Saturday, October 29, 2011

Silvio Berlusconi and his joyless cock: a poem by Fake Daniels

A learned writer calling himself or herself Fake Daniels recently commented on actress Susan Penhaligon's poetry - his or her critique betrayed a referential if not satirical bent. Here, Fake Daniels draws on an ancient Latin source to reflect on Silvio Berlusconi, the noted satyr and occasional PM of Italy.

An imitation of Martial's epigram 1.34 (translated original below)

Remarkably unguarded for a man with Security...
I think you like the cameras more than cunt.

But working girls keep the factory door shut.
Learn from them how to hide your labouring bones.

I don't care what you do with your joyless cock -
Viagra-hard like a hammered thumb -
but I forbid you, Silvio, from keeping getting caught.

The translated original:


You always take your pleasure, Lesbia, with doors unguarded and open, nor are you at any pains to conceal your amusements. It is more the spectator, than the accomplice in your doings, that pleases you, nor are any pleasures grateful to your taste if they be secret. Yet the common courtesan excludes every witness by curtain and by bolt, and few are the chinks in a suburban brothel. Learn something at least of modesty from Chione, or from Alis: even the monumental edifices of the dead afford hiding-places for abandoned harlots. Does my censure seem too harsh? I do not exhort you to be chaste, Lesbia, but not to be caught.

And for classicists, the original:


INCUSTODITIS et apertis, Lesbia, semper
liminibus peccas nee tua furta tegis,
et plus spectator quam te delectat adulter
nee sunt grata tibi gaudia si qua latent.
at meretrix abigit testem veloque seraque

raraque Submemmi fornice rima patet.
a Chione saltern vel ab lade disce pudorem :
abscondunt spurcas et monumenta lupas.
numquid dura tibi nimium censura videtur ?
deprendi veto te, Lesbia, non futui.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Susan Penhaligon debuts as poet: A MILF at 50 and Bloody Cornwall

The actress and writer Susan Penhaligon - best known for her starring role as Prue in Bouquet of Barbed Wire and for appearances in many other TV dramas such as A Fine Romance - is also a poet (on the quiet).

'I write poems as a sort of diary,' Susan tells Madame Arcati. 'So they go back years. Some of them are just a moment trapped in time.'

It's a body of work that I'm sure will find its public - and I'm honoured to publish Cornishwoman Susan's Feeling down and Now I'm Fifty.

Now I'm Fifty
By Susan Penhaligon

Now I'm fifty I shall wear
Too much make up.
I shall look admiringly without shame
at young men's bodies,
Muscles firm stretched out
In the sun.
I shall sit with dark glasses and red lipstick
dressed in black at a table outside
an Italian restaurant, my mobile phone
poised importantly at my ear.
I shall wear all my gold rings at once,
And my perfume, though sweet, will be
Full of lemons.
I shall dwell without melancholy on the
Richness of my past,
And the heels of my shoes, perhaps a
Touch too puissant, will not make me stagger,
Now I'm fifty.

Feeling down
By Susan Penhaligon

Bloody Cornwall,
bloody granite,
bloody Cornwall,
bloody sea,
bloody sand smells,
bloody rocks,
bloody life boat,
bloody fish Market,
bloody Methodists,
bloody primary school.

Bloody London,
bloody no air,
bloody no God,
bloody no sea,
bloody no life.

Bloody Cornwall.

(Copyright © Susan Penhaligon 2011)

Poetry Olympics Superjam: Join Molly Parkin, Michael Horovitz and Steven Berkoff

Darling poet Michael Horovitz - a still potent septuagenarian - invites you to join him and a clutch of lyrical luminaries at his Poetry Olympics Superjam Parts 1 & 2 this Friday (Oct 28).

Among the arts circus acts are Elvis McGonagall, Gwyneth Herbert, Ayana Witter-Johnson, Adam Horovitz, Steven Berkoff, Barry Miles, Niall McDevitt, Annie Whitehead, Molly Parkin, Sophie Parkin and Francesca Beard, as well as Miles Davis Landesman, Kath Best and Hanja Kochansky celebrating the late lamented lyricist and poet Fran Landesman.

The Venue: University of London Union, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HY. Starts 6pm. For more info, click here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Roger Lewis book party: Adult nappies, posh gits and names galore, darling

Party reports from guests Molly Parkin, Jonathan King and Duncan Fallowell. And a letter from host Roger Lewis on his glorious celebration.

'Roger was wearing sandals. The last person I remember wearing sandals at his own book launch was Jeremy Sandford, circa 1985.' So reports Duncan Fallowell, one of many notable guests at Roger Lewis' launch party for What Am I Still Doing Here?, his fabulous and funny autobiographical follow-up to acclaimed Seasonal Suicide Notes.

Madame Arcati couldn't make it, of course. but she had not one, not two, but three famous appointed ambassadors dispatched to the Chris Beetles Ltd event on Tuesday (Oct 18) evening in London's SW1: the blessed Duncan (a biped concordance on party lore), the divine fiancee Molly Parkin and last and never least - oh yes - Jonathan King, lately the recipient of an apology from the BBC DG Mark Thompson himself.

Molly Parkin portrait by
Darren Coffield
JK tells me: 'My dear friend Lynn Barber just e-m'd me to say Duncan Fallowell was terribly keen to meet me because of our mutual friend Arcati! I'd have liked to have seen him with his clothes on.'

He adds: 'Molly Parkin looked gorgeous and took most of the attention in a room which ranged from Richard Littlejohn and Quentin Letts through Barry Cryer to Lynn Barber and Valerie Grove. Literally anyone who is anyone in London literary society was there and most had read about the BBC apology on Madame Arcati's site, so I spent the time fielding journalist questions. But the main puzzle was - how does Arcati know everything? I'm sorry to say I revealed the existence of the crystal ball, the cards and the stars.'

Isn't he adorable? OK, if you're a tabloid cunt he isn't adorable.

Duncan Fallowell
Molly Parkin reports: 'The party was full of posh gits - literary, artistic and fashion types I normally avoid - and loads of old Colony people, and Gyles Brandreth and (film director) Joe McGrath (82 now!) who worked a lot with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. Even Clair Woodward, the Arts & Ents Editor of the Sunday Express, was there. Men at the party kept on coming up to me and saying, "I want to shake your hand so I can say I shook the hand of Molly Parkin."'

A little confusion attended the opening minutes of the do. 'We couldn't get in initially and it was already 6.20 pm,' says Moll. 'Then a funny little girl opened the door; a bit of a cock-up. It was in a gallery of sorts with loads of water colours on the wall; the party was split over three separate areas.' Duncan adds: 'It was such a weird basement of cramped chambers.'

Moll continues: 'I met that wonderful journalist on the Independent Matthew Bell who was there with a difficult girl - he told me Duncan was trying to get my attention - it was terribly crowded. By the time I was free he'd gone - Roger wasn't happy about that. Roger said, "Duncan's prematurely disappeared."'

Moll paraded in a self-made tall magenta turban which excited the interest of author and journalist Valerie Grove - 'What have you stuffed the turban with?' she asked after calling it a 'fantastic hat'. Moll replied: 'Adult nappies.' Poor Val gave a disgusted 'Oh' and hoped the nappies had not been used first.

Jonathan King
Moll confides to Madame Arcati: 'Actually, the nappies were not used but I had bought some after someone told me about incontinence in the elderly. I'm not incontinent but I wanted to see if they work. So I put one on and went for a piddle - and not a drop leaked out. So next time I go to the theatre or cinema I'm going to wear a nappy and I can have a piddle without getting up. Nappies make great padding for turbans.'

And as for Duncan's early exit... he explains: 'I had to leave Roger's launch to go on to the Keats-Shelley party at Carlton House Terrace - followed by dinner at the Academy Club.

'But I then caught up with Roger around 11 pm at the Groucho where he was staying with his wife [Anna] and 3 sons - they'd been for a slap-up at Rule's. There were more drunks in the Groucho than in the Academy which must be a first. And so the Groucho was strangely quiet, several out cold slumped in armchairs. Roger on the other hand was just warming up and waving a glass of champagne around in the air and chatting up the pianist.'

Moll pays tribute to the surprising youthfulness of their 50-something host Roger and the 'beauty' of his sons. Duncan adds: 'I asked Roger, "Where did you find your handsome barman?" He replied "That's Sebastian". I didn't recognise his youngest son who last time I saw him some years ago was a hippy in embryo.'

How annoying! Madame Arcati regrets not attending this party. And yet she feels she walked among Roger Lewis' guests after all, in three persons, one nappied.

What Am I Still Doing Here? can be bought here.

Oh, and a letter from Roger Lewis himself....

Dear Madame Arcati,

Yes -- a great do. Barry Cryer said, "It's your book come to life!"

Luckily, the Booker Prize dinner siphoned off the dreck.

A highlight for me (in addition to your Molly) was the presence of Biddy Baxter! It was as if Dame Sybil Thorndike had turned up. She said: "Did you get a Blue Peter Badge" and I said, "No I bloody well did not!"

Also, we had Lord Archer, who unsportingly refused to exchange Belmarsh tales with young Jonathan King.

Judi Bowker
But also sneaking in -- the divine Judi Bowker. That's right, that vision of loveliness from Black Beauty and Clash of the Titans, where she was last seen lashed to a rock being menaced by Laurence Olivier. She was also blonde and gorgeous in The Shooting Party, with James Mason. But best of all -- Brother Sun, Sister Moon, where Zeffirelli got all these English lads to Tuscany and tried to, well, you can guess the rest.

We also had Eric Potts, the world's greatest pantomime dame -- this Christmas he's doing panto in Wimbledon, but with Barry Humphries. How can that work? Dame Edna as one of the Ugly Sisters ?

Perhaps Chris Beetles was still mourning his chum Rob Buckman, the celebrity doctor, who died on a plane heading for Toronto last week, but he was so gloomy, Rachel Johnson went up to him and said: "Are you Hungarian?"

Beetles shut the lights off at 8 sharp and 30 seconds later we were all on the street. A humorous sight, Gyles Brandreth, Barry Cryer, Stephen Frears, Joe McGrath, Molly Parkin, Francis Wheen and documentary-maker Tony "All You Need Is Love" Palmer tottering up the spiral stairs, from this dungeon where we'd been boozing. Everyone hung around for so long on the pavement, I thought, Christ, I'd better write another book so we can carry on celebrating.

A cab then drew up at the kerb, and executive editors from the Daily Mail piled out. A mob from the Sunday Express squared up to them, as if about to have a fight out of a Western.

Myself, Lady Lewis and the 3 little Lewises then went to Rules. The rest is as Duncan described, including my orthopaedic sandals for my diabetic foot.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Jonathan King: BBC says sorry for editing him out of TOTP re-run

Much to my astonishment, the BBC Director-General Mark Thompson himself has personally apologised to Jonathan King for a recent BBC Four Top of the Pops re-run from which King had been edited out. You may recall Madame Arcati's tirade on this last month.

After an assurance that King will not be excised from future re-runs, Thompson writes: 'I want to join BBC Four in apologising for this incorrect decision.' Thompson's 'colleagues' at BBC Four are quoted in the letter. They write: 'We accept that this should not have happened and we would like to apologise for any upset this caused.'

To read the letter in full, click here.

But who decided to play taste-Nazi in the first place? Whoever h/she is, they're in the wrong job. The Daily Mail needs you! As for Mark Thompson, sensible man, even if he did bite a man on the ear once.

Chris Blackhurst: Is the Independent editor a bit of a cunty?

Jemima Khan
I have no idea. But given that blogging and journalism are about nine-tenths hearsay or speculation or gossip or plain wrong, we should not permit mere complete absence of any knowledge whatsoever to inhibit a voyage into the fog bank.

A story in the Guardian today informs us that Jemima Khan has departed the Indy for the New Statesman and its sexy former mascara'd New Romantic editor Jason Cowley. Apparently, Jemima - who as guest-editor this year single-handedly reinvented the Staggers by showcasing Hugh Grant's espionage skills in the phone hacking scandal - was disinclined to tolerate de facto demotion and reduced column inches as decreed by Indy new editor Chris Blackhurst.

Troublingly, these saddening events were preceded by 'warm' praise for Khan from Mr Blackhurst.

This reminds me of the fate of Richard Ingrams. The former Indy columnist reported a reassuring lunch with Mr Blackhurst, but the pabulum had scarcely reached the ex-Private Eye editor's sigmoid colon and he learned that he had been dropped by the paper.

Now, we've all done it as editors. Not been entirely straight with contributors before the axe is swung, usually to get the publication through a tricky, holiday-strewn Christmas or mid-summer schedule. But Mr Blackhurst must beware of saying one thing and doing another: not only is the Indy supposed to be nicer than the rest of the Dacre-alikes but he is alienating luminous revengers. No one forgives surprise dismissal, constructive or otherwise, and the tentacles of tit-for-tat spite are without end, though I'm sure Mr Ingrams and the investigative Goldsmith plutocrat are honourable exceptions.

Mr Blackhurst didn't entirely do himself credit in the Johann Hari scandal, either: there he was on Newsnight gamely attributing Hari's mishaps to a lack of journalistic education while the viewing public scoffed on their sofas. I'm afraid even the rather pleasant face of Mr Blackhurst betrayed a little of his own inner-scoffer, as the smiles waxed and waned a little too readily.

It pains me to write this as the Indy has been so sweet about Madame Arcati in the past. Then again I always question face value, as we all should in these uncertain times.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beautiful Books announces administration news

Sadly, publisher Beautiful Books is closing down. A notice on their website reads: 'Today, 11th October 2011, Beautiful Books entered administration.... All the employees at Beautiful Books would like to thank everyone with whom we have worked over the past six years.' Its many authors include Molly Parkin, Darren Coffield, Joseph Conrad, John Waters and so many other wonderful talents, new, established or legendary.

BB took great personal care of their authors and actually understood the value of marketing and PR: I can only assume that the great rush to e-books is among the reasons for the company's closure.

Here's hoping a multi-national fish comes along and swallows it up, and doesn't turn BB into homogenised sushi.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Amanda Lear: Chinese Walk is the best tongue-fu

Oh wow. Is Amanda Lear really 72 in November? (or should we say 65?). Well, whatever. Who's counting. A friend heard this great dance track in a Rome nightclub recently - turns out to be Amanda's latest release, Chinese Walk. No doubt the BBC or some other taste-Nazi decreed it didn't quite fit a committee Nappy-Dappy playlist, so listen to it here (click arrow). Amanda was possibly born Alain Tapp, known to April Ashley as Peki d'Oslo when they worked at Le Carrousel, a '50s transvestite revue in Paris. For certain she was a protégée and mistress of Salvador Dalí - oh, but, just listen.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Stephen Fry and Jonathan King: A £600 dinner date at Le Gavroche

Jonathan King
While I'm loath to give Stephen Fry yet more publicity, I am nonetheless intrigued to learn that the ubiquitous polymath and audiobook favourite had dinner with self-described 'vile pervert' Jonathan King last Thursday evening. This suggests a healthy disregard for the opinion of tabloid phone-hacking scum, or at least a degree of personal loyalty or, at the very least, hedonistic tendencies, despite his professed love of tea.

Their venue of choice was London's Le Gavroche. Yet le menu exceptionnel appears to have been the least of it as two (shall we say) monster egos tussled over whose (er, ego) was the largest of them all. Or to quote JK in his message to Madame Arcati: 'Upon boasting about my achievement [presumably of reaching the No1 spot in Amazon's Pop Culture Kindle chart with his memoirs 65 My Life So Far], I had to suffer his numerous No1 positions in every known chart in the Universe.'

Personally, I should have drowned Fry in the watercress soup, but JK bore this onslaught with magnanimity. As he says: 'Oh dear. But he is a lovely person.'

Naturally, their date could not go unnoticed. JK reveals: 'We then had a very loud disagreement about the value of language and the abilities of different species - as we left I apologised to the other Gavroche diners and a lady said, with a huge smile - "Absolutely brilliant"!'

I wonder who settled the £600 bill. [Answer from JK in comments]

PS - JK adds in a private email - 'I had lunch with Neil and Christine Hamilton last week [See photo]; Anne Robinson a few months ago; Jane Moore next week - real friends don't desert - even when one becomes a Vile Pervert!'

Friday, October 07, 2011

Chris Huhne and his awfully odd tweet (now deleted)

Well, we've all done it. Sent an indiscreet or faintly embarrassing message to an unintended destination.

Embattled MP Chris Huhne today tweeted an intriguing message into the public domain and then promptly deleted it. Perhaps he should have DM'd it.

It read: 'From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story. C'

[See timeline to the left, my thanks to @Tweetminster: read top tweet. Click timeline to enlarge]

Westminster cynics will assume reflexively his dark involvement in another media foray.

But Madame Arcati prefers to think it's all perfectly innocent.