
Bruno Mars. WHO COULD HAVE GUESSED?
Well, at least he's not wearing his stupid hat. Perhaps he would if his hair wasn't so large. Maybe there was a struggle backstage to get his stupid hat onto that stack of hair.
Corden says there's "still an incredible performance to come from him". Predicting the future, James?
Who was the bloke walking past Corden mid-flow? Had he spotted Olly Murs coming on stage and thought "that's it, I'm off"?
They've more or less flooded the stage with women in red clothes. They should have tried actually flooding the stage.
Oh, god, Murs is pulling moves. Jeremy Hunt must be having the night of his life.
Critics Choice awards, which are going to Emelie Sande. Given she's already been in the MasterCard breakbumpers, isn't she a bit beyond the new act accolades?
Corden celebrates the prize by, erm, talking to Jessie J, who thinks we care about if she's judging or coaching on The Voice. James is settling down and starting to try some jokes, which is ill-judged.
Ed Sheeran - a man who would be too bland and limp for a guest slot on Alphabet Zoo - is giving the ITV regions a chance to line up the next advert break.
Lego House. And to think they used to say The Field Mice were twee.
Oh - an advert for The New News Of The World.
Over on Twitter, OneDirection fans are getting tetchy - they're keen to hear the winner of best single, and are hoping it'll come before their bedtime.
British single, voted for by you (as in us) the "fans".
Mr. Tempah is out to give this one out. He's reminding us that he won a prize last year, perhaps to try and point out that he's not getting anything this year.
They're running through a list of songs that would persuade any sane person to uninstall iTunes. And probably rip out their soundcard.
Pixie Lott still makes records, does she? That's a surprise.
So, block voting has delivered a prize to One Direction.
That's what happens with sort-of-democracy. They should have had the vote using pens and postcards. That'd have hit their share of the vote.
One Direction say the award is for the fans. But they're the ones who voted for the award.
One of them thanks Radio One. Awkward, given it was Capital who sponsored the prize and did the voting.
They mumble on for about three hours, until Corden shoves them off.
Next, International Female - last year I think this was the prize Lewis Hamilton gave out. They've moved down a gear this year and gone for walking slumber Jensen Button.
Rihanna wins. Hey - that's lucky, as she's here to do a song anyway. What a happy coincidence.
To be fair, James Corden isn't having such a bad night tonight. Although there's no reason why Corden has to be doing the job, as he's not exactly doing anything a semi-competent chap from HR could have turned in.
Ed Sheeran's album bit has just floated by, before Corden says "what an honor" to introduce Noel Gallagher.
I wish I hadn't fed the cats already. This would have been a good time to do that.
The drumming High Flying Bird looks like he's off to do a stint as Estragon once he's finished here.
Chris Martin has turned up to play piano on this. His style is reminiscent of Rowlf from The Muppets.
This from GarethAveyard on Twitter:
Ed Fucking Sheeran - "Yeah, well, I started writing songs after I first saw that http://match.comadvert last year." #Brits
Capital advert on: "let's make some hits". Unfortunately straight after their ad it cuts to another with the words "no wonder they're bored."
On twitter: @guanoman:
Is there really any need for Olly Murs and Bruno Mars to be separate people? This just seems decadently inefficient to me.
Oh, Amy Winehouse. I was genuinely sat there going 'who is he talking about' as Corden was lining this up.
Again, nice to remember Amy - and where better than in a room full of representatives of the industry that showed such a duty of care to her - but what about the others?
Plan B. There seems to have been a strange decision that anyone who played last year has to give out a prize this. Although I suspect Imelda May might still be waiting for a call.
We're going to have best solo artist. Surely they won't be as crass as to give it to Noel for turning up, will they?
Nope, it's gone to Ed. Who also, erm, did a performance.
They're trying to justify the prize - which frankly people will stare at in five years time on Wikipedia and go 'who was that again' - by quoting how many Twitter followers he has. Because remember kids, the more spambots you attract, the better a musician you are.
Jo Whiley - who, by law, has to appear at any music awards ceremony on the British mainland - has come on with Huey for Best Group.
Listeners from Radio 2 voted for this one, so it's a chance to disprove that stuffy, fusty, old-fashioned image, right?
No. They give it to Coldplay.
Half way through.
Now I know that Plan B's at the Brits I wish I'd bought all those tonnes of fertiliser like I'd planned.
The appearance of the short video for Let England Shake in the midst of this show is a bit like Newsround suddenly pausing for an op ed by George Galloway.
Music that is about things.
The O2 falls quiet; Corden tries to chase away the appearance of thoughts with a PJ and Duncan joke.
Oh, and there's a pointless bit between him and Kylie. It's like when Jools Holland wanders into the audience, only with a bit more sexual awkwardness.
Of course everyone loves Kylie, but hasn't her work this year mainly been a car advert that appears to have been written before they'd decided who would appear in it?
Adele has the performance she did for the Grammys ready to roll again.
I wonder if this will sell any copies of 21 for her? If anyone at all is sat at home going 'this is a lovely song... I wonder if it's out on record to buy yet?'
We've still got the threat of Bruno Mars hanging over us.
The VirginMedia buffering ad doesn't really work when you're, erm, watching it online.
"Take Me Out. Exclusive to ITV1." Although I suspect Challenge TV are clearing a gap in their 2013 schedule.
Corden's started to edge towards irritating again - "I'm kidding." No, you're not.
He said it was Brian May and Roger Taylor, but it looks like my Aunt Lena and Bill Oddie have come on stage.
International Group. Any shortlist featuring Maroon 5 isn't worth winning. No wonder the Foo Fighters couldn't be arsed to turn up to pick it up.
Some footballer and Nicole Searchinlookinforlove are handing out the breakthrough act prize. Really? A footballer?
The Vaccines aren't going to win this, are they?
Ed Sheeran has taken the breakthrough act, which makes sense given we're supposed to believe he is the best British Male solo artist currently working in the country. I say "makes sense", but you know what I mean.
"A big night he'll never forget" says Corden. Like the rest of us, he's picturing Ed in 2020, finishing his shift at the kennels, remembering that time he was apparently the biggest star in Britain.
Oh, I get it: Bruno Mars is a KD Lang tribute act. Now it makes sense.
No, really, I don't get it. Bruno Mars is like a generic 'pop star' created in Happy Days for Joanie to have a crush on, but because he'll only be on-screen for thirty seconds, they don't bother to flesh him out with a character or backstory or even really bother to write much more than half a chorus for him to sing.
"They're on their feet in here, and I'm not surprised" says Corden. Yeah, I'd have chosen that point to nip out to the toilets, too.
Florence is now telling us about her album and how she made it and everything. Her sounds are dramatic and overwhelming and conflicted, apparently. And not Arcade Fire Made Simple.
James Corden is now sat at a table with One Direction. There are fingerpainting tables in nursery schools that offer more intellectual challenge.
Corden pisses himself laughing at his own joke about Harry OneDirection "stepping out with Denise Welch". Let's just say a small prayer of thanks that he hasn't peppered his script with similar - ah - material.
Ooh, another break. I see GoCompare do home insurance now.
"I'm quite fussy..." Although not so fussy as to avoid shopping at Asda, I see.
Shit, watching TV live is horrible, isn't it?
ITV suddenly decide, three quarters of the way through, to warn people there might be flashing lights.
A bit more warning about Bruno Mars might have been nice, mind.
Rob Brydon and Will I Am come on together to do International Breakthrough. Because they're a crazy mismatched pair, do you see?
How did Foster The People get shortlisted here? Was it part of the horsetrading to allow Warners to take over HMV?
Lana Del Ray wins this, of course, because the team behind her had actually started from 'winning awards' and worked backwards.
Voiceover woman claims - wrongly - that Del Ray "likes to call herself the Gangsta Nancy Sinatra". Because why would you bother fact-checking your script for the biggest music night of the year, eh?
Del Ray thanks her label. BUT ONLY BECAUSE THEY TOLD HER TO.
Rihanna's doing her performance now, every second thinking "shit, in two or three more years I'm going to be reduced to only getting a slot sat next to Corden while he mock-flirts with me."
Still, the set's quite nice, people in plastic cubes flinging paint at each other. I expect that's going to be a tribute to the Stone Roses reunion, is it?
I could check on Lyrics.com, but I'm content to believe Rihanna is singing "we found love in our halter place."
James does a period joke.
Ray Winstone has come on to do the 'Prize given to a band we'd like to perform but won't come if we don't give them an impressive sounding prize' prize. Which this year goes to Blur.
In the production suite, they're currently going 'Phil Daniels! That was the chap we were thinking of to do the prize giving. Dammit.' Or possibly 'is Ray Winstone and Phil Daniels different people, then?'
If Dave Rowntree had managed to win a seat for Labour at the last election, would we be seeing this reunion now?
Alex James is standing staring emptily into space. Which was the style he used to use when playing the bass, if memory serves.
Ray Winstone is standing at the back of the stage like the mayor of a small market town wondering if he's made the wrong choice for the Christmas light switch-on.
If I'd known in 2012 Damon would be rambling on like this for ages and ages, I'd have worried less about the Liverpool Poly amps looking like they'd fall on his head.
Jesus, haven't we got through the album nominees yet? And they've saved the Coldplay for last.
Hadn't noticed this category is sponsored by Daybreak and Gordon Smart's column. It's like a toxic dump for fatally wounded media brands.
Ah, Vodafone have spent some of the money they stole from us in taxes to buy an ad break during the Brits.
They're trailing the News At Ten - that's still going, too, apparently.
The album award is being handed out by George Michael. I think, to close some sort of circle, this means Norman Tebbit has won.
George is only slightly slurring his words, claiming he came back from Australia because he knows who won. Presumably Adele owes him a tenner or something?
Coldplay dressed as elephants. That never fails to make me look more kindly on ivory poachers.
Of course Adele has won. And, to be fair, it's hard to see how she couldn't have won this one.
(Although Ed really looks like he thought he was going to win it.)
"I'm so proud to be British and flying our flag". Corden cuts her off. Because, yeah, that's the point you want to be worrying about timings, not when you're doing an interview with One Direction.
Well, the ghost of Sir George Solti is delighted they've started with Girls And Boys. "Something of a surprise, no?" he giggles.
It's odd that Alex James is still able to play following the smoking ban.
The producers find Louis Spence in the audience, like men determined to clobber the very last credibility the Brits might have had left in them.
So, will ITV let the show overrun and hold up the News At Ten? Or are the network saying 'let's see if the next one is off the Justine Frischmann break-up album, and if it is, we'll go straight to ITN."
Over on Twitter, there's a bit of a storm at Corden cutting off Adele. Yes, ITV might have a schedule to keep to, but if it was the Champions League that was edging towards 10pm, they don't send Adrian Chiles on to grab the ball and close things down, do they?
On the other hand, they would have to fill some dead time on ITV2 while waiting for the main programme to finish. So you can sort of see their point.
Phil Daniels and Park Life rather than Ken Livingstone, then.
That's it; fading away with Blur still on the stage. Doing the amazing performance that ITV and its hosts have been telling us would blow us away all evening. That one.
The Brits done for another year, then. See you back here next year?
By the way, does anyone remember Mumford And Sons?