Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ewan McGregor - the penis

"It's not as big as I thought - they said he was hung like a donkey. I never saw Young Adam"
"They always exaggerate - look at that Daniel Radcliffe"
"He's quite well endowed, bigger than Ewan"
"Photoshop - Madame Arcati just stuck someone else's dick on him"
"No! Oh that's so awful, what a con"
"You can't trust what you see, I mean how do you know that this Ewan pic hasn't been reversed or touched up?"
"Well, it's from a movie innit - and he's ginger!"
"Could have been painted on - how do you know he's not blond?"
"Well, he's Scottish ain't he?
"You can have Scottish blonds, you twat"
"What about Liam Neeson - that bitch model Janet whatsit said he was hung like a donkey or something"
"She denies it now, says she may have exaggerated ha ha"
"Oh, that's terrible. But what kind of person sticks up celebrity dick pics in the first place?"
"Don't ask"

Richard Stott ... and his Boy George scandal

The untimely death of Richard Stott - who held a record-breaking five Fleet St editorships - has prompted a few private emails to Arcati, some unpublishable. "I have to laugh seeing David Banks paying tribute in one of the obits," writes someone who does not wish to be named. "When Montgomery fired Stott as Mirror editor in the early '90s - two days after saying his job was safe - Banks was moved in, and it was routine to dismiss Stott as redundant Old Labour - Banks happily played along to line his own pockets and do Rommel's bidding. Nowadays Banks sounds regretful of his association with Montgomery. As well he might!"

Another correspondent who also asks to remain anonymous writes: "Stott is described as a 'great' editor - but I saw none of that when he edited The People in 1990/1. First, he happily allowed Frankie McGowan to fire or drive out a large number of staff for her useless 'upmarket' supplement modelled on New Woman which she had edited beforehand. It was a disaster - circulation fell like a stone. And rather than take personal responsibility, Stott had Maxwell remove McGowan after a few months much to her fury. She was a ferocious, hysterical bully - so fair's fair.

"And I wasn't impressed by his editorial practices at times. He had a particular hatred of Boy George because of the singer's association with the drugs-related death of someone known to Stott. Stott would grow demented at George's name. One week a freelance writer called Jane Preston on the supplement was able to get an exclusive interview with George thanks to a personal connection - it was a tremendous interview, full of juicy stuff, along with pictures.

"But Stott wasn't having it. When he heard what was planned he immediately got Mary Riddell - who now passes herself as a thoughtful political columnist on the Observer - to re-write the interview, turning it into a vicious, sarky piece full of innuendo. Riddell and Stott wanted to retain Jane's byline - giving no thought to the personal cost to her - but at the eleventh hour Jane persuaded the subs to remove her name, and I think one or two insults in the copy. It was an heroic thing to do.

"Stott went mental when he heard about this - he ordered that Jane never be used again or allowed on the premises. But then shortly afterwards, Stott was moved back to the Mirror and Bill Hagerty took over who was happy to continue using Jane. Personally, I think Stott was a bit of a shit."

For happier memories of Stott, visit Gentlemen Ranters.

Boy George site

Old Moore's shines (again) - in the basking Sun

Yummy Katherine Bergen who edits The Sun's entertaining and informative The Whip column - I suspect she has doubled as one of the sexy naked beach girls on page 3 today - has further amplified the genius of Old Moore's Almanack by picking up where Madame Arcati left off, to put it politely. No sooner had I done my best for Moore's than beady-eyed and newly-inspired Katherine rushed to her news agents and bought a copy for further insights into Gordon Brown's Pisces-dominated horoscope - it is her top piece for Tuesday.

Old Moore's came out in June; in fact I felt a little guilty that my piece was sooooo late. So the Sun's timing is exquisitely coincidental.

While I have the paper in front of me, Katherine might want another little rip, er, I mean, tip off - the Great White Shark off Cornwall, that has replaced the apocalyptic floods on the front page, is a basking shark. My good friend the god Poseidon* told me.

*Poseidon explains: "A Basking shark [pictured] lives on tiny zooplankton which it filters out with modified gill rakers from vast quantities of sea water passing through its enormous mouth. A bit like The Sun in relation to zooplankton blogs."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Allison Pearson, Arcati and The New York Post

From The New York Post, today:

"HERE'S one for The New Yorker fact-checking department. Is the weekly's film critic, Anthony Lane, married to journalist/author Allison Pearson, mother of his two children? Although the British couple often refer to themselves as man and wife, caustic media blogger Madame Arcati claims they're not legally wed. "Allison speaks highly of marriage: for the purposes of her £350,000+ column in the Daily Mail," Arcati writes. "When we are given moral lectures by gurus . . . it's sooooo important to know the backstory to the guru." The blog also posts a comment from Pearson: "OK Mme, you win. Anthony and I are not officially 'married.'"

I should say that Pearson has not confirmed herself as the commenter.

Hilton's puppies, Boleyn's dukkys

The Sun's Victoria Newton tells us today that when she mentions Paris Hilton's "puppies" - referring to her young pets - all the lads in the office laugh - because puppies is another word for breasts. This afternoon I read a letter from Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn in which he expresses a desire to kiss her "dukkys" - or breasts. I smile at the synchronicity.

Richard Stott dies at 63

From PA ... following my report of his illness a few days ago:

"Richard Stott, former editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper, died this morning after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, his family said. He was 63.

“Mr Stott held five editorships, a fleet street record, of three newspapers during his career, the Daily Mirror, Sunday People and Today; and in recent years was known for a Sunday Mirror column which he continued writing until just weeks before his death.

"He also edited Alastair Campbell’s diaries - finishing the task from his hospital bed.

"His wife Penny was by his side; he leaves behind three children Emily, 35, Hannah, 32, and Christopher, 28, and one granddaughter Phoebe, aged two."

David Montgomery will allow himself a small glass of sherry to celebrate this event.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The stars speak: Brown, Blair and President Hillary Clinton

My areolae always turn a deeper shade of pink when the latest Old Moore's Almanack dive bombs from the heavens - vox stellarum, no less! I like to steal a march via the mumbo jumbo powers - and the 2008 edition is just out. Published since 1697, its astrological compass is a wide one, conflating predictions on weighty international affairs with pointers to favourable periods for flat-race jockeys. Between these future scopes are ads of much curiosity - the Egyptian goddess Isis promises self-assurance through her incantations, in English. Wonders to behold.

Now, it's easy to mock. I could dwell on the fact that though the eponymous Dr Francis Moore is a master of horoscopic calculation, he thinks Anthony Eden's predicted resignation was in 1937 when he means 1957. But no matter. Where's a decent sub-editor when you need one? I come not to bury Dr Moore but to congratulate him for he got a couple of things right - the departure date of Tony Blair and the flavour of the new capo dei capi's government, Mr Broon.

Last September I noted Moore's certainty - from his vantage point of early autumn 2005 for the 2007 edition - that in July 2007 “The Sun and Moon are on the Midheaven at London pointing to somewhat greater popularity for the government. Radical changes both in policy and personnel are possible, and will be carried out very smoothly.”

Is it not reasonable to suppose that Old Moore's had foreseen Blair's departure date even before the then PM himself had faced up to reality? - and is not the Blair-promised "smooth and orderly transition" (to Brown) anticipated? We could argue over this, so let's say it was a shrewd guess. And Moore is correct about the government's popularity - nine points ahead of the Tories as I write.

For August 2007, national celebrations are foreseen as “old-fashioned values are reasserted” with more and more people getting married ... well, an exaggeration perhaps, but puritan Brown is likely to alter the tax credit rules to favour married couples, and I'm sure that it is this that Moore foresees as the country is enveloped in a stifling dose of Scottish Presbyterianism. Expect happy headlines from the Daily Mail, then.

Labour-haters can take comfort that everything goes pear-shaped from November '07 when scandals renew our healthy and deserved loathing for politicians. Oh dear, the Mail proves characteristically fickle as it did with Blair.

So, all that was in the 2007 edition. What of the 2008? When it was put together Moore would not have been certain - from the vantage point of October 2006 (long deadlines!) - that Brown was a shoo-in for No 10. That doesn't stop him from running an astrological profile of The Gord (along with the likes of Noel Edmonds and Helen Mirren). Brown has not one but four planets in secretive Pisces - so even if I didn't know that the subject was once suspected to be gay or bisexual, I would have to say that this is a man acclimatised to surreptitiousness and the murk-side of Westminster. Valedictories on his political career will feature the word "enigmatic", I predict.

Moore fails emphatically to predict Brown's accession beyond the obvious "Gordon Brown's future lies in the hands of his fellow MPs and they may think his credentials are sound ... " Yes, and the sun may shine yet. But Moore is less convinced that Brown can hold onto power against what he calls the "charisma of Cameron". Improbable now, but events, dear boy, events ...

Moore's map for 2008 is exceedingly depressing for Brown: though it will be a "business-like year" for the UK, rather humdrum due to "slow-moving planets" as Pluto moves into Capricorn, the government will be reviled - I therefore deduce that if Brown does not call a General Election in 2007, he will test his appeal some time after '08. Or Moore is utterly wrong, as no election is hinted at.

For the US however we should congratulate in advance the Democrats on a return to power as President-elect Hillary Clinton beckons in November. Meanwhile, "At Doncaster, the November Handicap races may be won by a 3-year-old carrying 8st 8lb."

Foulsham's Original: Old Moore's Almanack 2008, £1.99

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Arcati + Wikipedia + VLSmithBook = Grudge?

The Madame Arcati entry on Wikipedia appears to have been written by two journalists known as VLSmithBook. I suspect they have used Arcati to draw attention to a purported book project. They explain: "In autumn 2006 we were commissioned by a UK publisher to write a celebration of the life and work of [sic] Victor Lewis Smith (provisionally entitled The Private Life of [sic] Victor Lewis Smith)." I thought his surname was hyphenated. Other contributors object to this self-promotion and even suggest that the two journalists may bear a grudge against Lewis-Smith (recently departed scabrous TV critic of the Evening Standard, and a Private Eye contributor, among other things).

VLSmithBook write: "We've added a page on Madame Arcati as she seems important." This is a good call. But given that this is the free-for-all of Wikipedia, I am sure not one likely to go unchallenged.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Madame Arcati on Wikipedia

Someone has gone to the bother of writing a short piece about the Madame Arcati blog on Wikipedia. It could have been more exciting - I have broken quite a few stories, y'know - but I suppose we all start out on a spermatazoan dream. [click here]

Richard Stott and Bridget Rowe: Beauty and beast

I am sorry to hear that the former editor of the Mirror and People, Richard Stott, is very ill. Though he might sometimes kick people who annoyed him, and once was found trying on a pair of earrings in the Mirror's fashion cupboard, he was a decent editor who did not resort to ferocious bullying. His dismissal by the deceitful David Montgomery back in the early '90s marked a very low period in Fleet Street history.

And while I'm in a mellow mood, I am happy to say that the despised Bridget Rowe has been spotted - this time as a talking head in Five's Diana: Last Days of a Princess, due to be broadcast next week. A nice person kindly sent me the DVD for my perusal.

The bitch appears to have lost acquaintance with diet pills: there was a school of thought that her crazy, vicious behaviour as editor of the People and Sunday Mirror, then as MD of both, was possibly due to the psychotropic properties of her fat pills which she popped like M&Ms. If this was the case, then some compassion is required, rather than my vitriolic scorn. So in such spirit I can report that in her nunnish black outfit, these days, she looks a bit like David Walliams' tranny (in mourning) who insists, against falsetto evidence, "I'm a laydee!" A friend suggests she looks more like the late Bubbles Rothermere but there's a line to be drawn between a fun-loving nature and a life gone to pot.

On the other hand, sight of her fat, cry-baby face brought to the surface a malevolent instinct - particularly when she tried to emote with downcast expressions: she intended to indicate a modicum of sympathy for the dead Princess' plight at the hands of the paparazzi. Yet it was the likes of Rowe who caused her death in the first place - by relentlessly bullying her hacks to unearth any filth and paying over the odds for royal pictures. She was a principal driver of the Diana market that ended in tragedy. Whoever made this nasty cheap docu-drama must have a dark sense of humour. Another joke is that anyone might think she was once the editor of the Mirror because it is this paper that's spliced in with the front page photo of Di and Dodi's kiss while Rowe prattles on - when in fact she was at the People.

By her side on the programme was a man who is unworthy of naming but who was her favourite picture editor. The last time I encountered him he came out with his epitaph: "I give the best blow jobs in London!"

Thursday, July 26, 2007

June Penn and her stinky-winky

Popbitch reminds us that one of Heather Mills’ neighbours in Hove, East Sussex, was media astrologer June Penn - Heather has now moved away from the coast. Astonishingly, the 80-plus Penn still plies her tack in the fast-declining People – a newspaper so pointless it may as well be merged with its sister the Sunday Mirror. According to Popbitch "June likes to do yoga on her bedroom balcony. She particularly likes doing this to Fatboy Slim records, as he is another close neighbour and she thinks it will make him happy."

Last time I visited Scorpio June at her white fort-styled beach home I nearly swooned at the stink therein. She allowed (allows?) her dog(s) to piss at will on the carpets, rewarding each jet with the mildest of reproofs. But once on the phone she was giving me the usual sweety-sweety talk when without warning she let rip the noisiest filthiest tirade I ever heard – I swear I developed short-term tinnitus in consequence. Whether her hostility was directed at the pissing dog or her husband (RIP?) I’m not sure. But a moment later she picked up the thread of our conversation as if nothing untoward had occurred.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Poll: Daniel Radcliffe's penis - is it or isn't it?

In the Madame Arcati exclusive poll on Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and the condition of his penis, I asked: Is he cut or uncut? An overwhelming majority of the 625 people who took part decided that he is uncut. Final result:

Cut 133 (21%)
Uncut 492 (78%)

To decide for yourself, follow the label below. My thanks to all who took part. Other polls of an original nature to follow.

Paul Gascoigne: Has he done a Final Runner?

A few months ago it was reported that alcoholic former footballer Paul Gascoigne was to star in sci-fi fantasy movie Final Run. Described as a cross between Black Hawk Down and Alien, it is set in the aftermath of an alien invasion of Earth in the near future. Gazza was to play a misguided survivor torn between his own future and humanity’s. SJB Imperial Film are the producers along with Gazza himself. Final Run was expected to be in the cinemas in early 2008.

But then Gazza became unwell. The shoot had to be postponed for him to convalesce from a stomach op – “photography pushed back until Oct 3, '07,” imdb.com claims. But I hear from a source that all is not well and that Gazza is no longer involved in the movie. On the imdb cast list he’s named but not attached to a character. I also notice that Ray Winstone’s daughter Lois Winstone – heralded as a sign-up – is not listed at all.

Pity. The intro trailer for the movie looks interesting in a jerky, juddery, sleight-of-hand sort of way [click here].

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

George Galloway, Labour and Spunk-Loving Sluts

Why bother to write when one can speak so eloquently as George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow? Yesterday, in the Commons, he produced many priceless moments before he was ordered out of the debating chamber. In any case he was due to be suspended for 18 days following an inquiry into his financial links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime.

What you're not likely to read in the dead tree media - beyond a nod in the Independent today - is this bit of his long speech, apropos party donations and the source of Daily Express/Star proprietor Richard Desmond's gifts to Labour:

"None of the [political] parties here ... ever asked the millionaires and billionaires who gave and lent them money where they got the money from. I am tempted to give just one example. Richard Desmond is [was?] a substantial benefactor to the Labour party. Did the treasurer of the Labour party ask Richard Desmond from which part of his considerable wealth he was donating handsomely to new Labour’s coffers? Did the treasurer of the Labour party — I apologise to the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) for the language that I am about to use — ask if Mr Desmond was giving from the profits of “Spunk-Loving Sluts”, “Asian Babes”, XXX pornographic television, or the profits of the Daily Star — "

Mr Speaker interrupted him at this point ....

Susan Hill writes (of a Famous Writer) ....

One of the world's most famous novelists Susan Hill - I must recommend her brilliant third Simon Serrailler crime novel The Risk of Darkness - has confided to me that she has a Famous Writer staying on her premises. I can scarcely contain my excitement at the prospect of these two mega-talents in proximity ... what may happen? ... but here's Susan's note ...

"I have been winding them up on my blog about a Famous Writer who is staying in our barn. They all think it`s Martin Amis but it is none other than Fallowell, D. He has been very well behaved so far and made no complaints even though I had to lend him my husband`s wellingtons which turned out to have a big hole in them. He has barn owls at the other end of the barn - he can wave to them from his bed. He`s taking me out to lunch on Thursday so I will let you know if there are any complaints or scandals. But the nice thing is that I feel as if I`ve known him all my life - and it`s all thanks to you MA."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rome: A finale of eyeliner

HBO/BBC’s Rome declined and fell last night in a disappointing re-run of the Antony & Cleopatra myth, as conceived by Shakespeare and made glamorous by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

I’ve never bought the asp-induced death of the Egyptian queen: Octavian must have had her quietly murdered. It’s the sort of thing he’d have done as an averagely ruthless Roman on the make. Antony’s downfall was underscored with black eyeliner – kohl on movie male eyes usually signposts effeminacy and a journey into exotic decadence prior to horrible death – but James Purefoy’s Marcus Antonius was at least both robust and pathetic while Burton’s was all delirium tremors on account of the many nights before.

Lyndsey Marshal’s Cleopatra intrigued – tiny, faintly boyish, possibly beautiful in a twilight, sconces on a far wall behind – certainly nothing like Taylor’s haughty siren who always reminded me of Princess Margaret: I’m sure Taylor borrowed from the royal spare.

Simon Woods’ Octavian struck a credible pose in masculine stealth: another Shakespearean invention of course, but something must account for the ascendancy of the man who would become the first emperor. Yet I cannot forget the story – though I forget the source – that Octavian in a rage once gouged out a man’s eyes with his own thumbs. I am not so convinced that Octavian wasn’t Stalinist in temperament – a brutal, sanctimonious opportunist fortunate in the misfortunes of his enemies. I am inclined to think Brian Blessed’s Octavian in I, Claudius may have better caught the actual complex truth of the man. I have no idea why Rome thought Octavian a mild sexual sadist unless that bitch Suetonius has been spreading more rumours since I last looked.

One invention that never made much sense was the great love between Octavian’s mother Atia and Antony. It has no basis in history – Atia hardly figures at all – and made little dramatic sense beyond sharpening the needle between Octavian and Antony. At times Polly Walker didn’t seem to know how to play Atia which may have added to emotional implausibility: she cast off one-liners and dismissive comments rather in the smirking and shoulder-shrugging style of Dawn French in the BBC comedy The Vicar of Dibley. Only at the very end, when she had to deal with Octavian’s wife Livia, did her face finally settle into a stony grimace – though the mischievous eyes seemed to be saying “I’m only acting!”

I never much cared for the Vorenus/Pullo soldierly axis beyond some lively battle scenes – graphic sword blade body penetrations being the latest sight-vogue. The two men dragged us into tiresome lower class soap opera and at the end tied up upper class loose ends of the series’ making. Ray Stevenson’s Geordie speech tics probably amused the easily distracted rather than entertained the more focussed – if I never have to watch this over-sized actor again it will be too soon.

Rome has six Emmy nominations, one for best hairstyle. It certainly deserves one for the opening credits in which ancient graffiti came to life in a way the ending did not.

Madame Arcati's mini-mes: Part 2

Dear Madame,

Madame, there are at least two Madame Arcatis on Facebook. One of them has the likes of Fish Inton, Jon Snow, Precious Williams, Victoria Aitken and Nirpal Dhaliwal as Friends. The other one has Mark McGowan and Katy Evans-Bush as Friends. I'd imagine one of these Facebook personas is the real you. Which one?


Dear Anonymous,

The former Madame Arcati is simply going through my blog and then approaching featured names - Snow et al - to join their Facebook - she/he/it is a fraud. I don't know about the other one - sounds like me, but Facebook is such a joke I can't be bothered to think about it.

The tragic Fire Island relic on My Space does the same - except he lifts my music ideas and other things then features them as videos. I am the new Judy Garland/Dorothy Squires to this cliche queen.

MA x

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Madame Arcati - a plethora of mini-mes

Madame Arcati appears to have spawned at least two mini-mes -there's some old queen on My Space filling up his space with Judy Garland and Divine musical selections - and pinching a few ideas off my Video Bar - and then there's some tragic mysterioso on Facebook masquerading as me, asking some of my frenemies to join her/it. Can't copycats be more original for god's sake?

Michael Coveney and his queer preoccupations

I must confess that former Mail theatre critic Michael Coveney is an excellent blogger - do catch his Whatsonstage site when you're quite exhausted with me, I won't be bitter. Unlike about 98% of journalists he intuitively understands that a blog requires both news of a sort and signs of actual visceral temperament: your average journo has learnt to arrange words in a stately way for his or her overbearing editor (often confused for the mass audience) but somehow leaves one thinking that he or she is talking over one's shoulder (as is invariably the case should you encounter them at parties).

Only in one respect does Coveney - who has failed to date to confirm or deny my earlier story about the Curious Case of his Missing Lloyd Webber Book Chapter - let himself down: he appears to have a problem with sexual aberration. Recently he accused AA Gill of walking and talking like a "homosexual male model" (when as I said most male models walk like John Wayne for runway purposes). Now, in his current posting, he describes the Evening Standard's art critic Brian Sewell as "epicene".

Now, the matter here is not that Sewell may not be epicene (a dowager with testicles, more accurately). My concern is that he feels the need to draw our attention to the non-issues of Sewell's gender (male, plainly), sexual orientation (homo, plainly) and - what I call - psychic impression (a dowager with testicles, I suggest). The contemporaneity of the walking talking homosexual male model and the epicene Sewell in Coveney's blog leads me to suspect that he perhaps is making the mistake of comparing both Gill and Sewell to his theatre PR wife Sue Hyman whose masculine severity is a thing of wonder; and this may account for her husband's preoccupation with those who fall short of their catalogue-assigned gender energies.

It seems odd to me that anyone with such a preoccupation would be drawn to the theatre, even if only as a critic. As my late friend Truman Capote was wont to say, most English male actors of any quality are gay - and many of the female are camp. Put another way, I can't imagine why a vegetarian might want to work in an abattoir. A person's inner drives and prejudices maybe discerned by their reflexive insults and humour: I fear Coveney is revealing a little too much of his inner life, or nightmares.

Otherwise I commend his blog and shall be be scrutinising it with even greater care from now on.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Molly Parkin: You magazine follows Arcati

Molly Parkin gives an interview to the Mail on Sunday's You magazine which pretends that the revelation about her sexual encounter with a young surfer is all theirs. Subsequently The Western Mail cherry-picks You magazine's Molly interview, reinforcing the idea that the story originated from You. No mention of Arcati. The very idea that a blog might break a story! Never mind, we know better.

Meanwhile, Molly's poem about the encounter can be found (along with original interviews) via labels below.

But if you can't be bothered to click labels, here's the poem again ...




So, Harry Potter survives ....


Friday, July 20, 2007

Cash for honours: Dead tree media make it up

No one will be charged in the "cash for honours" case, the Crown Prosecution Service announced today. How disappointed many in the press must be as some of their fictions return to haunt them, and all because editors will insist on pressuring their minions to come up with an interesting line to get them through another day of sales. Sad.

"There is mounting expectation that the Crown Prosecution Service will bring charges against Mr Blair's former fundraiser Lord Levy and former No 10 gatekeeper Ruth Turner. Businessman Sir Christopher Evans could also be charged."
Daily Mail, Kirsty Walker July 7

"Mr Blair's chief fundraiser Lord Levy, No 10 gatekeeper Ruth Turner and millionaire Sir Christopher Evans are expected to be informed of the decision to press charges late next month. All three are on police bail."
Daily Mail, Jane Merrick, June 30

"Lord Levy will be charged in the 'cash for honours' affair, according to close aides of Tony Blair. Members of the former prime minister's inner circle, who were closely involved in the nomination of millionaire Labour donors for honours, have told friends that they believe the peer will not escape prosecution."
Independent on Sunday, Marie Woolf, POLITICAL EDITOR, July 8

"Mr Blair's chief fundraiser Lord Levy and millionaire businessman Sir Christopher Evans are also expected to be charged."
The News of the World, Ian Kirby, political editor, July 8, 2007

"SCOTLAND YARD detectives believe they have amassed sufficient evidence for Jonathan Powell, the prime minister’s most senior aide, to be charged over an alleged cover-up in the cash for honours scandal."
The Sunday Times, Robert Winnett and David Leppard, April 22

"Two of Tony Blair's most trusted former aides are set to be charged over the cash-for-honours affair."
Evening Standard, June 30

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bridget Rowe spotted! Flogging old rags!

A few days ago I wondered aloud whatever happened to the perfectly hideous Bridget Rowe - once the Empress of Mirror Group who delighted in spectacular wars against the human race while cooing over kitty and puppy pics in her locked (from the inside) office - and now I hear it whispered that a mere two years ago she was spotted running a secondhand clothing stall in Petticoat Lane. Madame Arcati shall be paying this '60s ghetto a visit - it is indeed a rare pleasure to see filthy scum brought low in some sort of karmic loop of consequences. I shall tramp all over her and have her fired ... Arcati's rage shall not be assuaged. She may as well buy that one-way ticket to hell now. She's probably too fat to flee my spikes.

David Gest - 'Shaps is a living vasectomy!'

David Gest is furious! About a week ago ITV’s director of television, Simon Shaps, announced that he wouldn’t be renewing Gest’s contract with the channel. "The ratings for This Is David Gest were OK," he said, sneerily. "I'm not sure what we would do next [with David]. You've got to match the talent to the ideas. We've not commissioned a show with him." This was code for ratings loser!!!

Now, David Gest has offered to lick a certain part of my anatomy if I publish his response - but it's so polite I feel I must interpret ...

"With all due respect to Shaps, contrary to his recent comments reported online and in other newspapers, I never asked to have my one year deal with the broadcaster renewed [Code: Fuck you, Shaps!]. In fact, quite the opposite, my lawyers, Sheridans, negotiated an early release so I could host The Friday Night Project on Channel 4." [Code: So there, bitch!].

But Gest hasn't started yet, ooooh, noooo ....

"I wouldn't rule out working with Mr Shaps in the future [Code: Not even if he offered me sexual services!], but feel for him as he is going through such a crucial time right now. [Code: Is Shaps about to fuck off and die? May I speed things up in anyway?]

"I truly hope that Mr Shaps was not trying to be misleading to the public or spilling sour grapes when he insinuated my show was not being picked up or that I was axed after I already told ITV I did not want to do another season in order to pursue other opportunities and work with other networks. [Code: Shaps is a lying cunt!]

"I am honoured ITV and I had such a successful run. The ratings speak for themselves! I really believe that BBC Director General Mark Thompson has the right idea in his comments that "originality is what a top-rated station needs." [Code: Shaps, you're a living vasectomy! Thompson is a stud!]

"I will be announcing my new television plans in the coming weeks and hope to continue showing that originality!" [Code: That'll show you, Shaps!]

According to his publicist Neil Reading, Gest has been besieged with offers from other networks and production companies who "want to match his talent with ideas" and they do "have many ideas for him." This is in response to Mr Shaps' comment that ITV didn't. [Code: Shaps shoots blanks!].

I do love David Gest but he must evince greater boldness in dealing with highly paid corporate creeps like thingy Shaps.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Michael Coveney: The missing Lloyd Webber chapter?

Private Eye appears to be entranced by the former Daily Mail theatre critic Michael Coveney – I never did quite understand why Dacre axed him – and with his lively whatsonstage blog.

He recently described AA Gill as “talking and walking like a homosexual male model” – in revenge for Gill’s manufactured rant against theatre critics (dead tree zombie controversy, yawn) – which regrettably betrayed Coveney’s ignorance of male models. All of them, straight or gay, walk like John Wayne as per their training, though one or two may mince off post-runway and have anal intercourse with sundry lovers. All sorts of things happen, I guess.

Now it appears Coveney is embroiled in another row after making rude comments about Blanche Marvin, 82, a veteran theatre-goer fag hag who’s a fave with gay critics – they are planning to unleash a terrible revenge on her attacker. Perhaps a whoopee cushion will be put to good use one night before the curtain rises.

All this reminds me of the late theatre critic and Noel Coward aficionado Sheridan Morley, who, like all his colleagues, was a shameless and accurate gossip. A little while before his premature death, I popped round to his lovely home in Chelsea Harbour – before he moved to Battersea – and he talked some about Coveney.

“I shouldn’t be telling you this," he said, promisingly, "but that book Coveney wrote about Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Andrew Lloyd Webber Story, standing currently at about 405,000 in the Amazon hit parade) – well, Andrew went ballistic when he read one chapter – he sort of had fact approval – which suggested that one of the reasons why Andrew and Tim Rice broke up was because of Andrew’s intense feelings for Rice which were not reciprocated. Andrew absolutely demanded the removal of the chapter or else he would withdraw all cooperation. So the chapter was removed. I really shouldn’t be telling you this.”

I have no idea whether Sherry was being mischievous - and I would not wish to put any construction on these "intense feelings" which strike me as indicative of a healthy emotional life - but I’ll ask Coveney whether it’s true or not.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Charles Kennedy - Skye is his limit

Television parties are best given a miss, I find – all those carrot dips give me wind, and TV reporters look so poor in their nasty trainers and shorts – but last night I popped along to ITV’s charming do for Sir Trevor McDonald’s new show Britain’s Favourite View in which viewers will get to vote for the best of 16 British beauty spots, each promoted by a celeb. I liked the venue, on a boat called the Silver Sturgeon moored off the Savoy Pier. I wondered whether to pop into the Savoy afterwards for a cognac, but actually the party had sufficient provisions to send me off in a foggy and unfarting condition.

I had scarcely traversed the gangplank and who should I bump into but the Right Honourable Charles Kennedy MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats. Instantly I applauded his summery cream suit which might even have met with Anna Wintour’s approval after an ironing. “Charles,” I said, “what are you doing here – and what are you drinking?” Oops! Me and my faux pas! I could see it was probably mineral water, but how was I to know there might not be gin or vodka in it? Charles smoothly emitted a sound like laughter to lighten my impertinence. I noticed he wasn’t smoking and wanted to examine his teeth for signs of nicotine yellowing. But he doesn’t part his mouth much and his lips cling to his toothies with a condom-like tenacity.

He told me that he was one of the presenters on the show and had flown to the Isle of Skye to do a 15 minute film on why viewers should vote for Loch Coruisk as Britain’s favourite view. “So how do you fancy your chances? Think Skye can win?” I asked. He replied, after pulling a puzzled look, “I haven’t got a clue how all the voting works, to be honest.” Isn’t that typical of Charles? Didn’t he once, towards the end of his time as leader, betray something less than total intimacy with his party’s tax policy proposals. It’s all such a shame.

Perhaps it was the sight of me but I have to say he didn’t look happy. He was due to give a little speech after a 40-minute “clip” was screened – to such general boredom that most had returned to the bar by the time it ended. That, in a nutshell, is why mainstream TV is on the slide – it’s soooo normal. So Charles didn’t give a speech, thank God. After that he just wandered about like a shy dodgem on a sedative, nodding at the odd acquaintance, but otherwise looking a little lost.

As he exited I waved him a goodbye but he just gave me a long inquisitive stare before his walk along Embankment, a thin figure among fat foreign tourists.

Was that you, Allison Pearson?

I can't believe that you would admit to not being "officially" married. Surely you would have threatened me with a libel writ first a la Jon Snow and forced me to grovel in the dust ... prove that you are Allison Pearson, do something that establishes your unique (and attractive) existential reality on Arcati. Be a dear, now.

McGowan Jr to destroy all 194 world leaders

Controversial performance artist Mark McGowan is off to Austria, to the town of Bregenz to do a performance this Saturday and Sunday with his five year-old son Benjamin. McGowan is to assist his son in putting various tapes, gags, apples etc into the mouths and across the mouths of all 194 world political leaders. The A4 photographs are to be mounted on a massive wall made of cardboard. Benjamin will then make a catapult and fire balls of paper soaked in multi-coloured paints, tomatoes and eggs. And then Ben will set fire to the whole thing.

McGowan says: "It's really quite a scary sight when you see all the world's leaders pictures side-by-side, they range from frightening-looking Arabs, scary Africans, horrible looking Western and European, the likes of Brown, Bush, Mugabe, Howard, the Syrian guy, the North Korean etc. It's just an amazingly scary massive wall of power madness, their eyes penetrate you. In fact they could all be lizards. Ben is really looking forward to it."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Is Allison Pearson married or not?

What's the answer? No one's rushing to say she is - least of all Allison herself. A simple yes or no will suffice.

Conrad Black, rape and the media arselicks

The journalist Mark Steyn deserves some kind of award for loyalty to his friends Conrad Black and his whorish wife Barbara Amiel – his dispatches from the 12th floor of the Dirksen courthouse over the last three or four months gave me huge pleasure: they were exercises in wish-unfulfilled dismantlement of all evidence against the Blacks (great villainous name) and the promotion of the idea that if you’re rich and successful you should be allowed a high degree of latitude in spending other people’s money on private jets and gilt-edged bogs, handbags, “corporate apartments” and other perquisites of the media magnate lifestyle.

Mr Steyn’s main preoccupation now as Black awaits sentence (whatever the sentence he’ll be out in three years, so worry not …) is the nightmarish prospect that (yes, let’s employ the newspaper vernacular) the “disgraced” Canadian tycoon may suffer the indignity of rape in jail, or as Steyn puts it in his satirically homophobic way, "taking it up the keister from Butch every night.” I’m sure your average lust-crazed psycho will be giving Conrad a wide berth if only because he’d have to be hung like an elephant just to effect entry beyond the metre or so of buttocks lard.

However, the Black case affords an opportunity to list the top 10 rich people’s arselick journalists in the media today (UK perspective) – hacks who excuse/justify/deny the excesses of their wealthy idols or who in some way worship huge amounts of money as a virtue in itself and probably derive sexual pleasure from totting up the cash noughts in their copy:

1. William Cash
2. Mark Steyn
3. Tina Brown
4. Nicholas Coleridge
5. Petronella Wyatt
6. Jasper Gerard
7. Dominick Dunne
8. Anthony Haden-Guest
9. Nicholas Foulkes
10. Peter York

Sunday, July 15, 2007

David Steel: Now, what is her name?

My heart misses a beat as the honeyed Kirkaldian vowels of Lord Steel of Aikwood (a Knight of the Order of the Thistle!) - alias David Steel, former Liberal Party leader - trickles into my ears from the Radio 4 studio of the religious affairs Sunday show this morning. He was talking some guff about a church-related matter. But I was scarcely listening to his words because I was having a Proustian madeleine moment as I remembered again - or tried to remember - the sexy, sassy blonde writer who told me of her special friendship with family man Steel many many years ago after he succeeded the sodomite and acquitted attempted murderer Jeremy Thorpe. What is her name? I'm sure it'll come to me any moment now. Self-advertised virtue always prompts a memory of actual life, don't you find?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Kalams: The Sun admits its lies

While British papers fulminate in spectacular fashion over what will come to be called Huffgate - how the BBC got it wrong about the Queen walking out of a photoshoot with photographer Annie Leibovitz - another example of the media getting it all wrong has drawn much more modest interest.

Last weekend I reported that the News of the World had "apologised" to the Kalam family over its lies in the Forest Gate raid case [click here]. Now it's the turn of its sister paper The Sun to apologise, in similar terms. Three important differences are worth noting.

The Screws wrongly claimed to have "incorrectly implied" falsehoods. The Sun correctly says it "incorrectly reported": the paper was wise to learn from Arcati. The Sun also reports that the computer found at the Kalams' house - on which child porn images were found - was "secondhand". This is a euphemistic way of saying that others, who are not members of the Kalam family, probably planted these images on the pc. Let us hope Scotland Yard has nothing to lose sleep over on this matter.

Finally, the Sun assures us that the two young brothers did not spit at or insult soldiers outside their barracks. Who dreamt up this lie in the first place?

This apology appears in a page 2 coffin - the editor hopes most readers won't notice it tucked away out of harm's way. There is no mention of News International paying a sum in compensation to the Kalams - would £2m be unreasonable? Shouldn't a news organisation that nearly destroys the reputation of an entire family pay the penalty of racist deceit or incompetence?

I notice also that media commentators are not too fussed by NI's apologies to the Kalams: they'd rather focus on sexy topics like Huffgate and fly off abroad to pointless media conferences where they can hustle each other for work and favours. Useless bastards.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Allison Pearson: Are you married to Anthony or not?

You see, if you place this incomplete sentence in the Google search box - "allison pearson married anthony lane in" - nothing comes up. Usually, at some point, a year is mentioned for a marriage. I notice that in Allison's CV from her agent, PFD, the following statement is made: "She lives in Cambridge with the New Yorker writer Anthony Lane and their two small children."

Now, don't get me wrong. I couldn't care tuppence if Allison and Anthony are married or not. It matters not at all to me. I mean, even the Mail's editor-in-chief Paul Dacre attends gay civil partnership weddings these days. So, it's not as if this is a moral inquiry. This is about being accurate.

Allison speaks highly of marriage: for the purposes of her £350k+ column in the Mail, marriage is the garlic against societal moral deterioration. The other day she wrote highly of Ian Duncan Smith's mooted tax breaks for married couples - this is code for the Mail's Middle England fetish for right behaviour. A number of profiles of Allison and Anthony describe them as married. Yet are they? I'm just asking for a yes or no.

Nothing will happen in consequence of an answer. If they are married, then isn't that wonderful? If they are living by some other arrangement that's OK too - I'm sure Mail readers will understand in these times of lifestyle diversity. I know that Allison is especially cognisant of PR, so maybe she'd like to drop me a line and just clarify the situation. PR is sooooo important.

When we are given moral lectures by gurus of the qualipop zeitgeist, it's sooooo important to know the backstory to the guru. So that we know where he or she is coming from.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Allison Pearson: When did she marry precisely?

And while my mind is on the Mail, would someone tell me where precisely its £350k+ Glenda, Allison Pearson, married her partner Anthony Lane. In profiles of this fine upstanding paragon of marital responsibility - with a natural sympathy for the Tories' rediscovery of the joys of marriage as the centre-piece of civilised society - Lane is described as her "husband", but I feel wretched that I never had an opportunity to send a wedding gift, or even get to cast a hefty bucket of confetti over the pair. My usual delving skills have failed me on this occasion. So would someone plainly tell me the date and venue of the union ceremony - perhaps you were a guest. And of course darling Allison may email me if she wishes ...

Nigel Dempster - master of gossip dead.

Nigel Dempster is dead. In his prime as the Express' and then Mail's society uber-goss I could admire him as one might a Great White Shark, an awesome but dangerous creature, utterly ruthless and blessed with an unreconstructed snobbishness that was the glint off the jagged edge. He completely dominated his rivals in the '60s and '70s but was cursed with a long, long career decline - booze and illness robbing him of acuity and tenacity - that turned him into a Fleet Street fable for the joys of an early death or a premature brutal sacking. His own slow senescence graphed the decline in importance to the media of the royal family and its satellite titled parasites. Private Eye called him Dumpster. There was something personal going on there. He was the queerest hetero I'd ever come across.

Precious Williams' movie ... and a white male lover ...

Madame Arcati has obtained more information on the entrancing Precious Williams' Nollywood movie. I learn it's based on an idea a lot of the Nigerian elders hold - that if a Nigerian woman gives her heart to a white English man he will ultimately disown and disgrace her. I hope that this thought does not resonate too much with a certain news broadcaster ...

Apparently, this is how Precious' elders back in her mother's village in Nigeria feel, sadly. The movie is about a British-born half-Nigerian woman who is very career-minded. The elders in Nigeria summon her back, supposedly to recite a story to her which will enable her to write a best-selling book. When the woman arrives in Nigeria though, she finds her elders have a wholly different agenda: they are disgusted at how Westernised she has become and want to prise her away from her independent lifestyle in Europe and to coax her into an arranged marriage with a 75-year-old local Chief.

I understand everyone becomes very hysterical and the costumes are very loud and fabulous. It sounds a wonderful movie-in-progress - and I suspect it's a touch biopic-cy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Precious Williams goes to ... Nollywood

Such is Madame Arcati's prescience that I sometimes frighten myself. A little while ago I foresaw for the talented, truthful and beautiful writer Precious Williams a career in movies. Now a spy in Nigeria gets in touch to tell me that Precious is about to make it big in ... Nollywood!

Yes, Nollywood. What do you mean that's a typo? Nollywood is the Nigerian version of Hollywood or Bollywood. She will play the lead role in a Nigerian movie that she's writing at the moment. Precious and her producers can be assured that the moment they have something to show, it will be the star feature on Arcati's new Video Entertainment service which presently can be found in the top left hand corner of this site (I regret putting up Madonna's Hey You - what a load of crap).

I still foresee a Precious Williams biopic. Her horoscopic chart is an essay of life's strange twists and turns, and one that touches celebrity in lots of different ways - perfect for an incident-rich movie. But first, Nigeria!

Paul Dacre - I'll be back!!

Jasper Milvain writes to Madame Arcati with a clarification on the condition of the Mail's editor-in-chief Paul Dacre following rumours of his unwellness:

"You're wrong, I'm afraid. It's not his heart and he'll be back at work very soon."

And I am glad to hear it. What a world we live in that people freely speculate about the health of others without a thought for accuracy or sensitivities. I have noticed in Mr Dacre's absence a rising tide of acid in the Daily Mail. It needs a steadying swig of Dacre Milk of Magnesia to dull the pain of, er, heartburn.

The Rolling Stones - fancy a tipple of tongue?

In an advance on what I call satirico-reality, a company called Celebrity Cellars has brought out a range of wines in hand-painted bottles bearing different images of the Rolling Stones' iconic tongue. So, you can buy a Classic Tongue Sauvignon Blanc, a Classic Tongue Pinot Grigio and even a Classic Tongue Chardonnay.

If the Rolling Stones don't do it for you, then try Madonna-stamped wines in the Confessions Limited Edition range or plonk bearing the Kiss and Pink Floyd imprimatur.

Arcati is thinking of bringing out a range of wines in the Daniel Radcliffe Cock Limited Edition range. I am all for encouraging bibulous fellatio in the service of celebrity.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Paul Dacre - our hearts, er, whatever, go out to you

Mailonsundayinsider relates this sad news about the editor-in-chief of the Mail and just about everything at Associated Newspapers ...

Apparently, Dacre is really really ill - recurrence of his heart trouble and he's off for another major op in August. Sorry to be the bearer of such bad tidings.

John Gielgud ... and the unlikely hard-on

The gorgeously connected Lavinia shares this little tale about the late John Gielgud:

Before he met me, Reggie had a fling with Madeleine Carroll and she told him that on the set of Secret Agent she thought she was getting somewhere with Johnnie Gielgud but it turned out to be one of the earliest biros which he kept in his trouser pocket to do the Times crossword between takes. She said he only ever got one clue throughout the entire shoot.

Caligula a turn-on for John Gielgud

Dear Madame Arcati

Peter O'Toole told me that John Gielgud, on finding himself in Caligula directed by Tinto brass, came up to him and said 'Peter, do you think we're in a blue film?' John Gielgud later told me 'I was rather embarrassed by the whole thing but Helen Mirren seemed very much at home.' 'You mean, you didn't know what you were letting yourself in for?' 'Oh yes I did. It was a very amusing experience.' John loved to be embarrassed. It was the nearest he came to eroticism.

Best wishes, Duncan Fallowell

Monday, July 09, 2007

Rome messes up Cicero's murder

The second series of Rome (BBC2) is a lot better than the first - what a pity there won't be a third. But even then they mess up - this time the murder of Cicero. According to Rome he was put to the sword in his garden by a Geordie-sounding soldier who feasted on the orator's peaches beforehand.

Yet the reality was far more dramatic and interesting. If you combine certain ancient sources (such as Plutarch, Suetonius, Cassius Dio) you have this scenario: old toga'd beardie in his litter is rushing to catch a ship to Macedonia. Roman soldiers catch up with him and chop off his head but not before he says, languidly in my view: "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly." Very George Sanders, isn't it? Should "do" be italicised? Later, Mark Antony's bitch wife Fulvia revenges herself on Cicero's sharp, dead tongue by piercing it with golden hairpins. Rome missed out there.

Daily hate Mail - and good wishes to Paul Dacre

Two authors du jour have evacuated their literary bowels all over the poor old Daily Mail.

First there’s journalist and novelist Tim Heald who’s upset about the paper’s recent serialisation of his book Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled. On his blog he writes: “We were able to look at the text before publication in the Mail [but] I was depressed by the reaction of those who read it. Although we got four whole pages the “extract” seemed relatively hidden and unblurbed and it seemed to perpetuate the old two-dimensional myths about the princess rather than the much more interesting and complicated truths which I felt I had at least touched on in the book. Alastair Campbell refused to let his new memoirs be sold for serialisation. I never thought I would live to see the day when I had a sneaking wish to almost agree with him.”

And talking of Alastair, here he is on his new Blair Years blog: "I don’t allow Mail newspapers in the house on account of the fact that I regard/view them as a rather unpleasant poison against anything that is good about being alive in Britain, or indeed anywhere else on the planet."

So, alas, it falls to Arcati alone to wish the Mail’s editor-in-chief Paul Dacre – listed at No 10 in the Guardian’s top 100 media movers and shakers chart today - a speedy recovery from what I understand is a very serious illness.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Kalams: The News of the World admits its lies

The News of the World today publishes an "apology" to the Kalam family whose lives were traumatised last year when the police raided their home in London's Forest Gate. A false tip off, that all or some of the occupants of the house were Islamic terrorists, led to the raid in which one man was shot and injured by the police. For more on the case and the police apology click here. For a thorough profile of the case click here.

The Screws had no choice but to "apologise" for telling the following lies:

1. That Abul Koyair - one of the young brothers - had a criminal record.
2. That the Kalam brothers' parents planned to go on holiday despite the shooting.
3. That there was strong evidence that child porn had been found on a computer at the house.
4. That a large sum of money found at the house could not be accounted for.

The paper now admits that the police were immediately informed of the cash savings ... and as for the child porn images, the paper artfully dodges a tricky truth. Let's just say for now it would have taken a techie expert to plant those - and the victims here were not techie experts.

The "apology" is framed within a big lie: that the paper "incorrectly implied" these fabrications. There was no implication: the paper expressly repeated - or made-up - these claims while laundering its police-fed propaganda with the word "suspects". The Screws' Lucy Panton pantingly reported on July 30, 2006: "ANTI-TERROR cops were stunned when their massive raid on suspect bombers in Forest Gate turned into a chilling child porn probe, we can reveal." How many more copies of the paper did that lie sell?

The man who presided over this malign exercise in demonising a perfectly respectable Muslim family was editor Andy Coulson, since dismissed for other reasons, but now resurrected as the Tory party's PR boss - telling untruths is certainly his metier. But he alone cannot be blamed for the News of the World's Goebbels-like approach to minorities, the truth and reporting: at the top of this heap of shit is Rupert Murdoch himself who back in October told The New Yorker this:

"We keep having to speak politically correctly about it, saying Muslims are wonderful, it’s just a tiny minority. They are not all terrorists, of course, but the frightening thing is that it is the children of those good original immigrants who are being brainwashed in big numbers."

Yes, old Rupes must have nodded sagely when his trash staff dreamt up their Islamo-phobic fantasies over the Forest Gate incident, adding his bit to the growing tragedy of international mistrust and paranoia.

PS: The Screws' "apology" is buried in a tiny coffin on page 2 of the paper, the least read bit of Britain's top masturbation rag. On the Screws' website homepage I do not see the "apology" at all. I'm sure it's been sneakily hidden somewhere, while the coverage stories were splashed all over.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Daniel Radcliffe: penis: flash fiction competition!

"It's that thing of being shocked that I should have hair - you know, anywhere else other than on my head" - Daniel Radcliffe

The headline to this piece is perfectly search engine-friendly. What happens in that thousands of people flock to this site, guided by their feverish, masturbatory fascination with Daniel and Harry Potter, then when they're done they start to look about the site and come back for more. I should have gone into marketing.

Anyhow, here's the competition bit. You know what flash (or micro) fiction is - in this instance write Arcati a 50-word short story about Daniel's first kiss. Feel free to interpret this brief in any way you like, but no more than 50 words. You can write it in any genre - romance, thriller, western, literary, what have you. The prize?

- Publication of the winning entry on this famous site
- Literary fame and notoriety following an email-interview with the remorseless Arcati
- Something Harry Potter-ish (I'll see what I can do) - there are some lovely figurines I'm thinking about

The competiton ends on July 31. Send your entry to: Madamearcati69@aol.com. Your email address will suffice as a point of contact, include your author name. Anonymous entries submitted via the comment button will be instantly zapped. This competition is open to every resident of the globe including prisoners and unauthorised migrants.

Madame Arcati reserves the right to end this competition if entries do not match her exacting standards.

For examples of flash fiction click here. On the site are some good examples of the form including this, entitled A new nickname at 38 by Graham Coleman:

I was now 'Grishi', a reference to my love of fish-based snacks. On the plane I sat next to Isobel who had become Ishi. She was too tall for me but we rhymed. I told her this was as good a basis for marriage as any.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A fight in a London street

Late one night this week I got into a black cab. The car hadn't moved and the driver seemed to explode in his seat - "Right, now you've got it coming!" he raged - and he stepped out into the road. He was focussed on another cab driver just ahead already out of his car and squared up to his attacker. There followed an amazing fist fight in which the two combatants alternated in securing the other in a headlock while punching the skull and face. Drama queens on the pavements screeched at them to stop while I crossed my legs. I was fascinated; I wanted to study the moves of violence, and the quite reckless desire to cause injury. I became fascinated also in observing my own failure at shock at this unusual spectacle. It was a moment of voyeurism of primitive behaviour, but a voyeurism primitive in itself. After a short minute the two disengaged, as if a bell had been rung, and returned to their fares. "He called me a fat fucking bald bastard," explained my driver. "He had it coming." Indeed he did. I cross-examined him closely on his life on the journey home and learnt much. A career change - his - would be advisable.

Wendi Deng and the great scrote-meister

Eric Gills' 10,000-word profile of Mrs Rupert Murdoch - alias Wendi Deng - and how both Good Weekend magazine and The Guardian spiked it - has been well covered by various media such as Private Eye and Crikey. For a thorough update click here.

It's always fun to catch the mainstream media lying through their teeth. Take The Guardian, for example. The mystery here is not why they decided not to run the piece but why they considered doing so in the first place. The Guardian has for years run fawning pieces on Murdoch: its MediaGuardian site is a petri dish of wildly ambitious graduates who dress up their Murdoch job applications as News International news and analyses, hoping to be noticed by the great scrote-meister. Was it ever likely that this newspaper would run anything upsetting to Murdoch?

The flavour of Gills' piece is to be got from this short excerpt in which Andrew Neil shares his view of Wendi:

“‘There is no one in [News Corporation] with Rupert’s vision or breadth of interest,’ warns Andrew Neil, a former senior Murdoch employee … ‘Wendi has two young kids to look after, but everybody’s view is that she is biding her time. She keeps her hand in as to what is going on. He’s very close to her. Everybody expects to see her as a rising player. From everything I hear about her, underestimating her would be very foolish, particularly in a post-Rupert world. She’ll want to be there when the [company] carve-up happens, and she’s got two kids who are increasingly being cut in to the post-Rupert pie,’ says Neil.”

Ellis writes of her:

"If she is assuming a grander role for herself at News, can Wendi deliver China to her husband? [Former Star CEO] Gary Davey says that at the very least she’d be an improvement on her predecessors. Over the years, he explains, News has been inundated with fixers, influence-brokers and spruikers promising riches in China but not delivering. ‘We’d have two or three a day,’ he remembers, ‘members of the politburo who’d show up with their hands out. It was just revolting. It’s all very well having the connections and the guanxi [influence] and all of that nonsense, but most of the guys who are in that racket wouldn’t have a bloody clue about how to run a business.’ Wendi is different, Davey says, bringing to the role an understanding of the culture and language, and also ‘really intense business nous, one of the missing pieces of the China puzzle’."

Not exactly Kitty Kelley stuff; more Tina Brown division. The entire piece is published in Australian magazine, The Monthly. Meanwhile, the great scrote-meister snaps up the Wall Street Journal. I doubt it will be re-running its own damaging Deng profile of a few years back.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Alan Johnston: You're safe, now fuck off

I am glad the BBC's Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston has been released by his Palestinian captors. But if I see his face and hear his eunuch voice just once more on the TV, I'm going to kick the cunting screen in. I have several TVs, I just hope it's not the new widescreen plasma job.

George Melly dies on schedule

The wonderful George Melly has popped off at 80 - good age considering all the illneses he wrote so entertainingly about over the years. He was due to die this year according to the evil Death List website. Other famous people expected to die this year include Gore Vidal (I think not), Ariel Sharon (could linger yet), Bill Deedes (the very idea!), Harold Pinter (" ") and Olivia de Havilland ("Who's she?" I can hear Daughter-of-a-bitch mewing, as her mummy cuts up her asparagus spear). I must write to Olivia for a final interview and get her to bitch about her sister Joan Fontaine.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jasper Gerard prepares to strike terror

Laugh of the day is the news that the Observer’s court fool, Jasper Gerard, is writing his first novel. Apparently it’s a comic tale about terrorism, an unpromising incongruity that may be described as Gerard-esque; or simply as typical. But as he tells the London Evening Standard's media gossip: “A bit of English lampooning is the best way we have of undermining the terrorists.” I like the "bit of" bit.

While it is entirely possible that Gerard’s book will strike terror in your average Al-Qaeda operative, perhaps seeking a little light relief between internet bomb-making courses, I predict that, if published, it will more likely undermine any decent reader’s will to live, mine especially. It’s not that one wishes Gerard to fail, you understand. It’s that one knows he cannot do comedy, as his execrable and ham-fisted Observer column demonstrates each week. An ape in a Murano glass shop might exhibit greater finesse.

I tend to think of lampoonery as light-hearted satire or caricature, as in National Lampoon. It will be interesting to see how Gerard renders absurdity absurd ... in a giggly way. TerrorLit tends to the heavy: Conrad’s The Secret Agent – I think the first novel about modern suicide bombers, published in 1907 – reflected on terrorism but actually satirised England; Dostoevsky in The Possessed nailed bourgeois resentment as embryo of “terrorism”; Don DeLillo in Mao II demonstrates how the terrorist now has the power to sculpt the “inner life of the culture”, whatever that is.

Conrad, Dostoevsky, DeLillo ... Gerard. No, doesn't quite work, does it? Wrong literary genome. But at least the Observer will review him (if he's still in their employ at the time of publication).

Madame Arcati: A year old today

Today is Madame Arcati's official birthday, I am a year old - like the modern US, I was born on the 4th of July. I am sure you will all rush to congratulate me on my self-discipline and rigour - don't you think the world of blogging is better for my presence?

My thanks I extend to a cast of characters I could not have invented starting with Kevin Spacey, his brother Randy, his ravishing ex-wife Stephanie Mastini (a gifted artist) and her peculiar sister Francine and boyfriend Thom. Frenemies such as the acclaimed novelist Susan Hill, the delightful and learned Duncan Fallowell, Duralex, Lorenzo, the late Dinu, Lavinia, Daughter-of-a-bitch and the subtle Ms Baroque have maintained a running narrative that continues to fascinate as many of them try in vain to get the better of me. I sometimes think that Arcati is a blog-o-soap.

Arcati has brought to your attention a number of stories that would not have seen the light of day if left to the dead tree media - such as the Independent's diamond supplement, Stefano Hatfield's infidelity with Ken Livingstone's PR and the baffling complexities behind the Jon Snow/Precious Williams saga (ongoing).

As it says at the top, I write about whatever I like in the way I like. No editor in the free world ever granted me that freedom.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tony & Margaret: Walks on the wild side

In a TV show last night a man was seen speed walking into and out of offices. He speed-walked into civic halls, up to crowds and into parties. Up staircases he bounded; and even in the rear seat of his Daimler he managed to look like an upended battery bunny, legs still frantically peddling in thin air.

You don’t see popes or archbishops walking like this – not just because most of them are decrepit and laden with robes – but because it would be unseemly. Somehow one can’t imagine Christ ever speed-walked among the flock or to Karne Hittim for his Mount sermons. For a religious man to speed-walk would be to suggest a craven attachment to time, to schedule, to our earthly sense of purpose. Slow walking – when the walker is sober and robed, or at least adorned with faith icons and not a gout-sufferer – supports a projected sense of gravitas and of attentiveness to those around and about.

Speed-walking is functionality and a power thing: “Here I am, now I’m off – aren’t you the lucky one!” The speed-walker last night was the subject of Will Hutton’s The Last Days of Tony Blair (C4).

The only other comparable speed-walker I can think of was Margaret Thatcher who in her heyday was the lacquered Road Runner (“beep beep”) of Westminster, seemingly pursued by an imaginary Wile E Coyote (time? mortality? Ted Heath?) as she launched out of cars, performed a Wall of Death of handshakes before the maddened turkey scuttle back to car. So intent was she on speed that she gradually developed a permanent stoop from leaning forward in sheer impatience at the failure of her legs to keep up with the rest of her.

Tony Blair is still erect, I am happy to see, for all his speed walking.

Rupert Everett - with a little help from Justine

Nice to catch up with Rupert Everett - middleaged men really shouldn't do stubble: grey bristles betray the hair dye up top - who's doing the rounds to push the newly launched paperback of his autobiography Red Carpets And Other Banana Skins. No wonder it's so well written with Justine Picardie as his unheralded ghostwriter. Makes me wonder who wrote his novels. Still, perhaps his publisher can recoup some of the £1m it shelled out after the hardback dawdled on 15,000 sales despite or because of extensive serialisation in the Daily Mail.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bridget Rowe: Where is she now?

In Fleet Street mythology, Bridget Rowe was once a monstrous chthonic* character whose pathetic attempts at emulation of the Kelvin Mackenzie-saurus - the unreconstructed scrote par excellence - finally led to her downfall at Mirror Group at the hands of (ironically) her anti-idol some time in the late '90s.

In the evolutionary history of women in senior management journalism, she was some hideous throwback to a reptile-like lineage who, in mutated Godzilla style, rampaged over all and sundry - man, woman and cancer victim. The very sight of her vast, glazed white choppers - aesthetically, tusks - was enough to turn any decent sentient life to stone. These were not fangs for the aid of digestion but some sort of genetic trope (or topos) for the impregnation of horror in the beholder - all the more horrible when framed by those Joker-style carmine-slapped lips whose slime and lipstick trails led to all sorts of interesting places.

This Medusa of Misery is not heard of these days - she is never mentioned in best editor lists, you will not find her wretched name in any book index. No memoirs, no Tina Brown-style reinvention, no longed-for TV fame; not even an honour from HM or PM. True, in 2004, she wrote a guest column for Press Gazette but this only served to confirm her uncharacteristic good judgement in not pursuing a writing career. Nothing followed. It's as if even the Street of Shame dare not remind itself of her one-time regnancy (or existence). She was last seen flogging T-shirts at Ascot about two years ago.

Do you know where this creature has gone to ground? Did she perchance mount a horse that carried her over the rainbow? Do you have something to tell me about her? Madame Arcati is all ears.

*Pertains to a thing of the underworld

PS I've remained intrigued by Stephen Glover's 1998 investigation into the curious case of the 130,000+ phantom "sold" copies of Rowe's The People which nonetheless were recorded as sales in 1994 - a case not resolved so far as I know. Ancient history in tabloid terms but worth thinking about - for those who care about such matters click here.

Independent on Sunday: Arcati plots

From The Spectator in the Independent on Sunday for today:

"When the 'Mail on Sunday' ran an erroneous story alleging an affair between Channel 4 News's Jon Snow and writer Precious Williams, Madame Arcati, the mysterious media and celebrity blog, became a hotbed for gossip. Until, that is, Snow's lawyers called time on the allegations. Now comes news that somebody has been trying to unmask Mme Arcati. She writes: "I know one newspaper at least which paid an intermediary to obtain a blogger's identity by illegal means, and I know that this person is probing Arcati."She also reports that AOL told her of attempts to access her email with the wrong password. We accept the denial by the 'MoS' of any involvement. So speculation must turn to other media groups."