Friday, July 31, 2009

Madame Arcati (and Molly Parkin) in Croatia

Next week I'll be posting from Croatia as part of the Molly Parkin circus. She's in Split for her art auction/exhibition, media appearances, a night or two hosting the Parkin Lot with daughter Sophie and granddaughter Carson at the city's artsy Ghetto Club (a Madame Arcati night is also on the schedule, date tbc) and other things besides.

A recent TV interview Moll gave for Croatian TV caused a sensation over the sexual anecdotage: see my interviews part 1 and part 2 for a clue why.

In a past life I was an ancient Roman general (a reincarnationist medium told me), so this video on Split appeals to me.

And for reasons I don't understand, my mind turns to my massage in Israel. Will they like this at the Ghetto?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Farah Damji: Try Me: Just give this princess a cross

A review

There are many reasons why the journalist and convicted fraudster Farah Damji won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

For me, there’s a very personal one. In Arcatiland she was the first herald of Michael Jackson’s death. She emailed the news to a posting here and I said to myself: Oh no, is she making this up? Then Sky confirmed it later. Proustian memory has now locked Damji and Jacko together over an eternal keyboard late one summer night.

And the infamous two do have one big thing in common: both, for different reasons, move us to ask of their lives - what am I to believe?

This is the question many readers will ask as they rocket through Damji’s enthralling autobiography Try Me. Critics expecting a string of self-serving excuses written in throwaway tabloidese will be disconcerted. As a piece of writing Try Me is a nuanced, self-punishing, sometimes lyrical, always compelling and an all-too-revealing performance. It's a beaut.

What’s she like? Put simply, if you gave this girl a life-size cross she’d probably have herself nailed to it just to see how it feels. That’s the kind of person who emerges from these pages.

Try Me seethes at times with a fury that’s not always easy to understand. “My temper was like a genie which possessed me…” she writes. If the heavy pall of fraud convictions, prison spells and recent criminality hangs low over her then this book may serve some kind of purpose in helping to get into the head of the inscrutable, “Chanel-clad” rich girl-socialite-magazine editor-brothel madam-fashion designer who simply can’t keep out of trouble.

Farah Damji was born in Uganda in 1966 to South Asian parents. She thinks her mother loved the extended family more than her own kids while her wealthy father’s side “were Dallas-like in their aspirations and the depths of their deviancy” with one or two involved in “semi-criminal shenanigans.” Damji haters will make much of that.

Via Tramp’s, Annabel’s and other London glory spots she soared into adulthood. At 21 she drank a whole bottle of gin just to see what would happen (think of the cross) and in New York sex, too, got the cross treatment - “I fucked frenetically for a place in the fornicators’ Hall of Fame.” In the Big Apple, she soon gravitated towards the sleb-serving glitz-dreck where nightclub managers could fix meets between the Pope and Monegasque royalty, and drugs and whoring bankrolled a world glammed up by crime movies. A collision with law enforcers was inevitable.

“Life was a game I played. I made up or changed the rules as I went along,” she writes. Later she regularly stole cash from a lover - “I never felt bad about stealing from him, it was payback in the transactional game of our relationship.” “Game” is a motif Damji word.

“Should I tell you I am a thief, that I will steal your soul?” she teases the reader. “I took people and things, the way I’m taking you now, with my long brown fingers, with the Pied Piper’s tune of distance and dreams. You know all about me. Yet still you follow.” Is this book another game?

Back in the Cool Britannia of the Noughties, Damji launches the short-lived magazine Indobrit and is immersed in controversies and the London media scene: two major affairs with married media men add to the profile. The infamy. And the in-for-me.

Then a wonderful chapter on India offers respite and a clue to her true gifts: as an explorer and observer. “India is about erasing, taking away preconceptions,” she writes. “Just the stark juxtaposition of wealth and scarcity – the tuk-tuk ride from Malabar Hill mansions to the slum dog hovels, though a short one, is hard to grasp.”

The final part of the book is a depressing litany of cops and frauds and did-she-didn’t-shes?, culminating in a long jail term. Now she has time to outline Try Me and discover Kabbalah but still she jumps prison leave and while on the run writes a blog - a first of a kind that tickles the media. The papers love it because she's an errant princess of sorts, dirty Diana-lite, but one who eats, not kisses, frogs.

I could have lived without the love affairs with the named marrieds - I’m only thinking of their aggrieved wives - and I think Damji has turned many of her crimes into abstractions so that she has lost sight of those she has harmed: you won’t find a big unambiguous sorry. Or, I didn’t find it.

Instead, you’ll encounter a gifted, highly intelligent woman observing herself in mirrors, scrutinising the different perspectives amorally, no matter the light or unflattering murk. Try Me is a trove of insights on types and experiences well outside Acacia Avenue so that reading it is an adventure in itself. A game, even.

And she's not the first princess of darkness who can write like an angel.

Try Me, click here to buy.

(For another perspective on Try Me, read the New Statesman review)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Rupert Everett, Byron and well hung Brazilians


Brazilians have the biggest cocks, a Spanish prostitute told Rupert Everett in his fabby C4 doc series The Scandalous Adventures of Lord Byron. Is this true? Perhaps pan-sexualists will get in touch with their rough guide.

After a lifetime of cock-cunting TV talking faces boring us around the world - Alan Whicker and Michael Pailin come straight to mind (as well as the cunt-cocking Gloria Hunniford) - the cock-cocking-cunting Rupert Everett is a fizzy blast of irreverence in snoozy Sofaland.

He salivated at the prospect of sherbert and sodomy in Turkey, and grew dreamy at the thought of Bryon fucking his 17-year-old Greek boy lover 200 times in a monastery. I had no idea Byron had frolicked with a brutal, long-fingered warlord in Albania who grew hard at the sight of the poet's little white hands: while in Albania, Rupes appeared on a TV talk show and confirmed Madonna sweats. The bits of Bryronic poetry recited were a small price to pay.

Rupes gave us a strip show in an embassy and revealed his arse on at least three other occasions. His biceps are troublingly bloated: big enough to contain wombs for lucrative surrogacy. And he's looking good again, especially now he has a stubbly, astroturfy dark beard.

Other persons whose steps he should follow in include Lord Alfred Douglas, Ted Heath, Tallulah Bankhead and Noel Coward. I envisage a collection of cunt-cocking-cunting, cock-cunting-cocking (or just cock-cocking, cock-pseudo-cocking, cunt-cunting) permutations complete with tasteful royal or upperclass anecdotes and delightful scenery. According to Rupes, Queen Elizabeth II is "well hung".

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dignitas: A death camp for air-conditioned lives

Oh, didn't I tell you? I won't be updating again until I feel there has been a satisfactory response to this posting. No one tells Madame Arcati what to write about. So, go read some boring newspaper atheist blog, penned by an editor-approved dollop, if you want your prejudices echoed.

One of the great priests of modern voguish atheism is Arthur Schopenhauer, the so-called "philosopher of pessimism" who viewed life as meaningless and the universe as godless. When, say, Martin Amis and Christopher Hitchens lecture us that religions (and not money, greed, nationalism, etc) cause wars, they are parroting Schopenhauer, and they in turn are parroted by the tots who write for a whole range of serious publications, literary, intellectual, whatever.

One organisation that heartily endorses Schopenhauer's worldview is Dignitas, the assisted suicide death camp based in Switzerland. While I am not religious myself (in the sense I do not belong to any faith) I am struck by how the humanist/atheist agenda invariably veers towards the joy of death and how to make it part of one's orderly schedule.

The problem identified by Dignitas is the human will to live: if only people could be made to feel that there's no earthly reason why they should feel obliged to stay alive when times are hard, they could make it better - by killing themselves. Religious faith just encourages people to stay stubbornly alive against adversity, distressing loved ones in the process and clogging up hospitals. Whether in fact religion is relevant to this debate is neither here nor there: Dignitas has decreed that it is. Dignitas isn't just a death camp. It's also a proponent of the atheist cause.

Back in 2006, Ludwig A Minelli of Dignitas gave a talk at the Liberal Democratic Party congress in Brighton. He painted a pretty picture of a future of assisted suicides which would... "save a lot of money in the public health system." He went on: "We have to avoid the heavy consequences of century-long indoctrination with religious dogmas." He then quoted Schopenhauer favourably: "The power of religious dogma, when inculcated early, is such as to stifle conscience, compassion, and finally every feeling of humanity." The English are jeered at for "their stupid ecclesiastical superstition."

The point to all this is to be aware of how robustly and proactively an organisation like Dignitas advances its cause. It's not just offering a death service. It is out there drumming up business. It is doing so by ventilating a hostile, baseless view of faith - that it is at the root of all evil. Faith stifles compassion or conscience? You have only to open a history book at random to see what else might stifle our humanity.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Tatler alert: The editor is starting to become tiresome

I hear Tatler is a vale of tears as new editor Catherine Ostler externalises her inner misery in order to harmonise the outer weather with it. Ambient misery is the perfect climate for those who dramatise the subjective. She was prone to peculiar behaviour at ES Magazine. One can only hope her Condé Nast boss Nicholas Coleridge will intervene before we have another Jane Procter situation. A magazine insider writes me:

"Currently Tiny Tears is being a total B!!!! and the staff are scared witless by her moods, lots of shouting and bullying. Will Saint Nicholas step in before the troops desert?"

Meantime, here's Tatler's ad rates:

Whole Page £10,500 £13,700
Outside Back Cover £20,500
Outside Back Cover Gatefold £62,000
Double Page Spread £21,000 £27,300
Inside Front Cover Spread £41,000
Inside Front Cover Gatefold £71,000
Half Page £6,100 £7,900
Quarter Page £3,100 £3,900

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Michael Jackson gets Uri Geller's rocks off on QVC

Blond highlighted Uri Geller celebrated nine years on QVC today with his exclusive range of rock crystal jewellery. "It took me great courage to design this," he said of one ring with wavy silvery lines in a milky stone. "It's about sparking your imagination." The ring reminded host Julia Roberts of sand ripples; Uri of eels, snakes, fish. I thought of old lash mark scars on a back.

His brain may still be AWOL, his body in a freezer and his spirit in afterlife befuddlement - but Uri's close friend Michael Jackson was never far away from the TV stall. "Look," said Uri, whipping out a folded back copy of OK! or Hello! "This is a picture when I gave Michael a QVC ring!" Yes, the photo appeared to suggest that Uri had ambushed Michael and shoved the relatively cheap tack onto the King of Pop's bleached digit.

Of the "snake" ring, Uri recalled: "I was with Michael and he introduced me to Elizabeth Taylor who played Cleopatra." Julia interjected, "She was so beautiful." "Yes," agreed Uri. "The Egyptians had an affinity with snakes."

In between flogging his rocks, Uri told how he had drawn an esoteric maze-looking hieroglyph for "Michael's last record Invincible - to think it's in millions of these little books.".

When a viewer got through on the phone Uri had one thing to say to her - "Don't miss my show on ITV on Sunday. It's called My Friend Michael Jackson." Julia moved quickly on. TV channels don't like to advertise rivals.

Uri said his gems are about "positivity", "the mysteries of the universe", "thinking the impossible", "being the best", "staying on top". Now we know why Michael was so up there.

Uri and Michael: don't miss the sell

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Beyond Biba, Winston Churchill's mistress and Garbo's peeing

I didn't realise Winston Churchill - the warrior PM, not subsequent copies - had a mistress. Is this public knowledge? Poor Clemmie. Perhaps volumes have been written about this; Google will remain virgin on this one. I can't be bothered to research. Her name was Eleanor and she lived Chelsea way. You want to know more? Please, let's respect people's private lives. Madame Arcati disapproves of rummaging about in celebs' dustbins. How unhygienic!

This story was told me last night when I attended a screening of Beyond Biba: A Portrait of Barbara Hulanicki at the Kensington Roof Gardens. Barbara, in her trademark shades, was over from Miami and I was there with my fiancee Molly Parkin and her biopic film director Robert Chilcott. "This is my fiance," Moll said, introducing me to her old mate Barbara. "Oh Molly, another fiance!" An ordinary person might have felt flattened by such a response. Me? I was flattered to have found my place on such a glittery assembly line of love: eternal engagement has much to recommend it, and no prenup or late night phone excuse is necessary.

Beyond Biba is a fascinating reminder of Hulanicki's influence on fashion, architecture, interior design, music. Of the last, her Roxy Music connection is mystifyingly overlooked as is her early championing of iconic American singer stars. By far the best bits are her salty conversations with Moll who recalled Garbo and her mannish approach to urination. Greta would ask where the little boys' room was and then leave the seat up. You have to wonder.

Sight & Sound editor Nick James gave me an excellently sharp appraisal of Beyond Biba - I think he's planning to write a piece about fashion movies, what with The September Issue due out soon. Moll, Robert and I then retired to the Chelsea Arts Club where over dinner our talk returned to Winnie and Eleanor, Croatian plots, the bitch Anna Wintour and the perils of big cocks and buggery.

Short film on Hulanicki

Monday, July 20, 2009

Try Me, the Spectator and the power of unseen friends

I see the Spectator hoped to run a review of Farah Damji's Try Me but was thwarted by the bonds of friendship which so frequently decide what (and how what) gets reviewed in our largely (still!) Oxbridge press.

I am printing two letters (the latter edited to save blushes) between the magazine's literary editor Mark Amory and the press director of the company credited with publishing Try Me, Sophie Cooke. In this instance I think the magazine has behaved entirely honourably: it wasn't interested in the book, then became interested because someone Amory knew said he wanted to review the title. The reviewer manqué then cried off, thinking of Answered Prayers and the horrors of social ostracism, no doubt. Amory frankly and refreshingly reveals all. Do you see the sneery smile on Madame Arcati's face?

Dear Mark,
I hope you are well. I am just following up to see if you had a chance to look at the press release I sent you about Farah Damji’s book, Try Me, and if so, if you are at all interested in doing something with it? Many thanks,
Sophie Cooke
Press Director
The Ark Press

Dear Sophie,
I am sorry I have mucked you about. I did not plan to do ‘Try Me’ then someone asked specially to do it, you decently sent me a copy and now he says he can’t because it is rude about dear friends. Why not defend them, I say but he is immoveable. Sorry.

Other examples of missing book reviews in our national press would be most welcome.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Warning: Madame Arcati is in a very bad mood

I had planned to write a review of Farah Damji's book Try Me but a combination of a frozen right shoulder and arm (probably RSI), a dyspeptic mood and other things has put me off and I'll have to tackle this when I'm better. On days like this, when my volatile Moon in Pisces takes control (MJ was M in P), and my Gemini Sun grows cool, I am capable of shutting this blog down for good and telling the most useful people in my life to go fuck themselves because in the end everyone is dispensable. Oh yes they are. Fortunately, my shoulder is getting better, and I have decided to reprieve blameless loved ones. So you see, even in the course of this brief posting, Madame Arcati's mood can change.

Have I any gossip? So thieving idle media hacks can lift for themselves without credit? I think not.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Michael Jackson's skin: An exhibition in Croatia

Michael Jackson's skin, or "skin"

First, Molly Parkin's off to Split in Croatia next month with her art exhibition. Now I hear stunt-meister Mark McGowan is off to Split, too: he'll be exhibiting a piece of Michael Jackson's skin at the Ghetto Gallery from July 18, 2009, at 21.00. "The Body and Soul of Michael Jackson" will also include a video projection, a small drawing and McGowan wrapped in a white shroud, representing the dead body of Michael Jackson. McGowan says, "I expect people will cry, it will be very moving, I got the piece of skin from a memorabilia collector. Some people have asked how do I know it is real. But there are lots of relics from dead saints, for example, and people do not question, you must believe it's real. I was told that Michael's chiropodist was the contact." For more info call Sonia @ the Ghetto Gallery 0915667000

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Molly Parkin biopic: 'When I disagreed, Molly bent me over and gave me an enema'

Robert Chilcott

The Molly Parkin biopic is well under way - I caught up with its young director Robert Chilcott to see how the project's coming along. And what it's like working with the legendary Moll...

Robert Chilcott! You're making the Molly Parkin biopic! Is it a big screen feature or TV flick? What's it called and has it a theme?

It’s a small film for a big screen. Its working title is, quite simply, Molly. We started out with the seven deadly sins – lust and gluttony ultimately prevail. Its themes are, I guess, sex and death. It’s a family film

And tell us where you are with it. You went to Cannes with the project in May - what happened?

The earth moved. We discovered the meaning of existence. There were orgies and satanic rituals every night. Sorry, the reality is this is a boring answer. We have a script. We have some interest from a French company, and from the Welsh. Someone else is sourcing the finance.

Did you visit the porno Hot d'Or fest? - usually that's on at the same time.

It is. But there was no need – the normal Cannes Marché is sleazy and pornographic enough as it is, full of plenty of human cocks and cunts.

Did you write the script? What was it like working with Molly? Did you ever argue?

We went to various dive bars and cafes over several months. Molly acted out nostalgic scenes of sex, booze and psychological violence. I took notes. Arguing is a waste of energy. Every time I disagreed with something, Molly bent me over and gave me an enema (I think there may be a scene like that in the script). It was a perfect working relationship, very cleansing.

And Molly's granddaughter Carson is playing Molly. What's she like and tell us about other cast members.

Carson's screen test

We’ve done a screen test with Carson and she’s amazing, very natural, understated – perfect screen presence. We’ll probably use some current Soho flibbertigibbets for other supporting characters. Whoever’s right really, whether they’re professional actors or society dropouts – a mixture of both.

Is this your first movie? Tell us about you (I know you're from Wales but why do I want to say you're Spanish and call you Roberto?)

I’m from a little village called San Portablo, a peasant village at the bottom of a mountain. Molly is from the top – she’s the medicine woman that heals the afflicted. I’ve made some shorts. This is the first feature movie, yes.

Our eyes met across the Green Carnation bar (though Molly's turban blocked the view). Tell us the most shocking thing you saw or heard of at that pit of iniquity.

The price of the drinks.

How are you handling the sex? - in the film I mean. Molly's had a lot of that. Will this be like Von Trier's Afterlife with full-on humping? Will someone be playing Louis Armstrong and John Mortimer, among others?

I doubt we’ll have testicles bobbing in slow motion, but you never know. There’ll certainly be humping, but I guess it’s up to the actors whether they want to show their rods or twotties. It would have to be played straight.

There’s a scene in the early 80s where Molly is being spit-roasted by two public schoolboys in the back of a car. She takes a moment to squeeze cheese and has an accident – well you don’t need any close-ups or funny camera angles for that. You just show it. It needs no aesthetic embellishment. Some may find it amusing, others may be repulsed – it’s up to the audience to decide. Of course, that’s an extreme example.

There will some tender love scenes, of course. Armstrong and Mortimer are not in the current version of the script. Bo Diddly is in it. There are parties with the Studio 54 lot, an S&M party for Mommie Dearest with everyone dressed as Joan Crawford beating their daughters with coat hangers. Lots of famous people appear, many of them non-speaking parts, background scenery, so I guess we’ll have to contact Stars in their Eyes for lookalikes. The only person likely to play themselves would be you.

I'll talk with my agent, darling. Which in your view is the best film ever? Do you want to make a career in movies?

Filmmaking is not a career. It’s a distraction from real life, a last resort.

And finally, Roberto, if you were given $50m to make a movie once the Molly pic is out, what project would you do?

I’d buy an island, become a recluse and go feral. You don’t need $50 million to make a movie.

Robert, I wish you all the best with Molly, I just know it's going to be great. And I insist on doing a cameo: I could be some strange shadowy figure dressed in plaid, mounted on an old bike.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Philip Hoare: Could a sperm whale have swallowed him?

Philip Hoare writes of his "whalehead" experiences in G2 today as winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for his whale-spotting tome Leviathan. On a dive in the Azores (for BBC2's The Hunt for Moby-Dick) he encounters a sperm whale. He writes: "Silhouetted against the blue, the whale turned and looked at me, eye to eye. It was the most disconcerting moment of my life." What the whale thought as it ogled Hoare is unrecorded. He adds: "Sperm whales are the only cetaceans which could swallow human beings, and have done so."

The implication is clear: Philip Hoare could have been swallowed by the sperm whale! Even a hardened, unfairly maligned cynic such as myself, shuddered at such a prospect. It's no way to end a prize-winning literary career. As reverse sushi.

But is there really a documented and confirmed instance of a sperm whale swallowing a human being? There's the old James Bartley tale: back in 1891, off the Falklands, the whaler was reportedly cut out of a sperm whale's tum after a night in (the tum). Aside from Michael Jackson-style skin bleaching from the beast's gastric juices, he was OK, if a little nonplussed. The story is now dismissed as a sea yarn. Other tales are the stuff of maritime myth, though it's not like little Pip to get his facts wrong.

I suppose had Philip been inadvertently swallowed by the sperm whale, BBC licence fee payers would have happily funded a whaling ship to hunt down the miscreant and retrieve the author, hopefully corpus intacta and alive, from its belly. Alas, the whale would not have survived the experience. The risks an intrepid experience-chaser takes for a good book!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Duncan Fallowell: 'My druggy inner landscape orgies at Oxford'

While Duncan's in mind (the companion piece is the posting just below), see him in the present flesh in this documentary Rush: Drugs Uncovered. Fascinating to me as I've never once taken a non-prescription drug, even when a certain Sunday Times journalist pinned me to the ground at a party and attempted to rub coke onto my gums. He failed of course.

Friday, July 10, 2009

William S Burroughs: 'Anybody good at anything uses ESP'

A stimulating piece in the New Statesman on William S Burroughs' Naked Lunch to mark the novel's 50th birthday. By Duncan Fallowell, natch. Click here. He writes: "At a time when gay people are very visible but homosexuality has been ring-fenced, Burroughs’s erotic explosions still wrong-foot many of his so-called fans."

My favourite bit of the book, which I now feel I once read before it was written, is the talking arsehole. And a question is asked in its dizzying text if I recall correctly: Can you laugh and come at the same time? Answer: Most definitely. Madame should know.

It tickles me that Burroughs believed in an afterlife - always underplayed by fashionable literary atheists - and was a proponent of anti-authority Chaos (or Xaos) Magic. This interview in 1987, when he was 75, is worth reading, click here. A sample:

Q: If you believe there’s an afterlife, wouldn’t it make this life less important?

Not necessarily, it would make it more important, much more important. Because what you do now will determine what form your afterlife will take. What one does right now is the way one does everything. And if you’re not taking, as it were, advantages of educational opportunities here, you’re going to be in a much worse position.

Do you find meaning in this life?

Everything means something. You walk down the street and you see something, that’s because you were there at that particular time and that has a meaning for you. A found meaning. I think anyone who doesn’t believe in ESP just hasn’t opened his eyes. Good god, ‘cause it happens all the time. It’s not an unusual occurrence that happens to a few people, it happens all the time. Anybody good at anything uses it.

Kathy Acker's interview with Burroughs on his montages and writings

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Andy Coulson, illegal bugging and why he should go

See Jonathan King's view in comments

The Guardian leads with a tremendous story today on how the News of the World hired private investigators to hack illegally into the mobile phone messages of many public figures, such as politicians and actors. The paper claims Rupert Murdoch's News Group Newspapers has paid over £1m to settle legal cases that might have revealed his journalists' repeated use of criminal methods to get stories. Click here to read.

Former Screws' editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Wade presided over these hacks - Coulson, as usual in these matters, denies any knowledge. However former deputy PM John Precott is calling on Cameron to sack him as the Tories' chief spin doctor. Meanwhile, why didn't the Metropolitan Police or the Crown Prosecution Service pursue this matter?

Coulson (a useful bio) is an old friend of Madame Arcati. I recently attempted to get up a petition on the No 10 website to draw attention to his involvement in the bullying of a Screws journalist while editor (see labels). The site appeared to ignore my application. Then following a number of my complaints on this site and on Twitter, an email was sent to me from the No 10 site claiming I had failed to respond within a given period to its request that I make changes to the petition because it was "party political": therefore the petition must be blocked. I had not received the first letter.

I don't see what is party political about drawing attention to the fact of bullying (as established at an employment tribunal). Why would the Tories want to employ a recognised bully? Are there laws against workplace bullying or are we meant to giggle and ignore them as an act of bravado? That was the point of my petition.

One moronic hack tweeted me that bullying is endemic to journalism and politics, so what was my problem? Frankly, a hack of this sort shouldn't be in journalism. He should just fuck off into PR and have done with it. And take his bully-friendly pals with him.

Former Sunday Times ed Andrew Neil calls the bugging story "one of the most significant media stories of modern times" and describes the Screws newsroom as "out of control". Coulson cannot hide behind his claim of obliviousness: he must go now. Is it not the job of a media boss to know what's going on under his nose as well as behind his back? I wonder if he ever knew he was editing the News of the World.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Michael Jackson Memorial Show: We all dreamt together

After the cold analysis, by which I mean the truth-telling - the necessary valedictory dream. Only in sleep will you get it.

Just watched the Michael Jackson memorial show in LA, as fantastical and as surreal a spectacle as anything I have ever dreamt: old Motown speaking and singing to MJ's gold coffin resting on the wheeled trolley before them, preachers invoking the loving God and eternity above them, a politician reminding us of MJ's presumed innocence and the implied damnation that awaits his accusers below them. Some men wore red roses, others yellow; the Jackson brothers, all in shades, wore yellow ties and one white spangled glove each in memory: Usher wore a Men In Black suit and wept as he closed his song at MJ's casket. The Jackson matriarch wore the reddest lipstick.

High above the boxed body we saw the pink hatted 10-year-old MJ singing on the Ed Sullivan Show and glimpses of the later MJ doing all the things we were told had changed the world - the moonwalking, the twirls, the hiccup ughs, all the familiar brilliance, but not the video zombies. The Rev Al Sharpton rewrote history and told us MJ's Heal The World came before Live Aid (it didn't) and Brooke Shields shared MJ's favourite song, Charlie Chaplin's Smile. Magic Johnson did Kentucky Fried Chicken a great favour: one of MJ's fave foods despite a chef on the payroll. Smokey Robinson promised MJ two eternities: one on earth in our hearts and one in the next world, "forever and forever and forever" as the politician had said.

The religious, gospelly tone flavoured the dream, emboldened the limitlessness of credible claim: indeed the word "dream" was used over and over again: MJ had allowed no-one to trammel his dreams; the Martin Luther King duo recalled how black America once had a dream: MJ had fulfilled that dream of racial harmony, of bridged divides. Tiger Woods and Obama owed it to MJ. Annoyingly, a rainbow appeared outside my window as all this happened: even the sky here in Blighty, 6,000 miles away, was intent on a creating a schmaltzy dream-like mise-en-scene of oneness through Michael. No wonder stories of signs get written down.

The manner of MJ's final posthumous show (with him present that is) was truly in keeping with his life as he lived it once he became a solo star: lavish, tender, bold in sentiment, beautiful, presentational, heart-stirring, thrilling, dreamy. Showbizzy. Untrue.

If someone could just book all the star acts that appeared tonight and get this show on the global road, someone (MJ's estate) would make a mighty fortune (again).

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Killer cows! You'll never go into a field again

Years ago I interviewed a solicitor who had nearly been killed by a herd of calving cows. He'd clambered over a stile and exercised his right to use a public footpath running through their field. But soon this great drama queen cow was affronted and trotted after him followed by her mooing court (comparisons with Arcatistes will not be permitted). The poor lawyer was kicked and knocked about by these great farting lumps and he only escaped because he was fit enough to make a run for it. He was destined to flee into my arms and tell me his lucrative tale. My shoulder is absorbent (but not throwaway).

I know that cows (Anna Wintour and Bridget Rowe excepted) are not normally of interest to Madame Arcati and her connoisseurs, but it's my duty to share with you all the things that intrigue me. So when I heard this morning that a Cumbrian farmer must compensate a woman "tossed around" by his herd of 40 Simmental-cross beef cows, I was reminded of the solicitor's case. Have cows, like certain elephants, developed a homicidal tendency?

A Google search reveals an alarming number of cow attacks - yet when was the last time you saw a warning sign on a farm fence? A few days ago a woman on the Yorkshire Dales was killed by cows and in another recent case a Blackpool woman, Alice Rosser, was attacked by a herd in Scotland: the cows stamped on her and broke her ribs. Apparently, in the UK, 19 people have been killed and 481 injured by cows in the past eight years. Even poor old David Blunkett MP was left with a black eye after a cow attack not long ago. Doggy Sadie couldn't save him.

Conventional wisdom has it that the cows are just protecting their calves and are spooked by victims' dogs. My own intuition tells me that cows are slowly waking up to the true character of their human captors. For generations, limpid-eyed cows assumed life was one long free lunch at the expense of pitchforked sucker yokels. OK, so even if cows of a certain age just suddenly disappeared like 30-year-old humans in Logan's Run, they'd enjoyed a subsidised life of leisure. My own feeling is that the memory of the abattoir has telepathically impinged on the DNA of cows: at long last, they now begin to understand that life is one long preparation for a hellish McDonald's fate. The cows are acting under a race memory and are out for revenge.

So next time you elect to clutter up the countryside and fuck up its biodiversity, give the killing cow fields a miss. You've been warned.

"A cow can turn on you and attack you out of the blue... I saw the horn enter Sally's mouth"

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Madame Arcati is 3 today: What, no ectoplasm?

My official birthday! A little over three years ago I was in Barcelona when Madame Arcati came to me. She insisted on an afterlife, she had things to pass on. And so this blog was born on July 4, 2006. Even now there are millions of people who cannot pronounce Madame Arcati quite apart from not knowing her provenance. It is Ar-CAR-tee (not Ar-catty, Precious!). Yes, I sometimes wonder whether to continue this blog: it's fun but it makes no money and upsets a lot of pompous egotistical people not used to criticism to their face (all editors, many journos, many managers and one actor). But for reasons I don't understand, audience continues to rise, and a few of the tragic people who live vicariously through celebrities have now attached themselves to Madame Arcati, creating their own Mini-Me versions for various reasons, some fraudulent, or donned their own masks as Greek chorus avengers. Here's Madame Arcati's seance in Blithe Spirit. (Click image once to play)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Philip Hoare: I am so jealous of this seasoned fag hag

When I heard that Philip Hoare had won the £20,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for Leviathan a little bit of me went into a coma (I have since recovered: leave grapes at the door). It was that evil, low, green-eyed feeling you get when someone you know enjoys a great succes d'estime: to rub it in, Leviathan is a marvellous disquisition on whales: mankind's spiritual ink with the beasts and our disgraceful exploitation of them. So if I offer my congratulations to Philip please note the above. Do not be entirely taken in by my remote mwahing. Imagine how my face slips back into a scowl as it turns away and sips sour wine (white).

I first met Philip many years ago through my late friend Robert Tewdwr Moss. Arcatistes will know about Robert: follow the links below if not. He took me to a council flat, I think somewhere in north London. Before the front door was an iron security gate which may have last seen service at Alcatraz. The Philip I first met looked very much like the Philip of today at 51: slight and lean. Not overly friendly, but courteous and brisk. One felt he had been dragged from his work. This was a party at Philip's pad and I was Robert's unexpected, uninvited guest.

Later, I was to give Philip work on a Sunday tabloid: he was a dream. He'd turn up, hardly talk to anyone but smiled a lot and was amiable and distant, do the work without fuss - whatever the theme - then make his exit. He'd already written his Stephen Tennant book and Noel Coward was ahead of him. I learnt he was a son of Southampton and born Patrick Moore. Wisely he reinvented himself literarily so as to avoid association with the right-wing astronomer who has the wonky monocled eye and who refuses to die. Philip interviewed me for one of Robert's obits and misspelled my name: and people wonder why they get murdered.

In all the time I saw him I never worked out anything much about him. Sexually he struck me as neuter but there's no such thing as neuter so that couldn't be right. He's a seasoned celebrity fag hag: Neil Tennant's a close friend of his - I believe Philip toured abroad with the Pet Shop Boys - and it's reported that the Hairspray director John Waters talked him into writing Leviathan. About four years ago I saw him at a Janet Street-Porter London birthday party. He pretended not to see me so I just barged up to him and introduced him to my companion: Philip gave me that odd squeal of his (delight? horror at effrontery? a squashed toe?) and behaved himself. On my way out I cut him dead.

Never mind. Buy Leviathan. I may be an old bitch but here's the link. Here's his site.

Trailer for Philip's TV doc In Search of Moby-Dick. Click image once to play

Is Madame Arcati the internet's fool?

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