Friday, July 01, 2011

Ian Shuttleworth and Madame Arcati fall out over Johann Hari and a thin-skinned egotist

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.


Anonymous said...

Phew! Remind me not to fall out with you.

Anonymous said...

So, let's get this straight. This 'Shutters' supplies you with a story in your comments section and then whinges when you draw attention to them. Very weird.

Green Goddess said...

I love you forever. I will never unfriend you or unhand you or be dreadful or spiteful to you. And no, I don't have my fingers crossed behind my back.
Darling MA. X

Madame Arcati said...

Ah, poppetiest, likewise. Nice shoes.

Anonymous said...

MA, does Ludovic Hunter-Tilney commit Harikiri in the Weekend FT today? See

Madame Arcati said...

Thanks - tho' the Orvieto thing is a bit different, don't you think? The writer harks back to the line about cat's piss but does not cut and paste the original quote and pass it off as if it had been said by Eno in the interview.

Catherine De Bourgh said...

Amazon emails to tell me your new book has been delayed. This is highly vexing. I'm quite out of one-handed reading. Is there a rice paper shortage?

Madame Arcati said...

Dearest Catherine, who has a new book out? Mr Darcy?

Green Goddess said...

Beautiful indeed but SO not for walking.

Anonymous said...

I don't come here as often as I used to ..... but why the fuck are you defending the fat manboy/heshe Hari?

Oh and as you are a memeber of the gypsy rose lee fan club... I guess you must have attended many a gypsy wedding ... there are rumours of a pic taken at one of these events showing you bedecked in the remnants of the Blackpool illuminations, atop Johann Hari... any truth?

Madame Arcati said...

Lesser mortals might have thought twice about self-advertising indolence and a reckless disregard for the facts, so I deduce you are some sort of journalist; an indentured hack bitterly disappointed that Madame Arcati lost interest in staff journalists as a kind in around, ooh, 2008.

Had you bothered to acquaint yourself with all my posts on Master Hari, 32, you would have realised that he will be less than pleased with my view of him. However, in the matter of his Sam Mendes piece, he's a good writer, a scupulous researcher and interviewer, though inclined to what I term the 'dropped cheap obvious', where a personal observation is made to pander to the editor. The sooner he has outgrown this tendency, and the removal of Simon Kelner from the editorship of the Indy cannot but expedite the evolution, the better.

Hari from recent pics is no longer fat nor epicene: he looks like he has a cock. Which is different from being one, poppet.

The picture you describe, of Master Hari and myself, is in safe custody, though I have yet to gaze upon it, personally.

May your X-rays continue to reveal a glowing picture of health.

Dec/Jan Was Precious said...

Poor old Shutters. Another one gulled by the Arcati beast. There's been a long line of 'em, starting with Steph Mastini and the near-entire Kevin Spacet clan. How you played tyhem like a fiddle, Madame! I thought you'd changed, now you're a fraudulent astrologer conning all those upmarket broads on The Lady, but I guess a porcupine never loses its quills.

*** said...

**** ****/>|3 §@^ _ __ ____ :;<