Thursday, May 31, 2007

Christopher Hitchens: The Bisexual Word God

Christopher Hitchens' anti-mysticism book God Is Not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything is extracted in The Times today. He thinks there are four “irreducible” objections to religious faith:

It misrepresents the origins of man and the cosmos (Yet we do not know the origins of mankind or the cosmos. We know little or nothing. There are only scientific theories and religious fables).

It combines servility with solipsism (So does Janice Turner of The Times when she encounters Christopher Hitchens as she did yesterday. She did everything but suck his cock as a useful showcase for her considerable writing talent).

It causes sexual repression (So does peer pressure. Hitchens readily admits to alcoholism but denies his bisexuality. He fears the social and professional consequences of coming out, though he “makes lunges” at men when he’s pissed, so Turner claims).

It is wishful thinking (So is all political aspiration. So is Harry Potter. So is good health. You have to start somewhere. Or not. Not believing in a god is wishful thinking too).

Aside from the odd suicide manque, I have rarely ever encountered anyone who does not place their faith in something - be it God or gods or money or Pilates or Neuro-Linguistic Programming or literature or one's own fecund secular talent, or whatever. He would do better to examine the purpose and function of faith, with religion as one of its by-products; but let that pass.

What really matters here is that Christopher Hitchens continues to write.

Words fountain out of him in wonderful order; no tombstone will be large enough for the long long, self-authored epitaph. In the beginning was the Word and everything else assembled around it in the Hitchens universe. He exists to fill space with words – everything else is secondary. It’s probably in his horoscope. I bet, when he leaves a room, people say, “My, it’s quiet now!” The capitals of civilisation are rich with Hitchenses: the industrious word factories, the driven spouters, the irksome noisers, the wordy-wordy-wordy-wordsmiths. They have names for everything, they know a penumbra when they see one. What they think is neither here nor there: their actual raison d'etre is word birthing.

The Times runs with Hitchens' book because of the writing, not because of its argument, which merely apes religious tract by dressing opinion as fact. The writing is the end in itself, entire of itself. Fabulous articulacy is the destination. In the Hitchens theme park, the shiny, labelling prose style is a sign of inner order and rightness. A dangling participle is a symptom of spiritual anarchy or indolence, of something generally not quite right. He skewered Jimmy Carter recently for "sophomoric" use of language.

Long may his words flow, whatever he writes.

Read Hitchens' gorgeously wrought crap, click here

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Billy Zane not on the fence

Hollywood hunk Billy Zane and his fiancee Kelly Brook are settling down nicely in Kent - I hear a local photographer built them a garden fence after he pointed out that without one he might continue to invade their privacy. A male at my hair technician's studio tells me Zane "cruised" him once. I tell him to be silent and accuse him of having gay sex on the brain. Mr Zane is impeccably heterosexual, I advise, and then deplore in no uncertain terms the pernicious queerizing of straight male stars, such as Tom Cruise, Kevin Spacey, Vin Diesel, John Travolta and Bugs Bunny.

Amis: just a magazine writer?

The Telegraph’s report on Blair’s valedictory “vanity” tour through Africa is curious. It reports a “writer” and photographers are shadowing the PM’s journey for American Men's Vogue. Surely the paper knows the writer is no less than Martin Amis. To me this is the equivalent of, say, Dickens chronicling the young Victoria’s reign - perhaps when Peel first refused to form a government - in the Palace itself. Has the stock of Amis fils so fallen in recent times that he’s now just some anonymous magazine writer? More probably the journalists who comprise the Telegraph’s foreign staff don’t know who Amis is. Read his Money. It defined Thatcher’s ‘80s like no other novel.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paul Merton: No anal Hoovering, yet

I’m sure the day will come when comic Paul Merton is found in a whore house with a Hoover tube up his arse and a satsuma slice between his teeth – but that day has yet to arrive. Apparently he’s a clean living and rather decent chap so let’s hope his day in the tawdry tabloids remains just that - a juicy dream. But it’s funny how the unlikeliest people fall under the wheel of disgrace.

I grew less fond of Merton after his sanctimonious reaction to his old Have I Got News For You colleague Angus Deayton being put in the print pillory a few years back for fucking prostitutes and “snorting” [sniffing!] snow. You should have seen Merton’s face on HIGNFY as he and Ian Hislop crucified Deayton for his cock and coke tales: the moralist pair reminded me of those two old Northern bitches once played by Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough in drag, chin-wagging and pulling appalled faces over the garden fence at some neighbourly outrage. It was a low point in TV satire.

Last night I glimpsed Paul Merton in China on Five in which our hero does an Alan Whicker and plays the British Bloke Abroad. He visited a Shaolin temple and took kung fu classes. As he adopted certain postures usually required on the female side for what used to be called a knee trembler (“bend at the knees, legs wide open”), he did a Bruce Forsyth ("Good game! Good game!") and sportingly exhibited a body unfit for Oriental purpose: but it got a laugh in British homes, I’m sure. Then he did a Judith Chalmers and wandered about, wittering as he went, and then did a Bruce Forsyth again as he tried to line dance in the People’s Square. I fell about … in my attempt to hop channels fast.

As Merton’s star falls into lucrative TV template despond – as the new Forsyth/Chalmers/Whicker – Deayton returns soon in new BBC1 series Would I Lie To You? with David Mitchell and Lee Mack: celebrity panellists are challenged to tell the most fantastical stories. It all sounds a bit like Call My Bluff with Deayton as Frank Muir. Yet no matter his whores or his drugs or the sermonisings of erstwhile TV pals, it’s good to see a talent return to where he belongs – in a new show no fresher than Paul Merton in China.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Hay Festival - Oh God!

I was only half aware the book lovers' Hay Festival was in full swing when I dipped into Radio 4's Today this morning, whence the show was part-broadcast. "Any novel, be it literary or commerical, lives or dies on the strength of it's [sic] characters," decrees an online intro to a Hay event on Characterisation. Much could be said of the strength of subbing on same.

Were I of a terroristic nature, the Hay Festival is probably the one occasion that would bring out the suicide bomber in me. Fortunately, I am of a spiritually developed pacific nature. Perhaps it is the steely middle-classness of Hay, or its determined worthiness, that provokes me to imaginary violence. Just listening to R4 presenter, the garrulous "Jim" Naughtie ["nock-tee"], asking himself in one of his self-conscious, self-correcting soliloquies, whether a tent can have a wall, drove me to a particularly vivid re-invention of a mediaeval torture instrument applied to the scrotal sac.

Today Kathy Lette and John Mortimer kicked off with an item on Murder: A Beginner's Guide. The Rumpole creator and ex-QC Mortimer - who hasn't even a proper law degree to his name but he did have a daddy barrister - said in that near-eunuch high, reedy-whiny voice of his: "I always found clients accused of murder far more endearing than divorce clients. Divorce clients might phone you at two in the morning and say, 'And now he wants custody of the dog!' Whereas murder clients were really very calm and relaxed and easy-going - they might have killed the one person who was driving them around the bend, you see. They had freed themselves."

A nice observation, even if polished for a literary festival audience that has spent too much time watching comfy Tussauds TV's Miss Marple, or Rumpole even.

Kathy Lette reminded us that her husband Geoffrey Robertson QC was once Mortimer's junior and is now engaged in about 120 different human rights cases at any given moment - doubtless at great financial sacrifice I'm sure. "I often plan on murdering him," she said for a memorable quote to Nock-tee. She's not trying hard enough is all I can say to that.

Hunter Davies talked about the challenges of ghosting. Some subjects just clammed up - like Wayne Rooney. Fortunately his mum had kept all his school reports "because she was a school dinner lady". While someone like Gazza revealed too much - "I'd say to Gazza 'that's too disgusting, we can't put that in the book.'" His mum could only dig out Gazza's school swimming certificate.

More in keeping with my state of mind was Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka who called for a peaceful revolution in his home country. He has a calm, slow way of speaking, and a voice deep with painful clarity. His nation's ills were in part due to establishment evil people generating new evil people despite (because of?) wealth from natural resources. The evil people had to be got rid of.

Slightly cheering was HarperCollins' CEO Victoria Barnsley making a corporate promise of imminent carbon neutrality. Apparently, books on recycled paper are less bulked out, but never mind. I suppose Murdoch's belated awakening to the fact of global warming may have something to do with this. A bookseller bemoaned the demise of indie bookshops: in Hay for example the bibliophiliac battle line will be drawn between WH Smith and Waterstone's ... but there's always the internet. More and more people shop by click - you find what you want and it gets delivered to the door. Perfect.

Then, as I lay in bed, I defaulted to doze mode and dreamt of pitter-pattering tents and marshy fields and AA Gill in his booties being consumed by a huge wild boar (maybe the one in the papers that was shot by that little shit of a boy). Funny things, dreams.

Hay Festival

For sensible coverage of Hay, try Fiction Bitch

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Daniel Radcliffe: the bottom

Much to my astonishment, nearly 75,000 people have visited this site alone just to view the Daniel Radcliffe/Equus nude photo - even after all this time! So here's another one, the posterior shot. May as well give what the public want.

And if you missed the Daniel Radcliffe Penis study, click here.

And here's another bottom shot ...

For a short TV report on Radcliffe in Equus, view this on YouTube [click here]

Blair's legacy: Celebs get an upgrade

To be perfectly honest I'd never heard of the The Fixated Threat Assessment Centre (FTAC), a Metropolitan Police unit "quietly" (ie secretly) created by Tony Blair's illiberal government last year.

"The FTAC [identifies] individuals who pose a direct threat to VIPs including the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Royal Family," reports the Mail on Sunday. "It was given sweeping powers to check more than 10,000 suspects' files to identify mentally unstable potential killers and stalkers with a fixation against public figures. The team's psychiatrists and psychologists then have the power to order treatment - including forcibly detaining suspects in secure psychiatric units...."

"The purpose of the centre is 'to evaluate and manage the risk posed to prominent people by...those who engage in inappropriate or threatening communications or behaviours in the context of abnormally intense preoccupations, many of which arise from psychotic illness.'" Click here for full report.

The most delightful aspect of the FTAC is the government's acknowledgement that VIPs, or "prominent figures" - or, in a word, celebrities - should be afforded extra special protection from obsessed loonies. Ordinary victims of stalkers, whose attackers are routinely released if at all detained, can only look on in shock and awe. And the wording of the FTAC's remit is sufficiently abstract as to encompass all manner of obsessions with stars.

My own interest in the sex life of Kevin Spacey could, arguably, be regarded as an "abnormally intense preoccupation". And, Robin Tamblyn - are you reading this? The Daily Express has evinced until recently a very peculiar fixation on Diana - we must assume that the only reason why editor Peter Hill has not been sectioned is because his subject is dead. Harrods boss Mohamed al-Fayed is consumed with his crazy idea that Prince Philip ordered Diana's and Dodi's deaths - he never stops repeating his foul allegations against the Nazi philanderer. Surely signs of mental disturbance? The Telegraph worships Liz Hurley, almost daily: I blame past editor Charles Moore ... he does look odd at the shrine.

Paparazzi must also wonder whether their relentless pursuit of such stars as Victoria Beckham, Madonna or even Jade Goody might be viewed as "threatening". Some snappers actually insult their targets to provoke a response. An unlimited stay in a mental institution might knock some sense into these thugs.

But of course, as Tony Blair would remind us - and do see his latest blast against civil liberties today in The Sunday Times - the FTAC was created in response to "terrorism". This maybe true, but no one in the field actually says this. The test is something called "psychotic illness" in relation to an abnormal fixation on a mega-being. Meaning is only contextual - you suspect Blair would want to say, "but you know what I mean".

This "but you know what I mean" bit is the most worrying aspect of the government's own abnormal preoccupations with curtailing our basic freedoms and monitoring our lives. Measures are expressed in a generality, but the political understanding is a particularity. This maybe because if Blair came out and said: "I wish to limit the freedoms of Moslem beardies" we would get side-tracked into a debate about racism. In his Sunday Times piece, Blair argues in effect that police should have "wartime" powers to stop and question "people": by people he wants us to think "foreign-looking beardies". Know what I mean? This dislocation of meaning is one of the great flaws in Blair's whole reaction to "terrorism".

But at least he's inadvertently discovered his legacy - Club Class protection for A-listers.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Skinny Bitch: Dosh from Posh

This appeals to my sense of humour. A hitherto obscure diet book, Skinny Bitch, turns into a global phenomenon because it is pictured, once, in the grip of Victoria Beckham as she promenades about the US for a £10m NBC fly-on-the-wall TV show. As I write, sales of the book have shot up 37,000% since.

Victoria - or Posh - wrote a rather good autobiography which sold about 500,000 copies a few years back. It's not generally known that it was actually written for her, but never mind. Her smart ghost - whose name sounds like a fizzy drink - told me that Posh is genuinely witty and generous. Two little adjectives like that turned me into a passive fan of Her Ubiquity. Posh once notoriously admitted she'd never read a book in her life. Now she is the ignition for a "literary" firestorm. Life works best in paradox, I find.

Inadvertently, she may also have given birth to a new form of book promotion: the getting of paparazzi favourites to carry titles in public places. As a fad it could take over from celeb adoption. Just imagine: Caprice with a copy of Clive James' Cultural Amnesia in her paws. I suspect she'd be more the beneficiary of the trade-off, for the shock value if nothing else. Caprice reads Clive! Poor Clive.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Madame Arcati writes a novel

I am delighted to announce that I have written my first novel - just like Naomi Campbell once did, and Proust - and will be publishing it myself thanks to the miracle of digital print technology. It is called Vicki Cochrane's Astral Chronicle and has been crafted so as to defy any categorisation whatsoever.

It has not been, nor shall it ever be, submitted or sold on to a mainstream publisher. It was written specifically to be free at birth from the pollution of editorial opinion. While most writers are doomed either to rejection or submission to the fascism of some know-all post-grad swot (who aspires to literary fame him- or herself), I happily veer to the future and how things shall be one day.

It astonishes me how potent still is the glamour of commercial publishing to writers of fiction, as if a freely hatched chicken would choose to live in a battery, behind its bars. How sad.

Far better to synchronise with technology's liberating applications and produce a book that matches or exceeds the production values of orthodox publishers. Readers can decide whether it was worth reading.

Book reviewers, of course, still deprecate self-published work, unless it's by some retired military autobiographer or specialist in steam engines. How happily the critics graze through the fields of publishing catalogues, chewing the cud of PR precis, before the noxious exhalation of a (usually) compromised opinion. Ripple-like, they respond on cue to the latest sensational, hyped plop. Later, the editors flog their review copies to bookshops for spare cash.

Meanwhile, 20-something shop managers with three GCSEs and a diploma in marketing science decide whether to sell a particular book and where to place it - can the publisher afford a window seat? Category? Price? Cut? Fuck off!

Vicki Cochrane's Astral Chronicle will be available on this site a bit later this year in all formats - hardback, soft, audio and electronic. I shall write more about the book - which maybe loosely described as satirical - another time.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Richard Desmond does it 23 times!

Recently I wrote an affectionate little item about Richard Desmond's 11th anniversary party for his OK! magazine and how he'd got his chic employees to bear brollies for the celebs that rainy evening.

Now the pics from the do are appearing in his magazines. And what a handsome chap Mr D is - you certainly can't miss him - in the May 29th edition of OK! he appears no fewer than 23 times. I don't think even Robert Maxwell quite exposed his person to this extent in the Daily Mirror. Desmond had already appeared four times in the May 22nd edition - and just the once in New!'s May 21st. See, he can do modesty.

Barrymore, Seagrove, Pinter and the missus

Such a delightful dinner at The Ivy to celebrate my birthday - naturally I had one of the better tables from which to observe the various nonentities currently posing as footballers, reality TV stars and sundry shagees.

Michael Barrymore popped over to say hello - looking alarmingly youthful it must be said on his Diet Coke. He dined with skeletal Jenny Seagrove - just how pop-eyed can she get? - and her partner theatre impresario Bill Kenwright. She spent most of the evening saying "But you must ..." at Michael. I assume that he's planning a stage show of some sort. He really must put his misfortunes behind him and ignore the right-wing nutters who have hijacked the Stuart Lubbock non-cause.

Harold Pinter ambled by with his walking stick and wife Antonia Fraser in tow. For a moment I thought I was in Worthing.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cannes can't do that internet thingy

Second week into Cannes and I see the festival website still cannot show latest slideshow pics or videos – how utterly pathetic. This more than anything demonstrates the ongoing failure of the film world’s premier event to come to terms with the internet, still more comfortable with inkies and their ancient historical status obsessions.

For a real laugh, sample Cannes’ official blog - read, if you can stay awake, some desultory entries, one featuring the “Cannes Cam” (a camera focused on the red carpet up to the Palais – fascinating), no comments, no goss, nuffink.

Latest entry reads: “So, people waiting to get into tonite's 'midnite movie' - the concert film 'U2 3D' were pretty awed to see the band not only walking up the red carpet, but then taking their instruments and starting to play! Overall, a very nice 'birthday suprise' for Festival's 60th anniversay [sic].”

Mmmmmm, my clit's not twitching.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Jonathan King: Sex, Eurovision and Gordon Brown

Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for ... Jonathan King. The former pop mogul re-entered my head as I watched this year's Eurovision and I thought: It's time I had a conversation with this strange, hugely talented/flawed, tainted loved-down ex-colossus of the pop world (and Eurovision).

The Guardian's Jon Ronson put it like this in 2001: "King's had a hand in almost every musical movement since the mid-1960s - psychedelic, novelty bubblegum pop, alternative pop, Eurovision, the Bay City Rollers, 10CC, the Rocky Horror Show, Genesis, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine, the Brit awards, and so on."

Then The Fall in 2001. He was sentenced to seven years in jail for sex with boys aged 14 and 15. He was released in 2005. I'll say no more - see his website for re-acquaintance, click here.

Jonathan King! I hope you're well! Naturally you came to mind during the latest Eurovision - I understand you were in Helsinki for the event. Would it be true to say the great UK public who voted for Scooch know fuck all about music? Should the UK abandon TV democracy in choosing the song for Europe?

Well, it was me who a) brought in public voting for the Song For Europe/Great British Song Contest AND b) who changed Eurovision to make it public phone votes instead of juries... I sometimes wonder whether it was the right thing to do (especially as the corruption scandal of phone vote charging escalates) but my genuine intention was - find a truly popular entry. We did with Love City Groove which brought in younger fans and ethnic music lovers (most played track on Kiss FM in London during Eurovision week, I was very proud of that), Gina G (I still think that was our best ever UK entry) and Katrina - so I think no, let the fans choose, but give them decent choices to select from (I'm still hugely proud of getting a song called Yodel In The Canyon Of Love into the contest).

Eurovision was always camp (Abba), then it became kitsch (Katrina), now it seems exceptionally queer (Serbia, Ukraine, France, UK etc etc) - would you agree? Feel free to disagree ....

I agree and don't like it. There's something unpleasantly homophobic about entries like Drama Queen. Camp is fun, so is Kitsch and both can be art. Gay caricatures offend me. Drag can be fun too but only when done with tongue firmly in cheek. Whilst some may find over-the-top caricatures amusing, I tend to find them mildly (and probably unintentionally) offensive.

What must be done about block voting?

Nothing. I'm all for it. It's cultural, not political. I found it hugely refreshing when Croatia gave Serbia 12 points. Eurovision achieved something that brute force never could. Before I won with Katrina, block voting was blamed for our 16 winless years. I said no, a hit will win. I was wrong (Love City Groove; Gina G) - it needs a hit AND a great performance. Block voting will not bring a winner. Serbia was, in my opinion, this year's best entry. Finland was last year's best performance (though I thought Russia's song was better and Dima Bilan was fabulous). Greece won before that.

Enough of this whingeing about block voting; it's like the Lib Dems going on about proportional representation. If you are the best, you will probably win. Yes, Cyprus will always give Greece 12 points but the eventual winner will probably get 10. And of course Ukraine understands Russia and Latvia and Portugal understands Spain. The UK have the biggest advantage of all anyway (again, one of my rule changes) - the language of English; I have no problems with block voting - it's just an excuse for those who don't understand music to moan.

Georgia should have won Euro 2007 - I love Sopho. Please adopt her ...

I thought the Hungarian woman had a fabulous voice. I did like Georgia. No hits in this year though whereas last year had several (Tornero by Romania should have been a global club smash).

Tell us something of the journey to Helsinki such as how are people with you in the cabin or at the airport ... do you have a staff who book your hotel and flights?

It's great. Never believe tabloid world. I've been out over 2 years now and the vast majority of encounters have been supportive and positive.

This is the reality. 99% don't recognise me (98% of the people in London are from Eastern Europe these days anyway). Of the 1% who recognise me, 99% think "that's a familiar face" without knowing quite who, and smile and nod as a result. Of the 1% who do know who I am, 99% think Everyone's Gone To The Moon or Entertainment USA or Eurovision or Una Paloma Blanca or whatever. Of the remaining 1% who remember the court case, 99% seem to feel I was stitched up and treated unfairly - they are the ones who shake my hand or say something nice (which happened 16 times in Helsinki - and not one negative). 100% of taxi drivers over the past two years have been positive. And of the final 1% who seeth with hatred for a Vile Pervert, 99% keep it inside and simply scowl.

I notice you championed the Arctic Monkeys ... even your sworn enemies would say you have had an extraordinary influence on and prescience about pop music for 40 odd years ... give us a snapshot of the current pop/rock music world and what's the next big thing ....

Yes I love the energy, enthusiasm and originality of the Arctics. The big problem at the moment is - the major music corporations are (rightly) dying in this download world and the thrashing of their death throes means we are being force fed crap which is their top priority but no good. However, the good news is... it's easier than ever for truly talented musicians to emerge via internet and other sources. That's how I found ORSON (No Tomorrow) after the industry had ignored them for 8 years.

I listened to your Vile Pervert track on You Tube, about a guy called Joe Meek who appears to have been reviled for his sexuality ... forgive my ignorance of him - is that right? This is from an album?

Ah; Vile Pervert is not about Joe, it's about the media, especially the tabloids, who love caricaturing people. The Joe Meek track is called He Stood In The Bath And He Stamped On The Floor (also on You Tube) - he was the greatest UK record producer in the 60's (Telstar by the Tornados; Have I The Right by the Honeycombs; Just Like Eddie - Heinz; Johnny Remember Me - John Leyton).

If you're a VERY good girl/boy I'll send you a promo copy of EARTH TO KING, the new collection. Albums are over; collections (and mine includes a second DVD with TEN HOURS of video autoblogs on it, very useful for insomnia) are the new "thing". Just give me a mail address.

Have you ever consulted a clairvoyante/other seer? What would you like most in the next life (if any)?

No, I've never done so. As for the next life, if it could be as happy as this one has been, I'll be totally content.

Tell us something of your life now since prison release ... you seem to be very busy - would you say you're making a journey back to the centre of the music industry, or is that impossible?

I've never left the centre of the music industry (2-3 visits a week in prison from MD's etc asking advice) and fully intend to remain useful to it if I can. Mind you, I am now VERY VERY OLD! Life since prison is exactly the same as it was before and during; I tend to adapt to fit the parameters with the greatest of ease. Not lost a single friend, still hugely busy socially and professionally.

And your health?, please be frank ....

Well, Madame Arcati, apart from now being Type 2 Diabetic (from prison food or lack of exercise or perhaps simply age... so many friends have found this late onset thing) and therefore having to watch diet and lifestyle, I'm fine thanks. Never smoked, never really drank much, never did drugs... Had lots of very satisfying, (totally consensual and always with mature teenagers) sex but now, at 62, I'm delighted that's in my past, not present or future.

May I ask about your criminal conviction for having sex with underage boys ... have any of these now middle-aged men been in touch since your release from jail? All these years later, have you reflected that you may have made a mistake; or do you think society has yet to comprehend the nature of your sexuality?

I've never intentionally had sex with anyone who didn't want to have sex with me. I happen to be innocent of the convictions against me and am still battling through the Appeal process to get them quashed.

The police tried to force down the ages of the teenagers who made false claims against me and generally failed to do so (the dates were changed to later - in one case two and a half years later - AFTER my defence was finished). They didn't even bother to go down the "no consent" road since there were so many return visits which rather implied they were enjoying themselves (which they were - often because we WEREN'T having sex).

I have to suspect I was targetted as the ages of consent were equalised TWO DAYS after my arrest (my entire philosophy, as a bisexual, was that it was ludicrous that a 16 year old girl could fall in love with me but a boy could not until he reached 21).

Remember, when I was a teenager, ANY gay sex was a criminal offence.

However, having said that, this entire brilliant experience has opened my eyes to the possibility that sometimes my seduction technique may have chosen to assume they were capable of dealing with future questions when I had not taken into account that changing social attitudes might create circumstances hard for them to accept.

I hope I never caused problems for anyone. Certainly I never intended to and a huge amount of past friends and lovers got in touch when all this started to express love, affection, support and sympathy.

My accusers ranged from the totally false (some I never even met, including one of the convictions and the man who started all this and only brought my name into it some time after other allegations about other people were ignored, on the advice, I believe, of a famous Public Relations person) to those who exaggerated enormously (met: yes, sex: no) and those who exaggerated slightly. Who knows why? There was a load of cash reward in it (especially adding in media fees); genuine delusion; revenge; desire for attention or sympathy; explanation for failures...

I re-read Richard Ellman's Oscar Wilde recently, brilliant book - have you read it? Jail didn't break you ....

No, but Stephen Fry has become a good friend.

I liked Jon Ronson's 2001 piece in the Guardian on your trial and conviction [click here] - was it fair?

No, not at all. I hated it; he failed to mention that all his intervewees had had their claims thrown out or abandoned (or I was acquitted in a second trial - conveniently ignored by the media). When I asked him why he didn't interview the 5 men from my convictions he said it was because he hadn't believed them! I like Jon and admire his writing but he was way out of his depth and got suckered by the police.

Is there anyone in your life now - love/sex/companionship? Tell us more ...

The same great love there has always been... my mirror.

Whom do you loathe and love most?

I love dozens - family, ex lovers, friends. I loathe nobody; it creates bile and negativity.

Are you happy?

Yes hugely; always have been. I've been incredibly lucky in my life; the variety of experiences has been amazing. From smash hits as a singer, writer, producer to hit TV shows, hit national weekly columns, from winning Eurovision to salvaging The Brits, from travel all over the world (256 Concorde flights)... the best hotels, food, lovers of both genders... great friends... and the recent fascinating world of miscarriages of justice, corruption, prisons, media demonisation - it could not have been more interesting and rewarding! Lots more to do.

As PM Gordon Brown will .... [complete sentence as you wish]

continue to bite his fingernails.

Thank you Mr King!

You're welcome. Let me know if you want any more and let me have a snail mail addie if you'd like an EARTH TO KING!

JK (delighted to see you, too, are not a Jasper Gerard fan)...

Artist to eat a Corgi live on radio

In an extraordinary art event artist and animal rights activist Mark McGowan is to eat a Corgi dog live on the Radio on Tuesday 29th May 2007, in a protest against the Royals and their treatment of animals. Tragically the dog which is to be eaten died recently at a Corgi breeding farm in Southern England and is to be prepared and cooked for McGowan's consumption by two ladies. The event is to take place on the Bob and Roberta Smith radio programme on 104.4 Resonance FM at 8pm on the evening of the 29th.

McGowan says: "I know some people will find this offensive and tasteless but I am doing this to raise awarness about the RSPCA's inability to prosecute Prince Phillip and his friends shooting a fox earlier this year, letting it struggle for life for 5 minutes and then beating it to death with a stick."

For more info 07944533010

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cannes: Liz Hurley arrives with Great Aunt Agatha

Hugh Hefner - not even Viagra keeps him up

I may not be in Cannes this year but my many familiars are out there sending me all sorts of interesting things, my favourite being this:

Hugh Hefner turned up on Tuesday for the launch of Playboy’s White Trash Charms jewellery line. In the pics he looks like he could just about get his cock up on industrial strength Viagra – a floppy semi maybe – but in fact he can hardly get his body up these days.

His blonde bunnies had to support him for the pics. The scene resembled a load of peroxide scaffolding built around a crumbling ruin. He probably comes dust these days, if in fact he does anything with the daft tarts who sign up for mattress duties at his Playboy Mansion.

He wears a hearing aid now but the batteries must have been low because all he kept saying to questions was “What did they say?” However, he’s learned to move his head around a lot in a jerky fashion, like a bird perched on a branch looking for worms, to suggest youthful alertness – which is a good trick provided he’s not lying on the floor ‘cos someone kicked his walking stick away.

Then Kelly Osbourne turns up to pose with the bunnies. Well, what can I say? Against these slim beauties she looked like a dustman in drag. Her hair looks like an ad for wigs – you can see why Sharon had to spend about $1m to re-upholster herself – it’s in the family I guess. Anyway, gotta fly – hey Arcati, ain’t it time you went public?

Miaow Ciao

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The First Post quotes Arcati

The First Post quotes Arcati on the Lord Browne affair today, specifically on all the gay cliches the Evening Standard employed in a recent profile of the former BP boss. It also quotes a comment from a regular Arcati reader, nsfl - "A big problem for Browne was he dealt with the two most homophobic constituencies on the planet: Arabs (regardless of their private behaviour) and Texans. Of all businessmen, it was he who could least afford to come out."

The First Post homepage, click here.

Ex-Sun editor speaks for Scientologists

So that we all know, the man sniping at Panorama journalist John "ranting" Sweeney on behalf of Scientology is none other than Stuart Higgins, former editor of The Sun and now a PR for hire.

Cannes: Face-rape, Henri and colourism

I had half planned to attend the 60th Cannes Film Festival which starts today, then thought better of it. Just glancing at the line-up of foreign films in competition for the Palme d’Or this year makes me feel dyslexic – how suburban of me! – and you should see the Un Certain Regard selection titles: pure drunken Scrabble. But I’m being silly: Cannes is truly international even if the same old directors pop up almost every year – Almodovar, Tarantino, Catherine Breillat, the Coens, Wong Kar Wai, Alexandr Sokurov, Ken Loach et al, et al. The alphas will not permit themselves to be neglected.

In any given year of the many years I attended Cannes habitually, I rarely saw more than three or four competition films. I would get reports from the early morning screenings on whether it was worth spending my midnights in auditorium gloom for the repeat showing. “Thumpers” were to be avoided: throughout these one would hear the thump of sprung seats flipping back as critics made premature exits in disgust. Imagine being a thumper director amidst that din. My preference then (and now) was for the parties, the clubs and crazy antics of Hot d’Or – the porn fest nearby along the Cote d’Azur.

One year a friend of mine was face-raped by a porn star after foolishly going back to his hotel: he agreed not to come in her mouth during the gobble but he did. I spent about three days sorting that crisis out.

Cannes can’t abide racism but your success or failure as a reporting journalist there depends on your colour – that is, the colour of your badge to signify status. From memory, a white badge bestowed aristocratic privilege and hoisted you out of lengthy queues to screenings and pressers. Pink was upper class, and blue a bit sad - hello the Press Association. With the yellow you might as well top up your tan on the beach for all the access you get. As for the pink with a yellow dot – I think that’s a recent elitest subtlety, but I forget.

In any case, the movie production companies select the journalists for access to stars according to media status and territorial quotas - whatever your colour. One year I was so determined to interview Emma Thompson I stole a New Zealander’s identity: NZ is a little under represented. The patronising cow was happy to field my questions even though I sound nothing like a New Zealander: it was sufficient that I was sold to her as an ambassador for that region.

By day, my preference was for the Marché du Film – the market – where you could glimpse the movie goodies planned for next year at national stalls. Great for finding stories and bumping into producers and directors. Some people stalk their quarry. I lie in wait, like a tunnel spider.

The man who epitomises Cannes for me is an exotic called Henri Behar: he has moderated the press conferences for years and is endearingly strict in a number of different languages. I should say he was once beautiful. Before each conference he languidly strolls in, trailing nicotine smoke; an exhibition of velvety camp. He may smile at familiar faces among the seated journalists, he may just scribble notes for the introduction of the talent; or may tap the microphones and light another cigarette. He was always quite fearless – he once put down a truculent Russell Crowe with the words “Welcome to Dr Russell and Mr Crowe ….” Even the Aussie bastard laughed.

He knows everyone in Hollywood and without. He is treated by the A-listers as a kind of celluloid guru. Google him and Le Monde comes up, yet I’ve seen little of his published writings: what little has not impressed. One suspects his genius is of the social variety: he’s part of that small select tribe who film festival-hop. Some call it work. Even on the Croisette he proves to be elusive – doubtless a narcoanalyst could part him from a million celebrity secrets. John Blake should hunt that little chap down – Henri’s English is perfect.

Oh, you wanted me to make a comparative study of tous les cinemas du monde at Cannes, did you? Don’t be daft. I may attend Cannes' 61st.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

OK!'s 11th anniversary party: A brolly good time!

The more I hear of Richard Desmond the more I wonder whether we might not get on rather well after all. For I hear that he put his staff to good use at the 11th anniversary party of his excellent flagship magazine OK! on Saturday, May 12, at a London venue to which I shall not give free publicity.

Writers, subs, designers and assorted other media grunts from OK! and his other sleb titles were ordered to attend the event and welcome the many star arrivals, such as Jordan, Sophie Anderton, Bianca Gascoigne, Michelle Bass and other glitzy personages sourced to, or headed for, TV reality shows.

Alas, ‘twas a rainy, cold night. So umbrellas were generously distributed to the grunts outside in order to provide ambulatory shelter to each celeb on the route from limo to party venue entrance. This ferrying process took about two hours so that by the time all the guests were in, quite a few young staffers in their flimsy yet chic party frocks were a-shiveri’ and a-shakin’. An adjacent chestnut seller at his glowing brazier would have done a roaring trade.

On the party guest list shown to me, I see the letter “P” against certain star names. This was to indicate that Richard Desmond – who should surely have received a knighthood by now – wished to be photographed with the selected celebrity in a room wallpapered in the red OK! logo, for possible future use in that mag. One can only pity those Z-listers who do not yet qualify for such treatment.

I applaud Mr Desmond’s pioneering use of his employees. I know from painful experience myself how ruinously expensive professional party-planners can be.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Gene Wilder: How to stay on top

One measure of personal power or authority is whether you can control the pace of intercourse with another person. Gene Wilder on British TV show This Morning today exemplified this very well. Normally hosts Fern Brittan and Phillip Schofield shoo the chat along like a couple of snappy sheep dogs – Jeremy Paxman and his political ilk do this more overtly with constant interruptions, rapid speaking and looking away at a laptop while the victim struggles to catch breath.

Not with Gene Wilder. The Hollywood comic legend, here to promote his debut novel at age 73, The French Whore: A Love Story, sat on the cosy sofa like a slim-line Buddha: his still aura anaesthetised his interrogators (they’d say “awed”), his face gave nothing away, offered no reassurance, he paused before giving long, slow answers, he repeated the gist of questions to clarify a point in his mind, he was slyly humorous – the more so to keep his hosts on edge: they might miss something! This was a master-class in control of atmospherics: it should be put out on DVD to nattery politicians who trade their authority away by trying to keep up with studio pace.

As to Wilder himself, well, he looks a fit 73, nothing younger. He told some good stories. He admitted to a lively row with Mel Brooks over the latter’s plans to make the stage musical version of Young Frankenstein (they co-wrote the award-winning movie): Wilder opposed. But then he relented – “I just want Mel to be happy,” he said. “He’s not going to make another movie, his wife [Anne Bancroft] has died, … I wanted him to be happy. Now he phones every week to sing bits of his new songs for Frankenstein. The show could be a success, or it could not be.”

Isn’t that great? Summary: He only gave in for Mel’s sake as an act of charity: The songs – oh, God, he listens because Mel insists on calling: The show will be a hit? - well, that's uncertain. So Wilder has positioned himself perfectly for a turkey while advertising Mel’s need to do something with his spare time. Nothing gainsaid. Nothing lost. Gene wins both ways - either he's generous or prescient.

He was asked why he doesn’t do more movies. “I hate modern movies,” he said. “There’s the f-word in every sentence, toilet humour, special effects, explosions; not for me. Showbiz is everywhere now, that’s why I live in Connecticut – it’s peaceful, we have raccoons. You find showbiz in shops, in the drugstores. The store assistant is most likely a member of the Actors’ Guild. But if the bell goes when I read a script, I’ll do it. That’s not happened in a long time.”

Wilder has already completed his second novel. He could sell a book of blank pages - and the trilogy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eurovision: Queers wot won it

Maria Serifovic, 2007 winner for Serbia

Verka Serduchka, runner-up for Ukraine

What a night! The lezzies won it for Serbia - loved the red half hearts on femme fists made complete in fisted intimacy - and the shiny trannies nearly got it for Ukraine at No 2. But queerism alone won't do it. Pinko France and the UK looked just so out of it - so Pan pastiche Am. In the UK's case, abandon TV democracy and bring back the absolutism of Jonathan King. Only a perv can understand Eurovision.

Left to me, Georgia would have won it: best dance sound - brilliant vocals. Belarus, loved it. Bulgaria, yes. Thank God for bloc votes, Terry. Worst song: Ireland. Only thing missing was a leprechaun.

Listen to the Georgia entry: Sopho's Visionary Dream.

Get the Eurovision DVD.

John Walsh: Mr Fu?

Q: Does anyone know why John Walsh is called The Tongue?

A: Anonymous said: "Such is the extension, vigour and rapidity of his sideways flick that he can do two clits at once."

The vacuity of industrial scale blogging

Arcati's experiment of creating a "conscience site" at Telegraph Blogs is not really working out - my only interactions have been with staff writers who sweetly came to say hello at first. I already feel polluted by association. The main problem is the boring effect of industrial scale opinion-production: why would I want to read some idiot blogging that the disappearance of young Maddie is "very sad"? I find it tragic that someone thought this needed saying. Most people can't blog or write or even craft an opinion. It would be better if they just did something else on their days off, like construct a DIY mini-greenhouse from the local garden centre, or something. But I shall keep an eye on the new and attractive Telegraph Blogs site: it helps to remind me that only refined singularity can help focus minds.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Arcati celebrated by the worldly-wise

The darling Grumpyoldbookman lists Madame Arcati as one of his must-reads in an interview with Joe Blogs. Michael Allen - alias Mr Grumpy - looks quite bohemian and I'm glad to see he's blogging more frequently again, as I predicted.

For reasons that I cannot explain, I have set up a Madame Arcati "conscience blog" at the Telegraph - the rather handsome Shane Richmond writes of the paper's new blog site: "We've even had visits from a couple of blogosphere celebs. Madame Arcati popped in to say hello and Guido Fawkes found time to give himself a small plug and share some news with us." Isn't he a poppet? My enemies will be furious and will scrawl hideous messages on other blogs there denouncing me. But I rise on their spittle.

Yes, Arcati is everywhere, even on MySpace (though the person behind that is not me. I am far more gorgeous. I have placed a hex on him and he will soon develop a distressing eye infection).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wine, women and a literary editor

I was sorry to have missed the incident at John Walsh's party involving his partner Carolyn Hart - apparently she threw red wine over another woman known to John. That's as much as I can say.

Meanwhile, I wonder who this following message may apply to?

"There was once a literary editor who was enraptured (I think it went like that) by my downstairs neighbour, when she was 41 or so, and well the rest is history. Oh yes. Actually it's a great story. He never slept with her, though, so maybe it doesn't count. He flirted, charmed, got her all worked up, waited for her kids to go to bed and kissed her for ages in the living room, then said he simply couldn't, etc, and left. It went on for ages and ages. There was a 26-year-old girl from Peckham, or somewhere, in the story, too. And the glamorous poet. And his wife, scribbling away in the garden shed, all those short stories... I heard terrible things he said about his wife."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The John Walsh book party

To the Polish Hearth Club in South Kensington for John Walsh’s book launch party. Who’s John Walsh? Oh, for heaven’s sake. Admittedly he’s rather buried alive at the Independent, but he is – now, let’s see – one of Britain’s great, um, men-about-town, a boulevardier. He’s a literary gadabout, an upmarket hit ‘n’ run merchant of the city’s salons. His main claim to fame is that he resurrected the word “oxymoron” in the ‘80s when he was (I think) either the Sunday Times books editor or someone bookish on the Evening Standard. Like a Mexican wave, the word - that no one knows how to pronounce - suddenly popped up everywhere else in the wake of his usage. People then wanted to be Martin Amis, see. Oddly, Walsh writes very well. Even more peculiarly, he’s a steer.

A steer? Yes. Now, the ghastly 50-something AA Gill would say he’s a stray ie a gay straight. That is to say, a man who is entirely heterosexual but who seems in most respects to have adopted the theatricality of a certain type of a flamboyant homosexual for cultural purposes. Stray sounds faintly pejorative, like the old word ‘bent’. I prefer steer: a neologism formed from straight and queer: the resultant creation is something slightly at odds with his swordsman reputation – never mind! - whether the result of past or present couplings I cannot say. But he’s happily partnered in crime-ridden West Dulwich with an attractive brood.

His delightful eldest daughter nearly stabbed me to death last night with the peacock feather sticking out of her hat. This attempt on my life took my mind to Tatler's lately dead fashion editor Isabella Blow (was it self-poisoning?) and her fantastic hats. I felt sad for a moment. But it’s hard to do poignancy at parties. Try crying into canapés. It doesn’t work.

Walshy is 50-something and has written two books of memoirs. His new book, Sunday at the Cross Bones, is his debut novel. In his witty speech he said he felt like one of those Albanian women who gives birth at 58 or whatever – he thought it a funny age to start out in fiction. The novel follows in the footsteps of the real-life Rector of Stiffkey and, inter alia, his messianic interest in London prostitutes – at first glance the book appears to teem with life in the style of a Hogarth painting. It is rich in incident. Walsh is Hogarth on stilts.

In his speech he took the opportunity to put novelist and critic Adam Lively in his place – who had reviewed the novel for The Sunday Times. Walsh remarked: “It’s funny, but was it 20 years ago that he came to my home in south Wimbledon and remarked that the brambles in my garden needed clearing? He was penniless then – so I got him to do my garden for £10. Twenty years later he’s reviewing my novel.” Yes, a reminder to be always good to the little people (OK, Leona?) or they’ll spit in your soup.

Before the speech I met Walsh briefly for the first time. He was dressed in something creamy-white, a pink waistcoat. A sleeping pinkish rose in his left lapel was faintly clitoral: I was tempted to tickle it. The myopic at a distance might confuse him for a delicious strawberry sorbet in meringue.

“Have I met you?” he asked. “Why have we not met?” His hair is luxuriant wild white-grey – fresh from pillow tousled - his face deep pink, the lips sensuous, almost pouty. And pink.

“We’ve cut each other dead for years,” I replied. “It’s more interesting than asking what one does.”

Fellow writer/editor/agent/journalist steers were greeted by him with extravagant kisses – not platonic air mwahs – on both (facial) cheeks. He’s a man who proceeds in life by seduction – of men, women, cats, shubunkin even – and this is a very considerable talent. He is the antithesis of me, but let’s gossip …

“The last time I had sex was in November,” a famous 50-something novelist reminisced. “I picked up the two best looking men at a party, aged about 30 each, and had them both. Yes, a threesome! By the morning I looked 10 years younger and they looked 10 years older. Yet no sex since November! Fortunately, I am a self-re-sealing virgin so I get to start all over again come my next lover.”

I retired to the patio outside under canopy. “Martin Townsend [the Sunday Express editor] is chaotic,” a female journalist started. “I mean, Jane [Jane O’Gorman, his wife and agony aunt of the Daily Star] forbids him to carry credit cards anywhere. The last time he had a credit card he phoned up a Chinese takeaway and said: ‘I’ll have one of everything.’ They took him literally and it took half an hour just to get the order into the house. No more credit card after that.”

Later came Walsh’s speech. He gave a very good impression of a publishing editor somewhat aghast at the prospect of reading 800-odd pages. I wondered aloud why the Independent's high-minded literary editor Boyd Tonkin was absent. I didn’t seek to stir, but one hopes Boyd – or “dank” as he’s known in some quarters – didn’t think the event slightly beneath him.

Oh, there was novelist Mary Flanagan. I couldn't possibly tell you what she said to naughty journalist Richard Barber ...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Arcati fraud: PC Plod is relaxed

Some may see this as poetic justice but just before my trip to Israel, a person or persons cloned one of my bank cards and lifted over £5,000 out of an account – in one hour flat! The bandits had somehow gained access to a postal address, a telephone number and other personal details of mine. It’s possible that they got the info from the internet – where I do a lot of shopping - though I always assumed servers were secure these days.

All the “purchases” were done online – bingo betting mainly (not my pastime), and lots of shoes: oddly, there's a trail to a delivery address in south-east England for the shoes. Are the parasites that dumb? I won’t go into how I got hold of this lead - or red herring - but naturally I informed the police. “Well, you should tell your bank first,” said PC Plod. “You see, if we investigated every card fraud, the crime figures would sky-rocket. It’s for the banks to start inquiries and establish that a fraud really has taken place.” I didn’t argue. Even when I told him the bank knew of the theft already he said – “Yes, but do they know of this address for the shoes?”

Surrealism and bureaucratic thinking go hand-in-hand, I’ve noticed, and silence is the only way to handle their unity. Most fascinating is how frank the cops are: they have to be target-conscious now and want their “customers” to share in the burden in the national campaign to reduce crime (at least on paper).

The bank tells me its fraud unit will “look into” my new information. Oh, well, Madame Columbo has done her best.

Lord Browne: The international outing market

The mysterious Duralex sends me an interesting comment to a posting below deserving of a wider audience ...

"Such "outings" as Lord Browne's or Peter Mandelson's wouldn't be possible in the French influenced area, for example, where homosexuality is not an issue. Do you know that the mayor of Paris is openly gay, and constantly re-elected? I might be wrong, but my bet is that no French tabloid would be interested in publishing the kind of "revelations" Jeff Chevalier sold to the Mail on Sunday. Homophobia is a big taboo in the French media. A positive taboo, for once. :-) The situation is not so good in Québec (probably the American influence) but André Boisclair, the handsome gay leader of the PQ, is a well-respected man, and that's encouraging.
I don't think the problem in the UK is only a social class problem. If the popular press considers a "gay scandal" is a valuable selling topic, that implies massive approval from the British population. IMHO, of course... "

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bjork: Earth Intruders, Volta

*Link improved*
Put your headphones on and listen to something wonderful, subconscious, pagan, dancy, tribal, pre-Christian, addictive - the video is dream-like, but you will not sleep ... a fantasy of the powerless suddenly powerful ... Bjork's Earth Intruders from her new album Volta. Click here.

Suitedandbooted tell a lie

"We apologise that website is down due to technical reasons."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Maxwell: What a shameful exhibition

The master of Tussauds TV, David Suchet, attempted to bring back to life the 6ft 3, 22 stone-plus, Robert Maxwell in BBC2's Maxwell last night. This was quite a challenge given that Suchet is only 5ft 8 and 12 stone-plus. Instead, what he did was to deliver a dim, bonsai tableau vivant of the man mountain who defrauded Mirror Group pensioners of about half a billion pounds, sterling.

There was the basso profundo, cured in the finest cigar smoke and costliest fizz - with the acquired drawl, mistaken for upper class. There were the polka dotty bow-ties in their primaries. And let us not forget the dyed jet hair, stuck back with some sort of glossy grease. But this was a Maxwell mounted in a glass cage (or behind a TV screen) for exhibition. At no point did one think that here was a re-animation by the spirit of an empathetic actor. This Maxwell was an under-sized effigy, a mannequin built on a thousand studied mannerisms, sartorial details, behavioural tics. Madame Tussauds would have been proud.

Suchet has form as a Tussauds thesp. His Hercule Poirot is, too, a model of face paint, hair dye, fidgety quirks and mannered mummery. Except that for Agatha Christie it works. Once you take away the absurd murder plots, the still-life drawing-room chit-chats and the determination of everyone to engage with the amateur 'tec, stylisation is the redeemer. Without Suchet's absurd mincing about, as the sissy Belgian brother of Batman's Penguin, Christie's appalling fiction would implode in a matter of seconds. So let us not be too critical of Tussauds TV: it has its place on the small screen.

But it didn't work for Maxwell. Cap'n Bob is too recent a passing. His memory is still as fresh as his breath was stale. His physicality was an essential component of the image: the gross body aided and abetted the sadistic arch-bully. In Maxwell, one might think for a moment that Suchet had captured the original's presence in solo shots. But then Patricia Hodge - as wife Betty - would come into frame and suddenly the giant ogre was just another Napoleon. The sets also betrayed the reality of Suchet's failure of proportion. Desks looked a little too big. Champagne flutes appeared insufficiently small in the huge peasant hands of the template beast. Bigness was absent. This was not a Maxwell who once murdered Nazis (when he made himself useful). Suchet's Maxwell would have thrown grass darts in WW2. Where was the visceral courage that in later years soured into boardroom, suited hubris and criminality? Tussauds Maxwell invited our sympathy as he stole from Peter to con Paul, when growing rage at pre-meditated fraud would have been entirely deserved.

Suchet told the Radio Times he only accepted the part when assured widow Betty would not be offended. What a shameful admission. No surprise then that Hodge's Betty played the part of Reproach and Conscience as he tried to trade her in for his secretary. It would have been better had this piece of dramatic laundering been preceded by a failed injunction application by the Maxwell clan. Instead, we were granted a guided tour of a waxwork. The result was a meltdown of the truth.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Armani: Attitude loses sense of direction

June GQ visits Giorgio Armani in Milan to talk about his “new classic” scent for men, Attitude.

The old orange face with the white veneers explains the mood resonators of his latest creation: Sicily (the lemons), the ‘30s, Old Hollywood and … George Clooney. The monochrome bottle resembles a vintage cigarette lighter – just to look at it and I think of some old Tinseltown actor coughing up blood and phlegm from years of nicotine abuse. Don’t you just love the crunch of a smoker’s cough as his (or her) rib cage tries to contain the body’s desire to explode? I’m certain that Armani did not intend me to make this association, but such is the peril of redolence: it’s very subjective.

He would have us believe that Attitude is an olfactory connotation of the Med, sincerity, movie masculine glam, citric freshness and the light and dark of the Guggenheim Museum. Indeed GQ helpfully offers a collage of different images to this end, including a still of Randolph Scott’s old boyfriend Cary Grant snogging, I think, Ingrid Bergman.

But nowhere do I see images of the Orient. For, as the Now Smell This site suggests in its review of Attitude: “Although it's classified as a modern fougère, the fragrance is closer to an oriental scent.” Ooops. I can’t think that Armani intended his fragrance to head East when his focus is on the cultural West. Never mind. Just don’t tell L’Oreal who bankroll his imaginative crap.

Alan & Marina: Just good colleagues?

The Alan Rusbridger-Marina Hyde story has been denounced by a number of readers - presumably from the Guardian itself. Representative of these messages is this one that was posted today:

"I second Anonymous on your Hyde tale - bollox!! But a developing mystery methinks. Biggest spreader of it on Fleet St has been one Mr Piers Moron, and the general view now is that he is trying desperately to get at her because he's a bitter old cunt. Excuse my French Madame, but you sound like a girl that can take it!!! Sad bit is Marina probably (definitely some say) has the full dirt on him but refuses to ever take revenge / speak about him. The old goat's pushing his luck though isn't he?!"

Marina - who is a very talented writer - should feel free to drop me a line so that we can drown this naughty rumour for good. And if she would like to confide Morgan's cock size, then I shall grant her one special wish.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Arcati in the Daily Mail

My frenemies will be delighted to learn that the Daily Mail mentions the Madame Arcati blog in a piece on Molly Parkin today (p57). It's by Moll's daughter Sophie. "How many grandmothers of 75 discuss their sex lives openly in public, in full, glorious Technicolor detail?" she asks, before illuminating Mail readers on what will now be familiar to Arcatists.

Sophie first became aware of Moll's recent anecdotes when she opened the Daily Express and read a few titbits from Arcati in its entertaining gossip column, Day & Night, edited by Kathryn Spencer - the best thing in that paper it must be said. Arcati was name-checked there, too. So, a perfect synergy of print and blogging through the medium of Arcati.

To read Sophie's piece click here.

The importance of cock-cunting

As today is a busy one, I shall post my reply to one of my biggest fans, Walter Ellis, whose Arcati testimonial maybe read in the left-hand sidebar. For the context of my reply, you will have to read the comments to the posting immediately below.

Darlingest Walt,

When I say that Fleet St eds tend to stick their cocks in cunts I do not think I am betraying symptoms of Tourette's, though I am grateful for your medical curiosity - likewise, I think of your precious prostate every day. No, I am simply reporting a fact. I could, for instance, say that the editor of the Guardian is a heterosexual who is suspected of playing away at the moment - it's not my policy to comment on idle gossip. But I could say he is suspected of sticking his cock in a cunt to which he is not married. Once reduced to basics, the activity of cock-cunting soon loses its glamour - and if applied regularly would soon achieve a reduction in newspaper sales.

The implication of cock-cunting is that cock-cocking is a minor outrage, even these days (likewise cunt-cunting). The liberal cock-cunters pretend to be tolerant of the inversion but quietly pray that their nearest and dearest won't be afflicted. Does that sum you up, Walt?

Your book is in the post btw. I can scarcely contain my excitement at the psychological nuggets that await me. I may run an abridgement on Arcati - I'll send you some shekels, natch.

MA x

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lord Browne: Hinted here first

Lord Browne's current problems were flagged up a little while ago on Arcati - click here. So much for my unreliability.

For people who don't get out much, click here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Israel: Shalom, for now

I fly back to the UK today, Israeli security permitting. Last year I was questioned for nearly 90 minutes at Ben Gurion. After a lot of nonsense my Oral B dental charger was detained, only to justify the time wasted cross-examining me, body searching me and delving into my luggage. The charger was returned on a later flight the next day. But Israel is surrounded by enemies: I would not board a plane to and from Israel if security here did not make a great nuisance of itself. Tip to deal with security: memorise your hotel name, do not joke or be smart. On your return, memorise a few places you've visited. Name a friend or contact in Israel if you can. They seek signs of the non-tourist, among other things. Be the holiday-maker with them.

Last night I drove to the seaside city of Haifa from Carmel, down long winding roads, past the fearsome Carmel prison with its crown of barbed wire, down towards the glittery plain of this tiny city. Tel Aviv is known as a city of colours - you can find and see anything there: racial, sexual, cultural. Haifa is the "city of labour": on a generalist level, people work hard here, life revolves around family; it is suburban, cohesive. It must boast more wedding clobber shops than any other city in the Middle East. The result - or one of the results - is that Haifa is manicured, clean, well maintained: it has many clubs and bars, excellent restaurants: I begin to think that I should have started this break in Haifa and not Tel Aviv: something for next time.

Thank you for travelling with me.