Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rachel Johnson and Ann Widdecombe's sloping bosom

Ann Widdecombe and Rachel Johnson
Madame Arcati finds herself in a most singular position: two books recently published, both authored by very considerable matriarchs (possibly modelled on myself), include passages on me, yes, Madame Arcati. The other thing they have in common is that as I write I have read neither. Something must be done.

So, next week I shall be reviewing the editor of The Lady Rachel Johnson's  A Diary of The Lady: My First Year as Editor and Molly Parkin's Welcome to Mollywood. I do hope I am not given cause to be offended or otherwise to consult m'learned friends. Though I disdain anger management courses and the like, I really have tried to rein in my natural tendency to volcanic eruption.

That aside, did you see Ann Widdecombe (a Libran) tonight on Strictly Come Dancing? It's not every generation which gets to see a Privy Councillor turned into a TV pasodoble mop, with Bruce Forsyth looking on. I commend her as a living cleaning product to Cillit Bang.

Anyway, my attention is drawn to this snap above, last seen on The Lady website. I am not sure what to make of the diagonal nature of Ann's bosom, though its maker should avoid B&Q.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Diana Athill and Molly Parkin: Two legends nowhere towards the end

Molly Parkin (left) and Diana Athill. Pic © Laura Lockington
Here's a very special and exclusive picture of two legends who met last week for dinner in London: Molly Parkin, close on 79, and retired premier UK literary editor and latterday celebrated memoirist Diana Athill, 93 in December.

I shall be reviewing Molly's extraordinary memoirs Welcome to Mollywood next week. Diana - who is an honourable exception to my general bar against Dianas - won the Best Biography of the Year at the Costa Book Awards 2008 for her frank memoir Somewhere Towards the End at the age of 91. The judges described the work as: 'A perfect memoir of old age – candid, detailed, charming, totally lacking in self-pity or sentimentality and above all, beautifully, beautifully written.'

Both Molly and Diana represent an amazing (re-)flowering of talents at ages usually treated as infirmity. Molly is writing at the height of her powers; her erotic novels will be reissued next year; and she's putting on her one-woman show at Ronnie Scott's on November 24 (on stage at 8pm).

In Somewhere, Diana reveals, among other things, that she preferred black men as lovers (least boring...): and for more details you'll have to buy her book. She describes atheism as, 'vastly more exciting and beautiful than any amount of ingenuity in making up fairy stories', a thought that went down well with fashionable secularists of the British intelligentsia raised on science drip-feeds.

Well, I didn't say Diana was wise. But at least, and unlike a lot of other Dianas, she does not whine.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stefano Hatfield at i: Are you young, dumb and full of it?

Stefano Hatfield
Happy days again for Stefano Hatfield who will oversee the Independent's mini-me daily, i. Hardly a surprise appointment given that this former Campaign editor helmed the doomed thelondonpaper a while back and made a habit there of preferring young inexperienced hacks to the tried and trusted - cheapness and compliance being the former's two big pluses. I do hope he's now up to speed on the law on workplace ageism, though I doubt it.

So here's a bluffer's briefing. The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations of 2006 make it unlawful to discriminate against workers under the age of 65 on the grounds of age. The rules affect recruitment, training, promotion, redundancy, retirement, pay and pension provision.

It was therefore unfortunate that MediaGuardian of February 5, 2007, felt compelled to note that 'Hatfield ... freely admits that he has chosen to hire journalists of a similar age to his target twenty-to-thirtysomething readership [at thelondonpaper]. No veteran hacks moaning about the good old days here, it seems.' MediaGuardian is itself an ageist medium so I wouldn't be expecting much sense from that quarter.

i is targeting young urbanites and has a featherweight budget. Expect, then, a deluge of recruitment of novice regionals (and their friends) in the immediate future. Any examples of ageism at i (or anywhere else) will receive a fair hearing at Madame Arcati.

Stefano Hatfield is in his mid-to-late 40s.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Almine: Mystic countess is now the voice of an archangel

Almine: a model, too
Ah, the Rt Hon the Countess of Shannon! Another one of my favourites. If you're not familiar with this exotic, do catch up via labels over a long drink. She is also known as Almine or Almine Barton, wife (estranged or ex) of the former Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, the 9th Earl of Shannon alias Richard Bentinck Boyle, once the husband of Eurovision polyglot Katie Boyle.

Almine has exceeded mere aristocracy and taken her place among the gods as an Oregon-based global mystic. Thanks to Madame Arcati you know of her reported miracles and whatnot, including her activities involving a python.

What you may not know is that the countess is also a singer-songwriter, the voice of an archangel. I commend her album An Affaire of the Heart, and for a free listen to a few tracks click here. I particularly like The Passion Begins which has the line 'I need your maleness to make me feel complete, to still the hunger and quench the heat.' What she really needs is a fire extinguisher.

i spy: Does the time-poor newspaper reader exist?

The Independent people have launched a mini-me newspaper called i. It costs 20p and is a digest of sorts of its ailing maxi-me (price: £1), targeted at 'time-poor newspaper readers' (ie professional youngies who live at Pret A Manger).

The birth of the first national print paper in a generation must of course be celebrated as a happy event in itself but ... does the 'time-poor newspaper reader' actually exist?

Of course not. Don't you know a rhetorical question when you hear one?

What one does with one's time is a general matter of choice dictated by personal interest and priorities. If someone under the age of 30 says to you, apropos not reading newspapers, 'I am a time-poor person', then this is not a statement of fact but an advertisement of self-importance. She or he is actually saying:: 'I have better things to do because my life is so busy.' Busy-ness in this context is rated a virtue because it implies solvency, sexiness, engagedness and I'm-booked-up-ness. Being seen reading a newspaper suggests you have time on your hands - you saddo.

The reality is that the life of our 'time-poor newspaper reader' (TPNR) is as time-rich as that of anyone who loafs about the house all day calling themselves a freelance writer or video game designer. The several time windows in a day include thumb-twiddling lavatory longueurs, yawny rail journeys to and from (with delays and no-shows for free-time enrichment), mental and physical office truancy (for smokes, googling, gossing or just standing about in Cafe Nero queues or chomping muffins), etc. All large-paned time windows afford potential hours for the reading of newspapers.

But there's just one problem. More and more Pret A Manger-bound youngies would rather do something else. Like read a newspaper free online or on their iPad. Or grow fat on muffins.

So good luck to i. And my condolences to the Independent.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Turf Feinz movie: Dance can beat the gangsta crap?

Everyone's making movies it seems. Molly Parkin's being shadowed by Robert Chilcott for a BBC show and a fly-on-the-wall, Duncan Fallowell's directing films (see post below), Madame Arcati is to be filmed next month in Hove. And now writer Farah Damji has produced and directed a short movie called Letz Dance about Turf Feinz, a group of black American gang members from Oakland, near San Francisco, pioneering a new type of street dance with a social purpose. 

When the Huffington Post published a piece on them a fortnight ago, their dance video went viral and has received over 1.4m YouTube views to date. The hope is that by raising their profile, and inspiring other dance groups to form, more creative approaches can be developed to counter gang-related street crime - here in the UK and the US.

In short, turf dancers want to reclaim the streets (and I hope make way for little old ladies such as myself who may be unnerved at the sight of sexy, lithe cockers throwing out their arms and legs on street corners to funny music).

Farah's film includes an interview with the blogger and poet Tristan Hazell who talks about turf (an acronym for taking up room on the floor) dance, the beauty of Turf Feinz and the power to change a world. Watch Farah's movie here.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Molly Parkin savaged by the Dowager Melly: Oh Diana!

The patron saint of Dianas
A most brutal attack in yesterday's Mail on Sunday by the Dowager Diana Melly on my glorious fiancee Molly Parkin.

Through the mediumship of the journalist Moira Petty, she challenges Molly's story in her memoirs Welcome to Mollywood that Diana's late husband and jazz star George Melly invited his former sometime lover Moll into his bed as he lay dying for a final cuddle. 'Shameless lies!' the dowager hollers before making all sorts of scandalous allegations against Molly that can only serve to boost Mollywood sales.


Darling Molly is more than capable of dealing with Diana. But I would point out that the TV cameraman who Diana says failed to record Moll and George's non-under-the-duvet swansong had left the room when George felt poignantly cuddlesome. Molly politely declined his invitation, incidentally.

I think the problem here lies in the dowager's name, Diana. Ever since the late sainted Princess Di made a martyr of herself in various ways, the name has taken on the mantle of suffering, whingeing and attention-seeking. I believe the very name Diana has assumed an infectious personality of its own which bestows upon all its incarnations called Diana a querulous and whiny disposition. I may be wrong, but I have noticed this about Dianas. Frankly I won't have them in the house. I caution you against anyone called Diana.

For this reason then I cannot be angry with the dowager. Like all Dianas I am prepared to blame someone else for the fault. In this case Princess Diana.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Duncan Fallowell directs Mary In A Coma movie

Duncan Fallowell
My return would not be complete without a Duncan Fallowell posting, New Zealand's very own pin-up.

I am delighted to see that he has directed a short movie titled Mary In A Coma, set in London's Notting Hill.

A sexy young man and a sexy young woman pass each other in the streets over and over again. Do they know each other? Hard to tell.

I commend it to pop video production companies seeking a cryptic off-the-shelf promo. Btw, I wonder if it is possible to make a genuinely witty porn film. Duncan?

Click here to view movie.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Molly Parkin - exclusive photo at Mollywood signing

© Tommy Candler
Fiancée Molly Parkin signed hundreds of copies of her just-published memoirs Welcome to Mollywood at an appearance this week at the Chelsea Arts Club.

To buy a copy click here.

Aside from her reminiscences of lovers James Robertson Justice, George Melly, John 'spank my botty' Mortimer and others, she reveals how she was the victim of her father's abuse.

She also charts how her relationship with Madame Arcati and her puppet-master began remotely on the internet and blossomed into the uncategorisable union we enjoy today. Of course, regular followers of this blog will have witnessed the development at first hand.

Molly fans should know that all her erotic novels are being republished next year by Beautiful Books.

Austerity Britain: Cameron's cuppa and Hitler's soup

Would the PM fancy this model?
The Old Etonian political editor of the UK-based American tabloid The Sun, Tom Newton Dunn, exclusively reveals that David Cameron has 'banned tea and coffee being served to No10 mandarins at their desks to save taxpayers' money' in austerity Britain.

An 'insider' (surely not Tory boss spinner Andy Coulson) is quoted as saying: 'The PM is determined that he and his staff should not be enjoying luxuries while the rest of the country is having to make do with less. He wants to prove we really are all in this together.'

However the message is somewhat sullied by this exception: 'But the Prime Minister will still be served at his desk - as his time is deemed too precious to waste queuing.'

Now, don't laugh! There's far too much cynicism abroad (I mean, at home). We should accept that our multi-millionaire PM's heart is in the right place. And his gesture is not unique in the annals of leaders' presentational sensitivity.

Quite by chance I am reading Albert Speer's Inside the Third Reich. On p179 he writes: 'When, at the instance of the party, word was sent out that all households in Germany should eat a one-dish meal on Sundays, thereby promoting guns instead of butter, only a tureen of soup was served at Hitler's table too.' When the number of his lunchtime guests shrank in consequence, Hitler remarked sarcastically 'about the spirit of sacrifice among his associates....'

Goodness knows what the Führer would have made of Cameron's aversion to brew-queuing. Can't someone buy the Old Etonian a teasmade?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Eve Pollard OBE: A one-woman gallery in bones booklet

There I was minding my own business in a public waiting room when I had the creepy feeling of being stared at. It took me a moment or two to identify the ogler.

It was Eve Pollard OBE. One-time editor of the Sunday Mirror and Sunday Express. Inter alia!

Not that the poppet was actually in the room. Her translucently youthful visage stared out from the cover of a booklet on the wall shelf dedicated to the fascinating topic of osteoporotic women. I thought I was seeing double at first until I realised that there were two cover images of the woman Private Eye once dubbed La Bollard.

Why two? I mean, is the booklet about bones or Boll? Fascinated I opened the publication, unfortunately titled Breaking the Silence (as in snap, crackle etc), and there I found a third image of the woman whose fringe definitely needs pruning. Turn the page again and... you guessed it. Yet another snap of the grand lady of tabloid hell (emeritus), her head tilted to one side to signify her engaged focus.

Indeed, there are six pics of Eve in the eight page booklet (including front and back covers). I can only assume that her multiple appearances of undaunted vim are intended to inspire women to sweep up their bone crumbs and do something to stick them together again. Well, I guess.

But at least the woman who used to send out photographers to take pictures of desired shoes in shop windows is doing something useful with herself. Something selfless. And if that means the admiring over-attentiveness of the camera, so be it.

Madame Arcati graciously returns for Christmas

Goodness, how time flies. Anyway, Madame Arcati is back for the panto season, a little early, mind; rather like those unwelcome Siberian swans flying into Slimbridge. If someone had the nous to shoot them over the North Sea we'd be saved lots of drama queen autumn weather warnings on TV.

What have I been up to since I gave up blogging in June?, you ask. I wrote one or two pieces for the delightful Anorak site but quite honestly I prefer my own shelter. I'm not one for sharing or mediation. Otherwise I have been absorbed in the timeless wisdom of astrology and its tricky charts: so that in addition to my legendary sharp eye and perpicacious mind, I now offer you penetrating insights normally occluded by mere intellect. Don't you feel Christmas has come early?

One thing I want to draw attention to before I leave you for now is Molly Parkin's utterly brilliant and funny memoirs, Welcome to Mollywood, published this week. Not only did I think up the title in a moment of Croatian reverie last summer but Madame Arcati and her pupper-master feature in it. Naturally I shall review it; I just can't wait for you to read it (my review). It's a feelgood for the slightly pervy (her book).

I am sooo glad to be back among you. Put the word out, won't you dearies.