Monday, August 29, 2011

Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi: an innocent man lies dying in Tripoli

Abdelbaset Ali Al-Megrahi: many of our informed senior politicians know him to be innocent as do many of our informed journalists and editors and lawyers - but they choose to say something else in public. Sadly, many of the poorly informed relatives of Lockerbie victims and many US right-wingers, including a fool with a 'tache, actually believe him to be guilty.

Every time a UK newspaper or other news outlet writes another ridiculous story about al-Megrahi's 'guilt', it lets down itself, journalism, the truth.

In 2004, Private Eye's investigative reporter, the late Paul Foot, wrote in the Guardian: ...'The Lockerbie bombing was carried out not by Libyans at all but by terrorists based in Syria and hired by Iran to avenge the shooting down in the summer of 1988 of an Iranian civil airliner by a US warship. This was the line followed by both British and US police and intelligence investigators after Lockerbie. Through favoured newspapers like the Sunday Times, the investigators named the suspects - some of whom had been found with home-made bombs similar to the one used at Lockerbie.' He concluded: 'It follows... that Megrahi is innocent of the Lockerbie bombing and his conviction is the last in the long line of British judges' miscarriages of criminal justice.'

If you're still interested, read the entire piece. Click here.

Also, I suggest you follow the blog of Professor Robert Black QC, The Lockerbie Case: '[Black] is often referred to as the architect of the Lockerbie trial at Camp Zeist in the Netherlands.' His book Lockerbie and the Trials of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi is due out next year.

Al-Megrahi's website:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Roger Lewis: 'Lesbian' Agatha Christie, death threats and a new book

What Am I Still Doing Here? My Years As Me by Roger Lewis.
Cover by Ronald Searle, 91
I had no idea that Roger Lewis had wondered aloud (in the Mail) whether Agatha Christie was a lesbian. The very mention of dread sexual practice in conjunction with one of the treasures of English heritage and TV sleepathon drama was enough to elicit death threats, presumably from a few of the cock-cunting or cunting-cock readers of Britain's leading family qualitab.

As a seasoned recipient of past death threats myself, mainly from anonymous journalists and other people purporting to be writers, I am familiar with the exquisite pleasure that greets such communications of terminal promise. One just knows that such incited fury will probably activate a cancer in one's crazed aspiring killer, a few years down the line.

Anyhow, Christiegate is one of his many experiences exhumed and dramatised  in new memoir (or 'self-portrait') What Am I Still Doing Here? I have not read it so I can't say it's brilliant. Yet. But I can say that his last memoir Seasonal Suicide Notes made my Christmas 2009: the book is a darkly comic and mischievous counterblast to the otherwise infernal jolliness of the genre. It reads like a rave at a crematorium. Roger tells me the new book is 'far madder and darker' - this I can believe. I can't wait to review it.

I'm only sorry that Lewis' publisher Coronet has seen fit to use a customised testimonial from Stephen Fry: ordinarily I would avoid anything this simperingly wet lump of ubiquity recommends. But on this occasion I shall make an exception.

What Am I Still Doing Here? is published on October 13. To buy click here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Susan Hill: The-willies queen is missing in blogging action

Susan Hill
The writer Susan Hill hasn't blogged at the Spectator since February - this observation was made in a comment to my review of Duncan Fallowell's new travel book, How to Disappear. What could the matter be? I visited the Speccie site where a few of her commenters are grumbling among themselves over her non-appearance. The word 'twat' gets used - how common.

A Hill loyalist has helpfully left the comment: 'Susan is one of the judges for the 2011 Man Booker Prize, and according to her posts on Twitter over the past couple of days, is working on the proofs of her latest novel, starting a new book and making notes for a collection of short stories. It's hardly surprising that she's not been blogging. Let's hope she'll be back soon.'

The key words here are 'according to her posts on Twitter...' She has time to tweet but not to blog. The truth is Susan is always busy so far as I can tell, always up to her neck in deadlines, celebrity visits to pubs and cavorting about in fashionable beauteous rusticity. And tweeting. She's always writing books, publishing books, writing about books: she is a production line, a sausage factory of hauntings hokum for lovers of the-willies. None of this has ever stopped her from churning out another batch of finely-tuned opinions for her various blogs over the years.

Obviously she has fallen out with the magazine. I hope no one's bitter.

(Do read Duncan's book which describes his stay at her Gloucestershire home while working on a book: oddly, she declined to eat with him though was otherwise friendly.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Robert Tewdwr Moss: Fifteen years on and a bio's planned

Robert Tewdwr Moss with Wayne (my thanks to Nesta Wyn Ellis for identifying the cat)
Fifteen years today (Aug 24), the writer Robert Tewdwr Moss was murdered in London by two pieces of worthless, opportunistic trash who may be entitled to apply for parole now. If you've not read Robert's fabulous travel book on Syria, Cleopatra's Wedding Present,* I highly recommend it, especially as the murderous regime there faces the chop. It's not by any means a political work; it is a sexual and romantic odyssey in a world frozen in time. But Boy George is famous there. There's hope yet.

An American writer recently got in touch with me. He's planning to write Robert's bio and asked me for contacts and insights. At first I was tempted to cooperate, then another mood took over. What's the point? His 'bio' is Cleo and the rest is goss. And the prospect of hunting down the crawlers who accreted to him because of his micro-celebrity, for their permission to pass on email contacts and other whatnot, filled me with a profound boredom. The truth is I couldn't stand many of his friends and acquaintances - many of them tiresome hypocrites and snobs. You don't set up a blog like this as a love letter.

No, let Cleo be Robert's memorial. It's a bright jewel still sparkling in an expanding desert.

* Duckworth is reissuing the book on September 22, 2011. Click the link above to buy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review - How To Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits by Duncan Fallowell

Duncan Fallowell
Adult warning: enlargeable naked author pic below. Don't panic!

July 19, 2012: News - Duncan Fallowell wins PEN/Ackerley Prize for Memoir for How to Disappear.

Is Duncan Fallowell’s seventh book How To Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits his actual life story? True, he confesses on p236 to an impressive 40 ‘sexual partners’ in the month following Princess Diana’s death, ‘including a group of women in a naturist Jacuzzi in Brighton.’ And certainly he liberally seeds us with tantalising glimpses of private multi-generational Duncan, including the nosey little boy whose first instinct was always to boldly go and duff up any mystery. But be clear: this is no autobiography.

It is instead something much more… typical. It is, for the dorky genre-spotters, a mongrel private parts book - ‘part memoir, part travelogue, part biography,’ to quote his unusually accurate latest publisher Ditto Press. In other words, How To Disappear is not unlike, in form and style, his other classic private parts books To Noto, St Petersburg, ‘New Zealand’ (Going As Far As I Can): each a brilliant self-portrait of the feral Duncan Fallowell on location, as spotted in the looking glass of adored or maligned travelled nation.

Is he then a narcissist whose World Atlas serves exclusively as his mirror? Well, I’ll come back to that.

Let’s just not get ahead of ourselves. There’s the business of the cryptic title: How To Disappear. The early dread threat of a self-help book from California soon gives way to compelling true-life stories of strangeness: each of the four of the five long pieces comprising this book cradles a social Houdini, a personality once great or associated with greatness, who has performed a public disappearing act and now lurks shyly in the shadows awaiting (willing or unwilling) rediscovery by Fallowell.

Will force be necessary to open up these exotic clams? These misfits? Part of the joy of this book lies in wondering whether.

There’s reclusive Alastair Graham who was Evelyn Waugh’s ex-boyfriend; and the elusive social climber Bapsy Pavry (aka Lady Winchester); not forgetting the absent Maruma who bought the alcoholic Isle of Eigg; and who could forget dead Diana? DF himself ‘disappears’ in ‘Sailing To Gozo’ where a ubiquitous, faintly menacing stranger haunts Fallowell’s way on a quaint island yester-world.
The feral DF: click to enlarge

Like the little boy he once was, DF the man is first drawn to mystery or it is drawn to him. Not any mystery, mind. The mystery is usually well-connected and/or old world glamorama. And if his overriding instinct is to dispel mystery then his fix is to be found in the tricky process of unravelling it.

Take the case of Alastair Graham, for example. Fallowell first chances on the old dipso in a pub in New Quay and only later discovers who he is (or was) precisely. Sherlock Holmes himself would be impressed by the lengths to which Fallowell goes to track down witnesses for enlightening demystification: awe-inspiring. In the case of poor old Bapsy, who spent her life in posh hotels hustling for royal party invitations, Fallowell’s decades-long quest begins with the discovery of her potted bio in a book in India: he’s hooked by her sad eyes in the accompanying photo, he must meet her!

Fallowell’s dazzling analyses and asides (the book could be subtitled, But I Digress…) do not spare his own primal motivation: ghosts of a sort, such as the subjects of his book, absorb him. He is drawn to ‘the disquieting state in which someone is neither present in one’s life nor absent from it.’ He is the ghostbuster in the ‘abyss which can open up between being here and not being here.’ In his Bapsy piece, the spectre metaphor is bettered by reality when Fallowell has what could be an actual supernatural experience. He remains agnostic on what it is; but to risk ridicule from literary followers of the atheistic faith by writing about it at all is most admirable.

Fallowell’s ghosts come in all shapes and sizes and dead places sometimes tickle his inner Madame Arcati. He adores Pompeii as a zombified still of disinterred pagan sexuality while sluttish ever-dying Venice is subject to such a fantastic Fallowell flogging (a ‘desexed city’) that doges in the Roman Catholic hell must be planning revenge should he ever convert.

As ever, Fallowell seduces with an electric prose style which straddles knowledge high and street like a whore plugged in to a well-stocked Kindle. Why else would I want to read about some sad old snob like Bapsy but to relish the vervy manner in which he compassionately grants what eluded her in life: the right kind of attention. Pathetic she may have been but Fallowell’s mockery is only very faint: he observes the human constant in her, the disappointment that urged her pointless epic life.

Certainly no narcissist (to return to my question above) ever spent as much time preoccupied with how others tick as Fallowell. Beautifully packaged in art-worked hardback, How To Disappear is a beyond-fabulous wallowing in weird people in wonderful places - magical and mesmerising. Oh, and very gossipy, too.

How To Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits by Duncan Fallowell.

Published by Ditto Press
on 7 September 2011.

To buy a copy click here.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

David Starkey: If only Queen Elizabeth I had been black....

I'm sorry to see that 'historian' Dr David Starkey is in the Twitter stocks for his metaphorisation of black skin for criminality. His problem is that he has never to my knowledge written a history of a black homicidal maniac. If only Elizabeth I or her dad Henry VIII - his favourite book and TV topics - had been black he might now be metaphorising white skin for criminality: strange how chance, circumstance and schooling play a part in our avowed certainties and comforts.

Instead, like many other 'historians' before him, he has taken to identify with his lucrative subjects and even to adopt a prose style which could be mistaken for Tudorbethan pastiche. Some intellectual crossdressers go the whole hog and end up on pub stage as Madame Trollette to the joy of many. Others, merely write books and cultivate a persona that requires no wig or nail technician.

Dr Starkey has only to open his mouth and I see the Spanish Armada yonder.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Michael Winner - here to stay, apparently

In the wake of a riot of rumours about the restaurant critic, insurance TV salesman and former film director Michael Winner - that he plans to emigrate - I have interrupted my ylang-ylang spa bath to help him set the record straight. He has this morning tweeted the following message to his followers (caps his) which I am happy to amplify:


Back to my spa bath, faintly depressed.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Duncan Fallowell teaser: When The Scientologist Fell In Love With The Buddhist

As the global economy combusts and certain over-remunerated journalists swan off on yet another holiday, having first informed their creepy followers on Facebook, Twitter, et al, here's a chance to forget it all. Gather your thoughts into the moment (any moment) and consider the import of Duncan Fallowell's latest movie teaser on YouTube, delightfully titled When The Scientologist Fell In Love With The Buddhist.

What do they signify, these draining popping suds in Duncan's bath, sink, or whatever? And what is that curious red protrusion at the end? Is it what I think it is? Clad in Edinburgh knitwear? Who knows. But the question could make you wise.

Incidentally, Duncan's memoir How To Disappear is now due out on September 7. I have a copy and I can confirm that it is part-reminiscence, part-travelogue and peopled by shadowy exotics in foreign places, not excluding DF himself. It betrays disturbing signs of brilliance: Madame Arcati shall review it shortly - and I would recommend you secure a copy while you can. Ditto Press has produced a splendid edition for pervy strokers of books (oh sorry, I mean bibliophiles). I could write 2000 words on the covers and paper alone. Instead, I'll (re-)watch this...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Ronnie Kray: The Sun repeats 'fat poof lies and rubbish'

"East End gangster Ronnie Kray confessed to being bisexual in secret recordings," reports The Sun. The story is not Kray's bisexuality but the recording itself - the property of writer Robin McGibbon whose book The Krays: Their Life Behind Bars was released last month.

The report ends with: "[Kray] shot dead fellow gangster George Cornell in an East End pub after being called a 'fat poof'." Not according to McGibbon's taped interview with the psycho which you can listen to here. After McGibbon prompts the subject with: "A lot of lies have been told about the Cornell thing...", Kray replies: "[Cornell] never called me a poof in his life, I'd have killed him then and there. Lies and rubbish." Kray killed him for other reasons to do with threats - I'm inclined to believe this.

Pity the churnalistic Sun didn't bother to listen to the tape.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Walter Ellis: Old Madame Arcati moaner publishes an e-novel

Long-in-the-tooth Arcatistes may recall regular yesteryear commenter on this site, Walter Ellis, a former Sunday Times grunt and occasional obituarist. He remains a warmer of my cockles for this observation of me: "You may be clever and you may (sometimes) be shrewd, but your mind is diseased. If you were a young man, you would be arrested. Take my advice - get help."

I now see that the cock-cunting fart has got in touch with an old colleague of his, one cock-cunting Roy Greenslade of the cock-cuntingly edited Guardian, to promote his e-novel London Eye. Apparently he's only flogged two copies at 10p, or whatever, on Amazon's online Kindle Store. Roy, who only shares his helium with grizzled former colleagues for presumed psycho-professional reasons, sweetly gives the book a mention and that should shift another two copies I'm sure. It's not what you know....

Let it not be said that Madame Arcati bears grudges. Though I'm far too busy to read e-novels, I'm happy to provide a link to his novel and a link to Walter moaning about his book's 'invisibility'. When he has stopped whingeing and whining, he may want to read one of my posts on the US author Laura Van Wormer who now runs an e-literary agency and whose republished work in e-format enjoys great success.

Talent finds its audience, Walter! 

St Catherine of Siena: What really happened to Amy Winehouse?

St Catherine of Siena
St Catherine of Siena (who passed away in 1380, is regularly 'channelled' by the US medium Elizabeth Baron and who hosted on her feast day the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) takes a keen interest in the news - as Arcatistes will know (see labels for more).

In Baron's latest newsletter, St Catherine turns her spiritual attention to someone close to home: 'What really happened to Amy Winehouse?'

St Catherine's answer via Baron: 'Amy took her own life by not taking the responsibility for her own health. The amount of drugs and drink that went into her body could have killed ten men. She was a very sick person and everyone around her knew it, not only mentally, but physically.'

I wonder if St C knows anything about rehab.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The News of the World: Time to bring it back!

One of the joys of being me is that I can change my mind without shame. So while it is true I rarely ever had a good word to say about the late News of the World, I now say this: bring it back! I don't make this plea because I think it was especially brilliant: its absence simply draws attention to the sheer awfulness of the survivors.

The Sunday Mirror is a thin soup of nothing-in-particular and lame commentary - who cares what the pompous teeth-bearing TV newsreader Mark Austin thinks about anything? Its TV supplement Celebs is printed on nasty cheap bog roll paper and makes the Screws' Fabulous look like Vogue. The People may still interest a few pre-internet thugs who use ITV Teletext to find last minute holiday bargains. The Sunday Express at least has a short story - amazing. The Mail on Sunday is no substitute: its market is quite different and lacks the essential celebrity smut the Screws served up with a side dish of moral nosegay.

No, bring it back. What I need is prurient eye-anchoring to fill the 20 minutes I dedicate to breakfast cereal and two black coffees on a Sunday morning. If the Murdochs think the brand irreparably toxic then retitle the paper as part of the exorcism. The World might work. Yes, call it The World. Most of the staff could be brought back, even Carole Malone from her rhetorical hells, and saved a fate in Finland or wherever. Its return need not stop Twitter's @exnotwjourno2 from writing her Hackgate play.

I'm astonished James Murdoch didn't think of this himself. How much is he on?