Sunday, January 29, 2012

Molly Parkin at 80: 'Jesus would've slept with everyone in the Sixties'

A sweet but too-short interview with fiancee Molly Parkin in the Independent on Sunday today on the occasion of her imminent 80th birthday (next Friday). 'Jesus would've slept with everyone in the Sixties,' screams the headline, quoting one of Moll's catchy throwaway jokes.

I've never quite understood who reads the Independent papers, but if I were to judge by some of the early readers' comments, I would have to conclude that sexual enlightenment lies before many of them. A furtive, sneery, schoolboy-ish tone is all too apparent: editorial ambition so frequently overshoots the default stagnant point of audience evolution.

Next weekend, Madame Arcati will be running a special report on Molly's birthday do - there'll be no mention of John Mortimer's smacked arse or Bo Didley. Just Moll and friends and life now. Meantime, read the Indy's interview with her - and relish the gorgeous pic. Click here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Susan Penhaligon poetry: The Ashes - in memory of actor Richard Warwick

Susan Penhaligon
Madame Arcati debuted (post-Coward rehearsal) as warrior. These days, this site is a salon of the precious talents - a refuge from the tyranny of media criminality and the tiresome reflexes of tenured hacks (I have yet to see one decent media cock-cocker or cunt-cunter at the Leveson inquiry - do you now see the playground prejudices at work? The recycling of stereotypes in real-life real-time?).

But enough of transitory fashion. The passing delusions. One of the talents the Madame Arcati salon adores is actor Susan Penhaligon. I have already showcased her poetry (click here to read); and I'm honoured to publish yet another example of her work - I ho hope publishers are paying attention.

The Ashes was written in memory of actor Richard Warwick (1945-1997). Susan tells me: 'He played my husband in A Fine Romance. Tragically he died of Aids. He was one of my best friends.'

The Ashes

Into the spider's web and stone of
past the Daffodil cinema,
into the sleet
towards your favourite place,
on the day we left you for the

Down familiar roads,
maps drawn heavy in the mind,
the lines of childhood unsmudged,
your brother rattling memories on
speed -
where the tree house formed
an ark in the Yew tree,
a hidey hole by the Holly bush,
in 61 the flooded fields iced over
for you to skate the Cotswolds.

We ford the mud-filled, wet-filled
the Severn banks collapsed,
a racing, river road
collapsing trees and sky and us,
us three,
the friend, the lover, the brother,
our faces wet with flooding.

We stand before the Elephant tree
and pour you out,
from our palms where we held you
we pour you out
like spice, like adding salt,
we put you to the liquid earth
in the flooded wetlands of your

And through the rising deep,
across the seascape fields,
the waters covered the face of
the earth
and the Ark sailed on towards us.

(Copyright © Susan Penhaligon 2012)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Roger Lewis: Very fat ladies and their gunts

Britain's wittiest writer Roger Lewis has written again - I thought I'd share our correspondence with his gagging-for-it public. The 'Paris Connaught' he mentions below is a commenter to his last letter, should you wonder....

Dear Madame A,
Who is "Paris Connaught"? And if it is a "nasty little site" what is she doing accessing it? Paris Travelodge more like.
It's like Groucho Marx, who complained to some magazine in high dudgeon and moral indignation, and said any more of it "and I will be compelled to cancel my subscription."
Molly Noyle Parkin sends me "jokes" with rude words. I have taken to addressing her as Noyle, which is probably Welsh for the vadge.
Talking of which -- I have just discovered from my new doctor friends in The Royal Cornwall Hospital that the part in very very fat women between the overflowing belly and the vast bulging thighs is known by the profession as the "gunt".
It has almost been worth my while nearly dropping dead to know this. I offer it as my New Year present to you.
Roger Lewis

My Darling Roger

Only this afternoon, Moll and I were gossing about you - and she sent me a delightful joke of yours. I don't know who Paris Connaught could be: the oddest people pass by en route to the porn sites. At least the bint - a word I love - is not Paris Premier Inn From £29 A Night.

I have never heard of the word 'gunt' and thank you for it. I wonder whether Fern Britton or Dawn French are familiar with it. Do you think their diet doctors fingered their gunts? Questions, questions.

Love, respect (but save me from 'Love and Light')

Your MA x

(I'm bunging all of this up. Francis Wheen 'liked' your last letter on my Facebook page, btw. A lovely poppet. Pity about the atheism)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Roger Lewis: Pancreatitis and being taken for Sir Roger Moore CBE

Roger Lewis

Fans of Roger Lewis were most concerned to hear he was at death's door over Christmas with pancreatitis. Happily, Britain's funniest writer was refused an astral tunnel visa and is now back home convalescing. In response to my solicitude, he wrote me the following:

Dear Madame Arcati,

Home at last, where I creep about the chimney corner in a brocade dressing gown like John Hurt doing Beckett's Krapp.

Pancreatitis. Not recommended. My fault for ignoring the diabetes symptoms. But still. 1 in 3 die of what I had -- and once I was on the IV morphine drip, death seemed quite a nice option. (As it still does) 

Because I have been patched up by the docs only to have to face fucking bills, fucking invoices, fucking VAT and fucking income tax demands and fucking trying to make fucking ends fucking meet in that fucking freelance way.

I think that's all part of what made me ill: 30 years of doing what I do and mostly all I get are inadequate and irresponsible reviews and (save for yourself and a handful of discerning others ) scant recognition.
Thrilled you seem to like the new book, What Am I Still Doing Here? - darker and madder (and better) than Seasonal Suicide Notes. If I ever do a 3rd volume I have the title ready: "I'll Just Die And Then You'll Be Sorry."

I'll go down in history for at least being Ronald Searle's final patron -- his cover the last thing he ever did.

One funny thing happened this week. I got these fulsome ("Darling Roger") emails from veteran film director Bryan Forbes, whom I only know very vaguely -- from my Peter Sellers research days. Turns out he thought he was communicating with Roger Moore. He (Bryan) only twigged when he asked with justified bepuzzlement "What were you doing in hospital in Truro over Christmas?" As indeed, what would 007 Sir Roger Moore CBE be doing in Truro over Christmas, or at any time?

The boiler has gone kaput this morning. On the whole I'd rather be back in the High Dependency Ward.

Gluckliches neues jahr !


The Standard's Londoner's Diary picked up this story. Click here)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cheiro: The man who foretold Wallis and abdication

Darling Madonna has single-handedly revived interest in dick chick Wallis Simpson with her much-mocked movie W.E. Since I have not seen the flick, and will probably successfully dodge it, I shall confine my commentary to a far more interesting aspect of this 'royal love story' - one that perhaps owes its provenance more to the exquisite bonding joys of PG-threatening tongue-fu than anything else.

I have in my possession an original copy of Cheiro's World Predictions, published in 1925. For those who don't know of Cheiro, he was an Irish astrologer and clairvoyant, aka William John Warner. Oscar Wilde's palm was familiar to Cheiro in which doom was writ large - the reading is recounted in Richard Ellmann's Oscar Wilde.

Thinking of Madge's W.E., I turn to page 72 of World Predictions to read Cheiro's forecast for the then Prince of Wales, later Mr King-Emperor Wallis Simpson.

'Rumour says that Queen Mary, and in a lesser degree, King George, have worried themselves seriously over this problem of the Prince who may be fond of a light flirtation with the fair sex but is determined not to "settle down" until he feels a grande passion,' he writes. Cheiro goes on to foretell: 'But, it is well within the range of possibility, owing to the peculiar planetary influences to which he is subjected, that he will fall a victim of a devastating love affair.

'If he does, I predict that the Prince will give up everything, even the chance of being crowned, rather than lose the object of his affection.'

Written 11 years before Edward VIII's abdication over Wallis, I'd say - in the spirit of compromise - that this wasn't such a bad guess.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Duncan Fallowell: The death of Diana

'Death is the normality, life is the exception.' I like this line from Duncan Fallowell's essay 'The Death of Diana', in his latest book How to Disappear: A Memoir for Misfits. A newspaper should buy the rights to this piece for the next death anniversary of Diana. Fake iconoclasts will be appalled.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Madame Arcati performs a resurrection (before Easter)

Ssshhhh! Don't say anything but I'm back. It's true I died and passed into an astral waiting room and met the Dear Leader and others; but what people don't realise is that you can return to this vale of crocodile tears if you wish - and if your body is still intact.

I won't be updating regularly, just when I feel like it. I am so distressed to read that Andy Coulson is having to sell up his house, take the kids out of private school and ignore Rebekah Brooks at parties - it's no way to treat a former lackey and professional liar, is it?

As for myself, many changes are swirling about - doubtless Neptune's passage into Pisces on February 3 will trigger certain things. I'll keep you informed. It is most important not to get bored, don't you agree? There will be more astrology on this site amid the usual updates on literary and cock-cunting matters. If you don't like it, just fuck off, dearies.

The next big party is Molly Parkin's 80th (no further invites available!) - and Madame will be there. In person.