Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Student protests: Zombie-like mass mutism is the best way

Students should be seen and not heard
I understand that UK students protesting against tuition fee hikes have already been kettled by the cops close to Westminster Palace. Quite right. At least 200 of them went running down Whitehall in breach of an agreement with the Met, so what do they expect to happen? Ah yes, media martyrdom. Now listen to Madame.

A much more effective form of protest would be mass insolent mutism. Or the People's Silence. This would involve crowds of tens of thousands of students gathering as close to guilty buildings as legally allowed and just standing there saying nothing for hours on end. If the police ordered dispersal - because they have suppers to go home to -  protesters should refuse and lie down on the spot (still saying nothing) feigning death, whatever the weather. If anyone was injured it would be the fault of the police entirely as they attempted to drag protesting carcasses from a to b. Such a protest would require nerves of steel, iron discipline and cold fury.

On TV the effect would be chilling because mass crowds standing about silently is anti-nature, anti-expectation of youth; redolent of zombie movies. The lack of drama would serve to emphasise the pre-meditation and thereby communicate the contained fury: the best kind of psychological drama. Also, photographers would be deprived of police evidence or lucrative shots for their lizardy right-wing print editors.

Anger is a form of energy and must be controlled for effect, particularly against an establishment media, thuggish police and lying politicians. But I suspect anger is wasted on the young.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Madame Arcati's first interview: Spacey's clan, Fallowell's cock and my view of Perez Hilton

If you want to delve into Madame Arcati's innards a little deeper then here's your chance.

The delightful blog of culture and outré video inquisitions Virtual Factory has been granted the unique honour of an interview with me and elicited all sorts of answers, some of which I recall. Here's a snatch:

Q: Tell me your most perverse fetish. Don't keep it clean.

MA: Cling film aside, I curiously delight in Royal Doulton’s Bunnykins collectibles based in the mythical village of Little Twitching. I have only to run a finger along the cool English Translucent China of Reggie Bunnykins’ floppy-stiffy ears and my thigh muscles relax somewhat. God help you if you're in the same room as I should I be caressing a Reggie figurine and his floppy-stiffies. My cleaner gives me a wide berth at such times.

Q: What happened to the most requested author of HMP Holloway, Susan Hill and you?

MA: I don’t know about Susan. One minute she was confiding the most extraordinary things in me (my lips are… coated in a Tom Ford Private Blend). And in the next she had swanned off to the Spectator and now writes a very tiresome right-wing blog there about hedgerows and Wellington boots. I don’t know why I thought she was a socialist. But anyway, I have a soft spot for Sue who I think should be made a Dame for her services to ghosts.

The Madame Arcati interview click here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mark McGowan: 'Beware people with short arms!'

I had vowed not to give further promotion to performance artist Mark McGowan's videos after his ghastly support for the Tories* at the last election. Fancy being a nihilist notice-moi-ist (moist?) who thinks Old Etonians can run a modern multi-cultural democracy (as if!): even our benign anarchists nowadays are no better than Julian - Downton Abbey - Fellowes or Louis - 'Wag-ner' - Walsh.

But Mark's latest movie, 'We are being controlled by the internet' (click here) has at least wit.  We see the silly poppet prone on his bed mucking about on the internet and offering us a series of Alf Garnett-y reaction shots to the online bedlam. Obama's a jackass, lizard-hating David Icke's admirable (such is the level of satire)... and we are warned: beware people with short arms. I am most disappointed that he does not mention Madame Arcati, though I do not have short arms. He should at least have mentioned Daniel Radcliffe's cock or Sheila Vogel-Coupe's 81-year-old snatch as part of the Arcati online mental stew. I mean, who cares if Britney Spears is short?

How very remiss. How very Old Etonian of him.

*Mark now claims in comments that he did not support the Tories. Likewise, may be this posting is satire in kind.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sheila Vogel-Coupe's X Factor: Oh my God, her sex movie!

Dame Cecilia and friend
My woman of the year 2010, Sheila Vogel-Coupe (aka prostitute Grand Dame Cecilia Bird, aka actress Ruby Tuesday), 81, really does love vigorous sex, judging by her performance in this free excerpt from a porno (to be found via the site address in the picture - but be warned, the material is extremely graphic.)

Her performance is much more entertaining than that of her granddaughter Katie Waissel on The X Factor. Perhaps Simon Cowell might care to comment.

And let me know what you think of Sheila's performance.

Madame Arcati - does she have a cock? Click here

Friday, November 26, 2010

Quentin Crisp speaks at séance: 'Even homos live beyond death'

A winged Quentin Crisp
The Australian contingent of the Church of Madame Arcati informs me that the late Quentin Crisp has communicated his thoughts via a medium. A recording of the séance has been posted on Australian former lawyer and outspoken Spiritualist Victor Zammit's website  (scroll down for the link on his site).

The voice purporting to be that of Quentin says: 'One of the reasons that I come through is to prove that even homosexuals live beyond death... It proves that the Catholics are speaking out from where the sun doesn't shine. Why, pray, would you not live beyond death because you're homosexual. There's lots of ignoramuses ...'

I have to say that the voice sounds nothing like Quentin's, though the speaker has adopted a pawsh drawl of the Lady Bracknell variety: and the opinions expressed would predictably be those of Quentin. The vulgar allusion to an anus is out of character, however. And Catholics do not claim that homosexuals do not survive death; rather, that eternal damnation is the devil's Pontin's for poofters, though you won't hear old Ratzi with his pussy cats saying that publicly.

As for the voice of Quentin, where's Rory Bremner these days?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sheila Vogel-Coupe: Mature Courtesans website - the review

Sheila Vogel-Coupe
I am astonished at the thousands of new readers who have stormed into Madame Arcati all because of my little post on Sheila Vogel-Coupe. She's in the Sun today, blissfully unashamed to be a practising prostitute at the age of 81. But I am appalled that her disrespectful X Factor wannabe and Frodo lookalike granddaughter, Katie Waissel, was 'vile and vicious' towards her on the phone after singing Help! last Saturday. Help? She can fuck off, dearie.

Anyhow, all this talk of Sheila has drawn me to the Mature Courtesans website where until recently she advertised her person. The madam of this establishment is one Helga who apparently has 'gone away' for now - and I must say Helga's business is a tribute to the kind of fine manners we should expect in these times of Old Etonian governance, even if her grasp on grammar and syntax is not.

'I only cater for gentlemen who prefer the delights of a mature companion,' she announces candidly. Her ladies (aged 35+ up to their 80s) she calls 'entertainers' or 'companions'. Gentlemen must be 'clean and appetising', the sort that might want to take a courtesan to Ascot. Clients are encouraged to bring 'surprise gifts': if they intend to cancel they're invited to be a 'considerate and well-bred gentleman' and call or text.

Most of the Vintage Vamps on display speak several languages and all would not look out of place on a Fred Olsen cruise liner. Bella Martin, for instance, is in her 70s and is described as 'a new star arrived on the Horizon of the Escort Universe', speaks English and French and discusses current affairs. The backdrop to her various picture poses looks distinctly Chelsea Harboury. Like all her colleagues she dislikes a 'Lack of personal Hygiene, Manners, Drunks & Drug-Users.' Not bankers, too?

I particularly like the look of Lady B, 69, who 'has been working as a bunny girl', is partial to champagne and is 'bi-curious'.

Mature Courtesans' purple wallpaper puts in mind the rich decor of an Alfred Tayor male brothel of the sort Oscar Wilde patronised: and the rich use of euphemism (one pays for a companion's time) is entirely 19th century. All that's missing is opium fume. Well, I say 19th Century, yet British law rather compels this kind of nonsense. All ver' Old Etonian-friendly.

Oh my God, Sheila's sex movie!

Oh my God, Madame Arcati on her fetishes. Click here

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

William & Kate's wedding day: virgin on the ridiculous

St Catherine of Siena
Further evidence that Madame Arcati anticipates the zeitgeist is the date chosen for the wedding of the century (so far). Prince 'Big Louis' William will take Catherine Middleton, the future Duchess of Cambridge, to be his wife on April 29 next - which just happens to be the feast day of an Arcati favourite, St Catherine of Siena!

I alone among bloggers have written extensively about the virgin St Catherine. She may have passed away in the 14th Century for the sake of her hymen but she is in fact still fully sentient and engaged with our modern world. She employs as her current mouthpiece the US medium Elizabeth Baron to convey her funkily-expressed thoughts and recollections. I have been unstinting in chronicling them.

St Catherine was instrumental in the capture of the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega; and who can forget St Catherine's claim that Joaquin Phoenix is possessed by the troubled soul of Johnny Cash? Ms Baron, too, likes to name-drop: do read my tale of her seance with the Hollywood siren Lana Turner, still screaming beyond the grave in a most unseemly way about this and that.

Is this honouring of St C by the House of Windsor (1917 - ) some sort of augury of things to come for Wills and Kate? St C's persistence in staying alive bodes well for marital longevity. But her militant virginity may prove irksome in the creation of an heir and spare. Others, more sceptical than I, may wonder about the royal couple's connection to reality given the heroic claims of St C.

Certainly old Ratzi in his Vatican palace must be delighted as Anglicans flail about under old beardie. It's a wonder the Pope is not marrying the pretty pair.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sheila Vogel-Coupe: Madame Arcati's woman of the year 2010

The Grand Dame
The news that X-Factor wannabe Katie Waissel's granny is an 81-year-old 'escort' filled me with joy yesterday. I was soooo impressed.

'Pensioner Sheila Vogel-Coupe offers sex as a "vintage vamp" under the name of Grand Dame Cecilia Bird and boasts she has clients in their twenties,' screamed the News of the World in their story wittily headlined 'Gum and get it'. The Sun calls her the '£250-an-hour crinkly tart' today in its customary cheapo recap of its sister paper's exclusives. The slag who wrote the Screws piece, Stephen Moyes, should get some special treatment for this delicious exposé - though of course karmically he's got something coming to him. Oh yes.

I must say the Grand Dame looks nothing like her age and demonstrates a wit and canniness young hacks on tabloids can only dream about. She has found the wherewithal to buy her 'sheltered accommodation' flat - so the housing association can't throw her out - and she shortly embarks on a trip to Italy. She dresses elegantly, loathes tattoos, drinks fine red wines and probably uses an expensive mouthwash.

I do hope the new-found notoriety doesn't upset Sheila too much. Once the relatives have got over it they'll quietly marvel at her fashionable entrepreneurial spirit. Katie should feel proud of her gran. I can only wish for such a relative.

Rather than moping about all day waiting for care assistants to sit her on a commode or blocking up her GP's waiting room with imagined complaints or generally being lonely because she put all her life into her kids/partner/pets before they died/scarpered, Sheila entertains frustrated men in need of intelligent conversation, charming company and a harmless ejaculation while cradled in her arms.

Quite frankly this woman should be made a dame. Except she's already a Grand Dame.

Review of the Mature Courtesans website where Sheila once advertised. Click here

Oh my God, Sheila's sex movie!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nesta Wyn Ellis interview: 'Lord Bath's girlfriend thought I was at Longleat for a threesome'

Nesta Wyn Ellis
John Major biographer Nesta Wyn Ellis has just published a new work, The Marquess of Bath: Lord of Love in which she analyses the notorious Longleat blue blood and his harem of squabbling wifelets. In this special interview with Madame Arcati, Paris-based Nesta describes how she met him - and reveals that she's completed her own memoirs. Indiscretions may be assured. 

Nesta Wyn Ellis! Congratulations on your wonderful bio of Lord Bath, Lord of Love! Has his lordship been in touch about the book? Any of the wifelets? Did he know it was coming out? I see you spent hours with him....

I last spoke to Bath in 2009 after sending him the book to read for inaccuracies. He did not comment other than he did not want to have any more to do with the book. I reminded him that he was the source of most of the material. I spent some 40 hours recording interviews with him, another 20 hours interviewing his friends and more hours observing him and mingling with guests at Longleat and his other residences. Bath may have thought the book would not appear.

After the initial media/publisher interest in the book some years ago, I believe he made great efforts to self- publish and promote his own autobiography in print and on the net as if he were competing with me. Some turgid tomes appeared but nothing else will appear until after his death as his wife threatens she will divorce him if any of his own memoirs covering the period of his life after their marriage in 1969 (that’s some 41 years ago) appear on the Internet, or in print.

I have a written note from him stating the latter, which refers only to his own writing. However, she may have made threatening noises about my book. He is clearly terrified of her. Yet he seemed to want me to know how he dominates her by hitting her when she nags him while he is driving the car. There is quite a bit about this in the book. And about wifelet violence too: some observers think he orchestrates inter-wifelet warring.

Had Lord B read your John Major bio?

He certainly knew all about it and was keen to be a biographical subject, perhaps because of the fact that to be written about by someone who has written an acclaimed biography of a Prime Minister suggests a certain prestige for the subject. Bath told me he would choose power over anything else, if it were offered to him. So, I think being written about by someone who has written about a powerful politician may have had a lot of appeal for him.

How are sales? I know the book was serialised in the Daily Express. I don't know much about your publishers Dynasty Press.... sounds like something Joan Collins might be running.

The book is being sold all over the world via the Internet and in the UK through both Internet and bookshops. The Express and the Mail have both offered it for sale. This is a hardback, of course, though selling at a competitive price (£13.95) Yes, the name Dynasty reminds us of Joan Collins' great success as a glamorous vamp in the 1980’s drama series of that name. A great name for the kind of books they want most to publish—memoirs of Royalty and the nobility, biographies such as mine of Bath.

Would you say Lord B is a domestic abuser? - there is testimony in your book that he has a violent temper. Do you think this is characteristic of him or evidence of rare weak moments such as to which all of us might fall prey in a vast house full of annoying women, some of whom one is 'married' to?

There is a definite incidence of violence in Bath’s relations with women. He really wanted me to know that he hits his wife and volunteered all of the information about her in the chapter about her (entitled “I’m a Happily Married Man.”). After giving me this quote he roared with laughter. He thinks he has the perfect solution in that his wife lives in Paris for three weeks out of every month and he has his assorted wifelets to hand. Of course he has to change his plans to enjoy seductive weekends if Lady Bath suddenly announces her arrival for her one week a month at the ancestral pad. Staff and others testify that Lady B can be rather tempestuous.

She invited me to go to Longleat one weekend while she was there. Alexander laughed nervously, shuddered and said “Oh no no no. I don’t think so.” It was he who gave me her phone number in Paris, which is how I found out that it is listed in the name of a man. Meanwhile Bath has his brood of current and not so current wifelets. But there have been some violent incidents with wifelets too—described in the book. The main problem is that Bath’s inner violence seems to provoke violent behaviour in many of his women—against him and against their rivals.

Would you like to be a Lord Bath wifelet?

It would not interest me in the least. I lived in the most gorgeous place during the first two years of my marriage, and I can't say that I want to get laid just for the sake of a famous house and an important title. I know some women are drawn by a man’s celebrity, or his money or his des res but I’m more interested in the man’s character and other qualities.

Do you think Lord Bath still enjoys carnal relations with his harem?

Oh undoubtedly. That is his goal, but as one recent wifelet told me, “This is an elderly gentleman. There is not much action.”

You live in Paris: has promoting the title in the UK been a trial? And tell us about your London book party. Who was there? (I'm sorry I couldn't make it).

Yes, it may be that I could get the promotion up to speed a bit better if I were in London for longer. After my long absence in Paris people seem enthusiastic to have me back. But I probably need to be around and about a bit more. I am coming and going at intervals and I may start to spend longer periods in London in the future. The publishers seem to be concentrating on book reviews rather than promoting the author. I would like to be able to get it across that this is not just more of the same old twaddle about Bath that he puts out decade after decade. It shows a side of the old libertine that no one has ever been allowed to see. He let me see it by his outpourings of rage and grief about his youthful rejections and his family feuds. There are a number of real scoops in the book if only journalists had time to read it.

It was a great shame that you were unable to attend the launch. It went with a swing. Well over 100 people accepted and the place was bursting at about mid-time because many more had turned up with friends. There were so many people who had not seen me for more than ten years. I did not have time to chat to people at all as books were being thrust under my nose for signing, one after the other. Many people who came were friends of mine most of whom I had not contacted for a decade.

But also some others such as [Sunday Times astrologer] Shelley von Strunckel, Liz Brewer, Ben Duncan, friends of friends and others well known in media circles, were among the guests. The party was filmed by Channel 4 Wales for a news slot and a number of diarists were there. But this is a demure ripple compared to the splashes I made with each of my previous books. The biggest was probably Britain’s Top One Hundred Eligible Bachelors. Peter Stringfellow sponsored a huge party at the original Stringfellows Club. And the TV shows afterwards will live on in legend and song. I was busy for years with those.

You seem drawn to highly sexed male subjects. We now know that your first subject, former PM John Major, was an unsuspected cauldron of testosterone (thanks to Edwina Currie's revelations), and then there's Lord Bath, pluralist shagger. Why is this?

I don’t see them initially as highly sexed, although I did notice how sexy Major was when I first met him. I also realized when I met him in 1989 for a commissioned magazine interview would be the next PM.

Bath? It came about by accident when I was invited by one of his women friends to go to Longleat for a weekend. It turned out later that she had thought I would join her for a threesome in Bath’s big bed in his penthouse apartment. But I had gone to Longleat only out of curiosity and when I made it clear that I preferred to sleep downstairs, well away from the Bath bed, I was allocated the Autobiographical Suite, a room painted all over with little cartoon murals in which the characters had thought balloons coming out of their mouths.

The Bath figures were all saying things like “I’m not welcome here and the others were saying, “You don’t belong here. You don’t fit in. You’re an outsider. You’re not one of us.” I couldn’t help finding this interesting for someone who had been to Eton, then Oxford and had served in the Guards. The truth is that this is what is wrong with Alexander. He has felt such an outsider all his life, despite the heritage of title and Longleat, its treasures and its millions. The topic of his own autobiography came up at dinner on the Saturday night and I asked him had he never considered the possibility of someone else writing a biography of him. He said many had asked. So I said, “Ok, maybe I could think about writing a biography of you. Would you like to think about it overnight?”

By lunch time the next day he had already decided he liked the idea so we proceeded from there, sending each other letters of agreement. I told him I would give him the same option as Major. I would do the interviews, write the story and then show him the final copy once a publisher had offered for it. He would then be able to comment on any inaccuracies or overly embarrassing anecdotes and I might agree to amend them. It was never going to be an authorized biography.

In the end he refused to tell me what he didn’t like about it, said he didn’t like any of it. I reminded him that it was based on 60 hours of recorded interviews with him and some of his closest friends.

Darling, you've lived such a life. Do you not fear that perhaps someone might turn their attention to you and unearth detail you'd prefer shrouded in discretion....

I have nothing to hide. In any case I have completed the writing of a version of my own autobiography and there is stuff in there that is entirely my own private experience: naughty, tragic, complex, and shocking even to myself at times. I gossip quite a lot about other people in it, of course. I suppose there is always a chance that there are people out there who think they have something to tell abut me. But as I’m such a loner, most of my life is lived in compartments.

Tell us of other projects-in-progress. I know you have recorded albums, and I'm sure there may be other people whose life stories are worth investigating. Who interests you most? Sarkozy? Carla?

I once said that biography was like marriage. You get to know so much about the person and you spend hours and weeks thinking about them and their lives. Well, I’ve been married too and I’ve found out that you get to know more about a biographical subject than you do about your marriage partner, and in a shorter time. Anyway, I don’t want to spend a lot of time writing biographies but some characters do interest me.

Male, political, powerful individuals fascinate me the most. I love to spend hours talking to highly intelligent people who have the power to change a country. Sarkozy would have qualified as a candidate, but it's too late for him now. I’m not sure he will make it as the UMP’s candidate for Presidential office in 2012. Carla is despised as an opportunist with a full time PR working day and night to keep her in the news. The truth about her will come out after Sarko leaves the Elysee. And you will be able to write it on the back of an envelope. She’s just a passenger, hitching a ride with a powerful husband.

I would be interested in writing about a woman who had made it on her own. Even Hilary Clinton was riding her husband’s coat tails. Men are better subjects for me. I have some male subjects in my future plans. But they will have to be worth the time and I should be paid a lot better for it than hitherto.

Otherwise, although I realize that I have a powerful gift in this field I am tired of other people’s psychological convolutions, even of my own. I prefer the idea of working more on music. I am planning a new album of both French and English songs. I’ll make that in London where I can be sure of the quality of my collaborator and the studio.

Then there is stage work. I have written most of the book and most of the songs for a musical based on my own life story which moves via London to Africa, then America, to London again for the most dramatic years and then to France. The structure of the story is the same as for my autobiography. The music is however the part that expresses the nature of these different locations. There will be a cast of about ten. The dancing will be an important part, especially in the Africa and the America Acts. Songs: they range from the sad and tender to the fiery and passionate. I write the lyrics and the accompaniment for all my songs.

Before the stage musical, which will involve a lot of work and some funding, I want to put on some more musical cabarets of French and English songs in London. My London audiences really enjoy the French songs. I may do some more in Paris too where my audiences are visibly moved often to tears. There is one show 1.5hrs long with dance and songs. I’ve designed the costumes, lighting, written the music. It’s rather sensual. I will have a dance partner and I will sing the songs. It’s a magical concept. I have written a novella of the same name, “A Love is Like A Day”. That’s so short I will have to publish it myself. It’s available in electronic form from my website. http://nestawynellis.com/.

Film is also important to my future plans. I have one film in development and now that I am shrugging Bath off my shoulders and have completed my autobiography, I want to push on with Children of Violence. I am involved with the production myself with my companies Paris Productions and Paris Production Services. I have a co-producer and we need a known director since the finance people say the film should have a big budget and a box office star. This is what I also believe the film should be, a fascinating well directed story, beautiful to watch and to listen to. There are many lovely songs--French and English, ballads and jazz—integral to the screenplay, which is based on the story of a young singer who follows her lover to Paris and finds another love and great complications that almost kill her. There will be great sound track sales. The story is mystical and dramatic, mysterious and tragic, but it resolves happily for at least two of the three protagonists. It is set mostly in Paris although scripted in English. The important part is there must be beautiful photography, light and settings, Paris and chateau scenes, some play with time shifts. The director has to realise that this is a potential prize winning film at the level of The English Patient. But I’m also looking back to Jean Cocteau’s photographic power in the use of chiaroscuro. We need someone with the very best eye for photography, for love scenes that are erotic and artistic without banality.

The world will be ready for this kind of story again in a couple of years by the time this film is ready to be released.

I’ve written the novel of this story too. I’m starting to look for a publisher.

I’ve been told it’s too short at 175 pages. Really! I’ve often joked that publishers don’t read books any more, they just weigh them. Maybe this is a case in point.

Give us a glimpse of your life in Paris these days. Is there a special someone? Do you busk still on the Paris underground?

I am here because of that special someone. I don’t busk at present. It’s a great way to rehearse because I sing without a mic and pitch my voice around into a corner so that people hear me as they come up some steps into the Metro.

I have not done a concert lately due to other work keeping me at the computer, and also the fact that its not as easy in Paris as in London to find really good reliable musical collaborators. The standard is not as high. Maybe I was lucky in London first crack. Also the audiences in London are bigger, more prepared to pay for an evening out with a concert with a cocktail or a dinner.( And usually there wont be a riot or a strike to stop your audience arriving. I’ve had to deal with that at least twice. To one concert when there was a Metro strike, many people walked. I nearly didn’t get there myself because of the heavy traffic). But being a producer as well as a performer is full time work and I’ve been too tied up with the Bath biography, another biography I’ve done involving China, and my own autobiography.

And finally for now, Nesta, as a former political player in London, what do you make of our Old Etonian government?

Hah! Let’s measure them by their results in a year or two. I’ve no objection to people going to Eton. It’s a very good school. So long as they don’t hold it against anyone else for not going there. So far, I see a human side to Dave. I applaud Nick for opting for the deal. Making it work is harder work than for an arranged marriage, I should think. However, the harmony between these two guys seems a lot more evident than that between the recent Gordon and Blair duo. Or is that making it sound too easy for them?

Thank you Nesta! And good luck with Lord of Love.

To buy Lord of Love, click here

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Duncan Fallowell: 'How to Disappear' memoir published as objet d'art

DF: click pic to big up
Madame Arcati hears that Duncan Fallowell's next book is being published not by any of the dandruff set but by a sexy new publishing venture which comes out of the British art scene. They are called Ditto and have been joined by Bruno Bayley, one of the editors of Vice Magazine. He has been asked to find books of the highest literary quality to be published by Ditto as art objects. Bruno is 25 years old and the son of design guru Stephen Bayley. His very first book will be a non-fiction title from Duncan Fallowell called How To Disappear: a memoir for misfits and it's to be launched at the end of February, 2011.

More about Ditto. Duncan's site and penis.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Prince William and Kate Middleton: A hellish recollection on a happy day

While of course the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton leaves me entirely indifferent, I still wonder about the reaction of one of Kate's closest friends a few years back when the couple split up for the umpteenth time.

'We're all relieved,' she told me. 'Kate's better off without him.' Concerned, in the theatrical sense, I asked, 'Why, is he awful?' She replied, screwing her face: 'Oh, don't ask me! Don't ask me! We all think she'll be happier without him.' I can only hope, in my indifference, that matters have improved since then.

Do read my Geordie Greig piece on his 'PR management' of Kate, click here. And congratulations to the Old Moore's astrologer on a correct prediction.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown & the curious case of the feeble Twitter joker. By Farrukh Dhondy

The Independent and Evening Standard columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has decided not to press charges against Tory Birmingham Councillor Gareth Compton over his recent joke tweet calling for her stoning to death: she had questioned the UK's right to criticise the stoning of women under Sharia law. However, before the news of Alibhai-Brown's decision broke today, the writer Farrukh Dhondy wrote the following unpublished piece, reflecting on the controversy, the perils of cultural humour and Alibhai-Brown's own 'sense of historic vengeance'.

The old ones are, on occasion, the best:

“The difference between Iran and Britain? In Iran you commit adultery and get stoned, in Britain you get stoned and commit adultery, boo-boom!”

That one is descriptive and, looking at it all ways, harmless. Telling it, in Britain at any rate, shouldn't cause you to be arrested, prosecuted or persecuted. There is, as far as my lay knowledge stretches, no law against characterising Iran as a rather nasty place or against jesting about the loose morals of Brits. But as Milan Kundera made us aware in the masterpiece that brought him and his writing to the attention of the world, a joke, however harmless, can bring the horsemen of the Apocalypse in the shape of the secret police, the apparat of the Communist Party and the Stalinist abyss to your door. Kundera’s novel is set in Soviet Czechoslovakia. The story begins with its hero being sent off to hard labour in the mines for sending a postcard to his girlfriend denigrating the optimism of Party propaganda as ‘the opium of the people’ and wishing at the same time, the renegade Trotsky a long life.

British mines have been, for the most part, shut since the regime of Margaret Thatcher and today’s Party dissidents, as far as I know, can’t be punished by being sent down them. So at least the fate of Kundera’s hero doesn't await Counsellor Gareth Compton the Conservative who was arrested and suspended indefinitely from the Party for what he admits was a feeble attempt at a joke he posted on Twitter.

Mr. Compton’s Twitter account has been closed down and today he must feel much as Kundera’s joker felt. Mr Compton has been charged by the West Midland’s police for ‘sending an offensive or indecent message’, racially aggravated it is said -- and if he is brought to court and convicted, he faces being banned from his profession as a barrister.

Mr Compton was reacting to the broadcast opinion of the columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown who was invited onto Radio Five Live’s Breakfast Show to talk about David Cameron’s visit to China. There was a difference of opinion on whether he should condemn China’s record on human rights. Ms Alibhai Brown was of the opinion that no politician had any moral right to condemn human rights abuses, not even the stoning to death of women under Sharia law.

Mr Compton Twittered his reaction to this opinion, or perhaps passed an implicit verdict on all her opinions expressed over the years, mainly The Independent, saying “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai- Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you do. It would be a blessing really.”

Soon after, he posted another Tweet to say his previous Tweet was an ill conceived attempt at humour and he didn't mean any offence.

It is reasonable to conclude that this regretful retraction was the result of a little reflection (or of instant warnings from friends) about the possible consequences for himself of this impulsive burst of intended humour. It certainly wasn’t a hasty retraction rescinding an order to inflict fatal harm on Ms Alibhai Brown, because even a junior Conservative councillor from Erdington in Birmingham must realise that he is almost powerless to get the bins cleared on time, leave aside condemning anyone to death by stoning.

However unfunny the joke, the context, the culture, the country in which it was made, the concern that his leader David Cameron and Party have the moral duty to condemn the stoning to death of a woman in Iran, indicate that Mr Compton could have had no illusions or intention that his joke was any sort of ‘fatwa’. He has been a supporter of Muslims in his community. It wasn’t the word of an Ayatollah asking Muslims to murder Salman Rushdie. It wasn’t the word of some mad mullah from a mill-and-mosque town in the North telling his congregation that British soldiers were Kaffirs who should be sent to hell by any means necessary. It was a laddish, ironic joke by someone who obviously wants stoning to death condemned.

Ms. Alibhai is not herself without a sense of historic vengeance, though perhaps a little devoid of ironic appreciation. In one exchange some years ago, if |I remember correctly, Gavin Essler, a TV journalist responded to something she was saying by asking “ What's wrong with white guys, by the way?”

Ms A-B replied: “I don't like them. I want them to be the lost species in a hundred years.”

And so to a confession: The evening before the Radio Five Live broadcast and Compton’s folly, I was invited to the premiere of a play by a touring Mumbai theatre group at a West London venue. The audience was largely of South Asian origin. After the play there was a reception in the foyer and I spotted the same Yasmin Alibhai Brown speaking to some friends of mine. I am not well acquainted with Ms Alibhai-Brown but have met her on several occasions and exchanged anodyne pleasantries. I went up to the group, greeted my friends and said “Hello Yasmin.”

She turned and left the group saying “I am not speaking to you, you are dangerous.”

However flattering it may be to be deemed and dubbed ‘dangerous’, I was baffled as were my friends. They asked why I was dangerous. I said I was unaware of ever having given any offence, intentional or otherwise. I don’t do Twitter and I am not on any blog or website.

Then it occurred to me that the snub may have been the result of Ms Alibhai-Brown knowing that I am acquainted with a niece of hers, one Farah Damji, a writer and self-confessed fraudster and ex-convict and I have been told by both that they are not friends. But then a lot of people have come across and made the acquaintance of Farah Damji and surely Ms Alibhai-Brown doesn’t believe that it makes them all ‘dangerous’.

The snub remained mildly puzzling until I remembered that I once said to someone apropos of her columns that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown “had put the ‘aunty’ back in ‘dilettante’”. I am not conscious of having put such the remark out on Twitter but it obviously got back.

Now all I can do is put the chain on and wait for the knock at dawn.

© by Farrukh Dhondy 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Molly Parkin erotic novels reissue by Beautiful Books

Beautiful Books is reissuing a few of Molly Parkin's erotic novels on Feb 3, 2011, and I like the styling of the covers. Where would a 21st Century hunk model be without a Becks-style tattoo on his arm? And the position of the man's hand on, say, the Full Up cover suggests awareness of the clitoris. Progress must be measured in tentative increments.

I didn't read Moll's novels when they were first published in the 70s and 80s and I'm only familiar with three of them because of a serendipitous find in a hospital charity book sale. It was an omnibus edition of three books titled Bosom Pals bought for 40p. The stories are sexy, funny of course, and still fresh; unlike Jilly Cooper's early romps which seem very dated now.

I like the opening of Molly's Switchback which reads: 'Blossom Tree opened her eyes. It wasn't light yet, but she had been rudely awakened (an apt description ,she thought) by her husband's heavy erection twitching between her warm buttocks. Nosing its way in like a warm torpedo.'

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Liz Earle skincare - one answer to the BBC's ageist policies

Liz Earle
My current fixation on Bid TV's Peter Simon has drawn me into the utterly addictive world of TV shopping channels. Most of the male hosts probably have Venus conjunct Sun in their horos - imbuing them with a cockless cosiness you don't often find in your average house-trained cock-cunter - while the female presenters are a standard cut-out from the womanly catalogues: only US comic Joan Rivers on QVC breaks the lady-like mould when she's there flogging her bling. She just about avoids saying, 'Buy my All Heart Charm Bracelet, you motherfuckers.'

Speaking of QVC, Liz Earle MBE was on this week, queen of botanical elixirs, imported from her HQ on the Isle of Wight. Her company is one of the island's largest employers with over 350 people on the payroll. Profits: a secret. This week she had her own four-day QVC 'mini-series', and it was incredibly successful. One skin potions package alone sold 9,000 items in two hours which, at a unit price of about £26, grossed nearly a quarter-of-a-million quid.

In another life, Liz and I were colleagues on a monthly glossy. She was as lovely then as she appears now, a vision of (her fave phrase) 'dewy freshness', a wonderful walking advert for her ethically sourced, multi-award winning products. She must be incredibly rich. So I was surprised when she revealed on QVC that her central heating doesn't come on until 5.45am in the winter. Something like that keeps one grounded, and certainly helps to maintain dermal hydration. I always say.

Liz I think has one answer to the sexist ageism rampant in our world, and at the BBC in particular. If the crumbling male bastard presenters must stay on our screens (while female peers of similar age are dumped by young female bosses because they look too old) then demand they use Liz Earle's youthifying skincare creams and lotions. Liz herself looks nothing like her 47-ish years (I'd put her at 37). At least then they'd be able to boast a dewy freshness to match that of replacement eye candy female colleagues. There'd be a sudden breakout of youngness!

These aging male TV hosts shouldn't fear nancification through beauty maintenance regimes - I know how conformist these types are. As Liz has observed, 'A whole new generation of boys and young men are growing up, seeing men in magazines and on the red carpet who are obviously taking care of their skin, so I think the whole stigma surrounding men making an effort with skin is ebbing away.' Bang on the zeitgeist.

Click here to be on trend, TV boys.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Peter Simon - and the case of the treasured front loader

Dearest Madame,

So glad to see that you're back blogging and being sufficiently mean to those people who mistake youth for joie de vivre.

Anyhow, your post about Peter Simon was too delicious, and reminds me of the time in the late 90s when our paths crossed, albiet briefly. I was a first year student at Manchester University at the time, and one of my frenemies was having a dalliance with Mr Simon, whom they met in one of the city's oldest nightclubs [name withheld]. Mr Simon was rather on his uppers at the time, having just finished a season doing Double Dare at holiday camps and was in need of somewhere to stay. A situation which led to him moving into my frenemy's room in the halls of residence.

At some point Mr Simon gave some indication of his future selly telly career path when he bought his cohabitee a romantic gift. A tumble dryer.

So glad to see that he's out there somewhere on the space time continuum. Television is a more interesting place for having him in it.

My fondest regards, C x

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chris Wittwer - 'A policeman gave me hundreds of names of sex offenders'

Chris Wittwer, the so-called Facebook vigilante, operates a website that 'names and shames' people on the Sex Offenders Register - 10,000 to date, including 12 judges and 500 teachers. Farah Damji has produced a short film, Touched, in which Wittwer claims that a policeman supplied him with hundreds of names of convicted child sex offenders and reveals how he was a victim of sexual abuse as a boy. It remains to be seen whether Wittwer's action leads to violence - he describes his site as a tool for parents. I've not looked at his site but perhaps his audience should register their details first if they don't already. To watch the movie click here.

Madame Arcati boss denies 'BBC-like prejudice against old bitches'

Madame Arcati is distressed to learn that she faces the axe from this blog because she is regarded as not 'young and pretty' enough for a primetime website.

My young(er), nubile, iPod-attached boss is citing my lack of populist experience, but I can tell by the way she looks at me (if you'll forgive the lurch into the first person) that she is offended by my characterful deep facial grooves, the comforting flesh-sacs hanging from my lower eyelids and my overall lack of commitment to winning organic youthfulness.

I had no idea that I was meant to be ornamental as well as one of Britain's finest bloggers. But I suppose in these online porno times, readers (male ones especially) require eye candy for their extra-keyboard hand relief. We have to keep the men happy.

Rumours abound that my boss wants Daybreak's Christine Bleakley, 31, to front this website. Over my dead body!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Bid TV's Peter Simon: The best fall guy of selly telly

Peter Simon
How astonishing to see Zandra Rhodes on the selly telly (OK, shopping) channel Bid TV Sunday evening. In under an hour she flogged about £25,000-worth of her bedlinen and fragrance - and I have no doubt that this was in part due to the tenacious, some would say, reckless energy of Bid's most starry host, Peter Simon. I am certain pink-haired Zandra enjoyed a little death on live TV in his company.

What can one say of Peter who is reputed to have a massive cock? He's a phenomenon at least. Apparently his three-hour stints flogging Egyptian cotton towels or figurines of 'Masai lady sitting with baby and child' draw about 1m viewers, which is not bad for a satellite squat.

Peter's enthusiasm for the stuff he sells is unparalleled performance art. Everything is either 'absolutely stunning' or 'the most fabulous...' The world's 'greatest scent' is followed disloyally by a 'scent which is the very apothecary of desire.' Everything is 'not just...' (repeated many times in one sentence) - and he has this odd habit of addressing 'viewers at 'ome'. Sometimes he goes peculiar and talks of 'viewer'. He is utterly addictive.

Friday nights from 10pm are usually his best shows and the rudest. If the auctions are slow he gets bored and sends up the products - I have not quite yet recovered from his claim that a certain brand of bath chair will 'cure your cystitis'. Cue hysterical suppressed laughter in the studio. He also smirks when he talks of 'ring sizes' apropos Bid's ring sizing service.

On Saturdays he's grand in his velvet dj and comes over all London Palladium on us: until recently the poor poppet had to be his own cheapo off-camera master of ceremonies, announcing himself from the 'very heart of London... your host, Peter Simon.' Now someone else says all this before he strolls into view to cameramen applause. He is unembarrassed by his opening jokes, usually about his back passage or people called Elsie, so it is with relief when he turns to introduce the Chatimals Meerkat, a must-have toy which repeats what you've just said. Which repeats what you've just said.

Of his salesman philosophy, he says: 'Even if I'm selling a latte mug with an urbanwear finish and a ceramic lip, it is up to me to make something of it. Nothing is rubbish - somebody out there will want it. If I made a wooden poker, somebody would want it.' You just don't get his type on QVC. Whorish selly telly has its pioneer of laughs.

Do catch up with Simon who first made his name on the BBC's kids' shows Double Dare and Run The Risk. Here he is in action, falling over.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Review: Welcome to Mollywood by Molly Parkin: Dodging the conventional cunts

Moll. Picture by Anthony Lycett
Back in the summer of 2009, Molly, a few of her family members and I spent a wonderful week or so together in torrid Croatia being filmed by Robert Chilcott for a fly-on-the-wall TV show (see labels for dispatches). One afternoon Robert mentioned in passing to me that Moll had written a memoir - including a sensational chapter on Elizabeth Taylor - but had now set it aside as other interests crowded in. Over the coming weeks we both encouraged her to find a publisher: and so 15 months later here it is at last - Welcome to Mollywood.

I came up with the title, partly inspired by the idea of a high bohemian Mollywood theme park based on her extraordinary life - turban-shaped bumper cars, haunted houses of very peculiar happenings (who else but Molly would could lose her dentures to kleptomaniac mice?); The Colony Soho drinking den reconstructed and peopled with boozing android versions of Francis Bacon, Jeffrey Bernard, Dan Farson, Muriel Belcher, Moll herself and other monstres sacrés of lowlife high life; fashion catwalks a-swirl with 90-year-old models (hello Lady Astor) and 20 year-old boys with semis; basement clubs for the recitation of bawdy poetry and filthy jokes followed by wild dancing; ashrams for meditation and incense sniffing; nightclub art galleries staffed by ambitious fellationists (hello Croatia)....

And a psychic pagoda for a working cyborg of ... Madame Arcati herself, as played by Moll's unlikely early fashion muse Margaret Rutherford in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit. Your future to be told.

At the entrance to this imaginarium of din and raffish incongruity would be a message, the same words to be found on p171 of Mollywood, of the people she might have encountered in her alternative fantasy careers as corporate boss or parliamentary Speaker: 'I didn't want to move amongst such a boring set of conventional cunts.'

Among writers, poets, painters, actors, fashion queens and (oddly) barristers she has found refuge from the conventional cunts all her adult life: and even among the last, she will detect the pulse of a hidden fellow sensitive across a long room, or distant on the internet. Wisely, her publisher Beautiful Books has not attempted to restore order where whim, caprice, impulse, inspiration, addiction even, reign. Anecdotes of famous lovers and friends, stories of bankruptcy, alcoholism and victory, are interrupted by long sideshows and nattery hitchhikers in a funny, readable stream-of-consciousness. There's no question Moll can be daffy as a duck. Then she'll shock you with a sudden laser of insight, just when you thought she had a screw loose.

Which reminds me, Molly on Radio 4's Loose Ends with Clive Anderson the other day. The one-time (yes!) barrister host plainly found some of her stories hard to believe, such as spanking barrister John Mortimer's arse or nearly losing her cherry to Louis Armstrong or fucking a 23-year-old surfer boy at the age of 73. 'I don't do pinches of salt,' responded Moll before taking her plastic denture out to studio gasps. All I can say is that her version of our friendship and relationship is intuitively true as well as subtly told. Between the raucous broad brush strokes of her life narration is some very fine miniature work.

Gossers hoping for nuggets about the Sunday Times or Nova, or about the soapy detail of her marriages, will have nothing to repeat at the garden fence. Huge life events are pole-vaulted in a sentence while matters of eccentric interest to her hog the book in pages of comedy and character. Mollywood is a distillation of a life nowhere near its end, but there's enough killer detail to fill a wanker's imagination. What exactly did she do with those entire rugby teams away from their mammies?

Oh yes, one for Christmas, dearies (and the late George Melly sends his love).

Welcome to Mollywood, buy here

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Lord Bath: He'd make a nutritious meal for his lions. That's all.

Nesta Wyn Ellis' scandalous, unauthorised bio of Lord Bath and his wifelet addiction, Lord of Love, has just been published. For a flavour of the book you can read this as part of a recent serialisation in the Daily Express.

An analysis of soul-compromised aristocratic decadence, it's a must-read: a narcissistic, cock-driven shit stuffed with a sense of entitlement and the self-critical faculty of a precious thug: at least that's the impression one gains of his lordship as Nesta burrows through his modest accomplishments ever framed by inherited (ie unearned) capital Longleat. His only use so far as I can see is as sweet meat (Bath is diabetic) for his lions.

Why would a woman marry such a man unless just to acquire a title, a few servants and a teaspoon of blue blood spunk? The question has to be asked.
Do you find this man handsome?

Nesta's tendrils embrace all regions of his flaky Tudorbethan facade - he ought to be on his knees in gratitude that a celebrated John Major biographer should focus her attention on him at all - and pulls off a decorative effect on a yesteryear zeitgeist figure. She converts him into a useful pathological case study. He's not just cat food then.

I cannot think of higher praise.

PS: The photo (above right) is of a young Alexander Thynne (aka Lord Bath), cover boy for yet another instalment in his interminable autobiography. A writer in comments asks me to consider whether I find him handsome. I would say not handsome, but pretty, period catamite-style: had this photo appeared in an Oscar Wilde bio, as one of his green carnationist admirers in Worthing, only the uniform would have surprised me.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Rachel Johnson's A Diary Of The Lady: Masterly at the authorial hand-job

Over the weekend Rachel Johnson was canny enough to send me a fan letter in which she told me I was mentioned in her book A Diary of The Lady: My First Year as Editor.

I had wondered whether Madame Arcati might make an apperance in her pages because I'd earlier this year described The Lady as 'the cunties' weekly' in a short piece about the magazine's readership and masturbation. But I'm adept at delaying gratification myself: I fancied I might happen on my name years hence as I leafed through a dog-eared copy in a secondhand book store (in Arundel perhaps).

This fancy was discarded instantly on receipt of Rachel's email: Madame Arcati is responsive to stroking, and judging by the contents of her book, she is masterly at the authorial hand-job.

If you don't know or care, Rachel is the editor of The Lady magazine, once an incarnation of all things nanny-ish and scone-ish. Then she barged in with her Sunday Times ponciness and pals and imported nasty things such as 'lady gardens' (pubes) and erections (euphemism: 'Everests') - these alone from a Jilly Cooper Jump!extract. The Lady's venerable owner Mrs Budworth regularly channels outraged reader reaction, calling Rachel a 'monster' and 'sex-obsessed'. This is all splendid for Rachel's CV.

Now, I said I'd review her book but in all honestly it's too late for that. A Diary came out in late summer. Instead, I have a few observations to make which touch upon my own preoccupations. What is first so striking about her day-to-day life at her mag, described with staggering frankness, is the evident ghastliness of many of the London writers and editors she encounters and of whom Madame Arcati has already demonstrated an insightful and notorious dislike.

For instance, you may think unwarranted my occasional barbs at AA Gill's prolific and dyspeptic smugness. Yet dip into this book and witness him, with Rod Liddle, mocking Rachel at a party for being dumped by their cash cow, the Sunday Times. The paper's editor John Witherow dumps her after promising he wouldn't - then thoughtlessly rubs her nose in it later by praising her replacement as 'grrrreat!' William Cash - he of the sad heiress-wives fixation - staggers about drunk at a party feeling sorry for himself and volubly moaning that no one of his generation (ie his Oxbridge milieu) has done anything worthwhile, including Rachel's husband Ivo. Even the down market Kelvin MacKenzie pops up in Rachel's office and fills it with his special mix of noxious methane.

Nicholas Coleridge, the world's worst novelist and the MD of Condé Nast, comes across as a gracious and generous house host, even if one who insists on memorialising, in annotated albums, his every social interaction with those deemed sufficiently important. I read elsewhere he also collects animal corpses: all this is beyond anal, doncha think?

In the (Boris) Johnsonian tradition, the slights, betrayals and insults (and there are many more) are borne lightly by our heroine. She'd be perfect in a war. But she too is not averse to gross insensitivity. I'm not sure Roger Lewis will have been entirely happy to be described as the least attractive writer she's ever met, as he name-drops Michael Winner at their first meeting. And I can't imagine what the daughter of Rachel's predecessor, Arline Usden, must have felt to be characterised as a rather hapless and hopeless member of staff. Indeed many contributors will have delighted in Rachel's grouchy view of a lot of the journalism submitted (each piece requiring the effort of eight emails on her part) after fulsome and luvvie-ish encouragement.

As for Lady Antonia Fraser... well, she always looks slightly appalled anyway.

In other words, A Diary of The Lady is entirely riveting. Any student contemplating a life in journalism (high end, facile) should get this book for Christmas - as a warning. Robust souls may relish the rough and tumble, and Rachel makes for a marvellously blithe dame (in the Eton College sense). Oh, and Madame Arcati gets her name-check on pp 261-262: if there were an index, I'd be under M for masturbation.

One last thing. How can Rachel Johnson have lived as widely and well as she has and not know who Duncan Fallowell is? She should search him out on Madame Arcati: I think even Mrs Budworth might approve of him.

Rachel Johnson film on The Lady, knitting and chutney - click here.
Rachel's website