Thursday, January 31, 2008

A horoscopic glimpse of Dr Vanessa Neumann

As I await to hear further from Dr Vanessa Neumann – the future Mrs William Cash – said to be worth $100m and of a family worth $200m (so the papers say!) - I have glanced at her horoscope.

The birth details I have: born Feb 18, 1972, in Caracas, Venezuela. If correct, Vanessa is Aquarius with an Aries Moon: she will be reticent and unusually self-willed as well as highly perceptive (I wonder if that's true?). As I don’t have her birth (tick-tock) time I cannot calculate her Rising Sign. Her Sun in the Fourth House confirms the importance and almost peculiar influence of family on her life while her Moon in the Fifth House underscores a need for privacy, shrewdness in business matters and a strong attraction to sensation.

Saturn in the Seventh House inclines her to caution and promises quite testing times in relationships – the key to spiritual growth it should be said. This placement can mean she is fairly cool and undemonstrative - not quick to show her feelings - but may denote a dutiful nature in important liaisons. Despite her wealth and position she will feel restricted by all sorts of relationships in her life and by a resistance to her ideas, which is most interesting. She just has to persist. Who says the rich have it all?

There’s so much more to be said but that’s enough for now. I need a glass of wine.

William Cash - an important clarification

The impossibly beautiful intellectual Dr Vanessa Neumann - the future Mrs William Cash - has clarified something to me that didn't make much sense before now.

William revealed in ES mag that he would have to write "5,000 pieces" to pay for a £670,000 engagement ring, which would average a paltry £134 a feature. However, Dr N writes: "William's column on engagement rings was edited by ES - he actually wrote '5,000 articles in The Spectator'. Which is about right; or maybe you would know more about Spectator pay rates these days than William." Well, these small magazines can't afford to play King Farouk - even with Andrew Neil driving up the lifestyle copy quota - hence the eternal presence of the rich man Taki whose column is a low-return hobby and no better for that. But I'm happy to make this point on the 5,000 pieces clear and wish the couple all the happiness in the world. Their joy draws attention to my own singleton existence - perhaps I should start an online diary to tell you all about it. It would make a short movie; Duncan Fallowell could play me (in drag of course).

I have asked Vanessa for an email-interview, btw. She is definitely a most fascinating person and I wonder whether I should propose to her, too. William would have to share her with Madame Arcati. The variety might intrigue her ...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Susan Hill: 'Give Duncs a hug'

I'm glad novelist Susan hill has offered some comfort to Duncan Fallowell as he finds himself cyber stalked by the yellow-toothed anony-mice who scurry about the net in search of people to hate, click here. New Zealand appears to have hired a lynch mob even though Duncs' travel book is yet to be published. She relates how she, too, became a hate object when she dared to make some slighting remarks about a few indie book shops in the Guardian. Suddenly she was the Darth Vader of the chains intent on driving out the titchy shops still with door ding-a-lings and pounds-shillings-pennies tills. As Susan says, do write to Duncan and offer him a hug, click here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ashley, Alicia, Sun, Screws, Cheryl, anal vibration

The odd-looking kiss ‘n’ tell queen Alicia Douvall claims on TV that there was a price on Ashley Cole’s head in tabloid-land just before the story broke about his latest cock-cunting activities while vomiting – why, even she was approached by a hack for any dirt on the footballer, she claims.

I suppose this must be because of the £100,000 he reportedly picked up from the News of the World a little while back which falsely allowed the world to imagine that Mr Cole had engaged in a cock-cocking orgy, with the rather imaginative detail of a vibrating mobile phone up someone’s rectum. Subsequently, Ashley’s “feisty” (ie gobby) wife Cheryl boasted to Piers Morgan in GQ that the £100k winnings paid for her wedding ring. Gloat gloat. This must explain why the coverage is especially vicious. Revenge, revenge.

In other news, I note the Screws’ TV critic Ian Hyland being most teasing about Ross Kemp’s latest show set in Afghanistan – “The Camp Thespian In Camp Bastion,” he wrote, after Clive James, almost. What can he mean? I can’t imagine that Ross’ estranged wife Rebekah Wade – as editor of the Screws’ sis paper The Sun - will be too pleased. It’s hard to keep up with it all. I do know Rebekah is a great admirer of Hyland’s gifts - he rivals her own TV critic, the legendary yet reclusive Ally Ross who I sense is growing restless. A novel can't be far off; I see it ... But who knows? And, yes, who cares, but the principals?

Monday, January 28, 2008

William Cash: Full of Bulgari

My William Cash story has generated all sorts of thoughts on the man named after his first love. For instance, I hear of one journalist sent to interview him at the West London home of his then betrothed, Ilaria Bulgari. It was a media story about his persuasive skills in flogging Spear's Wealth Management Survey to some rich people..

The pair sat in his (ie her) 5* sitting room, and the journo was just about to start asking questions. As he embarked on his first question (which should have been "How did a joker like you end up in a place like this?" but was actually something dull and supine), Cash asked: "Is the dictaphone on?" The journo said yes. "Then I will begin..."

What followed was 45 minutes of Cash droning on about how wonderful he and his magazine were and all his famous friends, especially Elizabeth but also Tom Wolfe et al. The hack tried to ask questions but Cash spoke straight over him. Sometimes he would pause for breath, at which point the journo would interject with something. Cash would disregard the question and continue with whatever it was he was talking about.

After he had exhausted his soliloquy, he showed the writer out. "That," he said, pointing to a large photographic canvas, "is an original Alison Jackson."*

*Know a Gordon Brown lookalike? Click here

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Henri Llewelyn Davies: Star of psychic star-gazers

Henrietta Llewleyn Davies died in March 2011.

Rebecca novelist Daphne du Maurier was “some sort of cousin” of hers, her grandfather helped inspire JM Barrie’s Peter Pan while she herself played muse to her mother's famous ad slogan and Kate Winslet has played her great grandmother in Finding Neverland. An interview with the UK-based psychic astrologer Henri Llewelyn Davies.

Henrietta Llewelyn Davies – Henri to her friends - is one of the UK’s top astrologers having written sun sign columns for Cosmo, TV Times, Woman’s Own and other top-selling publications as well as features for The Times and women’s magazines.

She is also a psychic – able to foretell and truth-tell through an extra-sensory perception I do not understand. One of her major private clients is the novelist Jeanette Winterson (Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit) who wrote about her in 2003 (in the Mail, Vogue and Times). She confessed: “My sceptical friends who have had readings with her have all admitted that Henri is special. I am no longer wary of telling people that I use a psychic astrologer. If they protest, I suggest they find out for themselves. They are always impressed.”

Henri is the only Oxford-educated astrologer I know of – and she has a fascinating literary back story. As Winterson tells it: “She [is] related to Daphne Du Maurier on one side of her family - remember Rebecca and Jamaica Inn? On the other side was JM Barrie of Peter Pan fame.

“Her grandfather was one of the 'Lost Boys' adopted by Barrie, and for whom he wrote Peter Pan. But that wasn't all. Henri's great-great grandfather was Queen Victoria's chaplain, and her father was in the Guinness Book Of Records as Britain's most married man. Her mother, meanwhile, was hugely successful in advertising and gave the nation the slogan ‘Cheese Please Louise.”

Henri gives private phone readings from her west London home and there’s a link to her website at the bottom of this interview. She agreed to answer questions by email ...

How do you describe yourself professionally - psychic? astrologer? medium?

I’m a psychic astrologer – I look at people’s horoscopes according to their date, time and place of birth, finding the positions of the planets in a book called an Ephemeris, so this part is “technical”. But astrology was never an exact science and I mix “standard” astrological interpretations of the signs and planets with my own psychic insights and intuition to determine how a person is using their horoscope chart. Even the basic, “stock-in-trade” astrological interpretations are many and varied – there are many ways to use a horoscope – people do have considerable free will, so forget that old chestnut about astrology being deterministic and ignore the idea of Scary Malign Fate.

Mediumship is usually about proving human survival after death. This is not really my line of work, but a lot of very sincere people do this difficult job, often for very poor pay (for example, in Spiritualist churches).

Occasionally my clients say they are desperate for “news” of their dead relatives. One woman wanted to know her dead mother was now okay. I said that I felt she was (note: I‘m not God!) and then I said, “I see a dinner service in my mind’s eye” and described it. (It’s like visualising a picture, say from a magazine, in your head – anyone can do this, by willpower, for a split second anyway. But in my case I don’t programme what I “see”, it just happens, also very briefly. This is not rocket science – it happens to many people and one theory is that everyone has psychic ability somewhere, but they may not have developed it).

The girl’s response to my “vision” of the plates was, “Oh, my mother just lived for her dinner service!” She thought that her mother was sending her a message or perhaps a sign. Personally, I’m not sure what to think about that ....

Have you ever had a sitting with a medium?

I once had a startling one in which he “brought through” a relative of mine who was probably the highest paid British novelist of her day.

I feel it’s best, with mediums, not to feed them information, so I called myself Miss Davies (or ‘Davis’) when I phoned up for a sitting. I was thinking it was better to err on the side of paranoia: I was writing a horoscope column for the highest-circulation magazine of the day - under my own mouthful of a name. Probably the medium wouldn’t know this or read my stuff, but still ... I didn’t do TV at the time – this made sure I was a very anonymous figure when I walked in.

As things turned out, my surname is publicly (albeit not really famously) linked with the sitting below in a way that hadn’t occurred to me at all - so my instinct for secrecy turned out to be right.

This medium, having established a “link” with someone he said wanted to speak to me, said, “I’m going to the West Country in my mind’s eye, right the way down across England.”

(I was partially brought up by my grandmother, who lived in Cornwall. Okay, maybe).

“It’s a distinguished lady, she’s bringing in stacks of paper and pens and a pile of books,” says he.

(Yawn-yawn, thinks I, my gardening-mad, strong-charactered Grannie wrote letters and read books, sure - who didn’t, in those days?)

“This lady was DEFINITELY born between 1900 and 1910,” thunders the medium.

(No - Grannie was born in 1898, possibly he’s just a bit out on dates, it’s very hard for mediums, think I, patronisingly).

“Henry!” he said, “she’s laughing and saying ‘Henry’ and pointing at you. That’s a MAN’s name!” he yelped indignantly.

“Yeah yeah, that’s my nickname, short for Henrietta.” (Not that my grandmother ever dreamt of calling me that).

It got better. He embarked on a series of clues – great fun, and with my mind on my Grannie I couldn’t fathom them immediately. This made the sitting all the more convincing when I finally put the picture together. (By the way, my own "psych" comes from somewhere else, is geared only to helping others, and on certain - often important - occasions myself: I can’t always switch on accurate intuition to order. This to the many Arcati fans who will say like so many members of the public say to psychics, “Well, how come you didn’t KNOW all that?” If I did I wouldn’t be human...)

The medium reported that this Lady said, “When I was on the earth I always saw my home, my house, in my mind’s eye.”

(Weird, comment I thought. Wasn’t she just living in it?)

He then whistled a few bars of a tune – you know how when someone whistles a bit of a song you know, but you can’t place it? “She says it’s the title that matters,” said the medium, adding, “it’s not very ladylike that she’s whistling, is it? She seems SUCH a lady. Do ladies like she seems to be USUALLY whistle?

“And she’s taking me to the West Indies, to Jamaica,” he added. “But she always wanted to come home when she went abroad, she’s saying.”

He picked up that there’s a “Llewelyn” in my name (Okay, Davies – Welsh – not that I’d spelt it for him). But the proof of this pudding was nothing to do with me writing high circulation horoscope columns (which I never did tell him about – they weren’t discussed).

Somewhere round now I twigged who his “communicator” was. He said she was a “loose link” of some sort. “But she IS a relative, a cousin. But now she’s not saying ‘My cousin Henri’; she’s saying, ‘My Cousin Rachel’.”

He went on with many comments – apparently she said that “she” had seen "Hitchcock" and "Larry" on the other side. By this time I wondered if he knew the story behind all this, which was already in the public domain to an extent. The ‘communicator’ had died quite recently and no biographical books had come out yet – a fact he mentioned. But he swore later he knew nothing about the communicator – and even if he had done, subconsciously, there was no reason he should have linked her to me, sitting in front of him.

The novelist Daphne du Maurier - the spirit communicator - was my grandfather’s first cousin and therefore some sort of cousin of mine (I never could fathom that first, second, once removed blah-blah system). I only met Daphne a couple of times, but we corresponded a bit as she was very kind to the young distant relative who wrote aged 14 saying: “I love your book Rebecca.” The whole tone of the sitting was a little bit impersonal, as fitted that particular relationship.

She was born in 1907. The medium’s dates did pan out. And she famously wrote the popular novels Jamaica Inn (the Jamaica reference – she never liked leaving her home turf to travel, either – this is a very well-known fact about her.) Another book of hers was My Cousin Rachel. The unidentified tune the medium whistled turned out, I realised, to be The Road to Mandalay. Daphne’s book Rebecca has an extremely famous first line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”. I liked this joke!

Daphne du Maurier set Rebecca in her own “dream house’”, in reality called Menabilly, which she was only ever allowed to rent, not buy. She was forced to leave this house later in life, and never got over the loss. Hence what I initially construed as mystifying waffle from the medium, about her seeing her home in her mind’s eye. (At this point in the sitting the medium also said that she now has a replica of her beloved house in the spirit world! Mediums often say this sort of thing, but with Daphne’s attitude to her home the comment seemed to carry rather more weight).

There was much more that I knew already, or could check was accurate. His view of Daphne was not entirely as I would have seen her (I didn’t know her very well, don’t forget, a lot of what I knew was family hearsay). When I finally told him who he was talking about, he said: “Who that?” (Not his sort of thing, he said, though he did then say he’d seen some Hitchcock films which I knew were based on Daphne’s books.)

Sceptics can knock down almost anything if they want – so often it’s not hundred per cent provable. And yes, there is such a thing as inadvertent mind-reading, whether about dinner plates or Daphne – reading the subconscious, the things that aren’t uppermost in the mind, as well as the conscious. But I liked this sitting a lot, it’s almost watertight, and I believed this medium was genuine. It’s nice for me, because I know I fed him no information (others must believe what they feel is right).

The novelist Jeanette Winterson wrote long pieces about you for Vogue and the Mail - how you acted as her psychic guide. Were you happy with what she wrote? Are you still her guide? She says you were particularly good on property advice …

Jeanette wrote great pieces about me in the Times, Vogue and the Mail. I first met her in 1987. She learnt astrology from me as she wanted to write a novel involving it.

I told her she’d never use the things I was teaching her in her fiction, and indeed she never did. She has consulted me about decisions she has to make in her life many times through the years over the twenty years I’ve known her – like anyone else I speak to she is seeking answers to “unknown quantities”.

Sometimes psych sees round corners that are impossible to gauge with the normal part of one’s brain – it’s useful for seemingly unfathomable conundrums and decisions. I think very high-powered hard-working people like Jeanette, who are incredibly efficient as well as mega-creative, save themselves time and energy by having proven, trustworthy advisers, to clear their heads and cut corners to reaching wise and productive decisions. It doesn’t have to be an astrologer or a psychic - but getting other people who are worth their salt involved is a good system.

Numerous people want property readings – it’s such an expensive, risky business. I was once interviewed on the subject for the property section of the Sunday Times, and mentioned that property is in the end only bricks and mortar – and that perhaps the most important question people should ask is: “How can I live a fulfilling life?” It was interesting how many people who contacted me due to that piece said that the part of it they liked best was the reference to that question.

What do you advise on?

I advise about anything in life - light, heavy and medium-weight. There are numerous readings about relationships, of course. I always tell people I’m not infallible. But I know from experience that if I get really strongly negative feelings about, for example, a job someone’s thinking of taking they will almost certainly rue the day they ignore my advice.

I once insisted a client of mine just must go on a blind date she was reluctant to attend – I was inordinately bossy and pushy about it (not often the case with me, but I felt it was vital she took my advice on this occasion). She and the person she almost skipped meeting have now been happily married for many years. Life-changing stuff like that sometimes happens and I sometimes get to have a hand in it (of course, the client might have suddenly decided to meet the person in question after all, having ceased feeling reluctant, without my advice. But I sure pushed her hard – to her annoyance! - and she’d usually found I was accurate about other things so gave in).

Recently, I’ve had a run of mothers wanting to know about schools and nannies. Some areas are harder for us to fathom without a “sixth sense” than others are – for instance, schools can change unpredictably year on year, who knows what a child’s classmates will be like?, etc. Nannies who interview well may well turn out to be less than saints, etc.

One of the sadder questions, which recurs regularly, is, “Should I have my cat (or dog) put to sleep?” I so hate this question, but I have to answer everything – as positively as possible. Although I may not know it - until I’ve achieved hindsight – the fact is that my sources have been as kind as they can possibly be in any given situation (and obviously there are some traumatic ones). I’ve on occasion disagreed with vets who have felt animals have very little time left to live (with any quality of life, that is – the vets have the best of intentions and so do I) - and I have been proved right (as I have often turned out to be the more accurate one when I’ve disagreed with numerous other professionals employed by my clients – lawyers, architects, plumbers, etc.)

Once I was reading for someone regarding a dog called Dubonnet (not her real name, she was named after another form of alcohol...). The owner was trying to prolong the dog’s life (but not cruelly), and the vet didn’t want to – in this particular instance I felt forced to say, “Let her go”. I absolutely loathed and detested saying it to the poor woman, but I do know (a long story) that if I don’t give out what I strongly feel, then worse trouble really does follow (and I can’t judge in advance what sort of trouble that will be – I have to blindly trust my sources and I have to say they have never let me down – provided I listen and say what I’m told to say. It is an extraordinarily clever system when I’m channelling like that - for which, obviously, I can take no personal credit).

I often don’t know what the words I say are actually going to mean – often, words can be interpreted different ways – so I often literally repeat words I hear in my head when doing psychic work. A lightweight story about this involves a girl who had been dumped by a boyfriend – I told her that a new romance was on the way. “He’s miles better,” I said airily, ‘and he’s just around the corner.’ The girl got back to me a while later, giggling – she had indeed found a nice new boy - and said (referring to my comment): “His name’s Miles and he lives just around the corner!” Ha ha.

I don’t get bad news to impart usually (what’s the point of upsetting people in advance of anything they can’t stop happening) – one reason I DO get bad news is if it’s a warning and the person can do something about damage limitation.

And the conclusion to the Dubonnet story about the dog? She actually died naturally and somewhat unexpectedly in her sleep shortly after I’d so reluctantly advised the owner to let her go - the “bad news” had in fact served as a kind of preparation for the inevitable loss to come.

Jeanette says she was fearful of relinquishing her sense of independence. Is this a common reaction to your influence?

Nobody actually says that to me when they have a reading – because they’ve made up their minds they need help with some aspect(s) of their lives. They listen to what I have to say - then, in the end, they have to make their own decisions, of course. The big bogey question about astrology is about free will as versus predestination. In fact no astrologer is going to tell you that you have no free will: this is repetition but can’t be said too often. I think people have a lot more free will than they often believe.

Unlike many psychics, who pluck "information" and predictions for the future out of the blue (which is often very hit and miss) I narrow the field and work a lot on people’s questions about what they should do right now. I have found, over the quarter century I’ve been doing this work, that this gives far more accurate results for me.

I do also predict the farther future at times. I am a lot more “directive” than many non-psychic counsellors; I tend to tell people exactly what I think they should do (I think life’s short, and my approach can save time). There are often lots of possible answers to dilemmas and there are many potentially reasonable life directions – my job is to try and choose the one that’s best for my client’s happiness and personal growth. My input has to ring true to them at gut level for them to act on it – sometimes it may not seem logical, though!

What kinds of people consult you - any other names? Major names in journalism, publishing, business etc consult you, don’t they?

I can’t name names – it’s confidential. People talk to me as a respite from the outside world. When I was looking for celebrities to interview monthly for a series of articles I was doing for the Times, based on celebrities’ horoscope charts, I had no trouble finding Virgo and Libra names to interview, for the September and October issues, but I came unstuck the next month - on Scorpio.

The Times approached 40 celebs with Scorpio birthdays and they were all suspicious of this new form of interview, using astrology – even though I was only going to be nice and non-invasive with them (I’d never want to be anything but kind in my personal readings, published or not – life’s hard enough already). A couple of Scorpio stars who had already enjoyed having personal, private readings from me, on the telephone, also backed off in horror when I put the idea of a newspaper interview to them. Still, that’s Scorpios, they don’t like having their psyches dug into publicly. Understandable, really. People like to be private with me, usually.

Many professions come to me and I’m equally interested in everyone’s needs. The well-known people I do readings for are mostly writers or actors, artists/designers or creative people who, though now very high-powered business-wise, started off arty in some way. That goes with the territory. In my time I have myself been into writing/acting/arty things – so it’s also a case of “like attracts like”. Of course big companies also use astrologers – but I’m not one of them and stocks and shares are not my forte, though I’ll talk about them occasionally with clients if they really want.

You’re not just a psychic but also an astrologer - you’ve written sun sign columns for Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Own, TV Times, and others - why aren’t you doing these columns any more? Would you do them again?

I was once interviewed on TV together with an astro-physicist. I was a horoscope columnist and the TV company hoped we’d have an argument - but neither of us really wanted to. I said that everyone knows that horoscope columns are far more general than personal astrology, which is more specific and thus right on the nail more often. But with horoscope columns I know for myself that you can often get it right – I did the job for a very long time. If writing them, you must always find the ray of hope, even if there’s a lot of challenging planetary stuff around – you seriously can stop people slitting their wrists – I can’t stress this aspect enough, I was always concentrating on it, though sometimes my columns were also really fun. Afterwards the astro-physicist came up to me quite excitedly and said, “Do you know, I’ve never thought about the therapeutic qualities of astrology before? That’s very interesting, that it’s therapeutic.”

Hats off to him for admitting he’d overlooked something that to so many of us is so obvious. I have noticed that the greatest physicists (so far as I know anything about them – not my field) sometimes are almost like high-level mystics – very impressive in their wisdom and humility, admitting the great gulfs in their knowledge.

Horoscope columns are curiously democratic, in that many people from all walks of life read them, ranging from, say, some academics, to anyone else at all, and I like that. I wrote numerous horoscope columns for many years. I have concentrated on personal readings more recently, but I will now be very happy to write columns again,

It’s fashionable in Western intellectual circles to adopt an aggressive secularism - anything to do with the paranormal or mystical is dismissed as “mumbo jumbo” - what’s your view on this?

Mumbo jumbo (ie rubbish masquerading as truth) is found here and there in almost all fields – politics, the written word, my own field et al. Then again, much depends on all our personal prejudices as to what is mumb or jumb.

The traditional astrologer answer to people who dislike our field is to quote Isaac Newton who was very into astrology. When sneered at by a detractor he replied smoothly, “Sir, I have studied it. You have not.” I think that’s reasonable – quite slick actually, Isaac. Astrology is a subtle art, it’s not just about fixed interpretations of sun signs - the detractors would have to work hard to try and substantiate their claims and they rarely seem to. I think they perfectly reasonably prefer putting their energies into other things. Chacun à son goût, and why not?

Richard Dawkins, who was scathing about astrology on TV this year, admittedly may have been hamstrung by the customary hidebound lack of originality in TV companies’ ideas when they make programmes that are sceptical about astrology and psychic matters. They tend to come up with the same tired shallow arguments again and again. They are seemingly maddened that people put faith in horoscope columns (why not? So long as nothing negative comes out of them – it’s in the writing, that.)

One of their standard lines of attack seems to be to quote the so-called Barnum Effect ie when you circulate a list of general traits of human beings, supposedly applicable to one star sign but which in fact are very general and apply to just about everybody. You then hand this list out to Capricorns, Virgos, all the different signs if you like, and say, “This is your character as a (fill in the sign). Is it accurate? Is astrology therefore accurate, since it’s talking about (fill in star sign).” Of course, they all say yes, it’s accurate, even though it was written by one person for a sign that’s probably different from their own.

SO? Therefore, say the sceptics, all sun sign astrology is bunk. Oh, really? No, actually, that particular bogus mocked-up bit of paper just happens to apply to everyone – it wasn’t the whole spectrum of sun sign astrology those people (fill in star sign) were looking at. Dawkins used this example to debunk astrology on a TV programme this year – bit facile, that, sadly reductionist.

I don’t mind discussing astrology and psychic matters with sceptics. In my experience, it’s always been good-humoured, we exchange giggles with/at each other and anyway they’re often chuffed to hear me say anything accurate/encouraging about THEM – after all, everybody’s always wanting interesting knowledge about themselves.

How did you discover your gift? How did friends and family react? Then you went to Oxford Uni - that must be a unique selling point. Most psychics I know have not developed their intellects …

I met someone who was very psychic himself and had a knack of shoving people up a notch in that area. He gave me a certain amount of instruction verbally, but mostly I just started to absorb his gifts by some mysterious process of osmosis.

I had some fairly dramatic and definitely convincing psychic experiences around then, but maybe this is not the time or the place to go into that. Everyone is always most interested in their own psychic experiences, anyway – rightly. Most people can only really believe in it by experiencing some element of it for themselves.

Most of my friends were sanguine that I became an astrologer and psychic (including people I’d been to university with, who you seem to be implicitly defining as “intellectuals”). Some were fellow enthusiastic learners, almost all those who were sceptical were polite about it – all this says more about the quality of my friends than about anything I got right. With some friends I don’t talk about it much - I’d never shove it down anyone’s throat if they don’t want to know.

My family, most of whom died untimely anyway, and none of whom were psychics, would probably have preferred me to have the stability of a nine to five job – almost all relatives would, wouldn’t they? My grandmother’s reservations about my becoming an astrologer were purely financially based – although she also found it a bit freaky as a subject. However, when, in my youth, I tried a “real” job - working on the editorial side of publishing - I soon got sacked for being visibly so bored! And the bosses probably knew I was doing astrology under the desk, rather than the filing. Things have worked out fine since.

I don’t know if I did ever develop my intellect, or if other psychics do usually - the dictionary definition of intellect is actually "intelligence" and intelligence is hard to quantify.

I have a BA from Oxford in English Language and Literature (if you wanted to be an MA all you had to do was to wait a few years and then cough up £10 – I didn’t bother). I came away with a very middle, mediocre 2nd (Oxford didn’t divide them into 2.1s and 2.2s in those days) - not good really, as you should either get a first or a third. I did about a quarter of the academic work I was supposed to in my three years there (too busy reading tarot cards, perhaps!).

I went into most three-hour Finals exam half an hour late, wrote everything I could think up, and left half an hour early. English is a bit of a non-subject anyway, and to an extent was easy pickings for creative wafflers, but I suppose there’s also an argument to say that I used my strongly developed intuition to drag up just enough of the “right” stuff (well, I hadn’t READ that much) to satisfy the examiners.

The only exam for which I got an alpha (top mark) at Oxford was the only one you couldn’t swot up for - most people didn’t like that one much. You had to analyse a passage of prose or poetry, and say how and why it worked (or not). Again I think I was probably “helped” from Above – by my psychic ability - admittedly aided by a huge passion for poetry (though often not the poetry we were supposed to read at college) which also probably helped me to write about poetry well.

Many successful novelists say that their best work often seems to “come from somewhere else” or to “write itself”. But, as I understand it, you have to work damn hard at the craft of the novel if you want to get it right – these times of inspiration are maybe like a reward. I worked hard at poetry in my own fashion (though it didn’t seem like work - it was my lifeline in my traumatic adolescence). Maybe this says you can be psychic, or a “channel”, for really inspirational and/or respected thoughts, but you have to in some way work hard for it.

Tell me something about your family and their connection with JM Barrie.

My maternal grandfather was one of the five boys adopted by JM Barrie after their parents died young and tragically – he wrote Peter Pan entirely for them and to a large extent lived for them and through them.

The story of JM Barrie is told (with only a few glaring inaccuracies) in the film Finding Neverland – it was shown on BBC2 on New Year’s Day. I don’t know why the film company had only four, not five boys, in their version of the story (perhaps they couldn’t afford to pay a baby in a pram) and it was a bit disconcerting seeing Kate Winslet starring as my great grandmother. There is a reproduction of a portrait of the said great-granny in the film – I own the original.

I am called Llewelyn Davies like the above grandfather and my mother, because my father, a Fleet Street journalist (chiefly distinguished for once being editor of Picture Post - a magazine much lauded and ground-breaking in the 1940s-50s) - was married seven times (he was involved with my mother between the fourth and fifth wives).

My mother was a bluestocking turned advertising copywriter. She invented the popular slogan “Cheese please Louise” - for which I take credit as she got the idea from me aged five stomping annoyingly round the house screeching “What do you want for tea, Pam? Jam!”

Why do people consult you? Must they be in crisis to activate your gift?

People don’t need to be in crisis for me to psych things out for them, but it has to be something they genuinely want or need to know. Joke “test” questions like, “Well, what’s my girlfriend’s name, then?” often don’t get answers - it’s a waste of energy and I usually simply go blank. Party-trick psychics are fun, and have their place, but I’m not one of them. I’m there to help with what people DON’T know about and need for their development (and, though it may sound pompous, need ultimately for the good of the world) and I’m on the “spiritual” side of psychism, rather than the fun side.

Occasionally extreme sceptics seem to pull “useless” information they already knew out of me (are they “ready” on some level or something?). Such as the plumber who was working in my flat and who scoffed when he heard about my work : “I don’t believe in all that rubbish”. A voice in my head said, “Tell him he’s an Aries!” “How d’you know THAT? “ he spat, outraged. “I didn’t know myself,’ I said. “Somebody up there just told me it”.

And no I don’t guess sun signs normally (that’s what people ALWAYS ask at parties) – it’s a strange kink of the trade that professionals are less good at that than some amateurs. Perhaps because we get muddled up by all the other aspects of the chart we can perceive by the time we know a lot about the whole complex system. Everyone has far more to their horoscope chart than just their sun sign – moon sign, rising sign and much much more. Once you go into it deeply you tend to start finding you’re guessing sun signs wrong.

What are you reading right now?

Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs – the Left Bank World of Shakespeare and Company. By Jeremy Mercer. It’s about a famously eccentric, and rather wonderful, long-established English bookshop in Paris that I visited recently.

Complete this sentence. A happy life is...

A happy life is open to inspiration and love.

Thank you very much, Madame, for allowing me to appear on such an interesting, original and eclectic site. (PS Please keep saving whales and everything else that’s wonderful!)

Henri, thank you for your time, and a Happy 2008!

Duncan Fallowell - New Zealanders rage over book

As Arcati devotees will know, Duncan Fallowell's travel book Going as Far as I Can: The Ultimate Travel Book is out Feb 21 - and if you wish to order a copy, click here. It's his chronicle of a long journey through New Zealand (significantly not mentioned on the front cover) - and already I have received some negative responses from New Zealanders, two reproduced below. I shall be reviewing the book later in February - but having read it all I can say for now is that I think Duncan's view of the country more complex (and comic at times) than may be supposed and is as much about the idiosyncratic Duncan Fallowell in NZ as NZ itself ...

Anonymous writes ...
Duncan Fallowell books would only be used as cat litter box lining in this house (but wouldn't waste a cent to buy them truthfully) as in his lastest uninformed and negative book, his comments about New Zealanders' being ugly and fat and our architectural ruins of cities and over rated wine. Good to see a one eyed writer labeling everyone with the same brush. When he can only write a book full of negative comments why would anyone buy such a great informative tour guide!! This guy obviously needs to tour Iraq for his next tour guide or start rubbishing his own back yard.

RyanGNZ writes ...
Well, I'm from New Zealand, currently living in London. I think it's a shame that someone would liken New Zealanders to the Philistines. I've always thought we had a strong connection with art and culture. Especially music. I haven't read the book so I can't really comment, but realistically any book calling my homeland a 'hellhole' of any description isn't really on my list of books to read. New Zealander's are good people, shame we get stood on in such ways.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Timbaland's Scream - I'm obsessed

Click here to listen

William Cash - feeding from the 5,000 ...

My good wishes to journalist William Cash on the news of his latest betrothal - to Venezuela-born socialite intellectual Vanessa Neumann, last seen frolicking with Mick Jagger. In ES magazine he relates the most amusing episode of his proposal to her on New Year's Day in Mustique - where else? - with novelist Jay McInerney and new wife Anne Hearst stepping in valiantly as branded name-droppees for din-dins.

All this excitement leads William - founder of Spear's Wealth Management Survey - to wonder how much a chap should spend on an engagement ring. "Tradition has it that it should be two months' salary," he informs (news to me), so I can understand why he nearly keeled over when in 2002, on a visit to a Bulgari store in Bond Street, with his now ex-wife Ilaria Bulgari (the Bulgari heiress), he was quoted £670,000 for one of the "smaller rings" in the glass cabinet. He reveals disarmingly: "I calculated I would have to write at least 5,000 pieces" to secure the bling. This is shocking. I hadn't realised that a man as preoccupied with money as Mr Cash laboured so cheaply - that works out at a mere £134 a piece. Surely this breaches minimum wage laws?

With his cute nose pressed up against the glass windows of expensive shops he cuts a rather poignant figure in my mind. Suddenly I quite like him. And let this be a warning to aspiring hacks as they dream in their colleges ...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Flat Earth News, The Observer and Kamal Ahmed

The latest Private Eye runs extracts from Nick Davies’ book Flat Earth News which is thought to have precipitated the resignations of the appalling Observer editor Roger Alton and his sidekick news editor Kamal Ahmed (see previous stories here).

The book lays bare the corrupt or dodgy practices of modern journalism and in particular reveals Alton’s Observer to have been severely compromised by Ahmed’s intimate relationship with New Labour. As for Alton, I must examine his horoscope for an astro-view of how he got to be appointed to the top job in the first place. Nothing rational can account for it.

Back in October it was claimed that Davies’ book accused Ahmed of helping to sex-up the dodgy dossier that enticed the UK into the Iraq War. Davies denied making any such allegation. An anonymous Arcati contributor wrote at the time: “Forget the sexing up chatter – that'll be more a question of Kamal inflating his own importance. But Davies is missing the larger point: The Observer, for several years, barely qualified as an independent voice, so slavishly did it follow whatever Blair/Campbell dictated.

“This was the truly sad thing for an otherwise v. good newspaper. The slavishness to the Campbell/Blair line was often embarrassing. Forget Ahmed. He's just an arse, who was doing Campbell’s bidding.

“The most depressing thing, ultimately, is that as Observer editor Alton often thought it more important to keep the government happy than to offer a proud, independent voice.”

Flat Earth News focuses, among other things, on the dodgy dossier episode. Back in January 2003 a group of political hacks flew to Washington with Blair. At some point during the flight, Alastair Campbell invited Ahmed to join him and the PM. Ahmed later revealed that he’d been shown a document on Iraqi weaponry – what came to be known as the dodgy dossier. Ahmed told colleagues he had been asked his opinion of the report – even though the Foreign Secretary had yet to be consulted. When later the dossier was revealed to be a load of lying rubbish, Ahmed denied giving Campbell any advice and refused a request by the Observer’s news desk to write about the encounter on the plane.

So, Davies may indeed not be accusing Ahmed of helping to sex-up the dossier, but his disgraceful sucking up to Blair and Campbell will have emboldened them to push ahead with their claims against Iraq.

For more extracted delights on our press, get Private Eye (No 1202), or order the book, Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media by Nick Davies, click here.

The man who extracted Flat Earth News for the Eye, click here

Japan's whaling: Sign letter to Canon boss

"Today is the 13th day in a row without whaling in the Southern Ocean due to the presence of the Greenpeace Ship Esperanza," reports Greenpeace. If there's one man in Japan with real influence on the government there, it's Canon boss Fujio Mitarai - you can sign an online letter to him, urging him to action, which begins: "Canon is committed to building a better world for future generations, and does not support the hunting of endangered or threatened species with anything other than a camera .... " If you'd like to sign, click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

And now, the Nicky Haslam movie

If you liked the Duncan Fallowell movie, then don’t miss the Nicky Haslam movie, directed by his own stalker, Fish. Click here

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Andrew Neil blows up Rebekah Wade

I am delighted to see that fellow Gemini Andrew Neil has contradicted Rebekah Wade (see below) and confirmed what we all know - that Rupert Murdoch is the Sun's de facto editor-in-chief. "If you want to know what Rupert Murdoch really thinks read the editorials in the Sun and the New York Post because he is editor-in-chief of these papers," he told the Lords committee on media ownership and power. Asked by Lord Fowler whether what Wade told the committee on the 16th was crap, Neil responded undiplomatically: "I don't recognise [her] description of how the Sun operates. Now it has been a while since I have been there. When I was there, the editor of the Sun would get daily telephone calls [from Murdoch]." This is presumably true of The Spectator and Telegraph, too, with reference to Neil's bosses, the Barclays ... ? I only ask.

Peter Wyngarde, Alan Bates and cock-cocking

My item on actor Peter Wyngarde, 74, and the likeness of his Jason King look to the latest Maddie snatcher suspect image (Private Eye thinks it more like George Harrison) seems to have provoked the intense interest of Durabitch, or Daughter Of A Bitch, who questions whether Mr Wyngarde ever cock-cocked with Alan Bates. Personally I don't know or care, but Donald Spoto wrote Otherwise Engaged: The Life Of Alan Bates, which was serialised last May in the Mail. Here's an excerpt:

"While he [Bates] liked to appear publicly with women, and to cuddle with them privately, his deepest romances and his most passionate sexual life occurred with men.

"Among them were the Olympic skater John Curry and the actor Peter Wyngarde, best known for his role as the television sleuth Jason King.

"Alan enjoyed an intense, two-year romance with Curry while still married to Victoria Ward. When he later discovered that Curry was suffering the ravages of Aids, he tended his old flame throughout his last days. Curry eventually died in his arms.

"His relationship with Wyngarde lasted a decade, and there were other serious, long-term male lovers."

No doubt Durabitch will now be demanding an affidavit, but there you go.

Incidentally, at, the film database, the following will be read of Bates:

"A closeted bisexual, Bates' clandestine male relationships included those of actor Peter Wyngarde, whom he lived with for ten years; stage actor Nickolas Grace, whom he met while performing The Taming of the Shrew with the Royal Shakespeare Company; British figure skater John Curry; and, his longest relationship, artist Gerard Hastings."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Oscars: Rebekah Wade's assured performance

I have only just found time to sit through the Rebekah Wade movie in which the Sun editor faces alone the august and titled members of a Lords committee boring on about media power.

It’s the first time I have ever heard her speak since she doesn’t do TV or radio or anything likely to annoy the man she calls unerringly and reverently “Mr Murdoch”. Yes, she’s very nicely spoken; not Keira Knightley-silly-debsy-nicely-spoken-oh-Mr Darcy; just nicely spoken in a classless but educated sort of way despite the odd hard g.

She certainly is unafraid to use the word “monetise” and that fact alone suggests to me she is positioning herself for a higher management purpose post-The Sun.

But meanwhile she has Bognor to look forward to – that’s where she’s dragging her reluctant staff this summer to meet “Sun readers”: Butlin’s I presume. She spoke of “Sun readers” as a discrete tribe yet later confessed that it’s impossible to sketch the demographics of eight million people (the readership figure of the paper in 2006) in a few words. Bognor is where the spirit of Sun readers will re-animate the staffers and inspire new zombie antics.

The famous hair is even thicker (AA Gill would say “boskier” for the literary fragrance) than photos suggest: as thick as a rake's Georgian wig, framing a pale, ovaloid face. She'd make a plausible Elizabeth Tudor. And perhaps the Lords’ nasty cheap video camera is to blame but her hair is scarcely flame, as it’s often described: a dull copper perhaps.

Her only slip up was when she called the PM “Gordon” before a nimble self-correction restored the distance she imagines we need to believe exists between her and Gordon. She knows we don’t believe her verbal feints on whether Mr Murdoch tells her when to jump (mainly because he has already admitted to the Lords telling editors when to jump). But she knows it’s very wise to maintain this fiction as a position for it indicates deferential goodwill on her part while hinting at her own independence of mind, one paradox that defines real life.

I was going to say she’ll go very far, this one, but actually she’s gone very far already.

See the movie, hear the popcorn click here

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Maddie - Jason King lookalike sought

The sketch of the latest Maddie McCann snatcher suspect - as reproduced on the front page of the News of the World - bears an uncanny resemblance to Jason King, the eponymous '70s agent of the TV series, starring the estimable Peter Wyngarde.

Mr Wyngarde is now aged 74 and bears no resemblance to either man or to anyone but himself.

The Queen gives Adrian a smile

AA Gill wrote a little while back in a Sunday Times TV review of the Queen and her festive speeches to the nation and Commonwealth: "I’ve employed this woman to be head of my state all my life, and I’ve yet to see her smile." Here we go, problem solved.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Wyndham Richardson: 'I directed Duncan Fallowell'

You've seen the movie starring Duncan Fallowell (not called Minor, but that's what we'll have to title it until further advised ...), now meet the director. Yes, it's Wyndham Richardson. I asked him about the project ...

Wyndham! Who are you? - you're at Bournemouth Uni and you've made a movie called Minor starring your Godfather Duncan Fallowell ..

I'm studying television production at Bournemouth University. I'm originally from London/Wiltshire and have known Dunx since ever. The film isn't actually called Minor, it was my minor project at university. I will be making a major project this year which will be 10 minutes rather than 4.

What a movie - is it a longy or a shorty? What's its actual length?

So my university brief was to create a drama or doc lasting between 3 and 4 minutes. It ended up being 3 minutes 57 seconds. I wish it could have been longer, my original cut was 8 minutes. I think Duncan's rushes could have made a feature film as every take was very different and equally entertaining making the final cut a real challenge.

How was it devised - your idea? Was it scripted or improvised?

I wrote the script, all the characters had back story and that's what I took with me when casting. I wanted my actors to really get into the role and was happy for them to adapt their character if it meant for a more convincing performance. When it came to shooting the film I was really pushing the actors to improvise, Duncan was all for that. At times I'd have to pull him back to the script as he easily went off on a mad tangent, which was equally entertaining. I also asked the actors questions about their relationships with the other characters just before we started rolling which helped with the improvisation.

How did you talk Duncan into it? - if indeed you had to. Tell us how it all came together and when?

I shot the film in October but got Duncan on board in early August. I went over to his for dinner with script in hand, we talked over the piece at length and he had such a good idea of where I wanted to go with the piece that when I asked him to be in it he happily obliged. The character was always named Duncan so I think he got a hint from that.

The next step was thinking of who would work well with Duncan, the most important thing was making sure all the characters were very different so as to really challenge the relationships they had.

What was your idea behind this film? You say it's a satire. Duncs is now being called an upper class Ricky Gervais ... someone else referred to American Beauty ...

Funny this talk of American Beauty, I'd never really considered the link. I'm a big fan of director Amando Iannucci and the political satire he creates in The Thick of It. His raw camerawork and editing creates realism and detracts from the fact it's a film rather than real life. I wanted to create a film where the viewer is trying hard to work out if they're watching a drama or a doc. Duncan's opening sequence in the car was probably the most successful in that respect.

As for the general plot of the film, I love the idea of challenging stereotypical relationships. The concept of adopting a sister is completely ridiculous but so is casting Duncan to play the role of a very straight doctor. I wanted to use everyday locations and give the film a 'cringe' factor. Someone commented on 'those nasty plastic switches' and 'that funny little car Duncs drives', that's what the film was all about, getting people to look at how funny the everyday things in life are. If Duncan's car was silver, black or blue it wouldn't have been as funny as the fact it's yellow. That is Duncan's real car.

How long did it take to film? Was it filmed in Bournemouth?

The film was shot in Bournemouth over a long weekend. The university allocates you 3 days to shoot and that's it, no chance to go back and get more. I had a crew of only 4. I wanted to keep it small in an attempt to make the shooting process as simple and organic as possible.

Did Duncs behave himself or were there diva-ish demands? He shouted at someone in his car - who was that?

Dunx will always be himself regardless of where he is. On set he was very good - he kept the crew and other actors entertained and definitely fired everyone up, to the extent that it was quite common for takes to be unusable due to members of the crew laughing at Duncan's antics, me included!

The car scene was great fun to film as Duncan was more than happy to improvise on his surroundings; his character wasn't happy about a young family skating close to the car so he felt the need to voice this by shouting. God knows what this family made of him driving around shouting with a camera crew in his car!

Did Duncs really once "stink like a polecat", do you think?

I'm sure he did at times - he'll probably deny this however!

Do you plan to be a movie director? Tell us something of your plans ...

I love making films for myself. My minor project is a clear example of my kind of humour. I want to continue to make these kind of films but as for the next few years I don't know. Ideally I'd like to earn enough money doing something else to allow me to make these films on the side. Of course if anyone wanted to invest in my projects I'd happily take up directing full-time but I don't feel the urge to enter the media world as a runner in the hope of making it big one day - terribly pessimistic I'm afraid. I will be making a major in March along the same lines so look out for that.

Do you see Duncan often? ... how did he get to become your Godfather? Gore Vidal once said of himself "always a Godfather never a God" ...

So Duncan's been my Godfather since ever. He went to Oxford with my Dad and it sounds like they both had a pretty good time there. We stay in touch by email and phone, living out of London means I don't see him a great deal but it's fun to pop in to his when I'm there. He's a funny port of call and will always have a pretty amusing opinion on whatever it is I'm calling him up about.

How do you view Duncan? He has this rather outre literary maverick reputation ... do you like his work? Which of his books is your favourite, if any?

I've grown up without knowing much about his work but it's fun to see he has this following. His work is very interesting, I've just started reading a copy of his new book Going as Far as I Can which looks like a blast. I know my brother is a big fan of his. His work with CAN it worth listening to.

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself - age, love life, health and position on George Bush and Zac Goldsmith, etc.

I'm 20 years of age and have a girlfriend called Laura, I'm looking forward to moving on from University and starting something new. I enjoy listening to the Today programme and am currently writing my dissertation on the subject. I follow politics pretty closely and at present have little faith in Brown or Bush. The next few years are going to be pretty interesting; the US presidential race seems very open at the moment. I like going to festivals and play the drums.

Which film director do you most admire and name your best movie ever.

Hitchcock is my favourite director. He was a master in creating suspense, I think The Birds is one of his best films. I'm also a massive fan of Larry David and the work he's done with Seinfeld.

Did Duncs buy you a Christmas present?

Duncan has yet to give me a christmas present this year, I guess it was his performance. In past years I've received belts, bags and a day out to Brighton Pier.

And finally ... could we have more movie clips please with Duncs ...

I'm looking to cut some more footage of Duncan from my minor when I have the time but as for future projects stay tuned. I think Duncan's film career is just kicking off.

Thank you Wyndham for your time. Good luck with university and your career (I feel you're a Gemini).

To see the movie click here

Friday, January 18, 2008

Alfie Allen: A new penis is born

A new penis has been found in Alfie Allen, little bro of Lily, to replace Daniel Radcliffe's in Equus which opens in Chichester on January 31. A nude photoshopped version is invited - regular Arcati devotees know the drill.

(Apparently he got the role because he demonstrated an ability to rise at 8am - for a casting breakfast meeting)

Click on images for tumesced views


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Duncan Fallowell turns movie star!

Yes, our very own Duncan! In Minor he finds a sister and eats soup with his wife ... he has this funny white attachment in his right ear and he wears a funny tie. I always knew Duncan was made for the screen: fuck the Golden Globes - catch the golden balls of the arts. Click here

"I can highly recommend Duncan Fallowell as an actor" - Madame Dylan Jones Arcati ("May I have my discount now?")

'The Urban Woo's yummy' - Madame Dylan Jones Arcati

Ooh, I like The Urban Woo click here. On Loaded's inclusion of Kate McCann in a tacky "sexy pin-up" list, Clair Woodward writes on blog Woo: "Yes, Kate McCann is a very attractive woman, but I'm sure that she's not planning a Jordanesque career on the back of her situation in order to take advantage of her allure. A celebrity has to be labelled sexy, even if they resemble a bag of spanners; a car, a record, a craze; even cancer has to have the word tagged onto it to make it a more saleable proposition now."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ten-Step Guide to Being Dylan Jones

A yummy brochure for Westfield London (a new large shopping centre [or “retail icon” if you prefer] in Shepherd’s Bush) arrives full of scrumptious testimonials to London’s “food landscape”. GQ editor Dylan Jones’ is among them which set my mind thinking about his many, many consumer recommendations in the media ... he is truly a one-man advert for stylish, branded capitalism ... here’s my top 10 Dylanisms. You, too, can live like a glossy mag guru:

1. “'Not only is London the art capital of the world, the fashion capital of the world and the financial capital of the world, it is the culinary capital, too.' Dylan Jones, Editor GQ.”
Westfield London brochure, 2008

2. “'Connaught Village is one of the hidden treasures of central London. Tucked away behind Marble Arch ... it offers ... the best Italian restaurant in the postcode, Stuzzico, run by the unofficial mayor of Connaught Village, Pino Guido.' Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ.”
Mail, September 22 2007

3. “'If you ask me, La Colombe d'Or has become the most English restaurant in all France ... Not only is it an oasis of calm, it really is the most exquisite country garden, the sort that every Englishman would like if he had the money.' Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ.”
Indy, Sept 8 2007

4. Mr & Mrs Smith CD 4 -“Our brand-new soundtrack to the weekend - 'Like a warm bath, this CD will relax and invigorate in equal measure. Now, hand me that glass…' Dylan Jones, editor, GQ

5. “I spent my honeymoon at various Aman hotels and they're the most romantic places I've ever been. Amanwana is probably the best, because the tents ... are right on the beach. The resort is on the island of Moyo, just east of Bali ... There is no better place to watch an Indonesian sunset drinking chilled vintage champagne."
Observer, February 4 2007

6. “'There hasn’t been one photograph of Comrade [Gordon] Brown on holiday; simply the stock-shots of the Timothy Everest suit (a tailor who I, for my sins, suggested he choose back in 1997 — I apologise: I used to advise Mr Brown).' Dylan Jones is editor of GQ.”
Spectator, Dec 12 2007

7. ... “’While I rarely buy clothes in Milan (when I do, I go to Aspesi, on Via Mon­tenapoleone) …’ Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ and author of Mr Jones’ Rules for the Modern Man.”
Spectator, July 25 2007

8. “’Acqua di Parma would be my soap of choice, principally because of the smell.’ Dylan Jones is the editor of GQ and the author of Mr Jones’ Rules For The Modern Man (Hodder & Stoughton, £14.99)”
The Times, December 23 2006

9. “Jones was in Dublin, as guest of honour, for the launch of the new Nokia 8800, their first luxury mobile phone ... it's easy to see why Dylan Jones was happy to endorse it.”
Social Dublin blog, August 26 2005

10. “In the afternoon, my two young daughters come in to pack the Men of the Year goodie bags: the October issue of GQ, Links of London cufflinks, Jo Levin’s GQ Cool book, Elton John’s Rocket Man DVD, Michael Caine’s Cained CD ...”
Press Gazette, September 10 2007

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mark Ronson: The Kenneth Williams of pop?

One of those days when Mark Ronson keeps popping onto my radar. In the gym there he is on one of the TV screens with his Winettes in the Valerie video – recorded last minute I understand though the perfect lip-syncing of the Amy Winehouse lookalikes belies that.

Then a friend calls who went to the Brits nominations yesterday at Camden’s Roundhouse; the usual shambles. Any how, he met Ronson and describes him as the "fayest of men" with a sort of West Coast vocal timbre though the accent is English. Then he says: “Ronson’s the Kenneth Williams of pop”. I’m always fascinated by people who are not what they appear to be: they are sooooooo not out of the cultural catalogue. He’s a Virgo. Mark tells my friend he feels he hardly deserves a Brit nom because all he ever does is covers – nice self-deprecation there: his covers tend to be better than the originals. I love his sassy version of Oh My God with Lily Allen – vamped into a Jessica Rabbit-style animation. I hadn’t thought the Kaiser Chiefs could be bettered.

See the video click here

Then Freya North’s new book Pillow Talk comes in the post. I imagine Freya to be 83 and possibly from Norway. In my mind’s eye I see a Doris Lessing-type person with her hair in a tight bun and the tights rolled down to her calf muscles. I can smell pee. In fact she’s a glam 40 (a Scorpio) and I can’t imagine she wears tights or smells of pee. On her website she writes: “Aural pleasure at the mo’ is provided in spades by Mark Ronson” (in her Journal – updated last May, tsk!). She slurps: “I don’t mind telling you that Mark Ronson himself is particularly yummy. My lovely friend Jo and I went to see him last week at the fabulously wacky Bloomsbury Ballroom. The vibe was fantastic – everyone was dancing … “ Should I read Pillow Talk?

He sounds nothing like Kenneth Williams. I wish he’d marry Amy. Or Freya.

Freya's website click here

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sarkozy ... and the end of Dolmio TV ads?

One good thing Sarkozy plans to do is rid France's public TV of ads by 2009. Imagine this happening on British commercial TV - no more fucking Dolmio sauce ads ("When'sa your Dolmio Day?") and those heavy eye-lidded wop puppets (I can say that as half wop myself) - mamma, papa and mamma's boy in their cunting kitchen. Whenever I see this monstrous ad I can't tell you what tortures I envisage for the trio - forcing uncooked Dolmio-coated linguini into every orifice being one.

Duralex: A letter from (Yes! Yes! Yes!) "France"

The person calling himself Duralex replies to the posting below about Sarkozy and Duralex's insistance that the French are above tawdry tattle ...

Demented, moi ? Beneath my rhetoric I’m as cold as a snake and as sharp as a slaughterer’s [corrected] knife. I thought you already knew.

Oh, did I say so, really? Well, let me see. Here is all I could find:

Click here

I said: "Such "outings" as Lord Browne's or Peter Mandelson's wouldn't be possible in the French influenced area, for example, where homosexuality is not an issue. Do you know that the mayor of Paris is openly gay, and constantly re-elected? I might be wrong, but my bet is that no French tabloid would be interested in publishing the kind of "revelations" Jeff Chevalier sold to the Mail on Sunday. Homophobia is a big taboo in the French media. A positive taboo, for once. ” (08/05/2007)

Click here

I just said: “In the French area, no one cares about that sort of stuff.”

Which you enthusiastically interpreted and elaborated as follows: “In France, the appearance of not caring about such matters is probably more important than the expression of any interest in other people's sex lives – the old culture is above such things.” (09/06/2007)

Your words, chéri, not mine.

So no, I never said anything of the sort. The context of my statements was totally different from the one we are presently talking about. Back then the discussion was about the typically Anglo-Saxon preoccupation with who is gay or not among public persons, and the way your media use to fuel that kind of speculation. I never said the French are not interested in “the sex lives of their governing and celebrity classes”. I just said they are not prejudiced about their sexual orientation, which is not the same thing at all.

I can’t figure out why you’re calling out to me about this topic. My first language and literary culture are French, OK, but I’m Canadian and I don’t know much about French political life. Besides, I suppose that caring about the king’s (or whatever you call him) love life is something quite common all over the world. It’s natural curiosity, but unlike you I wouldn’t state it’s a sign of deep political conscience and maturity. I’d rather say it’s a sign of… ah, in informal French we say “ringardise” (a ridiculous traditionalism).

What I personally find more significant and interesting than this is that suddenly, the French president has become a valuable gossip topic in the Anglo-Saxon tabs and internet blogs. Maudit, even Perez Hilton is talking at length and peddling wild rumors about Mr Sarkozy’s relationship with Carla Bruni! This is truly unbelievable !

Mmmm. I remember some juicy stories about Giscard’s and Mitterrand’s escapades. And as far as I know, Sarko’s affair with Carla is in no way extra-marital. He’s officially divorced and so is she.

Well, as they use to say it comes with the territory. But in Mr. Sarkozy's case it seems to be part of the territory, and I’m afraid the French are not very happy about it. For the media are one thing, but the people’s opinion is a whole other story. Just read the comments on Perez Hilton, many of them come from French readers, and they are pretty steep. I also hear Sarkozy’s popularity is sinking in the polls. So yes, just as you say: the French finally grow up. But a bit too late…

Sunday, January 13, 2008

John O'Donohue: 1954-2008

The Irish poet and philosopher John O'Donohue died on January 3 at the age of 53. "Beautify your gaze and the world of beauty comes to greet you," was one of the central messages of his lyrical work. It interests me that he gave motivational talks to corporations.

"The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere – in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion and in ourselves. No-one would desire not to be beautiful. When we experience the Beautiful, there is a sense of homecoming ...

"It has become the habit of our times to mistake glamour for beauty. This concern is expressed trenchantly by Robert C Morgan: ‘Beauty is not glamour. Most of what the media ... the fashion world ... Hollywood ... the art world has to offer is glamour. Glamour, like the art world itself, is a highly fickle and commercially driven enterprise that contributes to ... the ‘humdrum'. It appears and disappears ... No one ever catches up to glamour.’

"In contrast, the Beautiful offers us an invitation to order, coherence and unity. When these needs are met, the soul feels at home in the world."

From Divine Beauty (2003) by John O'Donohue, Transworld

For more on O'Donohue and his books click here

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sarkozy: The French finally grow up

The President and Cecilia in happier times

My prolific - but sometimes curiously absent and demented - commenter "Duralex" has lectured Arcati endlessly on how the French do not concern themselves with the sex lives of their governing and celebrity classes. What a fuss he has made about my interest in the goings-on of the high-ups! The French, he has claimed, are soooooooooooo above that sort of thing. He must therefore be most aggrieved by the French media's unexpected and uninhibited fascination with the cock-cunting antics of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Indeed a tell-all book, Cecilia by Anna Bitton, about his cunt-cocking ex-wife, is just out after a failed injunction application. "Sex, diamonds and rivalry swirl" in this torrid bitch swamp, if we are to believe Reuters.

The agency adds: "Adding new spice to the unfolding tale, one magazine, Gala, said Sarkozy had offered the same kind of pink, heart-shaped, diamond ring to new girlfriend Carla Bruni as his ex-wife Cecilia had been seen wearing only a few months ago." Ooh dear, is that dirty washing I see hanging out of the Élysée Palace?

At last, France has succumbed to the tabloid sensibility (it had already actually but allowed its elitest media to protect its extra-marital cock-cunting establishment) - I fear Duralex may have to relocate. I hear Zimbabwe knows what to do with intrusive journalists. Reuters is running some soundbites from French book customers - one is Alain who says: "I think someone in the public eye should expect his private life be exposed so they should expect the publication of any problems."*

I could have scripted these words myself.

*Babel Fish translates thus: "je pense quelqu'un dans l'oeil public devrait prévoir que sa vie privée soit exposée ainsi ils devraient s'attendre à la publication de tous les problèmes."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mika Mika Mika Mika Mika Mika Mika

Is Argentinian model Goaksaka Ferrari a friend of Mika? Don't ask me, bitch.

Goaksaka's stats:
Measurements: Metric Imperial
Height: 173 cm 5' 8"
Weight: 56 kg 123 lbs
Bust: 89 cm 35"
Waist: 64 cm 25"
Hips: 89 cm 35"
Dress/Clothes size: m 7
Shoes size: 40 7

Thursday, January 10, 2008

When Naomi Campbell met Hugo Chávez

GQ editor Dylan Jones must be congratulated on the glossy magazine stunt of the season – getting Naomi Campbell to interview Venezuela’s “swaggering” President Hugo Chávez for the February edition.

It generates a news line – “Bush wants me dead” – even if Chávez says this to anyone vertical, even to his cleaners, if he notices them at all as he struts about his Mirafflores Palace, Caracas.

The interview itself is almost entirely dull (ie devoid of life and truth); it adopts the usual Q & A format that enables the interviewer to cream the journalistic glamour of interrogation while leaving the spade work to some runaround transcriber. It’s an interview not designed to be read, just swooned over as a witty marriage of supermodel and big-mouth El Presidente. He is not pressured or embarrassed with one searching question. Naomi arse-licks fabulously and is rewarded towards the end with a bit of flirtation and a “joke” told by Chávez intended to demonstrate his sense of humour but fails because it goes on and on like this sentence.

In the hands of a deft writer this would have been used to subversive effect; but in a Q & A it just lies there like a damp beach towel along with all the other damp beach towels.

It would have been wittier had GQ persuaded Chávez to interview Naomi about her appalling repeat employee abuse record – how she physically and verbally assaults her maids, throws mobiles at their heads and tears up their passports if they fail to bag her farts. Perhaps Dylan sensed, as his eyelids fluttered over the US-bashing copy, that he’d better counterbalance Chávez’s unchallenged claims and assertions with a little piece of his own – so gives a learned lecture on Bolivarianism and how Chávez has subverted once autonomous institutions.

Plonked in the middle of the Campbell/Chávez wasteland it cannot fail to be seen as rather patronising – as if to say: Hey! We’ve had a laugh, now let’s be serious, chaps. But that’s the editor’s prerogative.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hillary Clinton: Can she be Mistress of her Moon?

“Ten of America's 43 Presidents were born with Mars in Leo, a statistical anomaly that far exceeds chance,” wrote Wolfstar in 2005. Hillary Clinton has Mars in Leo.

Her big problem astrologically is her Moon in Pisces: no US president has ever had this placement: it betokens self-sacrifice, even a sense of victimhood, characteristics at odds with the carnivorous and opportunistic requirements of the US presidency – certainly being married to leg-over Bill has drawn on her capacity to delay gratification.

Her seven planets in fixed signs suggests a stubborn, strong-willed individual. Her Mars has been retrograde in Gemini since November 15th, indicative of her recent problems, but it goes direct from late January 2008: her New Hampshire victory is timely then. She was always going to struggle in January. After January, her chart looks very positive, particularly around summer and November, so I can understand why the Mail’s Jonathan Cainer thinks we shall hail a Mrs President this year. On the other hand, astrologer Marjorie Orr foresees a Republican victory, so the stars offer something for everyone.

Incidentally, I won’t hear a word against Private Eye, but is its new cover a bit dubious? Is the US presidential election really about black versus white? (eg Obama heading for the “Black House”). Isn't it about non-Bush versus non-Bush? The Eye is usually very sharp to the under-currents (brilliant on vicar Blair and “pipe-smoker” Brown) but I think that cover is ... dodgy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Stephen Fry: Not made for kissing

The pink thesps are revolting. The other week or so I reported Rupert Everett’s view that his sexuality had limited his earning capacity. Now Stephen Fry wonders aloud in the Radio Times why heterosexual male stars are hailed as "brave" when they kiss other men on screen. He adds: “No one says to a gay actor who plays a heterosexual person: ‘How brave of you to kiss that woman, that must have been very difficult for you.’” Fry would be quite happy to kiss a frog, if required, let alone a woman or another man. But I think it unlikely he would kiss a frog with any sexual conviction, at least not without drawing concern from the RSPCA.

Fry makes a general point – a good one – but it doesn’t apply to him in my opinion. He thinks the fact he’s famously gay makes it difficult for him to have a convincing relationship with a woman on screen. But to me Fry carries the marvellous aura of a priest, or someone who long ago took a vow of celibacy and treads this incarnation alone. This is the impression he gives. His Oscar Wilde was near-perfection because he did not embarrass us with a dripping, sweating, leaking Bosie love affair: there was nothing to stain the adventure of a literary life. Fry struck theatrical poses and arranged his countenance in such a way as to suggest inner turmoil and idealistic passion, but at no stage did the ill-fated relationship strike me as having a pulse. Very realistic, I thought, as a cosy exhibition of cultural artefacts.

Fry was the ultimate Jeeves – a presumably asexual adjunct to another man – just as his solicitor Kingdom in the ITV1 series of that name is a singleton married to his career. None of this has anything to do with sexual nature, or even with actual life. Fry is a monument of warm stone – the very idea that he should kiss or be kissed by man, woman or frog is ridiculous.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Martin Amis: Another Word God booms

Thoughtful review in the Evening Standard by David Sexton of Martin Amis’ The Second Plane: September 11: 2001-2007, a collection of pieces in response to 9/11.

Sexton makes a point about Amis’ writing that’s similar to the one I made about Amis’ friend Christopher Hitchens – the “Word God” who rejects all religion but makes a faith of his own prose style: any deviation in others from the rules of grammar and syntax – or even from the requirement to impress clever writers - must be a sign of moral and intellectual muddle if not primitivism.

Sexton writes of Amis’ book: “The writing is so preening, so self-important about its own vocabulary and phrase-making that it always draws attention to its own display, not to the matter in hand. None of the formulae – ‘worldflash of a coming future’; ‘horrorism’; ‘hemispherical abjection’ – rings quite true.”

Virtuosic word-use is intended to establish superiority over the perceived ignorant: the peacock use of words in itself carries a mystical power in the mind of the author to exorcise dumb stupidity – like sacramental holy water flicked over the possessed. Amis and Hitchens should found a Word Church. They’d look marvellous in vestments, with a dictionary in one hand and a thesaurus in the other.

Terry Lubbock statement

I have been asked to put up the following statement:

"Please note that Mr lubbock would like it known that Anthony Bennett known as Tony Bennett, Mr Lubbock's former solicitor, no longer acts for Terry Lubbock or the Lubbock family. Mr Bennett is not authorised to use the Lubbock name."

Friday, January 04, 2008

Charla Krupp - Queen of nutty elixirs

I must congratulate Time magazine on its shameless promotion of gerontophobia – or the morbid fear of getting old.

It’s currently running an interview with the trussed-up, painted Charla Krupp, author of the snappily titled How Not to Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better (Springboard). Charla betrays an unusual fear of decaying in real time – even for a former beauty director of Glamour. “There's no reason to look like an ‘OL,’ or old lady, in Krupp's parlance, when you can look Y & H — younger and hipper, that is,” natters the compliant writer Andrea Sachs in the catalogue-style that passes for magazine journalism these days. The cosmetic advertisers will be pleased.

“A really thick temple is really hot,” declares Charla of spectacle frames. “They don't say anything, those classic frames. They just say old. A young person, a teenager or a 20-year-old, who wears glasses would not wear one of those rimless frames.” That's right, suck the life out of those bastard youngies and soak up their natal wisdom. Another age-defier is white teeth – “Young kids have big, white shining teeth,” she declares. Seen the guys in the Kaiser Chiefs lately? – teeth like those of a camel. Simon Cowell has bleached teeth, but he just looks like a middle-aged man with white teeth, that’s all. Her sermon on the mount is simple: “I think we can fight like hell to do everything we can to look younger.”

It would be most strange if someone wrote a book called How To Look look Less Black/White or Effortless Ways To look More like A Heterosexual. Charla’s simply puffing bigotry – it’s just that in a youth-soaked culture we imagine she’s speaking pragmatic sense. Of course there’s ageism in the work place! So let's pander to it - get rimless specs and give one less reason for firing you!

I was watching Gok Wan’s How To Look Good Naked last night on TV and he wisely persuaded an unconfident bleached blonde in her late 40s to look younger by dressing older – her ghastly ‘70s youthtful clobber of denim, white and sparkle simply drew attention to her age in an aesthetic clash of expectation. Gok talked about class, how to use age for a chic re-modelling. He’s got the right attitude. Look at the individual requirement, not the cunting age. Old Charla needs to address her age phobia and see a psychiatrist.

Such a person ought not to be encouraged to flaunt prejudice in public places.