The very gifted stage critic of the Financial Times, Ian Shuttleworth, is awfully cross with Madame Arcati. This is what happened.
The other day I posted my enlightened view of Johann Hari and his quotes-lifting activities. I said his career would soar on the controversy. Among the many comments, sent in voluntarily and unsolictedly, were two by the man known as Shutters. He had a beef about Hari. Years ago, the Indy columnist had 'begged' him for quotes to grace a star profile Hari was composing. Shutters withheld the name of the celebrity in question, for some reason. Much to Shutters' horror, these 'quotes' were then used in what turned out to be a snide piece about a very famous showbiz person once close to the critic: while the profile was anonymous, Shutters' words were ostentatiously credited.
It seemed wrongly as if he had contributed knowingly and abundantly to an assassination piece on the secular deity of film and theatre. His friendly intent had been cruelly distorted by guileful, hateful Hari. Apparently, Shutters was struck off someone's Christmas card list from then on and left out to dangle on his FT rotary clothes dryer. Zebra wept far away.
The comments section of a post is a public place so Madame Arcati thought: That's an interesting story, it requires amplification. She gave it its own post and drew attention to it on Facebook and Twitter. Cue Shutters' drama-queening, his abject boo-hooing. Now, on Twitter, he whines: 'Twice inside a week I've found my throwaway comments dined on. I keep forgetting how many people dine on throwaways, and with what relish.' And: 'I am, I fear, irredeemably naive. I've tried to learn, but. I really must just shut up, one way or another.' Then he did the thing that can't be forgiven: he unfriended me on Facebook!
An Arcatiste has now kindly supplied me with a copy of this mystery Hari profile. In 2002 the young mite turned his attention to the many cuts on Sam Mendes, all latterday Orson Welles and no rosebud. The piece is indeed a tad irreverent. Actually, Hari really can write. I commend it. In vain I sought Shutters' 'quotes' until towards the end I happened on these (Shutters' words in double quotes):
'"The mood in Cambridge drama back then wasn't so much bitchy or malicious. It was that very 1980s climate of careerism." In that milieu, where "Sam was quite obviously the business, and didn't exactly have to struggle", Mendes inevitably attracted a considerable degree of resentment and envy.'
And that's it. Only.
Ian, poppet: this is called journalism and plainly your erstwhile pal Mendes is a thin-skinned egotist who doesn't like members of his circle talking about him. End of. And as for your 'throwaway comments' dined on by me: you supplied them of your own volition. Comments pop up on Google searches, too.
If you're going to howl, don't whimper if you're heard.
And as for Hari: my apologies to him. I assumed he had done something very wrong in his Mendes piece. In fact I find it spot on in tone and insight. And he is to be congratulated for not relying entirely on other people's written work.