Saturday, June 30, 2007

Precious Williams: A Berlin encounter

A man enters a Berlin bar; he espies a beautiful woman called Precious Williams ... and decides to try his luck, for Queen and Madame Arcati ...

(The author of this piece - Kishan - has now left a comment)

Thought you might be interested to know that I bumped into none other than Precious Williams at the weekend, in a charming little vodka bar [in Berlin] where they claim to serve 42 flavous of vodka.

Of course I grilled her about Jon Snow and her newfound infamy.

Did you make it up? I asked. Did the Mail on Sunday make it all up? Is Jon Snow making stuff up?

Precious rolled her eyes at me and said: "Are you sure you don't have anything a little more interesting to talk about?"

I said: "I'm just curious, that's all. Can I buy you a drink?"

She said: No.

Later she actually bought me a drink. Some sort of Cosmo made with freshly blended imported Russian berries that she raved about.

I talked to her for about three-quarters of an hour. My motivation in hanging around was two-fold: I wanted to find out what really happened (if anything) between her and Snow and to be frank I also wanted to see if I could pull her.

I found her quite hot in real life and quite fancied her: a lot prettier than the pictures of her in the paper. Perhaps most importantly, she was wearing a skirt (or dress) so short that at one point I briefly saw her knickers (they were purple). Two very long caramel brown legs were displayed to their full advantage. I don't know about Jon Snow, but I wouldn't kick that out of bed.

All I could get out of her on the Jon Snow business was the following:

"I fucking despair of the fucking state of British newspapers. Don't they have anything meaningful to write about?"

We talked about all the non-important stories the papers print these days.

She said, "I spent nearly ten years poking my nose in other people's private lives and writing about it. Even when a PR banned me from asking an interviewee questions about his sex life, I'd still ask, because my editors made me. I was involved in a tabloid interview once with Max Beesley where we promised him copy approval and then totally reneged on our contract. What goes around comes around for sure. I'm seeing that."

I asked her if she'd ever had an affair with an A-list celebrity as opposed to the rather C-list Snow.

"Yes," she said. "But my mouth is zipped about it."

I asked: Was it with somebody you interviewed?

"It was. I used to have his poster on my wall when I was a teenager. He's a rapper. That's all you're getting from me."

I asked: Is it true you have a book deal for a memoir about you and Snow?

She quipped, "Were you sent to talk to me by the Mail on Sunday or something?"

I asked: Are you familiar with Madame Arcati?

"Oh my God!" she screamed. "You're not Madame Arcati are you? Prove you're not her!"

She looked genuinely afraid.

"If you are Arcati," she said (she pronounced it Arr-Catty. Is that correct pronunciation?), "please, please stop writing about me. I'm just an ordinary person trying to mind my own business."

Sadly despite our fairly lengthy and at times flirty chat, I couldn't get Precious to fuck me or even give me her phone number. Possibly because she was in the company of a handsome but menacing-looking Russian chap who said very little but made it clear with his facial expressions that he'd break my legs if I didn't back off.

However, Precious did buy me the aforementioned fancy drink which cost 9 euros.

"Even if you are Madame Arcati", she said as she left the bar, "I hope you have a really nice time in Berlin."

Arcati is pronounced "Ah-car-tee

Friday, June 29, 2007

Time Out: 'Madame Arcati is our website of the week'

An anonymous person informs me that Time Out magazine has paid tribute to Madame Arcati with its "website of the week" accolade, in terms that meet with my approval ... I reprint on trust ...

"Madame Arcati (named after the eccentric medium in Noel Coward's 'Blithe Spirit') calls herself a 'showbiz and media clairvoyante'. The tone of her notably - some might say revealingly - witty and well-written blog recalls pop gossip newsletter Popbitch, but the thrust of her revelations is generally literary. She was first with the news of the sobbing and wine-throwing that ensued when Indie hack John Walsh made the fatal error of inviting both his long-term partner and his mistress to the launch of his first novel.

"An attentive observer of the baffling Jon Snow/Precious Williams non-affair, she currently has her knife stuck into Diana's latest biographer, Tina Brown: 'She has a reputation for a modish, magpie use of shiny word-finds, as if the employment of the latest now-word or phrase shifts her into the symphonic moment ... ' Me-oww!"

Brian Sewell: A beautiful portrait

Thank God (or the gods) that Brian Sewell still has a place in British journalism - as art critic of the London Evening Standard. How editor Veronica Wadley must cringe as a Sewell sentence uncoils like a vast and fattened boa constrictor, minimally interrupted by the occasional comma or semi-colon. His paragraphs, too, are modelled in proportion on the huge chiselled stones of the pyramids; one wonders whether word slaves heave these great blocks into space, as sad little tart hacks elsewhere have to settle for sound-bite prose.

Recently I was privileged to discover the work of Paul Binnie, who I understand is a comfort of sorts to Mr Sewell - but that Madame Arcati could say the same! In particular I was drawn to Paul's portrait in oil of Sewell - a fabulous sight, entitled The Turkophile. You may have seen it already, but in case you haven't, here it is; purloined without permission, so I suppose Mr B will threaten to sue me along with everyone else. He should grant me an interview instead so that we may luxuriate in the aromatherapy of Sewell.

To enjoy Paul Binnie's brilliant art, do visit his site and make him rich(er) [Click here].

For the enlargement of your vocabulary, and other things, do visit the master himself [click here].

PS: Someone once described Sewell's voice thus: "He sounds like a dowager duchess carefully recalling a large turd she was once mistakenly served during tea at Claridge's. After a while, though, you stop noticing the peculiar enunciation; it is the words that fascinate ..."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Duncan Fallowell: Anyone picked up a Polish builder?

Quite an epistolatory week, innit? And now ....

Dear Madame Arcati

I have just seen your kind words in response to The First Post jilting me. It is indeed very stressful no longer being able to offload once a week. For example, I was on the point of writing something about the young Polish builders who are everywhere these days. Young builders from every other group are often haveable, even Muslim ones. But the Polish ones, though they are handsome and charming, are not. It must be to do with their refrigerating Catholic heritage. I'd be very interested to hear of anyone who has succeeded, where I have repeatedly failed, in pulling a Polish builder.

With best wishes, Duncan Fallowell

Dear Duncan

I cannot say for myself that I have any desire to pick up a Polish builder, but I can imagine that it's more fun than working for The First Post.

Your ever solicitous Madame Arcati

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

'I saw 93 year-old man with an erection'

Good Evening Madame

Just a little note extending on the age related issue of Hugh Hefner [Fuck her daddy, click here]

On this trip to Ipswich this past weekend we visited a local hot establishment. We were amazed to see a very old man (stick - like needing a good iron) enjoying the pleasures of the heat palace obviously for therapeutic measures. It turned out he was 93! He was very turned on by the surrounding proceedings and duly displayed 1 erect 8 inch member - viagra free I believe.

My god I thought I would have to be hanging up my sauna shoes but there is hope!

Something you might want to weave into one of your stories.

By the way when is your birthday? I am confused.

Your SA cousinx

Dear Coz

Thank you for sharing this observation with my global audience of size queens. Like Her Maj, I have two birthdays, but neither of which are celebrated every year hence my relative youth. Years whistle by and I cease to age by virtue of not noticing my birthday. It's my elixir. You can't bottle self-delusion.

You don't say what the 93 year-old man did with his engorged member - perhaps he had priapism, which I understand is a medical condition. I'm sure the Reader's Digest or The First Post have written about this distressing complaint.

Your ever loving MA x

The photograph shows an elderly gentleman who's not quite 93 enjoying the charms of Miss Paris Hilton, the former jail bird.

Walter Ellis: 'Why I dislike Mark Law'

My campaign to get Duncan Fallowell reinstated as The First Post's High Culture columnist gathers momentum. Writer Walter Ellis confides to Arcati why he dislikes the prudish editor of the online news magazine, Mark Law. What is it with editors - are they all cunts? Perhaps Mr Law would like to write in and answer that one ...

I like the First Post, which is intelligent, original and smart. But I don’t like Mark Law.

Many years ago, after I was forcibly moved from the Sunday Telegraph, where I was chief feature writer, to the oped desk of the Daily Telegraph, I found myself working for Law. He took an instant dislike to me, telling me on our first meeting that I might have found life easy at the Sunday but that things would be very different at the Daily.

Within a week, I was effectively banned from going to lunch. My job, I was told, was to pick up my brief after conference and then deliver no later than 4pm. Little that I wrote was used. After a month or so, things came to a head. On his way out to lunch, Law instructed me to produce 1,200 words on the Chinese Secret Service, which he said was a subject of growing interest to the Government. The article was to be on his desk on his return.

I’m not sure I even knew at the time that the Chinese had a secret service. The Library had one tiny cutting, no more than 150 words; the Foreign Office said they would get back to me after lunch (then didn’t); Chatham House said they would need several days notice before coming up with any kind of an expert. The U.S. embassy advised me to call the State Department. The State Department told me to call back later.

Come three o’clock, I had nothing. When Law returned from lunch, I confessed my failure. The great man – known to my late colleague, Simon O’Dwyer-Russell, as the Chocolate Teapot – looked at me with contempt. Then he opened his desk drawer and took out a book, which he handed to me, commenting sourly: “Then I suppose you’d better have this!” The book, a review copy (which I still have), was by Roger Faligot and Remi Kauffer. It was called “The Chinese Secret Service”.

I left the Telegraph for the Sunday Times weeks later. Last year, having been alerted to the First Post, I wrote a conciliatory letter to Law asking if he would be interested in occasional contributions from me in New York. Life, after all, is short. I enclosed five proposals. I quote his reply in full:

'Walter, I fear there isn’t anything here. We are fairly well covered for the US. It would have to be something quite off beat. Mark"

Truly a prince among men. I remember now that when I heard he had been fired from the Sunday Telegraph for insubordination, I was really upset.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Duncan Fallowell sacked by prudish swine

How distressing that Duncan Fallowell has been sacked by The First Post. He wrote the weekly High Culture column for the online news magazine - even the Indy's lugubrious Matthew Norman loved it and he's hard to please (he's usually dozing), as is Arcati.

My spies tell me that Duncan fell foul of the prudish editor Mark Law - prudish? It's true Duncan is one of the UK's great exotics, but he's a brilliant exotic, and he knows a dangling participle when he sees one. Mr Law needs to sweep the cobwebs out of his Y-fronts, throw the family picnics into a recycling bin and abandon his aspirations to emulate Reader's Digest. Fallowell is for smarty tarts, they're not easy to come by; and they're great for guerrilla advertising in the smartest places. Think on, Law!

Write to to express your views. Write something like: "Is it not time Mark Law went on a long-haul holiday ...?"

For an example of one of Duncan's pieces (End body art, bring back pubes] click here

For the Duncan you could introduce to your mother, click here

Extreme punishment may necessitate removal of The First Post from my blogroll.

Hugh Hefner - 'Fuck her daddy!'

A biopic of Playboy legend Hugh Hefner is now underway with director Brett Ratner at the helm. It will be called Playboy - that helped get Hef's OK on the project I'm sure. I am confident that a 12" prosthetic penis is now in its mould awaiting future attachment to the hunkiest actor Hollywood can find to play the bathrobed spurter who liberated men the world over to fuck themselves silly.

If you've ever wondered what joys await the bunnies who've served Hef and his pals over the years, then this extract from an interview with ex-bunny Jill Ann Spaulding may enlighten you:

Q: How is a man who's 78 years-old [81 now] able to have sex with that many women?

JAS: He doesn't really do anything. He just lies there with his Viagra erection. It's just a fake erection, and each girl gets on top of him for two minutes while the girls in the background try to keep him excited. They'll yell things like, "fuck her daddy, fuckk her daddaddy!" There's a lot of cheerleader going on!

Q: After the two minutes are up what happens?

JAS: The main girlfriend wipes off his penis. She's the girl who actually shares the bed with him. She sleeps there all night. She's around 22 years old. He uses all the same girls. She's been there for three years now.

Q: Don't you think that's crazy?

JAS: Yeah, but nobody really knows. I don't think even the main guests know all this. When it first gets started his main girlfriend gives him [oral sex], then she has sex with him. She's the first to go because that's the safest for her.

Q: Does Hef use a condom when he had sex with these women?

JAS: No. No protection and no testing. He doesn't care.

Q: Don't the girls he's having sex with care?

JAS: They care, but they're also getting $2000 a week.

Q: But you're in the room as well. What are you doing?

JAS: I'm just thinking to myself, "Oh my God!" But I wanted to be a Playmate and this is the way to do it.

Q: If you didn't have sex with Hef, what were you doing specifically?

JAS: Each girl pairs up with another girl and they pretend to have girl on girl sex while Hef is having his turn with the other girl. It's not real lesbian sex. We're just pretending. Nobody else really likes each other. There's also gay porn on in the background.

Q: I was told that Hef likes to watch male gay porn by former Playboy centerfold Victoria Zdrok. Did you find that odd?

JAS: Yes, but I think he needs to see that stuff to help him stay [erect].

From Crazy Gossip.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Madame Arcati: born July 4, 2006 ....

July 4, 2006 - this is when Madame Arcati emerged from her amniotic crystal womb in perfect form; no hideous childhood to endure, no memoirs to look forward to. How many prodigies do you know who at the age of 1 can so entrance the globe with such wit and wisdom as mine - and exclusive information? It quite makes me think that perhaps there is such a thing as reincarnation. I sometimes wonder who I might have been in another age. Don't you wonder too? Why don't you plug into the timeless organ of your soul-mind and send me your suggestions.

Naturally, I shall think of something to celebrate my birthday, something that combines my unparalleled ability to piss off and inform all at once. Yes, I think I know what I'll do ... but I must not get self-parodic ... one must watch for signs of ageing ...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cameron? Coke dealer? What?

What's this about Mr Cameron's coke dealer and the interview that the Observer spiked in 2005? Which Mr Cameron? I'm so confused, can someone help?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Molly Parkin: 'Crones must say yes to a shag'

Since Molly Parkin intuited a home at Madame Arcati, she has given an interview to the Mail on Sunday's You magazine (out July 15 - alas The Sunday Times lost out) and to John Mortimer's biographer Valerie Grove for Saga magazine. Such is the influence of Arcati over the media who readily deploy their tried and trusted hacks in my wake! Meanwhile, darling Molly writes of her surfer lover who has re-connected with her via the medium of Arcati (Molly's painting left of the blissful Las Vegas shag) ...

Photography: Tommy Candler. Click here for her site










Precious & Jon Part Deux: Use your brains, people

Arising from the febrile and many comments from the first Precious & Jon:

Interesting how people don't read carefully ... poor saps.

At no stage have I claimed that Precious Williams has made up her relationship with Jon Snow.

What I said is that she has to date failed to prove it. Whether she proves it is another question. Anyone can claim to be an "MoS insider" - welcome to Hoaxers' Paradise.

And as for Mr Curious ... read Mr Spurious.

Now, carry on with the show ...

Molly Parkin's surfer boy lover: He finds Arcati

A few weeks ago Molly Parkin recounted in an interview and poem how at the age of 73 she had a sexual encounter with a 23-year-old surfer boy in Las Vegas. A man now claiming to be the lucky chap writes to confirm ...

The poem
The interview
Father's sexual abuse
Molly's painting of Las Vegas encounter

Hello from Melbourne Australia!

I write regarding an article posted back in March of this year with an interview you conducted with the young and lovely Molly Parkin.

I discovered the article after googling Molly's name. The reason for the search was because I had just confessed (over a few beers) to a couple of my closest mates about an encounter with a lovely older women in Las Vegas a year or so back.

Obviously they found it impossible to believe and I was promptly ridiculed!

However after finding your article I was promptly hailed a hero (no thanks to Molly's very kind words regarding the lasting impression we both had on each other!)

I just thought it fitting to let you know!

Kindest regards

Laban AKA "Bronzed Surfer"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Precious & Jon: I give up (for now)

Some of you doubtless will be relieved to learn that I have given up on Precious Williams (for now).

Attempts to find any tangible evidence for her claim that she had a relationship with Jon Snow have come to nothing. Emails have passed between us, some of my questions have been ignored, and now she tells me that she can’t trust anyone to report her words accurately. This is a very odd thing to say when one considers that she’s a highly experienced and gifted journalist – one would think she has a voice of her own. And Arcati made itself available to her if actual evidence - as opposed to fervent claims - was furnished.

Recently someone made another claim to me: that Precious Williams and Jon Snow met at a London hotel last week. Some details were outlined, but no tangible evidence was sent. My presumption was (and is) that this was yet another hoax. I emailed Precious with the question: Did you meet with Snow at a London hotel last week? In her reply she ignored the question and simply stated that she had been in London last week and attended a number of meetings before returning to Germany where she currently lives. She did not mention Snow. Why would she reply in this fashion? Why not simply deny it if she had not met him?

I then emailed Jon Snow and asked him: Did you meet with Precious Williams at a London hotel last week? He replied by email: “Madame, so far as I am able to tell, I have never met her and had no awareness of her existence, I think that has been made clear in the reporting thus far and has been accepted by the MOS, best wishes, JS”.

I am probably not alone in thinking this a very oddly worded response, and its meaning lies in an implication. He is not aware of her existence (so presumably he could not have met her in a hotel last week); his formula “so far as I can tell” carries another implication: that his unawareness of her existence is contingent on an ability to tell. I don’t know why he didn’t just say categorically: “I did not meet this woman at a London hotel last week”.

However, his response is in effect a denial and one that must be accepted in the absence of supporting evidence. Jon Snow "does not know a lady called Precious Williams", as his lawyer has asserted.

Now, back to Precious. Yesterday I asked by email again whether she had met Snow at the London hotel. In one of her replies she stated that she did not know what I was talking about and asked me to explain. This in itself was a curious response - could she have forgotten so soon this business of the hotel? So I asked the question again. This time she told me that she could not trust anyone to report her accurately.

I shall not speculate on Precious’ state of mind, her credibility or motives in this bizarre saga except to say that she assured me that she had evidence of this relationship, that a broadsheet was examining it – and I’ve heard nothing since. And that’s where we are.

In the absence of this evidence one must tender sympathy to Jon Snow - and for other reasons, to Precious Williams.

Other Snow/Williams postings - read all about it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tina Brown trashes Mail's and publisher's blurb

On Sky News this lunchtime Tina Brown did two extraordinary things – she trashed the blurb on her book The Diana Chronicles and disowned the Mail's description of her as “a close friend” of Princess Diana.

Of the blurb – which describes Diana as “a manipulative, media-savvy neurotic who nearly brought down the monarchy” – Brown said: “I never wrote that, that’s the blurb. My book is more complicated than that .. it doesn’t have heroes or villains ….” Asked if she distanced herself from the blurb she replied categorically: “Yes”.

As to the Mail, it ran lengthy extracts from the book over two weeks and sold it to readers as the work of a “close friend of Diana”. Brown on Sky said: “That's just the Mail, I was not a close friend of the princess, I was an acquaintance who always approached her as a working journalist …”

A lesson to newspapers and publishers: don’t try to over-sell a canny master of sell.

Independent on Sunday note on Arcati/Williams/Snow

The Independent on Sunday's Spectator column for June 17 records the following on Precious Williams, Jon Snow and Madame Arcati:

"JON SNOW'S lawyers are keeping busy. Fresh from winning an outright retraction from The Mail on Sunday over erroneous claims of a relationship with Precious Williams, Snow has turned to cyberspace. Madame Arcati, self-styled media clairvoyant, has received a letter asking her to remove two "defamatory" articles from her blog. Matters won't have been helped by Ms Williams channelling her side of the story through Mme Arcati. Over at the MoS, more obfuscation over who was to blame. One name conspicuously absent is that of Peter Wright. Even in Monday's Media Guardian feature on Snow, the MoS editor did not make an appearance. MoS Kremlinologists are wondering who spoke to The Guardian."

The story continues ... a report of a meeting last week in a London hotel reaches my ears involving certain individuals not unconnected to the saga ... I refuse to say more for the moment. The truth will out.

The Tina Brown Chronicles? Not today, thank you

Writer Walter Ellis reveals to Arcati that Tina Brown is happy to delve into Diana's entrails but is less keen to allow others to delve into hers and Harry's ....

"A few years ago, while at a low ebb, I approached Ms Brown in New York to ask if she would consider assisting in a biography of her and her husband, the Blessed Harry, that, Gawd help me, I thought might pay the rent for six months. She did not reply. Her secretary at Talk magazine did, however, email me to say that la Brown was resolutely opposed to any such biography and would instruct her friends to render no assistance. Happily for her, friends of the Princess of Wales presented no comparable obstruction, and today, having pocketed a million pounds plus for telling the untold story of Diana (again), Ms Brown is free to concentrate on the awesome material of her own life. I Iook forward to the result and hereby authorise her to use the above material in whatever manner she considers appropriate."

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Diana Chronicles: judging it by its cover

Tina Brown’s The Diana Chronicles arrives in the post. For review purposes, my interest is less in the story therein and how Brown tells it than in the book’s physicality and presentation. As Arcati readers know, I’m of the firm view that some books can be judged by their cover (and the few explicatory pages within that bookend the main text), and Tina’s is one of them.

What hits you first is the shocking or neon pink (or kinky pink) cover: it’s a colour screamer intended to draw the feminine eye. My first impression on sight of the book was of Diana as a large lobster boiled to death. This is a woman’s tale to which fellow women will be drawn. But so garish is it that one instantly suspects a little over-compensation for something. That something – or someone – could be Tina Brown herself.

She is not famous as a writer as such beyond some smarty-pants celebrity profiles of yesteryear: media followers know her as the former editor of Tatler, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and the ill-fated Talk. Hers is a hard, clever image - not the stuff of non-fiction bestsellerdom. She has a reputation for a modish, magpie use of shiny word finds, as if the employment of the latest now-word or phrase shifts her into the symphonic moment: she is the uber-literate version of the virtually illiterate US Vogue editor Anna Wintour. One may do words and the other frocks but both do zeitgeist with a vengeance. If that’s dust you see, it’s their wake as they hurtle to the next next reason for their vampiric greater glory.

So Tina was not an obvious choice to write this book. Reverse the book and the pink is vitiated a little by text in black, white and gold. Helen Mirren’s testimonial is a smart touch: to Americans especially she now is the democratic embodiment of the Queen from the movie of that name in which she starred. One might suppose at a subconscious level that Her Maj has licensed this book, so to speak, given it royal assent. To state this is to sound silly yet Mirren’s slightly too well-written words are not here by accident. It’s a soft irony that will amuse the wise and delight the sweet hearted.

Brown’s portrait is a thing of wonder: art critic Brian Sewell must be summoned to pass judgement. Such is the extent of the recreation from the palette of contrasting pastels that for a moment I thought that Kristin Scott Thomas had posed as a stand-in, but it serves the purpose of pictorially complementing the shocking pink. Tina Brown is now a blockbuster author, the photo is telling us, “and I’m not 53.” It is pure Danielle Steel glitz. Photographer Annie Liebovitz – a Tina Brown recruitee at VF – has done a splendid job. She’ll go far.

Now, another surprise. Shocking pink might suggest that we’re in for a simplistic, sensational or exclamatory tale of fluffy, womanly things. Yet on opening the book, the type and layouts reveal a severe masculine side. The print is scholarly small and the acknowledgements runs to eight pages – she spoke to over 250 people for the book. It could be a biography by Richard Ellmann. At the back there’s a substantial bibliography and notes (per chapter). There’s even a lengthy index. This is a serious biography, after all. The shocking pink proves to be seductive but misleading. The colour will appeal to those who would not be drawn to a book with an interiority such as this. The interiority will appeal to those put off by the pink.

To the eye then it's a Jekyll & Hyde sort of book, wanting to have its cake and eat it - and there's nothing wrong in that. But a book with a split personality may not quite know what it really is - let's hope its readers can work that out for themselves.

Cliff Richard - pour homme or femme?

That old tart Cliff Richard sends me information on his new scent Summer Holiday “named after his 1963 Number One hit.” Pour homme or femme? He does not say. How typical. Like Cliff, "it is light and delicate but long lasting." Price: £15.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Kit Kat Dolls - Britain's Got ... Hookers!

I weep for the "gender bender band" Kit Kat Dolls - the News of the World front page story informs me they've been kicked off ITV1's Britain's Got Talent just because three of them (just the three?) are "hookers"! One of them offered sex to one of Mazher Mahmood's undercover reporters for £1000 - now that's a bargain. Coincidentally, I received a letter this morning from a dear friend:

Hello Madame

Just back from a party where I was astonished to be told that the Kit Kat
Dolls were pulled from the Britain has talent [sic] program at 5pm before the show
last night.

I was amused to find out who they were as we know a few of them. We were
getting texts the whole afternoon to vote for them. Not having seen the program I was wondering what this was all about. It all became clear at this party we went to.

I am sure a few of their clients with dull girlfriends must be sweating! One "lady" A-[male name deleted] is a someone we have dined with on numerous occasions.

Here is their bit on YOUTUBE [click here]

Could be amusing for the blog

Hope you are well

Your Ever Loving Spy x

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Kerry Katona - fiction brand extraordinaire!

We must send our congratulations to ex-Atomic Kitten warbler Kerry Katona. Ebury Press has just signed her up as a "major fiction brand" in a three-book deal. First in this trilogy of celeb stamped literature is Tough Love. She will work on the books (described as “a fantastic blend of Footballer's Wives and Shameless”) with an unnamed co-author. Rough Justice and High Stakes will follow in 2008.

With glamour model Katie Price's new novel, Crystal - set in the exciting world of reality TV and "co-authored" - just out and at No 37 in the hit parade as I write, this latest publishing trend in "branded fiction" is certain to bolster the profits of an industry that disdains writer self-publishers on the grounds of its own unparalleled good judgement of what's publishable.

Yet, the swine behind all this certainly know their market. Its feeds are the weekly celeb magazines such as OK!, New!, Now, Closer, Star, heat, Grazia, etc, and the daily pop goss pages in the tabs - in all of which Katona is a regular. The gender target is overwhelmingly female. These media focus almost entirely on TV/WAG/model/pop music names - fresh from sex/drug/illness hells, preferably - and TV soap storylines, creating its own limelight star system of bling-a-ding-ding ordinariness. The prole glamour of TV serials, WAGs series, rich 'n' famous fly-on-the-walls and celebrity/nonentity reality now dominate the TV schedules, our newspapers and the mag racks: fact and fiction seamlessly cross-pollinate in a bloom of media hyperbole. So Ebury Press has made a smart move.

Even smarter is the honesty. The publisher is not pretending Katona can write - she is a brand. In other words, it is self-confessedly surfing her name for fiction product designed for her fan base and adjacent who dream of glamour redemption after a dreary start in life. It might be regarded as a demerit if Katona could write: a committee-created brand must be true to itself and writers of talent tend to veer. An image of cluelessness that's nonetheless rewarded with mag at-homes and photo ops in the tabs is the perfect tabula rasa upon which to download current dream bait. There will be more career openings for actual writers to ghost these kerching fictions - and then long after the books are forgotten, the actual writers can produce rich memoirs of working with celebrity, know-nothing monstres sacrés.

Suddenly, the world of books seems a brighter place. And Madame Arcati has fiction brand proposals of her own:

1. Duck, Bitch! with Naomi Campbell: A coke-deranged employee-abuser, given to hurling household appliances at the staff, sees the error of her ways after a court orders her to do personal assistant duties for Mohamed Al Fuggin. Love grows en route to a lucrative department store each morning ...

2. What Are You Looking At, Dickhead? with Jodie Marsh: Our heroine Page 3 girl meets international football star Phil Cocker who says she's got to put her big conk under the knife before their fairytale wedding at Windsor Castle (actually, outside where Charles and Camilla got hitched). She starts to wonder who the fuck he thinks he is. She gets a knife, but it ain't for her conk ...

3. Cell Block H(ilton) with Paris Hilton: Poor-little-rich-girl Cassandra faces a custodial sentence for some trifling reason; then her identical twin Anastasia offers to swap identities and serve the term for her - but at a price. In return, Cassandra must hand over her fiance, well-endowed Prince Ari, to her wicked sister. Is freedom worth the loss of a big cock? A tale of modern dilemmas.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hollywood hooter quiz

Which multi-Oscar-winning Hollywood star has had his septum repaired 11 times because of heavy cocaine use (his lawyer knows my email address)?

Precious Williams and 'vicious rumours'

Someone called "Simon Kelner's Nemesis" - Kelner is the bunny-eating editor of the Independent [click here] - has sent two items on Precious Williams:

There has been some talk here (generated by Nick Pyke no doubt) of the Sindy "declining to renew Williams's contract" back when she worked for them. All bullshit. I worked with Williams in 2000 and I know for a fact that she left the Sindy of her own volition before her contract was even up for renewal. I'm sure a call to Sindy HR would confirm this.

Although I enjoyed working with Williams I actually encouraged her to leave, because she was being treated like shit at the paper. I am one of a handful of ex-Sindy staff (of course the Sindy no longer really has staff, we're all exes) who have recently heard from Williams out of the blue asking precisely what Nick Pyke's problem is and how long he has been spreading stories about her. At first I thought she was being paranoid but now I am seeing where she was coming from with her questions. Williams has always seemed a very nice girl, if slightly wild on the drugs and dress sense front. Have always considered her quite fetching to look at.

I've asked around, because I am curious. Williams has (according to cuts and general gossip) written for the FT, the Telegraph, the Times, Sunday Times, the Express, the Mail on Sunday, the Mirror, the Sunday Mirror, the Guardian, the Indie, the Sindy, the Big Issue and "most women's magazines".

I couldn't find a single account of anyone trying to sue any of those publications over features written by Williams. I heard of a complaint where an interview[ee] didn't like what had been written about him and complained that Williams "had seemed such a sweet girl". I heard of another complaint from a celebrity who claimed Williams had embellished his quotes but then promptly withdrew his complaint when he remembered that the interview had been taped. Nothing else concrete. Weird how rumours spread, isn't it?

This reminds me of the vicious, hateful things I've heard said about the black 3Am girl, Eva Simpson. Although there are rumours flowing that Simpson is talentless, an air-head, embellishes stories and so on, in reality she is a hard-working, talented and unassuming lass. So's Williams in my experience.

Jon Snow threatens legal action against Arcati

Jon Snow's legal reps have written to Arcati demanding the removal of two "defamatory" items on this blog which arose from a report in the Mail on Sunday about his relationship with writer Precious Williams. Snow's solicitors claim he had no relationship with her - in fact they say that Snow does not know "any lady called Precious Williams." Snow's principal concern is to "protect his reputation".

As a gesture of good faith I have taken down the contentious articles they complain of but I shall continue to delve into this matter which makes little sense from beginning to end.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Celia Walden: Telegraph's Spy has a stye

I have already written about the Telegraph's wretched gossip writer Celia Walden (aka Piers Morgan’s girlfriend). As regular readers of this site know, I’m not one to go on (and on etc), and I do believe in giving subjects of my interest a chance to redeem themselves. I have given Celia a chance to improve her act after an adverse review of a selection of her “exclusives” several weeks ago, and today, on impulse, I returned to her column. Alas! Would Celia know what gossip is if it smacked her on the fanny? Let’s go through today’s crock of tales:

Beckham to get his own reality TV show! Yes, but this story saw the light of day early Tuesday morning, dear. Celia quotes a TV source as if he’d whispered this intelligence into her actual shell-likes. In fact these whispered revelations first appeared in the TV trades.

Cricketer Monty Panesar spends Monday evening with David Cameron! Gossip indeed. Celia “gathers that Cameron was overheard laughingly calling Monty the acceptable face of spin.” The same quote couldn’t possibly have been lifted from this blog item [click here] posted yesterday, by any chance?

Tony Blair holds a Labour whips bye bye party at No 10 – even “disloyal” Tom Watson turns up! OK, so did the canapés, presumably. Celia digs up an old Tony quote on Tom to fill space.

The cover of Lewis Croft’s The Pornographer of Vienna features a knickerless woman and is upsetting at least one unnamed commenter on the Waterstone’s website! Well, fuck me!

Liberal MP Lembit Opik wants to teach girlfriend Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia how to fly! I know! He told Fern Brittan and Phillip Schofield on This Morning last week. How people repeat themselves!

Burning of Margaret Hodge effigy 2007

In an extra ordinary art performance artist Mark McGowan is to burn an effigy of Margaret Hodge, the Minister of State for Industry and the Regions at the Department of Trade and Industry. In a protest over her comments saying that established British families should be given priority over economic migrants for council housing.

McGowan says: "What she said was wrong and she should leave her job or be sacked but nothing has happened. I am burning the effigy which will be tied to a stake, a bit like how a witch would be burned as a form of artistic protest on Camberwell Green in South London this Saturday 16th June at 12 o clock midday and hopefully lots of people will come along and witness this burning, I am going back to olden times when things like this could happen. As regards the effigy I am getting some clothes from a charity shop, stuffing them with newspaper, making a head, sticking a photograph of Margaret Hodge onto it, then with a lighted torch I set fire to it, I promise you it will be really exciting, fire is brilliant, a real rouser. Obviously, this piece is sensational, but intentionally so."

For more info call Mark McGowan on 07944533010

This event is part of Camberwell Arts Festival and is supported by Arts Council, England, Southwark Council, Lottery Funded and many other organisations.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Precious Williams writes to Donald Trelford ...

Precious Williams has emailed to say the letter below is a hoax, but it does reflect her anger at Trelford's Independent piece. I'll keep this posting up for now; plainly mischief is afoot. Precious has written a substantial letter to me but I shall not put it up until or unless she gives me the go-ahead ...

Yet more astounding comments on the Jon Snow/Precious Williams fandango - some more credible than others it must be said. One in particular appears to be a letter from Precious Williams to Donald Trelford who wrote a plainly misrepresentative piece yesterday in the Indie (not the Guardian). Now, if this letter is a hoax, perhaps Precious could email me privately ...
Subject: Indpendent article
Date: Jun 11, 2007 10:37 AM

Dear Mr Trelford

I was astounded by your piece in today's Guardian [it was in the Independent! - ed]. How ironic that a story purporting to be about the ways in which the Mail on Sunday got a story so wrong could itself be so incredibly wrong!

I spoke to Phil Hall this morning and he is adamant that you have taken everything he said out of context. Phil Hall is not and has never been my agent. How could you possibly write a balanced account without even attempting to contact me and ask for my account of events? You have presented "facts" about me that you have made no effort to confront me with. At best this is shoddy journalism but I think it goes further. I consider it libel and in not bothering to even confront me prior to publishing the piece, you appear to have had a very clear agenda.

Precious Williams

The next comment is plainly a hoax, but Donald Trelford is invited to email me privately if he wishes to say anything ...

Don Trelford said... I'm big enough to admit that I got yesterday's story in the Indy wrong. I was misled by several MoS sources, and Phil Hall kept changing his story.

Yeah, right ... and finally for now, an anon comment: it would be helpful to know where or to whom Hall's comments were made ...

Phil Hall is claiming that he never was Williams's agent and that they have a mutual friend in common and he was giving free advice only to Williams. According to Hall, Trelford has grossly misrepresented him and the embarrassment Hall talks about is embarrassment at how the MoS has acted only. Hall also allegedly commented that he's pissed off because Snow will likely not invite him onto Channel Four news again in the foreseeable future. Hall's claiming he did not broker a deal for Williams and that there in fact was no deal at all and that Williams sounded dangerously un-clued up in her phone conversation with him.....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tina Brown: Queen of classy bullshit

Tina Brown tells the Mail that she was drawn to the US because of its "classlessness". I wonder what she thinks she means by that bullshit word?

She has dedicated her entire journalistic career to the celebration and reinvention of privilege - in both its hereditary/old money and celebrity/new money modes. Her Tatler was not egalitarian but simply fresher; the faces got younger. Like a Blair early prototype, she excelled in re-spinning old forms - largely through the practice of ageism and unfair dismissal.

At Vanity Fair her obeisance to Hollywood and the summer residents on Martha's Vineyard was a thing of religion, worthy of an additional gospel to the New Testament itself. Now she has written The Diana Chronicles in which her proximity to the princess is made a selling point: why, she even lunched with her (and Anna Wintour) at "the Four Seasons on Park Avenue" (a crucial locational prestige meme) three weeks before the princess' death. So utterly absorbed is Tina in the biology of luminary personality she imagines that celebrity has the power to transform physical appearance - "I have to think that being looked at obsessively by people you don't know actually changes the way your face and body are assembled," she writes in her Diana book ... "The heads of world-class celebrities literally seem to change."

It's all in the eyes of the beholder, Tina - your hallucination, a projection of mindless, unquestioning worship of fame, is up there with seeing the face of the Virgin Mary in a baked spud, one modern example of a condition known as pareidolia and defined as a "neurological/psychological phenomenon by which the brain interprets vague images as specific ones."

It's hard to know quite what Tina means by classless. I suspect that in her mind classless is anything or anyone that admits her person, subsequent to her advertising her desire to be admitted first.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Brighton - shaved pubed naked cyclists everywhere

I drove into Brighton this afternoon - and the first thing I see on the coast road past the Palace Pier? About 200 naked cyclists cluttering up the way, waving placards. As a matter of personal policy I don't read placards. No one's going to bring their agenda to my attention in my time. But I noticed there was scarcely an unshaved mons pubis - Duncan Fallowell is quite right, most of the men looked better endowed as a result - though no more attractive - while the women seemed less wild, more feminine, less Angela Carter, for their pert little triangles of lawn. I wondered about tampon strings. I'd have taken a picture on my mobile but it was off owing to the fact I'm trying to avoid someone's call.

Diana spam - only in The Sun!

Tina Brown will do wonders for the Daily Mail's circulation with the serialisation of her chirpily written The Diana Chronicles, of that I am confident. Saddest of the UK papers attempting to surf this tidal wave of royal rehash is The Sun. Today it dedicates its centre pages to what looks like an extract from Brown's book and an interview with the author. However, the content is pure journalistic spam - greasy off-cuts from a publisher's PR sheet and a dubious filler interview with one of the princess' innumerable psychics - together with a few pinched headline tales from Brown's book itself.

Then at the bottom readers are offered a FREE copy of Diana: Story of a Princess - turn to page 49! Not by Tina Brown, but by Tim Clayton and Phil Craig, a book published in 2002. On Amazon used and new copies are available from £0.01. For the Sun's giveaway - send £1.99 to cover postage.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Eli Roth's biggest dick in the world

Literary Review

Taken from Tim Palen's Guts: The Art of Marketing Horror Films, out July, and the item left occupies a double-page spread entitled Eli Roth Has the Biggest Dick in Hollywood. Is the 24" trunk for real? Do ya believe in Santa? Go do something useful, size queens!

Duncan Fallowell: 'Cristiano Ronaldo is Apollo'

Dear Madame Arcati - I was calmly writing a review of Douglas Hurd's Robert
Peel for the Daily Express and broke off for a fig roll, cup of coffee, and
a glance at your tonic column. All is lost! Ronaldo Apollo! I feel ill! My
whole life a mistake! Cruel, cruel! Air, air! How can I go back to the desk
now? Any desk, ever again?

Yours paracetamolly,

Duncan Fallowell

For the cause of Duncan's erotic if not existential crisis, click here

Precious Williams and racism in newspapers

Precious Williams on Jon Snow and the Mail on Sunday, click here

More interesting comments from Arcati readers on Precious Williams and racism in newspapers. Anonymous 1 writes:

Entirely tangential, I appreciate, but I was a casual sub on the Sindy news desk in 1999/2000 and worked with/near Precious Williams.

She was the only staffer, in an exceptionally unfriendly, paranoid environment, who
ever deigned to speak.

Being completely honest, the reason I remember her is that she was the only one who included me in the tea run.

But she was also friendly (said hello; talked about work; stories in the paper; the weather; generally behaved as a normal human being should) and unassuming. I also - very occasionally, I should add - subbed her work and it was well-researched, nicely written stuff.

No idea what she's been doing since, but can't see why she would conjure up some Jon Snow fabulation; every reason for him to deny inconvenient truths, though.

NB: I also remember her because she had fabulous Macy Gray hair, but it was just before Macy Gray was hot.

Anonymous 2 writes:

Newspapers like nothing better than to get black/asian faces to stick in byline pictures. But as a black journalist working on the production side of things I feel that newspapers are pretty racist places to work. It's not overt of course, it's things like missed promotions and hearing that another senior journalist who has never worked with you thinks you are 'trouble' - and looking out at a sea of white faces as you do your job ... Look around your newsrooms - most black people working for newspapers are in the canteen or emptying bins...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Blair and Africa - VF gives him a miss

Vanity Fair's new issue is guest-edited by Bono and dedicated to Africa with 20 different covers of celebs who have contributed a great deal to the continent, even including President Bush! Editor Graydon Carter is asked where's Blair on the covers - whose great work for Africa was supposedly celebrated recently with the valedictory tour. He explains flatly to the Independent that Blair's name never came up once on anyone's proposal list. How articulate is an omission.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nick Harkaway gets le Carré-d away

Unknown author Nick Harkaway lands a £300,000 book deal with Random House imprint William Heinemman for his debut novel The Wages of Gonzo Lubitsch. In reports, defensiveness hangs heavy in the air because Harkaway is Nicholas Cornwell, the 30-something son of John le Carré (aka David Cornwell). The inevitable suspicion of hereditary privilege should not irk us. As I’ve said before – and will continue saying – the process to mainstream publication owes more to magical serendipity than talent alone, given the total subjectivity of any editorial assessment. New York magazine comments on Harkaway’s book: “We’re hearing that [his] writing is fantastic, though the story itself has some major problems.” Never mind, publishers spend a small fortune on literary medical procedures to salvage a book – I have a close friend whose main source of income is rewriting and repairing books for publishers, some of which have gone on to become bestsellers. More to the point, Random House and Harkaway’s agent Patrick Walsh will have ker-chinged at the prospect of marketing a book by the son of le Carré – not in ads, silly – but in briefings to the book trade, journalists and TV shows. The process has started already with a full page story about the deal in the Independent today. I am sure Harkaway’s processed, finished version will be professional.

PS The pseudonym Nick Harkaway is presumably a self-referential call to find the true, pristine Nicholas - "hark away" is a hunting term I believe. The name is a form of exorcism of his father's literary curse on him - inevitably people will meanly conjure up the continuity of the le Carré brand - yet would he now be on the edge of literary accomplishment without that curse?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Precious Williams makes a statement

Statement to Madame Arcati by Precious Williams

I can confirm that I am pursuing a defamation claim against the Mail on Sunday.

I can also confirm that the Mail on Sunday approached me regarding this story, and not vice versa. The paper approached me following tip-offs which their news editor claims he received from reliable sources. A reporter from the paper arrived out of the blue at my home in Berlin several days before the first of the articles ran. I did not agree to do an interview. The paper ran a story on me on 20th May regardless. No money exchanged hands.

The Mail on Sunday was forced to issue an apology to Jon Snow because the paper could not prove that Snow "smoked and inhaled" cannabis, as was claimed.

I am not a member of staff at the Mail on Sunday, nor have I ever been. The Mail on Sunday has published around 35 of my articles over the years, mainly lengthy interviews with celebrities. Legal action has never been brought against the paper by any of the subjects I have interviewed and the Mail on Sunday has never had to publish a retraction as a result of anything I have produced for them.

I am neither seeking publicity. While the Mail on Sunday is correct in saying that I have written a memoir, the book is about my childhood, does not feature Jon Snow and is not published until next year.

Nancy Dell'Olio: The light of a firefly

Nancy! Darling! I just love the book! I’ve not read it and don’t plan to – but I just adore the fact you have, or someone has, written it!

Do read it, my glancing queens, it’s called My Beautiful Game and the Nancy in question is Nancy Dell’Olio – or Nancy Of The Oil as erstwhile love rival Ulrika Jonsson calls her – or La Dame Nera (The Dark Lady) as the Italians call her - the on-off girlfriend of Sven Goran doodah.

Like Kate Moss, Pete Doherty, Roman Abramovich and Princess Michael of Kent’s son Lord Frederick Windsor, she’s not someone you normally get to hear; you just see her, in the papers – tabloids usually – smiling to and from parties in fireworks attire. She and they are celebrity stills, print versions of silent movie stars.

Then she popped up on TV this morning to talk about her book and what a son et lumiere she puts on: even her deep brown hues look dayglo: an epidermal radiance glosses the face paint, so that I imagine her as a lacquered lantern casting colours on anyone in her proximity – no wonder Sven looks orange by her side. This light is not the nimbus of the saints but the luminescence of a firefly, a bright, buzzy ephemeral creature, though this one is not easily swatted. She will make a delightful retro ornament in the bathroom when the natural wattage falters and she needs plugging into the grid.

Now, what does Nancy sound like? – I can tell you’re on tenterhooks. She doesn’t sound Italian, much. It’s hard to decide on the provenance of the accent. She was raised in New York, she lives in Italy, she's often in the UK; and as Euro Trash can probably order a croissant in eight different languages. The result sounds like a speeded up impersonation of a G8 summit or Finnegan’s Wake, in a high, pink lipped register. Her eventual burial place will be a challenge: where will her cadaver belong? Her heart in Italia, her head in New York and (perhaps) her loins in Sweden (in a reverse of the present situation). The carbon trail of her global funeral cortege shall be immense.

What she actually said this morning is not clear. She said something about putting her side of things in her gorgeous book. Yet she’s done nothing but put her side of things since this international law trained figure discovered the deep treasure troves of Britain’s confessional tabloids (and paparazzi). She mentioned something about the “power of forgiveness” in relation to Sven’s habit of fucking anyone who looks like her (post-Ulrika), and I applaud this pragmatism. Asked about the shocking red cat suit she wore to No 10 she kinda said that its purpose was to attract attention, all was a game. I suspect Sven is up there with the red cat suit.

All in all I was mightily impressed by Nancy, she did not disappoint. Like a true Hollywood star she has entered the celestial stage of celebrity survival where every public word and gesture is intended to disguise true feeling or intent and finds its part in the strategy of unruffled, worldly loftiness; the Christ pose of Angelina Jolie, say – the adoption of a good cause (or just an adoption) is helpful here.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Jon Snow and Precious Williams: A mystery tale

This is an amended version of the original piece which included statements I am no longer comfortable with.

Most mystifying story of the day is why a writer called Precious Williams would have concocted a story about having a six-year affair with Channel 4 journalist Jon Snow while he lived with barrister Madeleine Colvin.

Over two weeks in May the Mail on Sunday ran a torrid account of his purported relationship with Williams. “The pair smoked marijuana, talked about books and politics and he seduced her with his 'chivalrous charm',” ran one purple sentence, a line that now looks like a crude attempt at Truman Capote’s non-fiction novel approach to journalism. Then yesterday, the paper ran this:

“Over the past two Sundays we published stories claiming that TV news presenter Jon Snow had an affair with a writer called Precious Williams, and that they smoked cannabis together. There is no truth in these allegations. We accept that in fact Mr Snow never had any relationship with Miss Williams, and that the allegation of drug taking was unfounded. We are happy to set the record straight, and we apologise for the embarrassment caused.”

MediaGuardian reports: "In a statement, Mr Snow said: 'The stories about me in the Mail on Sunday ... were entirely fabricated and caused myself, my family and my friends considerable distress. This has been one of the most upsetting and difficult experiences of my life.'"

For sight of Ms Williams see her website. A link takes you to another site wherein her history is briefly told including the information that she now works for the Mail on Sunday – or did. I can’t imagine she’ll be in Derry Street much longer if she hasn't been kicked out already.

For a fuller account of Williams' life, go to her Telegraph piece.

The mystery of this story is ongoing.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Jodie caught with man!

I hear that MTV is furious with glamour model Jodie Marsh. The channel has invested at least £43 in Who Will Marry Jodie Marsh? in which she sieves the chavs from the chaff in her search for husband material. But perhaps she's found her man already. On Tuesday Heat magazine is publishing pics of her cavorting with a mystery cock at Thorpe Park. Aspiring husbands will be scandalised.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Cycling: The new unsafe sex

One sure way to avoid the risks of deep vein thrombosis, attention deficit disorder or addiction to Big Brother is the taking up of cycling. For years now I have been a ferocious and fanatical cyclist - the mangled steel of HGVs and Ferraris clatter behind my mud guard even now as if I had just married, for on the road the bike rider reigns supreme (or did). The fear of a costly personal injury compensation claim is more than enough to keep most motorists in check. With my own eyes I have seen White Vans perform triple axels in successful attempts to avoid turning me into road pizza - intuitively they knew my vengeful estate would pursue them to their graves and make paupers of their Darrens and Chantelles.

But now times are a-changin' gears. In the last two or three years more and more cycle lanes have snaked into existence, usually encroaching on pedestrian walkways, if not narrowing roads with yet another dedicated lane. It's the pedestrian highways that are the real menace. Whereas in better times the onus was on car drivers to beware the unmotorised, now cyclists must suffer the burden of care. Far from adding to the safety of bike riders, cycle lanes have exposed them to all sorts of horrible risks. Cycling is the new unsafe sex. Let me explain.

Most weekends I retire to my dacha-by-sea on the south coast after the toil of weekday London. For years I happily cycled the stretch between my village and fabulous Worthing on the road. Bike riders caught even scootering on pavements were cautioned or fined. Riding on walkways was anti-social, up there with spitting and being drunk and making lewd remarks to postboxes.

Then suddenly the civic nanny-wand was waved and, hey presto!, it was made obligatory to ride on pavements. Green-dyed lanes were created, halving the breadth of walkways, so that bikes speeding by at 20 or 30mph might pass pedestrians walking just six inches away, on the other side of a thin white line. How logical this must have looked on paper as councillors sighed at the ingenuity of getting two different types of traveller - the cyclist and the walker - to share a narrow line of creosote. Why, the two need not even know of each other! Where there's a will etc! "Why didn't we think of this before?" they must have asked themselves before abandoning themselves to the orgiastic delights of a town hall thé dansant.

In reality, the result is a nightmare for all - except motorists who have the roads all to themselves, bar the odd milk float or farm tractor. Cycling that stretch between my village and Worthing and back, on the promenade, is now an assault course, a disaster waiting to happen. Let me explain further.

Pedestrians are dumb. Even highly intelligent people, once on the hoof, with a shopping bag swinging on an arm or a mobile phone cleaved to the skull, turn stoooopid. They don't think. Because what they do is, first, they don't remember that the pavement, the walkway, is now a shared thoroughfare. It is in effect a crypto road. But that's not what's in their heads. They see the green lane and think: "Oooh, how pretty! That's my favourite colour!" Then they walk in it. Meanwhile, hurtling behind them at, ooh, 25mph, is me. Do you see the disaster waiting to happen? But there's more.

Some pedestrians are bright enough to walk in their allotted non-green lane. But it's a funny thing about walking. You assume that when you walk you do so in a straight line. But in nature nothing is a straight line. People tend to wander about, they veer left and right, they make sudden left turns for no reason, they're unpredictable. And there's a funnier thing. They tend to get unpredictable just as I am passing at 25mph. Do you see the disaster waiting to happen? Only because I have my wits about me, only because I have the reflexes of a maddened cobra, do I fail to dispatch these fools to A&E or the mortuary. Arncha grateful?

Certain types of pedestrian are more stooopid than others. Families are very stooopid. They dawdle along in a comfy congregation, steeped in blood-relative complacency, and imagine that the world is for a moment a safe place. How very foolish. They have not seen me fast approaching at 25mph behind them. Then just as I'm about to pass, the four-year-old tot decides its a kangaroo and hops over the thin white line. Happily, infanticide is avoided as I pirouette on my front wheel and back flip over the little bastard ... you see, I'm all heart.

The elderly, too, create perils in different ways. Many choose to walk in the cycle lane because they are tempting fate to release them from a wretched existence. They want to be terminally crashed into. Many jay walk, some fall over into the cycle lane at the sound of my bell. Worse are the elderly disabled who assume, wrongly, that their battery-operated carts have right of way on the green lanes. No no no. But a cyclist cannot win if on collision course with a disability vehicle. No court in the land would find against some old cock - it would be presumed that the cyclist chose to crash into the four-wheel Stannah, or was drunk. Cyclists can react fast, see. The onus is against the bike. We are the new motorists.

Nowadays, cycling is a tremendous and onerous activity. Its joy for me is rapidly diminishing as I must always look out for the reckless disregard of others for themselves. Left to me I would end all cycle lanes right away and put bikes back where they belong - on cycle lane-free roads. Pedestrians, too, would be happier not to have to think about their personal safety on what was once their exclusive right of way - and dogs will never get the handle on cycle lanes. Not even the cleverest pooch in the land. Nope.

What a pity it would be if dispirited cyclists abandoned their carbon neutral mode of transport and took to the safe sex of the car again - it's very tempting.

McGowan's Corgi eating/Hirst's diamond skull

Performance artist Mark McGowan, who recently ate a bit of Corgi dog in protest at Prince Philip beating a fox to death, sends me this message: "I AM SO SORRY BUT I ATE A CORGI".

click on here to see video

click on here to see world's press coverage

For myself, I am thinking of sprinkling a little ground up bone from a human skull on my pasta in protest at Damien Hirst's latest exhibition of fraud - the £50m diamond-encrusted skull titled For The Love of God.

Hirst's excuse for this stunt is that it's the "maximum" he could do "as a celebration against death." I should have thought two skeletons wrapped together in sexual congress might have made the point just as adequately - call it Up Pompeii or something; you know, something original. Naturally, the idiotic Independent has put the skull on its front page today - but then its editor, Simon Kelner (post- diet pic below), spends as much time in the Groucho as Hirst does - two smug piss artists who should be both dipped in volcanic lava and then stuck on a plinth with the title Getting Away With It.



Friday, June 01, 2007

Susan Hill on Martin Amis

The prodigiously busy Susan Hill has sent a comment to the Amis posting below on her appreciation of Mart. I wholly agree with her. Even his debut novel The Rachel Papers, which in other hands would now read as precocious juvenilia, rises above its themes and works as prose virtuosity. Over to Susan ...

"Martin is one of the finest writers of his generation - probably THE finest only these league table comparative competitive judgments are so silly. I have been re-reading his complete oeuvre. It is fireworks in English prose, fizzing with brilliance, full of ideas ... many of us did our best work when young and have not improved with age. I know I did and have not. But if you take the text as existing outside of chronological time, then all Ma`s books exist in their brilliance NOW. Doesn`t matter when he wrote them. They are there to be read today. Some better than others, as is true of us all, but nothing worthless, all enriching.
And no, he didn`t pay me to say this even if I did know him when he was 14.
And - she adds wearily - still having to sign myself here as blogger refuses to know me."

For the original Amis posting click here