Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prince Philip censored Molly Parkin sex chapter in James Robertson Justice book

Isn't it a fright? I learn that a book celebrating the life of the late British comic actor James Robertson Justice was censored by Prince Philip.

James Robertson Justice: What's the Bleeding-Time? was published in paperback last year with a Foreword by the Duke of Edinburgh. But before publication the Prince read the book in manuscript and took exception to graphic sex scenes described in the Hello Molly chapter which chronicles the bawdy, enchanting romance between the actor and the former Sunday Times and Nova fashion editor, novelist, poet and painter (and my gorgeous fiancée) Molly Parkin.

The Prince was so appalled that he threatened to withdraw his Foreword if the chapter wasn't removed - or at least toned down. And so the chapter was laundered by royal command.

Molly tells me: "I was saddened by how much of the fun was excluded about our love affair. All the adventurous sexual stuff, like inserting the bedside strip-lighting in my twatty (a la Fatty Arbuckle). And the easing of a soapy toothbrush up my arsehole. All at his deflowering of me at the age of 22, in the Cadogan Hotel, Belgravia.

"He claimed I needed to familiarise myself, get on friendly terms with every orifice. I trusted everything he said.

"All that juiciness was in the original manuscript. I understand Prince Philip was vehement in his disapproval and had refused the inclusion of his Foreword unless my chapter was toned down (preferably withdrawn).

"So it's a painfully shortened chapter with all the spunk drained out of it. James would not have been pleased!"

This is a pity. I should have thought that such sexual detail would sell more copies than some anodyne words from Prince Philip. News that James Robertson Justice had a highly imaginative libido and a penchant for DIY sex toys makes him sound most fascinating.

Madame Arcati recommends that the book be reissued with the old chapter restored and Prince Philip's Foreword fed into the shredder.

Picture above of Molly Parkin by Tommy Candler

James Robertson Justice as Sir Lancelott Spratt in Doctor in the House (1954)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Englishman in New York: Review. The perfection of a maquillaged frost box

Quentin Crisp would have been perfect for those L'Oréal TV ads which end with the line, "Because I'm worth it." He would have conveyed his self-estimation without a hint of arrogance, only with naughty-haughty conviction. Unusually, in a reversal of the usual truth, what he saw of himself we saw: he would have fooled us into thinking that a mask does the trick. The world can only abide so many Quentin Crisps.

So, where were we? Last century, John Hurt dramatised the extraordinary person of QC in The Naked Civil Servant; and last night he returned as QC in An Englishman in New York (ITV). Wrong title. It should have been "A Resident Alien in New York", but sadly Sting didn't whinny out those words. Hurt once again gave us a perfect impersonation of a garish, walking-talking refrigerator with a good line in pre-emptive strikes. Crisp's whole act was a self-contained riposte, not a reproach, but an absolute alternative to straightdom, made shiny and hard by aphorism. As QC himself might have said, if you repeat a line long enough, soon enough you'll be quoted.

At around the age of 73, now famous thanks largely to Hurt, Crisp allowed his heart to melt a little - for New York. The feeling was mutual. His uniqueness qualified him for resident alienship and so his fabled dust was permitted to accumulate in another grotty apartment. New York queerdom turned hostile when he described Aids as a passing fad. Slowly he was forgiven: but some damage was done: the Muscle Mary clones viewed him as a redundant old 80s queen: they demanded conformism from him just as they demanded empathy for nature's unconformism.

Perhaps Crisp was a stubborn old queen. But no one was going to tell this maquillaged frost box what to say or do. That's the thing about icons. They're petrified - as in hardened in our and their minds. Or husk acts. And this husk act wasn't about to admit he was wrong. He did however help an artist who was HIV+ find the deviant dollar. The heart did beat, by implication. A purple passage could be got through with a wordless lift of purple eye shadow.

Crisp had the paradoxical effect of taking the exotic out of queerdom by virtue of his singularity. No one, queer or not, was quite like Quent. In New York he soon encountered the dull, cat-loving queer straights who read the Sunday Supps over cappuccino, gazing on him as if he were a zombified early model consigned to history's dustbin.

Unlike them, he was much much wiser and funnier. And persistence was his watchword. And his person gave Hurt his masterpiece.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Eton College: No more strangulation games at £29k a year Tory school, I trust

Prince William models the Eton look*

All this talk of a political "class war" in the build-up to the next general election (because the next Tory government will be largely Old Etonian in character) draws me to Eton College, celebrating its 570th birthday in 2010. Its lucid website describes a most excellent nursery for those fated by God - or at least by parental wealth - to lead us.

The fee per boy boarder per year is £28,851, plus extras for music tuition, "tradesmen's bills", etc. Assuming a boarder stays at Eton for five years (from ages 13-18), that will set back his parents by at least £144,255 at current charges, probably more in practice. Anyone who harbours fears that Eton is a haven of classlessness - David Cameron is after all known as "Dave" - is reassured that "the house system provides excellent opportunities for boys to discover their leadership skills in their final two years in the school."

Eton's most recent Ofsted report, of October 9, 2009, judged the school to be "outstanding". However a close reading of this document reveals at least two areas of concern. The first: "There is a lack of suitable safeguards on some windows." What could this mean? If I were shelling out £144,255 on my brat's education, I'd want to know about the windows. One trusts they are double-glazed at the very least. Iron bars optional.

Even more troubling is the section on severe allergies. Somewhat illiterately, the inspector writes: "In one house, whilst staff were aware of the risk to health, did not sufficiently monitor foods brought into the house that is a serious threat to a boarders well being." Perhaps this would read a little better as:  "In one house, foods which were brought in and which posed a serious threat to a boarder's well-being, were not sufficiently monitored, despite staff awareness of risk to health." One expects better of an Ofsted inspector.

The report rhapsodises on Eton's procedures against misconduct and misrule. Just as well. As recently as 1999 a Berkshire inquest heard how up to 10 Eton boys indulged in "fainting games" - thrill-seeking near-strangulations - after a pupil was found tragically hanged at the college. No satsumas were involved. A 14-year-old boy told the inquest: "You sit on a bed and someone produces a dressing gown cord and it is wrapped around your neck. One or two friends will pull it until you feel dizzy and faint for a few minutes. The attraction was that it was something different - it made you feel abnormal."

One can only hope Eton has eliminated entirely exotic subterranean activities of this sort - though I am sure future Old Etonian memoirs will paint a very different picture from that prettily framed by Ofsted in 2009.

*At 13, William was sent to Eton College, close to Windsor, a choice well-suited to a boy with a public future, not least because his new classmates would be as well-connected and as well-heeled as he: the Prince would not even be the only boy with a private detective." The Royal Report.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Orson Welles from beyond the grave: Still more alive to threats than our media

Welles' sketch of the card to protect us from government invasions of our privacy. Below: Welles, the number

Amid the passive anal sex of Christmas TV scheduling, a moment of top proactivity: little-watched BBC4 screens The Orson Welles Sketchbook from 1955. My God. The dulling effects of sherry, Lochnagar whiskey-flavoured dairy cream on mince pies and drip-fed port at the chaise are douched away: I am now awake! Fuck you, let me doze for Santa!

The dead Orson strikes me as the most-alive life form this festive period as he addresses the topic of invasion of privacy and its "assault against our dignity as human beings." I am annoyed to be awoken by his vivid intelligence, his timeless clairvoyance. We're approaching 2010 and everything he says from 1955 is truer, more pertinent to today, than any of the compliant, meringue shit to be read in our dead tree newspapers as I write this Christmas, 2009.

In Episode 3 of the Sketchbook series Welles talks to camera about freedom of international movement and the growing risk to personal freedom from the police, from government bureaucracy with their questionnaires. Welles says: "We keep being asked to state our grandmother's father's name, in block letters, and to say whether we propose to overthrow the government, in triplicate, why, and all that sort of thing. But you see, the bureaucrat, and I'm including the bureaucrat with the police, as part of one great big monstrous thing, the bureaucrat is really like a blackmailer. You can never pay him off, the more you give him, the more he'll demand. If you fill in one form, he'll give you ten."

Welles calls (wistfully?) for the creation of the International Association for the Protection of the Individual Against Officialdom (ISPIAO) that would issue a card certifying "that the bearer is a member of the human race. All relevant information is to be found in his passport." This might liberate the traveller from the repeated requirement to fill in forms and trade off personal information demanded by democratically elected, increasingly controlling governments.
Jump to the fag end of 2009 and I spot a magazine ad by NO1ID campaigning against a British government diktat that if applying for a new passport you must ("voluntarily") agree to be listed on the ID database. If you refuse, no passport. This database records your address, NI number etc and cross-refers with other records. What would Welles have made of that?

Looking at all the British newspaper front pages today, full of the latest terrorist hysteria, all I see is a media preparing us for yet more limitation on personal freedom: the media are now part of the problem, happy to repeat the rubbish spewed out by governments eager to bottle and regulate our lives.
As Welles put it nicely in his show, "I'm not an anarchist, I don't want to overthrow the rule of law, on the contrary, I want to bring the policeman to law." To read Welles' transcript, click here. It should be stuck on every newspaper office wall - as an education if not a reminder.

Make 2010 the Year of the Individual Against Officialdom.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Merry Christmas from Madame Arcati - and my festive stats

Sexy me, and your soul essence in my globular tool. No, I Am Not Alone, promise. Not much. Yet, save me from Love & Violence. Bryn! Bryn! In like Bryn! Give me an All Over The World. Yet, I'm, I'm, I'm - NOT A NUMBER!

To old friends of this blog, thank you for your continued interest and support and for your comments, ideas, tip-offs, referrals, what have you. To newcomers, foundlings, discoverees, curiosities - thank you, too. Madame is your mummy and a talisman of not inconsiderable effect.

To you all, I wish the Merriest of Christmases and the most productive of New Years.

To the rest - well, my analytics report tells me approximately where you're from, journalists especially: some of you hoped I could be ignored into extinction - the same way you decide news agendas and what's interesting or significant. Or not. My analytics report lists all the news media that visit me - led by Associated Newspapers, home of the Daily Mail.

Blogging has made me realise what a waste of time and energy much of journalism is beyond functional reportage and analysis. For the most part I have only pity for the indentured hacks on newspapers and magazines forced to churn out PR crap and editor-spun faction, usually under the lash of law-breaker bullies modelled on the Andy Coulsons of this world. Why is Coulson still working for the Etonian Tories, btw?

Madame Arcati is a small site with a loud voice. Between Christmases '08 and '09, 329,286 people visited this blog, up 2.14% on the previous year, accounting for the 713,152 pageviews. Many readers came through other website referrals; and my thanks especially to Popbitch, Digital Spy, Twitter, Facebook, the Aesthete's Lament blog, Frances Lynn's blog, mega-PR Mark Borkowski's website, and many others, for their story links and contributions.

Though Madame Arcati is a British blog, Americans make up my biggest national readership group followed by the Brits. Canada is at No 3, Australia at No 4, Germany at No 5, with strong showings from Italy, the Netherlands, France and the Philippines. My love to my one reader in Liechtenstein and the two on the Falkland Islands.

In 2010 the person that is Madame Arcati resolves to deepen an interest in the irrational science of astrology, write only about what arises from personal interest and, of course, marry Molly Parkin - legally or not.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Duncan Fallowell triumphant after the dreary Drabble years

An early Christmas prezzie is The Oxford Companion to English Literature, all 1200-plus pages of it. And I am delighted to see that Duncan Fallowell has at last his own entry, thanks to the good judgement of its new editor Dinah Birch. She's a proper professor in the subject of literature, and far superior to her predecessor, the dull novelist Margaret Drabble, who consigned Duncan to the Travel Writing section on her watch.

I never understood why. Fallowell's eclectic and provocative work - novels, travel writing and collected journalism - has excited much critical interest from the likes of Graham Greene, William Burroughs and Camille Paglia. Yet, while virtually ignoring Fallowell, Drabble deemed motormouth Ben Elton worthy of his own entry for his disposable page-turners. The silly tart must have imagined she was editing "A Simple Guide to Bestsellers".

Birch is a Professor of English Literature at Liverpool University; previously Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford; and an expert on John Ruskin. She has restored academic credibility to the Companion, now a wonderful book. A bargain at £20 (on Amazon).

"I've revitatlised [the Companion]... I've greatly extended its range ... " says darling Dinah in this movie. What she means is, no more drab-drab-Drabble ....

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Madame Arcati's 10 most stupid journalists of 2009

Journalists are generally the daftest of people - only a few honourable exceptions - insofar as their very ordinariness of opinion is soon forced to the surface by dint of deadline, overwork: aka, crawling to the editor. 2009 was a vintage year for journalistic stupidity, and this being the season of goodwill, it is only right that it falls to Madame Arcati to shovel out the awards.

Madame Arcati's Stupidest Journalist Award of 2009


AA Gill, The Sunday Times

Congratulations to Adrian, who writes about half of his paper - effortlessly churning out thousands of meringue words each week to precipitate modest facial tics in his indolent readers. He excelled himself in October with his admission in his restaurant review that he had shot dead a baboon during a Tanzanian safari. He confessed that he wanted to see what it was like to kill a primate. He was of course stirring it: jadedness has spread like a rot through his prose turns, his challenge is to keep himself interested; but who cares?

Gill is a troubled soul, he is to be pitied. In the latest Vanity Fair he writes prettily of stalking rutting stags in his tweeds in Scotland, and describes a condition called "crag-fast" that afflicts mountain climbers when they "dare to go no farther and can't manage to go back." He adds: "Crag-fast precisely encompasses so much of my own life." The poor poppet is immobile, paralysed by the success of meringue-churning. Perhaps killing the baboon was a self-administered attempt at shock therapy. Plainly it failed.


Jan Moir, Daily Mail

October, too, proved to be a treacherous month for one of the paper's columnists. Jan Moir blundered into the swirling wake of Shephen Gately's death with her bald claim that his homosexuality was somehow the cause of his passing: "Once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see," she wrote. What she means is that gay civil partnerships are unnatural and injurious to physical and moral health. Tell that to the Mail's editor Paul Dacre: he did after all attend the wedding of Guy Black and Mark Bolland.

Worth mentioning

James Delingpole, Telegraph blogger/hack and right-wing clown

Anyone who saw Toby Young's TV drama When Boris Met Dave - all about David Cameron, Boris Johnson and their Oxford friends - will have glimpsed the Delingpole creature: a Stonehenge-toothed, grinning, dislocated fool gagging to join the Bullingdon Club to consummate his Brideshead delusions. In June Madame Arcati herself published his "private" witterings on Facebook where he invited people to name a Muslim peer who had got his or her job on merit. Nothing is private on Facebook. We were plainly meant to think that Muslim peers were the beneficiaries of meritless preferment. Oh dear. Never mind. It's only what the Tory Boys think behind closed doors at the Spectator and Telegraph. Hence his continued employment at these media.

Germaine Greer, The Guardian

A personal pain this because Germaine is one of my goddesses. But alas she got too clever this year in a piece on mistranslating Proust. She kicked off her November piece with this: "If you have read all of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, you should be very worried about yourself. As Proust very well knew, reading his work for as long as it takes is temps perdu, time wasted, time that would be better spent visiting a demented relative ... " Yet by the end of her article, in which she reveals a time-wasting yet scholarly understanding of Proust's work, she concludes "But when all is said and done, [the] Scott Moncrieff [translation] remains the pleasanter read." So, should Germaine be very worried about herself?

Andrew Neil, The Spectator

Neil is wrong on just about everything and I would defend his right to be so. His antics this year had something to do with his magazine's foolish decision to host the UK premiere of the Aids-denialist film House of Numbers - an event cancelled after Madame Arcati and several other media protested. In years past, as editor of The Sunday Times, Neil pushed his peculiar fantasy that HIV doesn't cause Aids, with pieces by the oddball celibate Neville Hodgkinson. His problem is his idea of rationalism: he looks for 100% scientific proof (same on global warming) when the debate (on Aids and the environment) is about interpretation of data - and commonsense. Neil has always lacked the latter.

Carole Malone, News of the World

It was Madame Arcati who first noted Malone's over-use of the word "hell" to emphasise her uninterrupted sense of outrage for which she is paid handsomely. She gave hell a rest for a while afterwards but a few hells have crept back into her weekly diatribes lately. Wrong on just about everything, she impressed the Arcati jury with this piece of clairvoyance in May on the now global superstar Susan Boyle: "What matters is that Susan Boyle is on the road to hell ... No one is actually saying what the REAL problem is. But we all know don't we?"  [nudge, nudge] "We also know that in the name of ratings, TV bosses have thrust a brain-damaged woman who was starved of oxygen at birth, a woman who has learning difficulties and who locals call Susie Simple ... " Oh dear, I think Carole is suggesting Subo is best put down.

Mario Lavandeira, Perez Hilton blog

Mario at least gave us the biggest laugh of the year when he went boo-hooing all over the place after Polo Molina, the manager of the Black Eyed Peas, allegedly bopped him one for some insulting remarks. Last I heard Mario's now suing Molina for $25,000. Perez Hilton has been printing paparazzi sleb pics of lady fannies and spunk-daubed gay male suspects for a few years now: you'd think he might have heard of that little word - karma?

Chrissy Iley, her blog

One of the UK's most prolific hackettes has a promo website - and she's on this list because she reveals little taste in colour. If her presumed hope is that she wants to be read, why has her "live" blog got white text on a sickly pale pink background? One can only read it with the use of the highlight. Her CV is no better: white words set on the scene of a dropped trifle as imagined by Michelangelo. Since I have a strict rule against highlight illumination, I can only guess at her tumultuous days and boasted career glories. (Btw, a blog can hardly be called "live" if it's updated only once a season)

Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Letts' persona is that of a clever (t)wit. As Hopi Sen puts it: "Mr Letts works for the most powerful newspaper in Britain and his targets are those among the enemies of that paper who lack verbal dexterity, education, class, or are in some other way unfashionable or unpopular. Mr Letts posesses [sic] felicity with a word processor, but his choice of targets tells us that the heart that beats beneath Letts’ betweeded chest is the craven organ of a forelock tugging lackey." A masterly appraisal.

Bryony Gordon, Telegraph

This is hard because the darling has been nice to Madame Arcati in the past even if only because I gave her colleague Celia Walden a hard time for a while. Bryony's heart is not really in her work - I think she should take up nursing; her Cava-fuelled tweets are a revelation - and I suppose my favourite piece of hers this year was the one on a bunch of German clairvoyants and how they'd got all "140 of their predictions [for 2009] wrong." BUT ... "They did get one thing right – the death of Michael Jackson," she writes, unimpressed. Not a bad guess! Later, she reveals she visited "for work, obviously" a tarot reader called Kevin - but alas, because she can't shuffle cards Bryony tells us she left the deck untouched in Kev's momentary absence. No surprise then when she got a crap reading. Doh! She needs lessons in the scientific approach from Andrew Neil.

(Australia's worst hacks)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Allison Pearson - is Anthony Lane really her husband (now)?

"My husband would kill to defend our family... so why has Munir Hussain been jailed for protecting his?" screams the front page headline in today's Mail for a piece by the divine columnist Allison Pearson. Husband? It is certainly true that she lives with the New Yorker writer Anthony Lane, but are they now married? In the piece itself she refers to Anthony only as "Himself": plainly the editor is trying to sell us a line about Allison's moral authority.

Was it two years ago that Madame Arcati broke the story that she and Ant are not in fact bolted together in holy wedlock despite her then claims to the contrary? - click here. They may have married since of course in which case why was I not invited to the wedding? I have a splendid hat for such occasions - and a crystal ball. But for the sake of the headline writer, and the Mail's legendary integrity and moral uprightness, I hope that they are now a proper Mr and Mrs.

I understand that attempts by readers to remind the paper of Allison's marital status have gone ignored by the Mail's website. It must be due to the snow.

Media Monkey showers Madame Arcati with (uncredited) sincere flattery

A very senior and smart editor on a certain magazine draws my attention to the Guardian's Media Monkey - it has followed-up my story on The Times and Simon Cowell, but with no credit, natch. Like Private Eye, the Guardian does not acknowledge the contribution of lowly bloggers - not even ones that have edited magazines and got affianced to Molly Parkin. Whatever next!

The Guardian uses the story-lift to praise the author of The Times piece on Cowell, one Alexi Mostrous - this hip young gunslinger happens to be a pal of the Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger. That particular info I obtained from the Eye: you see how easy it is to give credit? Lifters always get shopped. The paper also misses the point about Mostrous' piece: it is anti-Sir Philip Green in essence, whereas Mostrous' predecessor Dan Sabbagh depicted Green as Cowell's equal partner if not saviour. Wrong!

The Guardian story-lift.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Times and Simon Cowell: Will this do, sir?

The case of The Times' missing Simon Cowell article is not solved. But today the paper publishes another report on Cowell, his "business partner" Sir Philip Green and their TV ambitions. Let us just say it stands as a corrective to Dan Sabbagh's original Times piece which has been deleted not just from the paper's archives but from Google itself!

In the report Cowell makes it known that he may be exiting Fox's American Idol in 2011 to front the first US The X Factor later that year. Gound tremblingly, it's more than hinted that Cowell may only appear on the UK X Factor for one more season (2010): a warning shot at ITV, a company he's known to want to run?

The new gospel according to The Times is that Sir P [Sirpee] is not quite at the centre of things as first claimed. Sony - which has the rights to The X Factor - took against Sirpee as Cowell's rep: certainly they were not about to roll over just because Sirpee and Cowell were reportedly hoping to buy them out and expand the brand under their proposed Greenwell Entertainment. This probably coshes the idea of a Las Vegas web-based pay-per-view US X Factor, as fantastically described by Sirpee in the current GQ which carries a Cowell interview.

Since Fox (owned like The Times by Murdoch) will be broadcasting the American X Factor, one can understand a need not to upset Cowell at this sensitive time, such as with suggestions that his fate is not entirely in his mighty, hairy, hands.

What this new story tells me is that Cowell is The Man, he is in total control. No one is his intermediary. It also tells me that The Times is not independent when the interests of its controlling company are involved: why delete a report without explanation or correction otherwise? One imagines this new article will not suddenly be disappeared. Here's the report. Meantime, GQ (with its Simon Cowell cover and dreamy claims) is made to look a right arse.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

'George Harrison beat up 14-year-old groupie'

The late Beatle George Harrison once punched and broke the nose of a 14-year-old female groupie, claims Jonathan King in his memoirs, 65 My Life So Far.

He writes that this "black girl had the obnoxious habit" of tracking down stars to their homes, ringing their doorbells and then "pour[ing] out a Tourettes-style stream of insults, carefully and cleverly constructed to carry a vestige of truth."

She got her comeuppance when she got to to the door of Harrison's home in Esher. He told King: "I let her go on and on until she finally dried up, then I looked at her and smashed in the face, breaking her nose and several teeth. We'll never hear from her again."

He was right. She didn't bother any more celebs.

King's autobiography is reviewed here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Goddess Almine survived assassination attempt and danced with a python

And so back to another Arcati favourite, the Oregon-based global mystic Almine alias Almine Barton alias the Rt Hon the Countess of Shannon, wife (estranged or ex) of the former Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, the 9th Earl of Shannon alias Richard Bentinck Boyle. His other titles include Viscount Boyle, Baron of Castle-Martyr, Co. Cork; and Baron Carleton of Yorkshire.

A kind reader has drawn my attention to a Mail on Sunday article published in 2005 on the business travails of Boyle. Tagged on at the end of the piece is the intriguing claim that he and Almine met after she bought one of his titles, becoming Baroness Almine Barton of Colbry. Mischievously, the paper reports, "She performed ethnic dances with a python called Delilah."

Self-described "as one of the most profound spiritual teachers of our age", a worker of miracles, etc, she is an unlikely purchaser of an aristocratic title. What can beat "goddess"?

More alarming, I have discovered a claim that she survived an assassination attempt! An Almine disciple tells how at an undated Florida convention, digitalis was put in her water with the intention of "stopping her heart". However by some miracle she survived despite ingesting enough of the drug to kill her.

She also has elemental powers. The same disciple tells how a tornado was heading towards the hotel of the same convention. Happily Almine was at hand to deal with it. She "gestured at the sky and said a prayer." This had the effect of deflecting the storm south, "killing 40 people in a mobile home park." Apparently this act saved the lives of the 1,000-plus at the hotel, though I should have thought your average hotel could withstand a tornado. Still, at least the dead were just trailer trash.

I just hope none of their loved ones take it too personally and bring lawsuits for acts of goddess. (More about Almine at labels)

Friday, December 11, 2009

65 My Life so Far by Jonathan King: Review. Mr Vile Pervert's extraordinary fate

Oh, JK! How could you? Or rather, how could you not?

What with all the celebs you've fucked, discovered, promoted, befriended, detested, wanked, created, re-invented, guided, supported and, yes, fucked again with your self-proclaimed 8" phallus over the decades, how could you not have had an index compiled for this monster-sized tome of star goss that is your autobiography? It took me half an hour to find the Madame Arcati mention on p570. And then I only found it by deductive reasoning.

Please, please get one done for a future reprint! Listen to a gnarled old index-loving clairvoyante.

So, here it is. Mr Vile Pervert's extraordinary life story, told as a breathless, occasionally careless, romp. I thought I'd speed-read it but a lot of the time I couldn't. I kept on returning to many pages thinking: Did I get that right? Did Jonathan King actually write that as a 13-year-old boy he was having (or had) "passionate encounters" with 65 boys at his public school, Charterhouse? And later, did I read that a sexually passive male friend of his relished being bare-backed by loads of men at gang-bangs, over 1,000 one weekend? In Holland? Belgium? Or was it over one year?

And was JK really once an annoyingly ubiquitous national institution whose influence ran through most branches of showbiz? - contributing to the careers of 10cc, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, the Bay City Rollers, Scott Walker et al: why, he even helped bring the The Rocky Horror Show to the masses. You may have to re-read the book just to grasp the full scale of his victories: the popstar (as JK and under his many aliases), the pop promoter, the pop producer, the stage impresario, the TV star, the Eurovision-meister, the tabloid columnist, the blah blah blah. And then the full scale of his spectacular fall from grace.

65 My Life so Far is for certain no apology, no penance or mea culpa, for his conviction and imprisonment for sexual offences against male minors. He proclaims his innocence, gives the legal definition of a paedophile (which he persuades me he is not), castigates the cops. And it is to his credit that he doesn't try to bolster his denials by cleaning up his epic cock and cunt lives as an unashamed bisexual. He is at least a kindly tart and make no mistake. At one orgy, while he's cock-arsing an Adonis, he finds a moment to help the blow-jobbing codger at the front adjust his dislodged false teeth. Earlier in life King says he bedded 12 girls in a row while his first hit Everyone's Gone to the Moon held the No1 spot - the single that later would enchant his unlikely devotee, Miss Marlene Dietrich, no less.

Such uninhibited frankness is almost unheard of in celebrity autobiography, and for King it's a risky strategy. The messageboard moralists, the slaves to tabloid scripture, will seize on such detail as further proof of his criminal deviancy. I'd rather view him as a horny unapologetic libertine, a brazen Lord Rochester-type with a crooked smile - one of life's mavericks who always broke or bent the showbiz rules as he pioneered and innovated - and one brought down by a strange prosecution stuffed with greys and blurs.

Even the late Mirror/Sunday Mirror/People editor Richard Stott, an intolerant and vindictive tabloid bruiser of the old Fleet Street school, harboured doubts about the rightness of King's conviction.

As you'd expect, King's book will offend in many other ways. I have reported already on his revelation of John Lennon's bisexuality. His Jimi Hendrix story, that the star admitted having sex with a female minor, will enrage fans. Bolan and Bowie worshippers will also be irked. Heather Mills won't like his fondness for Macca. The sheer industrial quantity of celebrity cock-cockery tends to confirm King in his pluralistic view of human sexuality: that our puny, day-to-day assumptions and expectations bear little resemblance to the rich pubic reality. For certain, he is, like Gore Vidal and other erotic adventurers, a case study for future field workers in the realms of cocking and cunting, same and other.

His book is not perfect. No index - and no guiding chapter titles, just numbers! And I'm sure it was Leslie Howard who co-starred in Brief Encounter, not Trevor [Yes, I know now JK's right!]. But did I misread it? And ... and ... his time at Cambridge starts but never exactly finishes: he just goes up and then ... becomes a popstar. Cambridge kind of fizzles out in the chronicle, a prized but expendable lucky charm on his chunky career bracelet.

King is another one of those Zeligs, like Nicky Haslam - he's been everywhere, knows everyone. And thanks to clean social habits, still remembers. If he remains the sharp-tongued smarmy bighead of lore - even by his own testimony - he also comes across here as big-hearted, broad-minded and resourceful: "I was meeting some fascinating people in Belmarsh," he writes of the jail, "terrorists, rapists, murderers."

If you have any kind of showbiz pulse, King's book is an absolute must. But best leave the bourgoeis morality at the door.

Click here to buy
Book website

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Jonathan King: 'John Lennon enjoyed my bisexual orgies'

In his just-published explosive memoirs 65 My Life So Far, Jonathan King adds credence to the many unsubstantiated rumours of John Lennon's bisexuality. He reports that "two or three times" in the 60s, Lennon stayed over at King's flat with "with several young ladies and was perfectly happy to indulge in a multi-gender session of stimulation." Lennon, according to King, "was the most relaxed and adventurous Beatle."

Madame Arcati will be reviewing the surprisingly frank and graphic book very shortly - meantime to buy a copy click here. A perfect Christmas gift.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Farah Damji & Liz Jones' ex: Are British Asians all 'no sex, no drugs, no rock ‘n’ roll'?

Nirpal Dhaliwal - the former long-suffering husband of the professional loony and miaow lover Liz Jones - and Farah Damji are planning a joint reading from their respective books, Tourism and Try Me, in the New Year. Their topic is: Did the 60s ever really happen? "Welcome to the no sex, no drugs and strictly no rock ‘n’ roll world of 2 and 3G British Asians." For more details click here.

One of the questions under consideration will be: "Why do so many Asian bloggers and wannabe 'meejah-sites' hate Nirpal and Farah? Are they really the same person? Or maybe twins separated at birth? I mean the blogger(s) not Farah and Nirpal."

And while one awaits this possibly life-threatening event - Madame Arcati may preside (she has yet to decide) - catch up with Farah's July book launch party movie starring, among others, Anthony Haden-Guest, Darcus Howe, Mark Reeves, Vicky Gold and Mark McGowan and The Snails. Soundtrack by the unutterably sexy Bryn Phillips - Madame Arcati is sooooooooo in love.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What's this about a Rupert Murdoch marriage split?

I've read nothing about it in the Murdoch papers, can't imagine why. Personally I think the pair should go their separate ways to please Rupes' mother Dame Elisabeth, aged 101 shortly. She never liked his third missus Wendi Deng. The story first broke in Australia - here. And still no news on the missing Simon Cowell Times article: I do hope no one imagines Murdoch rules the world. Vote for the Tories and you vote for the foreigner Murdoch's continued undemocratic hold on Westminster.

If you find yourself in Australia, do visit Dame Elisabeth's delightful open gardens at her Cruden Farm in Victoria: unfortunately she cancelled a load of promo interviews lately, perhaps because of her son's obvious marital difficulties.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Christmas books: Madame Arcati's supremely discriminating gift guide

The white beard you can keep, but Madame Arcati is happy to recommend a few books as gifts this Christmas. Unlike certain other media types who take their cues from old buddies in orthodox publishing, Madame Arcati does not discriminate between the self-published and the unself-published and the vanity published: I do not need the approbation of mediating editors to tell me whether a book is worthy of publication. I'll decide, thank you.

My few titles come under two categories: the recommended are under Tomes for the Tights (aren't stockings rather Joan Collins these days?) and the worthless mingers under Tomes for the Cheese Grater (I was shocked to learn that the slave kids of Haiti are punished by being forced to kneel on cheese graters). As I wrote in the below post, shredding a pointless book with your cheese grater (1) promotes wellbeing and (2) creates debris useful for rodent litter or snow in one's Nativity tableau (vivant or toy), as recommended by a reader who put Madonna's Sex book to this excellent use. All Tights titles are hyperlinked for easy purchase; all Cheese Grater titles you can find for yourself. So ....

Tomes for the Tights

Roger Lewis' Seasonal Suicide Notes: My Life as it is Lived is an absolute must this Yuletide - by far the funniest memoirs published in years. Even his father's terminal "bum cancer" is framed by comic poignancy - ideal for those contemplating copping out at the Dignitas death camp in Muslim-hating Switzerland.

As comic, but set exotically, is Duncan Fallowell's travel book Going As Far As I Can, the pb of which came out in August. We head for the trog-world of New Zealand in the company of a merciless champion of Western secular culture: the resultant clash of aesthetics (and phwoar of cock-cockings) is both pyrotechnical and exhilarating. DF's prose is the bastard child of an aristo-plebby one-nighter. Reading him is like being fucked at an egalitarian orgy.

As creator of the cock-cunting and cunting-cock neoligisms, it's only right then that Madame Arcati recommends the German title Vulva by Mithu M Sanyal.  The vulva is one of history's Cinderellas - feared, ignored, abused. Yet today we have the designer "yoni puppets" to pat and stroke. What could these be? Well, learn German and find out and delve into the history of the vulva, bitches.

An Arcati fave is the ever notorious Farah Damji and her glorious, playfully-titled autobiography Try Me. It is both mea culpa (frauds, darling) and breathtaking tease: in one chapter she mocks the naive for falling for her pose in the redemptive confessional: as if! Its dishonesties are likely subtle, between the lines; in grey areas. Her story as told feels broadly true. Media, sex, drugs, slebs, jail - they're all here. Trashy novel content in classy narrative.

And for total teeth-chattering joy do buy Jonathan King's memoirs 65 My Life So Far, which I shall review shortly. How could I not like a book that favourably name-checks this blog on p570? We all know what JK was done for: over-worked cock-cunting newspaper scrotes have decreed a persecution. Yet this book is an immense surprise: gossipy, revealing, insightful, scandalous, huge fun. A recommended gift for the multi-millionaire maiden aunt who refuses to die and whose legacy you impatiently await. She'll die usefully with a pre-rot rictus on her wrinkled mug. You won't be charged with her homicide.

Me: The Authorised Biography by Byron Rogers is the blissful tale of how one of Britain's most stylish writers became the object of an intense infatuation: Does Mr Rogers have a cock as big as that of his former employer, Prince Charles? The title may or may not reveal all.

For cookery lovers, may I introduce you to the Rt Hon The Countess of Shannon alias the global mystic guru, Almine. A few years ago Almine gave up her life of ermined British privilege and turned into an international goddess served by angels. So who better to pass down tips on puff pastry? She has two titles: Cooking with Class and Memoirs & Meals (click here). Makes Nigella and Delia look like the raucous lower class cook Mrs Bridges in Upstairs, Downstairs.

Shena Mackay's The Atmospheric Railway: New and Selected Stories was released in late 2008 but who cares? A more wonderfully surreal short story writer you will not find: her quirks are encoded not manufactured: queerness and peculiarity run through her soul. She is most otherly. I want more, more, more.

Philip Hoare's Leviathan gets it wrong on sperm whales - no,they cannot swallow a grown man. Never mind. His prosaic quest to commune with the warm blooded spurters of the seas helps to cutefy the whale kingdom: a species to be protected must first have the ah factor.

Interior designer Nicky Haslam's memoir Redeeming Features reports that Wallis Simpson's Edward was once a bisexual drag artist and that Lord Snowdon cock-cocked with the author. Wallis herself may have been hermaphrodite because her maid once whispered that the old girl's knickers were stained with urine always at the front. Gorgeous society flim-flam in which people merge at times with their stylish inanimate objects. So that at one point I became convinced Tallulah Bankhead was a wallpaper.

For the less demanding, Katie Price's novel Sapphire should not be scorned: her ghost writer Rebecca Farnworth is as smart as they come, weaving in sly digs at her subject (Katie Price aka Jordan) in a fictionalisaton of the tabloid-trimmed life that requires dark orange model flesh topped up daily by 18-minute sessions in a carcinogenic sunbed. Simply mindlessly thrilling, dearies.

A few months back I reviewed the novel Dazed & Aroused by handsome male model Gavin James Bower. I hadn't read the book and still haven't but I don't see why that should inhibit me from recommending the British version of Brett Easton Ellis' Glamorama. Your OK!-reading brats will adore it - I believe Kate Moss has a walk-on part, but I don't know. Perhaps someone will confirm or correct.

And finally, the "psychic barber" Gordon Smith has a book out titled Why Bad Things Happen. Why was my pet pussy run over by a cripple in his fucking cripple car? That question is not asked or answered, more's the pity (for that's what happened to my Prudence aka Pruce), yet this famous medium tries to shed light on the question of misfortune's purpose, with insights on the next life. Derren Brown is a very poor substitute for this sort of thing.

Tomes for the Cheese Grater

Clive James' The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years is fatally hobbled by its author's incessant need to remind us of how brilliant/famous he is. Whether working through Linguaphone to read a classic in its original tongue or telling us why he deigned to take a phone call from Tina Brown, his book reeks of a clever juvenile wanker locked in a mirrored closet.

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution is Richard Dawkins' latest piece of propaganda against faiths - even though his brand of science is akin to faith, such is his messianic zeal to mix facts with popular theories. Though Dawkins reviles all divination, he has never researched such lowly topics as palmistry or mediumship. Very scientific!

Some time back I wrote an affectionate item about a strange little one-man industry called Chas Newkey-Burden. He churns out about half a dozen books a year - many of them in the genre of listerature. Since then the Julie Burchill once-time co-writer and right-wing squirt has foolishly picked an argument with me, so the first casualty of this is all his books. Let's see:  Simon Cowell: The Unauthorised Biography; Amy Winehouse: The Biography; Michael Jackson: Legend 1958-2009: all manically churned mayfly productions that suffer expiry after a brief fuck of publicity. The sound of a writer is tap tap. The sound of Chas is snip snip.

Illusionist Derren Brown is quite a talented caricaturist as his book Portrait demonstrates. However, his demeanour irritates me. He should not be encouraged.

Worst, most successful writer in the world Dan Brown released The Lost Symbol this year as part of his mission to keep Tom Hanks busy. His quasi-mystical thrillers are rutted with awful clangers: is the Pope a Protestant?

Most pointless book ever is The Atheist's Guide to Christmas by Ariane Sherine. Silly cunts like Richard Dawkins, Charlie Brooker, Derren Brown, Ben Goldacre, Jenny Colgan, David Baddiel, Simon Singh, AC Grayling, Brian Cox and Richard Herring contribute their tips both serious and not. Yet for most, Christmas is already just a secular exchange of gifts, with carol song as sentimental soundtrack to retail park festive forage. No real need for a Church of Atheism, then.

Though a late 2008 release, foodie tome Table Talk: Sweet And Sour, Salt and Bitter by the Sunday Times writer AA Gill affords an opportunity to remind people that he recently shot dead a baboon, to see what killing a primate was like, or at least he made this claim in a restaurant review. The minor Twitter controversy this provoked must have disappointed the fathead ligger.

Stephen Fry in America (pb out last May) and its TV series may have persuaded the cultural Zelig to piss off to LA. If he goes, re-cut 'n' paste this under Tights. Job well done.

I detest family photo albums so why the pompously titled Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare should be an exception I do not know. Should it not be titled Snapshots in History's Footnotes? The cover pic of young handsome Gore is very Freeman's catalogue: longevity is his undoing.

Last and least, a title can ruin a book for me. Ant and Dec's Ooh! What a Lovely Pair: Our Story is very Mike and Bernie Winters. Get it out of here!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Sophie Parkin: JRJ and Madame Arcati's books for Christmas

Dear Madame A,

I was reading one of Roger Lewis' pieces in the Spectator online about Betty Box. I am not allowed to read his book Seasonal Suicide Notes as in true Molly fashion mother has already told me that's my Christmas present. He asks if anyone has ever written a biography of actor, James Robertson Justice. Surely he should do that and my mother Molly Parkin could enlighten him with the juicy details of their liaison in the 50's when they met in The Swallow club off Piccadilly when she was a teacher, and he was her svengali.

Just a suggestion.

Sophie Parkin

PS. May we have your suggestions for best books for Christmas presents?

Darling Sophie

How sweet of you. I've actually cancelled Christmas this year for various reasons. But because the mood takes me - two Full Moons in Gemini this month - I shall put together two book gift guides: One for the stocking, one for the cheese grater. Grating a useless book is a marvellous way to relax and the result can be scooped up and sold as hamster litter or set to some made up ecological purpose in a carbon trade off with a fake princess scammer in Burkina Faso.

As to Roger writing the bio of James Robertson Justice, he (Roger) tells me "I have a piece on the glorious James R-J in my forthcoming Growing Up With Comedians book." I should say a book on JRJ came out last year, titled unpromisingly What's the Bleeding Time? (see book cover above) with a foreword by someone called HRH the Duke of Edinburg (sic). If the Duke is reading this perhaps he could confirm he gave an honorary doctorate to the Countess of Shannon, alias the global mystic guru Almine.

Love to one and all, MA xx

Oh, and here's Roger Lewis ...

Dear Madame

A plea. Can we have a change from that (rather old I fear) photo of D Fallowell showing off his assets? It is getting to appear oftener than Andrew Neill and the foreign girl in Private Eye. Everytime I peep at your great website I get my eye knocked out.