Thursday, February 14, 2008

The New Statesman and Empress Madame Arcati

Do read Duncan Fallowell’s marvellous diary in this week’s New Statesman – Scrooges can click here.

His first item tackles the verminous anony-mice of the internet (I know them soooooooo well) who have sent him abusive mail over his (still) unpublished New Zealand book Going as Far as I Can: The Ultimate Travel Book. In the course of this he touches upon the “two empresses of the blogosphere, Susan Hill and Madame Arcati”. Other than the fact that he lists our names in the wrong order – and Susan is too pacific a person to be called an empress; she is more a Queen (but should at least be made a Dame [Dame Susan Hill, mm, yes ...]) – Madame Arcati is pleased to appear in the Staggers’ pages, particularly on the day its editor John Kampfner has resigned. I’ll come back to him in a minute.

But anyway, Empresses Madame and Susan are name-checked for their appeal to their vast publics (hello Quebec!) to send comforting “online hugs” to Duncan as the ghastly, cowardly anony-mice nibbled away at him with their blunt yellow teeth over a book they have yet to read. Such was the response – and such our influence – that he ended up feeling “buried alive in chocolate truffles”. There’s no pleasing some people.

But anyway, back to Mr Kampfner. Yes, he’s gone! Was it as recent as the summer of 2006 that he delivered a triumphalist speech at a Statesman party over the increase in circulation (25k to 30K a week I think)? Tesco paid for the champagne then and the Hamiltons hustled about. At last summer’s do Virgin paid for the champers and the Hamiltons hustled about (see my party pieces on labels). At the latter knees-up Kampfner was plainly subdued, his speech perfunctory, his boss Geoffrey Robinson faintly sarcastic about a throne and his editor. An empress of pre-resignation body language I feared then that he was not long for this world. He lasted longer than I expected. A staffer told me that the two men were at odds over budgets.

As Kampfner spoke my eyes were drawn to columnist Suzanne Moore's fuck-me shoes and their gorgeous lace-ups: I was rendered deaf. Though I would deny being lesbotic I did feel a funny tingling - my uterus sort of sighed - and I imagined her heels were six inches long, which is good length for all sorts of different things. She subsequently corrected me on this in a published message.

May I suggest Paul McCartney buy the magazine off Robinson once he’s given Heather her £80m (the global prayer meeting went well, thank you)? I think Macca would be perfetto.

Kampfner glammed up the Staggers: he ushered in the nice silky paper. His stand-out piece was the Tony Blair wars report which listed the numbers of the dead from his various military entanglements. He brought in Julian Clary – a feline diarist of minor absurdities - but failed to sign up Mr Fallowell as the magazine’s travel editor. What a loss. Tsk. His worst mistake was letting go arts writer Ben Dowell – who I hear it rumoured has embarked on a mini-me adventure. I prefer cats myself.

Kampfner’s gone but he’ll be back in a senior role on a newspaper. He has a loud voice, the requisite certainties and lovely big ears. If he wants his horoscope done, he’ll have to send his birth details.

13 comments:

drf said...

Dear Madame Arcati,
Just in case your readers should get the wrong impression, I was never party to any idea that I should become the New Statesman's travel editor. I have met John Kampfner a number of times but it was always in the jacuzzi at the Lambton Place Health Club in Notting Hill, and we spoke of other things.

With best wishes, Duncan Fallowell

SUSAN said...

well I was hoping to be buried in chocolate truffles for Valentines day but nothing has appeared so far.

Madame Arcati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Madame Arcati said...

Do tell more about the jacuzzi summits - has he got a big one? (Sorry susan)

drf said...

my lips are sealed

Anonymous said...

The Most Controversial Unread Book of all time is now on the groaning bookshelves in New Zealand stores, awaiting the sceptical purchaser. Dunc can sprawl on the chaise longue as the money rolls in.

Anonymous said...

I've read it!!!!

Anonymous said...

phnaar ! phnaar !

Anonymous said...

I've read the book! The whole thing - cover to cover - every word. Some words twice.

SUSAN said...

I have read it too.

Anonymous said...

And?

Duralex said...

<< the verminous anony-mice of the internet (I know them soooooooo well) who have sent him abusive mail over his (still) unpublished New Zealand book >>

For once I won't be accused of being in their number (unless someone stole my identity again).

In case Mr Fallowell is really as worried as he claims about all this outpouring of anger and prejudice, I want to tell him he can write anything he likes about the French Canadians. They are so used to it that I'm quite sure they'll stand it with the philosophy and sense of humour the New Zealanders obviously lack.

Liz said...

I haven't found a copy yet. My local bookshop has been turned into a paradise selling perfumed pencils with fluffy fairies on top for teenage girls recording their angst diaries with little circles over the i. I spent a fortune!

A lot of the gear has txt spk all over it so I don't think they'll be paying homage to the printed word any time soon.