Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nick Clegg could be British PM, predicts Old Moore's Tory-loving astrologer

Nick Clegg could become Prime Minister one day, claims the astrologer in the new edition of Old Moore's Almanack 2012. Oh, but hang on a minute. There's also Theresa May to consider. She, too, is potential PM material according to a profile in the mag which unveils the year (and more) ahead, occasionally with startling accuracy.

I've long suspected that 'Dr Francis Moore' - the eponymous astrologer of the title, still going strong at 314 years-old - is a celestial right-winger who treats the bit between Thatcher's fall and Cameron's rise as a moral low in British history. Last year, he wrote enthusiastically of the Tory tide: 'This is the beginning of a period that is going to be more difficult and very different to the freewheeling, destructive influences we have been enjoying for the past twenty years.' He relished the return of 'traditional, old-fashioned values of discipline, respect and responsibility [his italics]...largely missing for twenty years.' Oddly, profilgate bankers played no part in our bankruptcy; and anyone might think Tony Blair had not been a right-wing wealth-lover.

Not content with ignoring any possibility of a Labour return this side of my death, he then foresees that politics will gradually move more to the right as 'political uncertainty' prevails until 2018. If this is correct then may I be the first to extend my congratulations to the Murdoch press on their sterling work.

I think it time the Left encouraged a few of its followers to take up astrology instead of farting about with humdrum atheism and Dignitas-bound sociological materialism.

Ed Miliband is missing a trick, I fear.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Johann Hari: Why the FT critic Ian Shuttleworth is still waiting like Diana Ross

Ian Shuttleworth
Further to the delightful media rhubarb on Johann Hari and his thieving of quotes, another story reaches me touching on the antics of the Independent's newly glamorous and rather sexy 32 year-old columnist and interviewer. The authoritative stage critic of the Financial Times, Ian Shuttleworth, tells Madame Arcati that he, too, once fell victim to Hari's inventively maverick approach to journalism.

The good news is that this story is not about plagiarism. The bad news: it's about trust.

Mr Shuttleworth writes: '[Hari] begged some quotes from me for a profile piece on someone I'd worked with years before, ran them in a snide tone 180º opposite from mine, credited me ostentatiously whilst the article itself was anonymous, and thus ruined my most prestigious professional contact. When I kvetched about it to mutual friends, they said, "Oh, that's just Johann," as if that mitigated matters rather than aggravating them with pattern-of-behaviour evidence. On subsequent meetings he seemed to imagine we were still friends.'

Had Hari done this to Madame Arcati, a fearful vendetta would have commenced and cocks would have shrivelled in terror. Just ask Kevin Spacey. But allow Mr S to continue....

'In today's Indie [Hari] protests, "I did not and never have taken words from another context and twisted them to mean something different" - maybe not, but with me he took words from the immediate context and twisted them to mean something not just different but opposite. And "When I've been wrong in the past [...] I have admitted it publicly, tried to think through how I got it wrong, and corrected myself." In the words of Diana Ross, I'm still waiting... '

I did tweet the Indy's editor Simon Kelner last night, drawing his attention to this matter. Perhaps due to other commitments, he has not yet commented and is perhaps dismissive of a silly little blog such as this when there are Radio 4 shows to attend for marketing amplification.

If Johann would like to acknowledge his fault and apologise to Ian he is free to do so via Madame Arcati. I am a disinterested medium for harmony, ever striving to bring peace where strife reigns. Presently.

Ian Shuttleworth's website is most entertaining. Click here

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Johann Hari: Plagiarism confession will do him the world of good

Someone called Johann Hari, a columnist on the UK Independent and a gadabout for various other up-there publications, has confessed to lifting quotes to beef up his celebrity interviews. If his star subject is not making much sense, Hari will pinch a better quote on the point-in-hand, truffled from the written work of the interviewee (uncredited), and pass it off as part of his own splendid cross-exam. Naughty!

Blogger scorn and fainting have greeted this confession: why, it's even trending on Twitter as I write.

Hari's problem, one of many I fear, may arise from what he thinks an interview is for. He imagines his interviews are 'intellectual portraits'. Oh dear, I wish he'd spoken to Madame Arcati first. A newspaper 'interview' is nothing more than entertainment whether it's in the Sun or Le Monde Diplomatique. The object of the exercise is to bring to vivid life an encounter of usually short duration. The good writer-interviewer, as the ruthless, opportunist carnivore he or she must be, will be alert for signs of weakness in the subject, ie for signs of entertainment material that makes a mockery of the PR or of the book/film/whatever that whorishly accounts for the interview in the first place.

If, say, a star interviewee-author coughs up blood and dies while boring the shit out of us on atheistic conformity in British journalism then there's your money shot. Readers are not interested in ideas or lectures, not even godless ones. Alas, Hari imagines his role to be that of transcriber of great words - or great words obtained by others' efforts if needs be. Reality check: any collection of his interviews will struggle to sell 500 copies (100 of those flogged to friends and relatives), eBook or otherwise.

Has Hari damaged his career? Absolutely not. He has already done the essential thing and made a name for himself. Once you're a name, it is very hard to self-immolate, professionally. What may look like public scorn and contempt now is nothing more than glamour-enhancement without sequins. Readers just love a name, and harmless notoriety goes down well with editor-scrotes desperate for promotional material (eg names).

If I were Hari, I'd go to the Independent editor - while he survives - and ask for a pay rise. A daytime TV show hosted by Johann Hari cannot be far away.

Click here to read his confession.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Liz Brewer: How to be a 21st Century socialite and not a twerp on Twitter

Liz Brewer is a living legend - and you're just very sad if you've never heard of her. For decades she has graced many cities of the world with the glitteriest parties and media-friendly stunts on behalf of her royal, high society, celebrity and corporate clientele.

In recent times TV broadened her fame with Ladette to Lady on which, as 'Etiquette and Social Protocol Teacher', she sought to turn 'innit'-spewing chavs into presentable princesses who held their table knives not as pens. Liz now has a new book out (details below), a trove of wisdom and instruction on good manners and social form. Madame Arcati caught up with her....

Liz Brewer! Party planner extraordinaire! Someone once described you as Krug on legs. You party-plan for Ivana Trump, Dame Shirley Bassey, London mayor Boris Johnson and many others, don't you? And who else? (Is it just party planning?)

Actually it was the front cover of one of the Sunday mags that described me as 'Fizzy Liz Krug on legs'!* You have an amazing memory! At the time I was Ambassador for Krug and Remy Krug was a good friend. Now I am the Roving Ambassador of Laurent-Perrier who have flown me a number of times to their impressive Chateau Levois. On one occasion to be presented with the honour of being made a Dame Chevalier de Champagne for L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. (And Dame Shirley Bassey received the title of Dame d'Honneur de Champagne at Champagne de Castellane for the ceremony of the ordre de Coteaux de Champagne).
*Ahem, it was actually Woman's Journal, phrase coined by one Victor Olliver

Which is the best party you've ever planned for a client?

I know this may sound corny but every party has been special and you always feel your last party was the best; however, that is very much to do with the people and content. There are memorable happenings which make certain events unforgettable but in general I have loved them all in different ways. Dame Shirley's was visually significant and was filmed by CNBC for their Luxury channel, going out to a possible 200 million homes in Europe about five times...! It was called The Party Guru and filmed by Fiona Sanderson over a couple of years. Incidentally I just found the following clip which was when I organized for Dame Shirley to receive the Legion d'Honneur from the French Ambassador in London: Nobility News.

You've a new book out, Liz Brewer's Ultimate Guide to Party Planning and Etiquette - tell us a bit about it.

My new book is really about bringing party planning and social behaviour into the 21st Century.

Liz with Ivana Trump
The early chapters cover speech, posture, making a positive impression, self-esteem, breaking bad habits, the digital age, social networking, personal presentation, dress sense, table manners, financial etiquette, relationships, kissing/greeting/saying goodbye, mobile phones, answering invitations and thanking. Then the chapters cover everything to make a memorable occasion special and successful, covering money matter, equipment, rules & regulations, invitations, dress and dress codes for both men and women (e.g. what is white tie & tails, morning dress, highland dress, appropriate dress for hunt balls, formal, cocktail, smart casual, business dress, attending sports events etc etc.

Neighbours, safety, catering, decor, table plans, place settings, menus, drinks, correct way of serving wines & champagne, entertainment, lighting, party games, fireworks, staff & helpers, 'the morning after the night before'. Duties of the host and duties of the guests and dealing with difficult situations.

The book ends with Forms of Address, e.g. how to address members of the Royal Family, Royal Consorts, Peers of The Realm etc etc both in person and writing. Finally there is an Index showing all those referred to and photographed.

What precisely is bad manners and/or a behavioural malfunction?

Liz with Dame Shirley Bassey
I explain in my book that etiquette or good manners is to do with treating people not simply with respect but putting them at ease and making them feel comfortable. That where there is a rule there is a very good reason, so when in doubt people often simply need to use their commonsense and they will discover the solution.

You're the Queen of Etiquette. Give one example of appalling manners that drives you to faintly criminal temptation.....

One of the things which I find tedious and annoying is people who do not answer invitations. This is often due to the fact they never entertain and therefore are unaware of how not replying to an invitation causes complications when deciding on numbers of glasses, cutlery, staff etc.

For example you may be having a significant occasion and have sent out invitations to 100 guests. A couple of weeks before the event only half of the invitees have replied. You now have to figure out, are 50 guests attending or 50 guests who could possibly even be rude enough to turn up without warning you that they are bringing a guest or worse still, most of the guests attend without even replying some with guests and others without, thereby causing difficulty with the catering. Drink & food runs out, as do the glasses etc!

I also have little time for gatecrashers. There is a band of people who feel they have the right to turn up to an occasion uninvited. Perhaps one should be flattered that they consider your events are worthy of their attendance but over the years I have observed these are the non-contributors to the party scene and merely a waste of good space. I have no problem politely explaining that this is a private party and they are therefore cannot be included on this occasion.

Who is the rudest person you've ever encountered and why?

Liz Brewer with London Mayor
Boris Johnson
Concerning rudeness I have found this is usually due to the fact that the person in question is new to the social scene and has limited knowledge of how to behave. My book addresses areas which otherwise could be a minefield for newcomers to this world.

Do you think social media such as Twitter and Facebook have led to a breakdown in manners?

Social networking sites, media, Twitter and Facebook, as I explain in my book, have a place in the world in which we live today. They provide a service for people to connect. However they need to be thoroughly understood and controlled. Used correctly they can be to your advantage but should not be used simply to demonstrate that person does not have a life. Reading some of the inane remarks being twittered around the world however, it does make you wonder!

What do you think of the modern tendency to convert celebrity names into z-filled nicknames as in Chezza (Cheryl) or Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) or Shazza (Sharon Whoever). Isn't it just too common?

This is not something that really concerns me.

And finally, poppet. A challenge. Do you think you could ever turn Katie Price (aka Jordan) into an elegant princess who minds her ps 'n' qs for one evening at least? Where would you start?

Why would I want to change her? She is obviously a star in the world in which she exists and probably wouldn't fare well in a different level of society. I did do a grand job with Lily Allen .... see following link!

Liz Brewer! Thank you so much for your time. And give my love to Georgie Campbell! [Aka, Lady Colin Campbell, her publisher at Dynasty Press]

To buy Liz Brewer's Ultimate Party Guide to Party Planning and Etiquette, click here

Monday, June 20, 2011

Laura Van Wormer: Authors' second comings - and a question about Sarah Ferguson

Laura Van Wormer
The bestselling US novelist who co-wrote a historical epic with the Duchess of York is the new MD of an ePublishing venture dedicated to reissuing the work of established or proven authors.

Laura Van Wormer (a former book editor at Doubleday, author of sixteen books and 'The Official Dallas Historian') has joined forces with a 'rocket scientist' to run Advantage, Author Inc. Its goal 'is to empower authors entering the digital publishing arena in ways that will support and expand their writing careers.'

Laura explains on her website: 'About three and half years ago I walked into a large chain bookstore and couldn’t find any of my books—not even Riverside Drive, which had placed me between Leon Uris and Kurt Vonnegut for twenty years. I panicked—essentially because I am an author and the books are the proof. If my books start disappearing I feel like I’m disappearing—which, as a writer, I was.'

This led her roundabouts to the burgeoning eBook phenomenon. Not only could she resurrect her own titles but help other writers get their books back out there using potentially lucrative ePublishing technology. Laura has already enjoyed substantial eBook success - to read about it and her new venture, click here.

Which leaves me wondering - will the novel she wrote with Sarah Ferguson - called either Hartmoor or Wingfield - be released as an eBook? It would make sense. And a packet.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, 102: Visit her delightful gardens in August

I love this spooky pic. We see the driveway to Cruden Farm, the acclaimed garden of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, 102 year-old mother of Rupert. She still lives an active life by all accounts. The trees that invite us into the misty unknown are lemon-scented gum (Corymbia citriodora). To view them in person, fly to Australia and take advantage of an open garden day on August 28, 2011: details here and here. I'm astonished to learn that Dame Elisabeth is a Buddhist, though I don't know why I am astonished.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hemingway & Gellhorn: Two lives, two movies, one cliche

Martha & Arthur Ernest
My last post on the late war correspondent Martha Gellhorn has yielded details of two hideous movie biopics of her life with sometime husband Ernest Hemingway. One is being made; the other never will. Thank God.

The first, comically, stars a tached Clive Owen as Martha and untached Nicole Kidman as Arthur in HBO TV flick Hemingway & Gellhorn. Oh, sorry I got that wrong; you make the casting corrections. Owen was a Great British Hollywood Hope for five minutes before he blew it by running around and shouting too much on camera in fulfilment of testicular expectation.

The prospect of him playing a mega-literary scrote with a euncuhy Midwestern accent via Coventry-cum-Essex to a botoxed Aussie fills me with schadenfreude.

The storyline reads: 'A drama centered on the romance between Ernest Hemingway and WWII correspondent Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway's inspiration for For Whom the Bell Tolls and the only woman who ever asked for a divorce from the writer.' In other words, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

The other movie is Love Is A Battlefield which fortunately is stuck at website stage. The only thing to be said for it is that it plainly sells the Who's Afraid... line by comparing 'Gutsy Martha' and 'humorous Hemingway' to other warring pairs of movie legend (see video below) - y'know, Mr & Mrs, Ant 'n' Cleo, et al.

Its storyline kicks off: '“Love is a Battlefield” is a truly original screenplay about the tumultuously-entertaining relationship between the charismatic, witty, ruggedly-handsome 38 year-old Ernest Hemingway at the peak of his literary power and his battles with the tall, blonde, beautiful and brave, 28 year-old Martha Gellhorn who would become the most heralded war correspondent of the 20th Century (man or woman).'

Was Martha Gellhorn a man or a woman? Discuss.

Hemingway Gellhorn Script Pitch - click arrow to play

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do you recognise this woman?

Well, do you? Don't just gawp.
I'm told the photo may be connected in some way to the Man Booker Prize, so she could be an author.
But I have my doubts.

(Answer: Consensus is, she's a young Martha Gellhorn from the 40s - see Duncan Fallowell's recollection of her from the 90s in Russia [comments])

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mark Simpson: 'Pope is the ultimate metrosexual in his Pradas'

The living, breathing, nose-tufted antitheses of metrosexuality are all (to a man) throwbacks of vileness; legs-apart displays of redundant machismo soaked in the spirit of Old Spice. The very name 'Kelvin MacKenzie' or 'Dominique Strauss-Kahn' or 'Norman Mailer, RIP' conjures up mammoth-like unreconstructs quite unsuited to the dinkiness and gleam of modern bathroom suites or video game consoles.

From any normal, socialised human being of the 21st Century, these names, and others, and their primeval behaviour and appearance, elicit a healthy disgust. Not even a back, sac and crack can save the growly, hairy-inside cock-cunties.

This entirely original aesthetic, of disgust at redundant displays of unreconstructed maleness and cock-cuntery, is the work of one man: Mark Simpson. For it was he (yes!) who dreamt up the neologism 'metrosexual'. How and why - Google him or use the links below. I'm not some Peter York-like social historian, dearies, on £3 a word. I don't have to be.

Mark has now brought out a new book on Kindle called simply, Metrosexy - a collection of his scintillating, insightful essays on the condition of the contemporary male, his beauty (which requires educated, post-post-mod work); his bathroom and wardrobe investment; his flight from MacKenzie and co. David Beckham would now not be the tattooed peacock totem of ad hoarding lore but for Mark Simpson. For a generation of palatable cock-cunters he has invented a new world where men can turn their persons into social, scented art without compromising their straight sexuality. Alas, it's not a contribution likely to earn him recognition in the Queen's birthday honours list.

I shall write again about Metrosexy. Meantime, I asked Mark this question: 'Do you think the Pope, Archbishop of Canterbury and other church luminaries are proving to be the most resistant to the metrosexual revolution - if yes, why; and if not, which category of male is, and why?'

Mark Simpson's reply:

'I fear it's too late for the Catholic Church! Look at the homo-erotics of this male stripper troupe, I mean gymnastic display at The Vatican recently, with the nuns cheering and leering outside watching on a big screen!

'Theoretically the Catholic Church should be very resistant to metrosexuality - after all, St Paul raged against "effeminates", and Christianity has that general suspicion of the body - and the desire to pin everything on Eve.

'But in practice the Pope wears red Prada shoes.

'And the Vatican is in Italy, where men have been vain for millennia and all love their mamas.

'American Protestantism is more resistant and is the reason for that country's national nervous breakdown over metrosexuality. Metrosexuality is both very 'American' in the sense of consumerism/individualism/celebrity/self-perfection but also deeply challenging to fond American fantasies about stoic masculinity and 'manly men'. America has been having a panic about its men not being manly enough since the 19th Century, but in the 21st Century that panic isn't entirely misplaced. I suspect that for the US it's tied closely to anxieties about its imperial role - and its decline.'

Thank you Mark, I sooooo agree. To read Mark's website - click And read a great interview with him on this excellent site: . Elly of Quiet Riot Girl has written a great piece on metrosexuality here.

To buy a copy of Metrosexy, click here.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Gay Girl In Damascus, Tewdwr Moss and 'his' Moon Child: A letter from a visitor to Syria

Dearest Madame,

Your blog on the inequities of reporting between the disappearance of Gay Girl in Damascus and the fate of Robert Tewdwr Moss piqued my interest as always, but for a couple of reasons. [See posting below this to catch up]

Gay Girl in Damascus, as an internet text, is an inspiring document, but also very zeitgeisty. The author, a US-educated woman who made a conscious decision to return to Damascus knowing that she would face oppression, is a middlebrow American movie heroine in the making. In fact I'm waiting for someone to option the blog for a film in which Megan Fox will play said Damascus Gay Girl in a dead-eyed bid for an Oscar.

I rather fear that while Gay Girl from Damascus faces torture and rape at the hands of the Syrian secret police we will be turning what she left behind into the new Kite Runner.

Secondly, I was in Syria for nearly three weeks last year, and spent five days in Hama, where a lot of the political unrest is centred (this is nothing new - it was the stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood many years ago and al-Assad levelled all but a single street of what must have been a beautiful old town to get rid of dissent). We also spent four days in Aleppo, where Tewdwr Moss recounts [in Cleopatra's Wedding Present] meeting a young gay man whom he named "The Moon Child" on account of his wide round face and startling green eyes.

I'm happy to report that Moon Child is very much still with us and working with his brothers in the souks of Aleppo, which have as yet not quite been turned over to the tourists and remain somewhere you can buy the polyester bedspreads, coffee whitener and pleather mules that form the backbone of commerce across the Islamic world. Just don't, if you ever go there, buy the macaroons, as they taste of the diesel on which the baker runs his oven.

Ever yours, C

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Robert Tewdwr Moss: A (dead) Gay Guy (once) in Damascus and A (missing) Gay Girl

Robert Tewdwr Moss and his pussy cat
As the world (ie a few cock-cunting or cunting-cock journalists) wonder about the identity and whereabouts of the A Gay Girl In Damascus blogger - apparently disappeared while the actual proud owner of Gay Girl's faked face came to life boo-hooing on BBC2's Newsnight about internet stolen identities (the perils of) - let us not forget A Gay Guy In Damascus.

He's dead now and he wasn't Syrian. His name was Robert Tewdwr Moss and he wrote a classic travel book called Cleopatra's Wedding Present. For an insight into the repressed cock-cocking realities of Syria, order your copy now. British author Robert lost his life not in some dusty souk but in grimy London. His murder was greeted with near-universal indifference by the British media - because he was a grown-up cock-cocker - and in one instance, with chippy mockery by one of the Duncan Campbells (in the Guardian).

So let us celebrate the British media's sudden interest in Syria's Gay Girl. Whoever she/he/it is.

Cleopatra's Wedding Present, buy here.
Excerpts can be read here (click cover image)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Guardian subs do it again with 'Blight of literacy' howler

The London Evening Standard launches a campaign to tackle illiteracy. The Guardian's pompous blogger Roy Greenslade has something to say about this, and the headline to his burble? 'Standard launches campaign to overcome "blight of literacy"'. It has now been corrected.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Kim Howells: 'Molly an authentic to Tracey Emin's phoniness'

Molly Parkin. Photo:
BBC Cymru Wales/Anthony Lycett
Poor Kim Howells! Who is he? Oh yes, he's the former culture minister turned TV presenter. It fell to him to interview Molly Parkin for the Great Lives series show on BBC Wales (see blog below) broadcast on May 30. But the experience has left him a shadow of his former self - '[It] has shredded my nerves,' he reports on his BBC blog. He writes further: 'She may be in her 80th year but being close to her when she's recounting details of her turbulent life or expounding upon her philosophy is like trying to live with a machine-gun emplacement in the heat of battle.'

He didn't look too comfortable during filming it must be said. As I gazed on his slightly pained on-camera countenance I wondered momentarily whether he had perchance sat on an unlubricated dildo (not to be recommended, people) and was too polite to complain.

Still, he is impressed by her Performance Art (ie, usual behaviour), especially at an exhibition of her sexually explicit paintings - 'Being used only to the phoney, manufactured outrageousness of artists like Tracey Emin and her showbiz ilk' he is dazzled by her authenticity. Tracey Emin phoney? Whatever next.

To read Mr Howells' dispatch click here.