Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Battle of the Hays & Fallowell vs President Carter

I am fascinated to learn that the Hay Festival has now moved out of town - and that its founder Richard Booth is this year running his own parafest at the same time called the Real Hay Festival.

So far booked are Arthur Scargill on Saturday May 24th and DUNCAN FALLOWELL on Sunday May 25th, both in the State Room of Hay Castle (which Richard owns). The official festival is in a soggy field somewhere in tents. I don't know what Arthur is doing but Duncan is presenting the World Premiere of The Princess Diana Workshop from his forthcoming book The Ones That Got Away.

Peter Florence, organiser of the official Hay Festival, told people he was getting Gore Vidal as his star attraction but my darling friend Gore for some reason switched to the Brighton Festival instead - maybe he thinks it more gay-friendly. I must get in touch with him and find out what's up. I think he may live to 99.

Peter Florence now has President Carter as his star attraction - excuse me if I droop a little at the prospect. Jimmy is such a drone though he perks up if you say "George Bush" at him. President Carter is in the tent in the field the same Sunday as DUNCAN's in the State Room in the Castle.

You know which one you want to see.

PS: See how Richard Booth coins it from ghosties - click here.

A sad day: Hugo Rifkind is leaving the Times diary

Yes, according to an Arcatiste. I wonder what he'll do next. I hope he resists the allure of writing for GQ (which celebrates bullfighting in its June edition - perhaps the joys of being a racist next?) or presenting items for GMTV. I don't like to see talent going to waste. Hugo, get in touch and tell me something.

LATE NEWS: Hugo writes: "Jesus, you gave me a turn. I'm only going on to features, and it's not for a month or two yet." Sorry, chuck.

Amy Madhouse? Screws must be nuts

“Amy Madhouse” screeched a front page News of the World headline at the weekend for a story that Amy Winehouse’s daddy wants her sectioned. Yeah, of course he does. I don’t quite see why being sectioned is a sign of madness – which in tabloid-land usually means a frenzied descent into dementia accompanied by cappuccino-style lip froth (oh, and then there's the stylish straitjacket ...).

You would think that the paper’s Christian editor Colin Myler might have learned a lesson or two from colleague Rebekah Wade who regaled her Sun readership with a "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up" headline back in 2003 and was hammered by critics (and Bruno in phone calls). Journalists in the main are not the most enlightened of tribes and happily recycle playground prejudices well into old age unless interrupted by their own nervous breakdowns (quite common, actually, followed by a book, breakfast TV interviews, etc). A chastened hack is a wonderful beast.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Vogue (Italia, not US) wakes up to black

Vogue Italia's plan to feature black models almost exclusively in its July issue is an extremely welcome counter-weight to the racism Naomi Campbell (the noted bully) has complained of in the fashion world. Anna Wintour's US Vogue botched a tentatively bold (oxymoron, yes) step in using a black model on the cover of its April issue - athlete Lebron James, but cast as a King Kong lookalike; or some sort of apish sexual monster with white gal supermodel Gisele hooked up like Jane to his Tarzan (or other jungly connotations).

Wintour, of course, is no pioneer of equality of any sort - horses for courses, darling (frocks 'n' jeans in her case) - but we might have expected a zeitgeist queen of her calibre to have been uneased as she stooped over the light box pix of James - to have detected a leeeeeeetle playing up to (unintentional, I'm sure) elderly racist stereotypes of black men.

Perhaps the old girl is starting to lose it a bit.

Still, full marks to Vogue Italia's editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani for her initiative. She tells the Indy On Sunday: "Nobody is using black girls. I see so many beautiful girls and they were complaining that they are not used enough."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jonathan Rhys Meyers: The penis

The third series of The Tudors has been greenlit and so it is only fitting to celebrate this good news with a picture of Henry VIII with no clothes.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Caroline Michel gives a masterclass in gushing

Super literary agent Caroline Michel - aka Lady Gush on account of her, er, gushing - is still the CEO of literary/talent agency Peters, Fraser & Dunlop (PFD), I assume, unless something happened while I was away in Turkey. I only wonder because in her Londoner's Diary in ES mag today no mention is made of PFD: she is merely described as a literary agent. Nor is she described as the CEO of PFD on its neglected website (which is about to be relaunched - news last updated last November); she is listed merely as an agent. I'm sure someone will advise me as I can't be bothered to Google.

But for a superb demonstration of gushing, Michel's is almost nonpareil. She tells Matt Damon how "beautifully" he spoke at Anthony Minghella's memorial service. No person was "ever more loved" than Minghella, she writes - always a hard one to compile, that - y'know, the top 10 most loved people that ever lived (famous people, that is. Nonentities need not apply here).

She encounters George Clooney at a dinner party and concludes: "He's every bit as funny, clever, handsome, charming as you'd expect." Hanif Kureishi is "mischievous" which is a bit like affectionately ruffling a naughty boy's hair at a village fete; and Harold Pinter is "handsome" at a lunch in St Albans.

She loves Salman Rushdie because he loves women ("and they love him": certainly the old goat has cock-cunted quite a few). My favourite line concerns a Rushdie dinner whose guests "were mainly women" except for "manly Hanif Kureishi" (we wouldn't want to think of Hanif as a man who seeks women's company because he's a nancy boy) and, oh, Martin Amis and Ian McEwan were there, too. Oops, she nearly forgot them!

Caroline then gazes at the assembled female friends of Salman - "Nigella, Kathy Lette, Mariella, Carrie Fisher" and concludes: "Friendship, particularly old friendship, is a wonderful and precious thing." Even Gordon Brown is credited with getting a prediction right about the future being "rosy" (I assume she has prophetic skills).

One imagines Caroline trails a sound of purring and cooing wherever she wafts as the sweet fragrance of her platonic tongue-fu enclouds and seduces fragile, famous egos. One can only hope that they're worth the bother.

Wesley Snipes - tax and shit

Wesley Snipes' three years in jail for tax dodging seems a bit harsh - but then modern democracies have a penchant for stuffing their prisons with petty miscreants and debtors. A few years back Snipes, on one of the Blade sets, had a grunt fired for wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the word Shit. "You're a disgrace to black people" the lowlife was told by the star. Snipes is now at the receiving end of pettiness.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

London Olympics prompts a holocaust

My mouse spy tells me that all the bulldozing of land for the London Olympics at the Stratford site has prompted a mass exodus of furries – such as mice – into surrounding areas like Walthamstow about a mile away.

Mr Mouse reports: “Premium creatures like herons were carefully removed out of harm’s way, but the mice and other rodents were not considered at all. The result is an infestation of homes as poor unloved creatures seek refuge.” A friend in Walthamstow has already called in the pest controllers for the merciless holocaust of mice that have taken over his home - loads of other homes are similarly affected. It's a great time for pest controllers - one said that mice are getting wise to traps and contemptuously scuttle around them.

Only a while ago London 2012 Chairman Sebastian Coe promised that the London Olympics would lead the world in environmental sustainability. But the eco message goes hand-in-hand with respect for flora and fauna. The Games will take place on a huge carpet of corpses.

Kacey Ainsworth's perfect eco-friendly house

British fans of EastEnders will know actress Kacey Ainsworth as wet Little Mo. And she’s in Holby Blue playing an inspector at the moment.

She and husband Darren are having an eco-friendly, orange-shaped house constructed – expected to be finished in July - and her builders, Baufritz, report: “It is the most energy efficient house we have built so far in the UK, consuming the equivalent of only 3 litres of heating oil per square metre per annum, compared to 25 litres/m² in a typical UK house." Isn’t that fascinating?

The company further reports that the house also incorporates, XUND-E, “a unique protective shielding concept, which dramatically reduces the amount of electromagnetic radiation penetrating the home which does not interfere with electronics such as cordless phones and baby monitors. The XUND-E plate ... cuts out up to 99% of all high-frequency radiation and low frequency static emissions caused by alternating currents flowing through high tension cables. Various studies throughout Europe and the world prove a definitive relation between the increase of cancer and neurological diseases and high frequency radiation and the protection from this harmful influence can also enhance sleep quality for those living in the house.”

Click here to discover other wondrous things about Kacey's carbon-friendly shelter which is biodegradable within generations if they so wish. This is the future, stop farting carbon you farters, and follow a soap star’s example.

Kacey's eco-friendly house in construction

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jonathan Isaby's Charles Kennedy joke

I learn that the Telegraph's new Guido Fawkes, Jonathan Isaby, is prone to mischief. Shortly after Ming Campbell succeeded Charles Kennedy as Lib Dem leader, Isaby - who apparently is a gifted mimic - phoned up one of Ming's run-arounds, pretending to be Kennedy. He told the grunt (in a flawless Highland Scots accent) that he would be delighted to give a speech at Ming's first party conference - a PR nightmare scenario after all the embarrassment about Kennedy's boozing. The lapdog was very polite and non-committal - you can imagine the cold sweat that may have even broken out in Ming himself - but was put out of his or her misery when Isaby phoned later to 'fess up. Good boy.

Turkey: Fight the good fight in God's Army

Madame Arcati is back from Turkey! I travelled about 2,500 kms by road – I won’t include the internal flights – in a week, from Istanbul in the north-west to Antioch (Antakya) in the south, close to the Syrian border, via Izmir, Konya, Adana and so many other places. I shall write about the trip at some point: I couldn’t file because of a tight schedule, and finding “I” on Turkish keyboards was irksome.

I saw the very best that the country has to offer – Christian historical and archaeological sites, hotels, restaurants, people, people, people. Then on the flight home fate seated me next to an Anglo-Turk who offered me another perspective on Turkey. She is a mountain tourist guide: she had just skied and trekked 9,000m down one Turkish mountain (I won’t name which to protect her identity) with her party.

“I detest the Turkish government,” she said. “Erdoğan [the PM] is gradually Islamicising the country – and the EU chooses to ignore this. We have conscription and the army adverts used to say something like: ‘Serve your country’. Now they say: ‘Fight in God’s Army’. Gradually the educated middle-classes are being eased out of the civil service and replaced by Muslims.

"Our government is meant to be secular but it isn’t now. And the mass tourism industry will destroy our environment. We have a severe water problem – last year Istanbul came within three or four days of running out of water. Even mountain weather trends are changing – I had to abandon part of my trip because it was too hot and the mountain villagers are running out of water. The ground is bone dry – the snow just evaporates. Yet the government allows the building of these great hotels which are often empty and make no money because everything is subsidised. The tourists don’t contribute much to the local economies because they stay in their hotels drinking cheap beers or buying leather jackets in the lobbies. The only good thing this government is doing is improving the roads.”

She's certainly correct about the roads.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Madame Arcati won't update again until April 21

Sorry chucks, but bloggıng from Turkey is no easy thıng. So I am giving you and me a rest for the first time since I began thıs sıte.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Was Seb Shakespeare covered in shit?

A most distressing rumour reaches my ears - that veteran Londoner's Diary editor Seb Shakespeare (the gossipy fixture of the much-improved Evening Standard) was covered in manure as he came out of his house at 7 this morning on his way to work. A case of revenge, apparently. Naturally I don't believe a word of it, interested parties may feel the need to elucidate.

If true, however, I extend my sympathies to this otherwise most enlightened (and sweet-smelling) of hacks.

Graham Norton savages Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey very recently attacked BBC TV talent shows like I'd Do Anything, claiming they were a "13-week promotion for a musical". It’s a fair point, leaving aside the anti-coach party tour snobbery behind it. Now the host of the Oliver talent show, Graham Norton, has made an equally fair point about not running talent shows that may have anything to do with Spacey. He says: “I think it would be very bad to do a reality show casting the lead of The Iceman Cometh, called 'We'd Bore Everyone'." This is a most inspired riposte and Norton is my hero of 2008 (thinking of those end-of-year lists, prematurely).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Roger Alton - the Indy here he comes

The appointment of the filthy-mouthed baldy, Roger Alton, to the editorship of the Independent makes perfect sense given his successful record at the Observer - he got the circulation up by turning the paper into a war-mongering, Blair/Campbell-felching, lifestyle package with the weekly pensées of Jasper Gerard (now the Telegraph's restaurant critic) comprising the premium editorial content. Astonishingly, virtually everyone I know adores Alton so plainly I'm in the minority here. In this spirit then I offer Alton free advice:

- Leave the Telegraph's restaurant critic well alone: he's doing a fine job writing about Lesbian Bisque

- Re-introduce proper front pages as opposed to the one-theme, notice-me antics of Simon Kelner

- Re-design the entire paper pronto: it's current layouts have all the allure and angularity of patio door grilles

- Put pics of pussy cats everywhere - our mioawy friends are everywhere in TV adland

- Make book ed Boyd Tonkin (aka Dank) review a Katie Price novel

- Keep John Walsh - he has a big family and other intimates to support

- Er, stop screaming fuck you cunt, you motherfucker asshole, etc

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Roger Daltrey - 'I'd be a hoodie today'. Twat.

I see in an early copy of this week’s NME that Roger Daltrey, 64, sympathises with hoodies – “The reason kids wear hoodies is because of all the CCTV cameras. If I was a kid now, I'd be a hoodie. I wouldn't want them to watch me either,” he says. That’s because if he were a kid again he’d be pissing on dossers lying about in shopping malls or acting out some thug racist lyric – the only reasons for wearing a hood – which is an odd sort of thing to admit to. “I wish young people were treated with more understanding,” he whines. I do so agree – the understanding that the lazy peer group-enslaved tarts are up to something and should be micro-chipped at birth and surveilled by satellite. Daltrey lives in East Sussex.

I thought Madonna, 49, scampering over car roofs (as she does in the 4 Minutes video) is the saddest attempt by an ancient performer this year at "young people" ingratiation. But Daltrey wins that award. What these old tarts won't do or say to win over a new demo.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Rob McGibbon and his criminally insane egomaniacs

Rob McGibbon is a freelance journalist, principally an interviewer. Recently he launched the website AccessInterviews.com (click here) which aggregates links to the best interviews written or broadcast by leading journalists. It is a cool website which Arcati has been known to dip into and write about. Hence I was able to turn the tables on the arch interrogator and ask McGibbon a few questions myself in what is, essentially, a “world” exclusive interview…

Congratulations on Access Interviews, Rob ...

Well, thank you, Madame. And can I say, thank you to you for using AI and for being what I believe they call an “early adopter”. But enough of this luvvieness…

Which is the best interview ever in the history of the world? People often say Truman Capote's encounter with Marlon Brando in the '50s ...

I re-visited that Capote-Brando interview recently. Yes, it was a great piece, full of wonderful colour, but I can’t believe it is the best ever. I mean, f***, what about my interview with Ross Boatman from London’s Burning for The Sun in 1992?

Capote did a nice job, but I am instantly suspicious of the fact he didn’t take any notes. People with photographic memories wind me up. I have wasted years of my life transcribing tapes, so the thought that it could be done with instant recall fills me with envy and anger. Also, I think spectacles have become a bit rose tinted regarding that interview because of the double helping of fame. Celebrities interviewing celebrities has a similar blinding effect today on some editors. No names, naturally.

Access Interviews - it creates a platform for journalists and publications to link their major interviews to a world audience. How do you hope it will make money?

The simple truth is I do not know. My principal ambition is to create a great website. Making money from it is secondary. Naturally, I wish it wasn’t, but that’s the reality. Hopefully, journalists and readers will get involved in big numbers and then maybe advertising or sponsorship will follow. We shall see… the yacht on the Amalfi coast is most definitely on hold.

In a few lines what inspired AI?

I had the idea when I was doing a stack of interviews for Press Gazette. I didn’t have access to a newspaper cuttings library so I did all the research on the internet and with those awful online subscription libraries. It was a nightmare. I realised that the only articles that really matter to journalists and people generally are the genuine, primary source interviews – not the cuts jobs and rehashed news stories. I wondered if it would be possible to create a finely distilled archive that would become a bespoke research hub. Am I starting to sound geeky? [No]

The idea went through many mutations until I came up with the format for AI – whereby the journalists themselves submit the links to their portfolios of interviews. Basically, the writers and their readers are the editors of an open editorial platform. It has not been easy and I nearly gave up a few times, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I notice that Access Interviews is sponsoring the Interviewer of the Year category at tonight’s British Press Awards. Have you gone all corporate or what?

Yes, I have given up journalism and gone over to the other side. It’ll be a box at Ascot next. Seriously, I am pleased we are backing this award. Obviously, it is to promote the website but I am also determined that if Access Interviews achieves only one thing, then it will be to further highlight the skill of interviewers. Interviewing is hard graft and I sometimes feel that it is taken for granted and, er, not necessarily as well rewarded as, erm, other certain contributing genres to newspapers …

How much to do you prepare for an interview? Your approach to Andrew Neil seemed quite military to me and he sang a song rarely heard. I thought he did drop his iron mask in places.

Yes, Neil did seem to open up a bit. He even said later that he was concerned he had said too much, but I think he came across well. In general, I spend ages preparing. It can be a pain and a bore. Interviewing is labour intensive, but it’s every interviewer’s duty to be well up on their subject. There’s nothing worse than having to bluff through a topic during an interview. Put the reading in, I say.

Tell us something of your career in the media ... you seem very close to TV's Piers Morgan ... And who was your first star interview?

My first interview was Jeffrey Archer in 1986 for the Wimbledon News where I started as a reporter. That is also where I met Piers Morgan. Both are criminally insane egomaniacs who really should be on anti-ego-inflammatory medication. But they are great characters and I like them both a lot.

From Wimbledon, I freelanced on news at The Sun and other dailies, then went to the Daily Star on staff where I started doing showbiz. I went back to The Sun briefly before going freelance in 1990 so I could write some books. I also had to escape the menace of Kelvin MacKenzie for the salvation of my soul. I have been freelance ever since. Still here…

Who is your most difficult interview and why?

It would be highly unprofessional of me to name anyone who has been difficult to interview. But nothing winds me up more in an interview than people refusing to name names, so….

There have been countless nightmares, but a few spring to mind. Michelle Gayle was awful – a right non-entity with diva pretensions. Talking to Cristian Solimeno from Footballers’ Wives was like root canal. I don’t think he had finished learning to speak. There are so many, but the “nightmare” Gold probably goes to Steve McQueen’s son Chad.

I spent a week in LA being dicked around by Chad for Hello!. I went to his house in Malibu and he was fine, but he kept delaying the interview. It was a bizarre week. Finally, I turned up at the house at his invitation and a bearded biker pal answered the door and uttered the immortal line: “Chad cut away, dude.” He had left town. Never saw him again. The word I have to describe Chad always comes up in text message predictive text as “aunt”. He is an A-list Aunt.

And your best ever interview and why?

I particularly liked interviewing the late, great Richard Harris. We had a few pints of Guinness together and he was brilliant. The “best ever”? Er, not sure I’ve done one yet. But one interview that I might pick out is with Richard Ingrams for Press Gazette (click here). The interview was beyond bad, but I salvaged it by sending up the whole encounter. I also enjoyed stitching up the PR for the Olympics when I interviewed Seb Coe. She was absurd and I was probably too kind.

Is there anything you regret in terms of interviewing?

I didn’t until last week - but now I regret not asking Felix Dennis the obvious question: “Have you ever killed anyone?”. I mean, I am an idiot for forgetting that one. From now on it will be a template question in ALL interviews. But I am pleased for Ginny Dougary. She is a class act. Dedicated and a doyenne of detail. I salute her.

How would you describe your personality and how it enables you to be a productive interviewer? I notice you have a gift for staying strategically quiet, for instance ...

Interesting you should remark on that. I have always generally been more of a listener and during an interview I say as little as possible. This is OK for print journalism, but now I am filming them, it might look a bit odd. You tell me?

As far as I’m concerned, people are interested in the subject, not the interviewer. Jonathan Ross is a good entertainer and comedian, but I have never seen anyone cock up so many interviews in my life for the sake of a gag. I find him unwatchable these days. Maybe a metal grill over the TV screen will help? If you have Madonna sitting in front of you, no-one cares what you think, so SHUT THE F*** UP!

What about a collection of your best interviews in book form?

Not sure how much interest there would be in my London’s Burning interviews from the 1990s. Although I consider them vital elements to understanding the depth and cultural significance of my oeuvre…

Give us a glimpse of your freelance day. Would you not prefer to be an office-cosseted hack with a pension plan and sundry perks?

The only thing I miss about being in an office is the IT department. Argh, the stress of computers. I worked from home for years, but these days I have an office a short walk away. It is bliss to finally have the separation of office-home. Currently, a big chunk of time is involved in running Access Interviews. I have a great team at Mettic Development (click here) who make all the ideas work. I also have various writing projects on the go – all at various stages of incompletion. Every journalist should have a shed load of unfinished works. It’s what keeps us going.

I do miss working with journalists and the buzz of a newspaper, but, hey, this is the groove I’m in, man. There’s no way out.

Where do you live and with whom?

I live in Cheslea with my wife Emma (Alcock). She’s an artist, a painter. No hype – she’s very talented and already quite collectable. We got married last year.

And finally, suddenly you're a millionaire thanks to AI. Where do you go from there?

Well, obviously, I’d probably drop anchor by Ravello. I’d gladly invite you along for a glass of fizz, but I expect it would compromise your anonymity…

Thanks Rob. Visit Access Interviews for great interviews and to add links to your portfolio of work.. Click here.

Perez Hilton joins ITV (.com)!

Most inspired hiring of the day - Perez Hilton as a gosser on ITV.com to help promote new ITV2 show Gossip Girls. He will be just marvellous burbling about his friends Cokate, Madge and NoJo - and the extra work may yet delay his plan to release a covers album. You can only hope! Still, don't get the wrong side of Perez ....

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston - was Ben-Hur a queen?

I've never really bought Gore Vidal's claim that he introduced a "gay subtext" to Ben-Hur, the 1959 Ancient Roman epic, that picked up 11 Oscars and starred the late Charlton Heston. Victims of Sunday afternoon and Bank Holiday TV schedulers will recall that in the movie Judah Ben-Hur and Messala (Stephen Boyd) - one a Jew the other a hard-wired son of the Empire - are close friends until they fall out over politics. When Vidal was recruited to do something to the clunking plot he pointed out that nothing but a lovers' break-up could account for the extraordinary animosity between the two men after boyhood affection.

According to Vidal, director William Wyler agreed to the insertion of a very subtle sexual motivation, with smart Boyd in on the wheeze. But no one was to mention this to Heston who might have burst his jockstrap at such make-believe. So Boyd was to act all bitter and queeny while Heston just sailed on not-noticing in a succession of manly poses up to and including the great chariot race.

Yet despite many viewings of the film I have yet to detect this gay subtext. I could very well believe that an arrogant and not very bright young Roman would over-identify his person with the state and take his friend's "disloyalty" personally. I can't think that something is a "subtext" when you can't see any actual evidence of it. A subtext implies that audiences are enabled subconsciously to understand the true nature of the relationship between Ben-Hur and Messala - which sounds like Freudian magic thinking to me. Something taboo doesn't become acceptable because it's perceived subconsciously. I don't doubt this grafted motivation was worked into the film at some level, to get the director and his sophisticated writers from A to Z, but in the end the film's own stated dynamics work quite well alone, held together by Heston's monstrous conventional and moral certainties. Image is a powerful thing.

However, I can well believe Vidal would have acted the bitch to rejection - his old movie anecdote is a feature of personal psychology I think and should be treated as entertaining projection.

Charlton Heston. RIP.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Duncan's 128-year-old tuatara about to have sex?

The Times' goss editor Hugo Rifkind runs an item on the sad case of Henry (first considered in Duncan Fallowell's New Zealand travel book Going As Far As I Can) - a lizard-like tuatara in a museum in Invercargill. Henry was born in around 1880 and is still a virgin! Yet six weeks after publication of Duncan's book, Henry has a girlfriend at last - Mildred, thought to be 80-ish. "Fallowell claims to be pleased," writes Hugo. I learn that there wasn't space for Duncan's full response to this joyful news: "Thanks to my book, I expect the New Zealand birthrate in general to show a sharp rise. It's a bit like war."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tallulah on Charles Hawtrey, Ted Heath, et al

I see Tallulah - the legendary DJ of the gay nightclub scene and champion cottager - has popped up to heaven. Do read a wonderful interview with the old queen in which he talks about all sorts of people he knew such as Ted Heath and Boy George.

Of the late Carry On star Charles Hawtrey he recalls: "He used to do Deal because the marines were there and they had a marine band. And he used to walk along the sea front in red leather. He was really outrageous, he’d just go for marines, and they’d go for him, because he was a film star, or he was to them. Ted [not Heath] used to have gay séances in his house!" Click here.

Madame Arcati as editor of the New Statesman

I think it’s time Madame Arcati applied for the New Statesman editorship and put owner Geoffrey Robinson out of his misery. Just leave it to me. The magazine’s worthiness must be totally expunged and my ruthless editorial initiatives would include:

1 The introduction of a horoscope that had coded messages and goss from Westminster as well as astrological guidance for named persons.

2 Human interest analyses of our power players eg Why does Gordon Brown’s voice go husky on Fiona Phillips’ TV sofa? – by a voice coach. No one cares to read political essays apart from some ugly swats with fat behinds and scant head hair (but nasty bushy pubes).

3 Duncan Fallowell appointed Books and Travel editor. He could work from home or Auckland. He would write the lead pieces and supply goss.

4 The Exes Files: A Top Of The Pops-style weekly update of the biggest spenders at Westminster detailing what’s been acquired through expenses – with pictures + competitions to win items and services featured.

5 Bodies - a page dedicated to the examination of politicians’ personal appearance – aesthetics, body mass index, sulphur index from breath, clothes etc. My friend Karl Lagerfeld could advise. I would also commission a weekly DNA profile to calculate when the subject's likely to die. And of what.

6 Madame Arcati’s Prognostications – Rome had The Sybil, the UK could have Arcati, tapping the unseen forces that have more influence on our lives than fucking endogenous growth theory.

7 Madame Arcati’s séance with a famous dead politician starting with Winston Churchill. I’m sure Winnie would have a few things to say to Gord. Boudicca on Ruth Kelly would be a revelation.

8 Lady Colin Campbell’s Diary: She would flit all over the place collecting goss-nectar from royal and powerful places. Lots of pictures and one-line sentences. A mag needs colour, darling.

9 In Bed With A Politician: Each week we would literally get into a powerful person’s bed and talk about all things done horizontal – sex, sleep, coma, drinking etc – and admire the ceiling.

10 The Destroy Page: Of course the NS has to retain a bit of social conscience so we’d identify a bully or some bit of scandal, personalise it, and then call for the total destruction of the Guilty Person(s) – a piece supported by incriminating videos on YouTube and online petitions. Geoffrey might have to stump up a budget for this one.

I have no doubt whatsoever that these measures would restore the magazine in our affections and make it, y'know, interesting.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Thom Yorke attacks Sun interview he'd 'approved'

I'm not infrequently hard on The Sun, so here's a story where the paper acted fairly yet still got a kicking.

In March it ran an interview with Radiohead's Thom Yorke who was quoted as saying the band wouldn't play Glastonbury this year because the venue's transport links are poor. Yorke subsequently denied these words on the Radiohead website claiming he had been quoted "out of context". But his comments were soon taken down.

Then Teletext's esteemed music writer John Earls learnt that Yorke had vetted the interview before publication (amazing that a big red top would give copy approval - Piers Morgan would be scandalised).

Although the Sun declined to comment officially, a source told Earls: "Thom read the interview before we printed it. It's down to him to explain why he chose to attack us two weeks later." Radiohead's PR told Earls: "We aren't commenting on this story."