Monday, April 30, 2012

Lady Colin Campbell, Kitty Kelley and the truth about Queen's birth story

Lady Colin Campbell in a Windsor sandwich
It gives me great pleasure to bring to your attention the latest work of Lady Colin Campbell ('Georgie' to her friends) - The Untold Story of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Dynasty Press is its publisher (and of which she is a director); and because Lady Colin is a notable figure, she can look forward to heaps of publicity.

On which last point my attention is drawn to the Daily Mail. Earlier this month, the paper whipped up a little fuss over Lady Colin's claim in her book that the Queen and Princess Margaret were conceived by artificial insemination. The story was told with a faint tremor of the shock-horrors, as if the idea had been dreamt up in someone's pretty head for the first time.

In fact this tale made its debut abroad back in 1997, in Kitty Kelley's still-banned book The Royals. I have a copy of it which the late Sheridan Morley illegally secreted to me in a brown paper wrap. On page 23, darling Kitty - a true digger of gilt-coated dirt - relates that the Duke of York could not impregnate his wife - the Duchess (later the Queen Mum) is quoted as joking, 'The Duke is not heir-conditioned.'

Alas his brother, the sometime King Edward VIII (aka David; and Duke of Windsor), also suffered from the condition attributed to 'nervousness' or 'a slight problem with his... willy.'

Kitty writes: 'Finally, on the advice of her [the Duchess'] doctor, Lane Phillips, she and her husband submitted to the unorthodox science of artificial insemination. The arduous procedure of mechanically injecting his sperm into her uterus finally enabled her to get pregnant.'

As to the many other claims in Lady Colin's book (the Mail is a good starting point, click here), I cannot comment; though it is well to remember that she anticipated quite a number of Andrew Morton's tales about Diana and Charles in the early '90s. I recall that a few of the more craven and pathetic royal hagiographers denounced Lady Colin then as they do now as a fantasist.

What people won't say or do to put bread on the table.

The Untold Story of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother - to buy click here

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prof Mary Beard and her supernatural party game

Mary Beard
It's an old horror movie thing. A bunch of college kids get drunk at a party and at some point unleash dark forces over a Ouija board. So imagine my surprise to learn that no less a sophisticate than Prof Mary Beard - of Meet The Romans fame on BBC2 - has her own fortune-telling party trick, albeit a very bookish one.

On her fascinating TLS blog A Don's Life she tells how at a recent party for her publisher, she consulted an oracle about the 'future of the book [print version]' in the face of the Kindle revolution. Her method was bibliomancy which involves asking a question and then opening a book blindly and selecting a passage at random for the occult answer. Mary practised the Ancient Roman form of this divination, sortes Virgilianae, which uses the text of Virgil as oracle.

Actually, the commonest book to use is the Bible. Now, let's see. I'll ask the question: 'Will Engelbert Humperdink win Eurovision?' I open the Bible randomly and (without looking down down on the page) select Ezekiel Ch 33 verse 32 (I swear I'm not making this up): this reads: 'And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.' Mmm, I think that's a definite No.

And what was the answer to Mary Beard's question, about the future of print books? You'll have to read her blog - click here.

If you fancy trying bibliomancy for yourself, click here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mary Beard: My kind of Roman

Mary Beard's TLS blog - click here. And read about her party fortune-telling - click here.

I learn that a middle-aged man, who resembles a homophobe's idea of what a homosexual man looks like, has been very rude about Prof Mary Beard - the writer and presenter of BBC2's Meet The Romans. If you've given up on TV and have an interest in Roman antiquity then I strongly advise you to re-new your TV licence just to watch this series.

Ingeniously, Beard has discovered the voices of the Ancient Roman dead - not of the emperors or their spin doctors - but of the ordinary people: the butchers, the ex-slaves, the woman who loved wine, the shitters and the bathers, the parents of the boy brained by a falling roof tile, and so on. She channels their words to us from their stone memorials chiselled in Latin which lay about under other historians' noses for two millennia; awaiting Mary Beard's exquisite TV seances. These dead people were like us live people, desperate to be heard and remembered. Just like the TV critic with his funny matchstick legs, his ageing male model face, his dyslexia and other sob story details (a mother complex, for instance, and a love life I cannot repeat here).

Mary Beard is - but, no; let's leave it there. The TV critic drew attention to Beard's appearance. She's not his kind of blonde, or Blonde even. She fails to remind him that he's cast himself as a cock-cunter for professional (and perhaps personal) purposes. Beard is the Beeb's finest jewel right now - as smart as smart can be, learned, humane, empathetic. She animates the past because I suspect she understands the present: she understands how arbitrary are time's divisions. She does not write joke columns for a fading Sunday newspaper; she does not make her readers feel better by mocking a collective third party. She has no need of schtick.

Mary Beard reminds me of why I want to have a TV in the house. Just in case.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kevin Spacey's bro Randy Fowler - latest pic

Randy Fowler
Kevin Spacey's brother Randy Fowler re-entered my mind recently and here he is - photo from his stimulating site, click here. His seminal interview with Madame Arcati on life and his brother can be read here. Still no biography on KS. Funny that.

Oh, and a rather intriguing interview with Randy on his clothes and de luxe taxi service in his home town of Boise. Click here. He hires five ladies to create his Casanova/Rod Stewart look.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Roger Lewis: Why Molly Parkin's not been invited to Michael Gove dinner at Garrick

Garrick Club (Area)
Venue of Roger Lewis Dinner
Dear Madame Arcati,

Thrilled about Noyle's [Molly Parkin's] Civil List Pension -- I think it is almost as much as £2,000 a year! We can all go to Sheekey's once a quarter on that!

My chum Paul Bailey is a Civil Lister, too, and much to his surprise the stipend was subject to tax. So maybe it won't be Sheekey's after all, but The Golden Egg, if the chain is still going.

Did I tell you that next Wednesday The Right Honourable Michael Gove MP is very kindly and generously hosting a dinner in my honour at The Garrick Club, what I am calling The Roger Lewis Memorial Dinner? The guests include Barry Cryer, Craig Brown, Herbert Kretzmer, Quentin Letts, Barbara Windsor, Duncan Fallowell (of course ) ... Francis Wheenie can't come because of his poorly back. Noyle couldn't be invited because you can't talk about having light bulbs and toothbrushes shoved up your twatty in The Garrick Club as it's against the rules.

I am also pleased to tell you that Mavis Nicholson and I have made it up -- we fell out when I told her I was on the dry and did she have any thoughts about what intoxicants I could get keen on instead, and she said ( in the pages of The Oldie ) that I reminded her of her sister, who was a hopeless alcoholic who was sectioned in the Powys County Asylum, where she caught the Alzheimer's ( off a lavatory seat ? ) and croaked. And I thought,Cheers, Mave ! Bloody hell ! Anyway we are now friends again.



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Molly Parkin: The Queen grants her a Civil List Pension

Molly Parkin by Wedge
HM The Queen has displayed yet further wisdom in her dotage by granting a Civil List Pension to my permanent fiancee and our style icon, Molly Parkin.

'The Civil List Pension is an appointment of high honour akin to Order of Merit or Companion of Honour, given for distinguished service to Great Britain in the arts, literature and science,' HM's staff informs me. 'It is paid at the discretion of the Queen and voted in by Parliament.'

Fellow past 'royal pensioners' include James Joyce, William Wordsworth and Augustus John.

Especial piquancy accompanies this news, given the admixture of true artistic genius and raunchy romperama that has characterised Moll's extraordinary life. Why, only a little while back, one gathered that Prince Philip may not have been over-keen to learn of his late actor friend James Robertson-Justice's exotic amatory encounters with Molly, featuring a light bulb.

Truly the Windsors are a family of the world and have, to lapse into the vernacular, seen it all.

Aside from her many erotics novels, countless media gigs on TV and radio and in print (and Madame Arcati), Molly re-designed GB (or should that be UK?) with fashion queen stints on Nova, the Sunday Times, Harpers, and more. It is to her eternal credit that she left all these publications of her own volition, usually to a chorus of imaginative profanity that was all hers. Most publications are a filthy pit of egotism and inexperience. A pure soul such as Moll's could only endure so much before the bigger picture beckoned.

Congratulations darling Moll. Madame is proud of you. xx

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roger Lewis letter: 'I want to be like the Major in Fawlty Towers'

Roger Lewis
The fabulous Roger Lewis has gone to the trouble of writing to Madame Arcati, drawn perhaps by my new red curtains. Where could he be?

Dear Madame Arcati,

Not a nibble on this place [Roger's gorgeous house in Herefordshire, recently profiled on Arcati - click link]. The property market seems paralysed. It's like Royston Vasey: You'll Never Leave.

Meanwhile, I am longing to move into The Walpole Bay Hotel, Margate, permanently, and be like the Major in Fawlty Towers. It is bliss. I think it must be the greatest hotel in England -- T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land on the sands adjacent, Tracey Emin uses it as her Margate pomme de terre, there is an old fashioned lift with a trellis gate, horn gramophones and sepia views ... (Have you been ?)

My pbk out any day.



My Dearest Roger,

How lovely to hear from you - I am only sorry that the might of Madame Arcati, not even in the curtained glory of her redesign, has managed to pull in a buyer for your lovely Georgian Townhouse (5 bedrooms).

I have not been to Margate (yet) and the mention of The Emin is not encouraging - utterly common. I looked up the Walpole Bay Hotel's slick and snazzy website and I see that a Four Poster Room is priced at £115 per night (low season) - not unreasonable, though it is my practice to haggle like a collector of antiques and ask, 'What's your best price?' This is done advisedly on the phone prior to arrival. I feel that Kent could be calling.

In any case, and for reasons we cannot go into here, you are best off beside the seaside, with Neptune for company, your natal soulmate deity (twice over if I recall). Outside my seaside home window (south-facing natch) is a rig on the horizon which is about to plant a wind turbine. It's so exciting.

If we can't sell your home, then at least let's get people to buy the paperback of your wonderful latest book, What Am I Still Doing Here? which I believe is out in early May. I can't recommend it highly enough as a work of serious comic philosophy!

Love as ever

Your Madame

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Simon Cowell's Sweet Revenge: 'Unauthorised' - in a sense

'This book is not written by me. It is unauthorised. The writer is Tom Bower,' tweets Simon Cowell. 

Yes, but it is apparent from the text published in the newly socialist Sun - which is milking Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life of Simon Cowell quite brilliantly - that Simon (aka Jubilee's Borgia Ginz) granted generous access to his thoughts and experiences that include intimate episodes only he and AN Other (usually one of his paid-off and presumably 'gagged' exes) could have furnished. 

Simon is even thanked in the text for his cooperation - this does not make the book authorised. But then again I notice that the word 'unauthorised' is not to be found on Bower's cover.

In an interview with the Camden New Journal of Jan 5, 2011, the reporter noted: 'The biography, due out in May [2012], is the result of hundreds of hours of unprecedented access to Cowell, plus direct contributions from his many supporters and rivals.'

Bower sat in on Cowell's various TV talent shows and doubtless shared mugs of tea with his subject.

On the other hand, Bower says: 'Cowell will not read the manuscript before publication - it is in that sense an unauthorised biog. He has no copy approval.'

I love the finessing 'in that sense...'. Tells us everything really about this 'unauthorised' must-read.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Francis Wheen: Library and unfinished novel consumed by fire

Remains of Francis Wheen's shed
Photo by Bertie Wheen - reproduced by kind permission
Click once for enlargement
Yes, I have a heart. And it goes out to Francis Wheen, the deputy editor of Private Eye whose 'shed' (as he calls it) at his home in Essex was reduced to a pile by fire. Thank God (or happenstance), no one was hurt. The Indy carries a report today.

In addition to losing 5,000 books, priceless editions and records, his novel-in-progress also went up in smoke. Every author's worst nightmare. We must not make too much of the date of the conflagration - Friday the 13th. Only a very cruel deity would exact such spiteful revenge - but what am I saying?

Madame Arcati prays that by some miracle he is able to recover his novel. I'd look at his horoscope but perhaps this is not the time. The offer remains open (confidentiality assured).

Francis Wheen interviewed on The World At One on BBC Radio 4 - click here

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jubilee, 1977: Borgia Ginz reborn as Simon Cowell, and other comings

I do hope Derek Jarman's Jubilee figures peripherally large in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Released in 1977 in response to the Silver Jubilee, it body-snatched Punk in its depiction of sleep-walking UK, and today still looks more thematically contemporary than anything else listed on, if you're seeking a celluloid facsimile of street and cultural realities.

Is not Borgia Ginz (played sublimely by Jack Birkett), who sneers that people forgot to lead their lives as they 'watched my endless movie', our very own Simon Cowell-Rupert Murdoch cross-breed media magnate pop mogul?

'I sucked, and I sucked and I sucked....'

In the movie, Queen Elizabeth I time-travels 400 years into the latter part of the 20th Century on the 'wings' of Ariel, summoned up by astrologer John Dee. But enough explication. I don't want to ruin it. It is by far the best British movie ever. And that's it.

A taste of things to come....

Borgia's gospel according to Simon Cowell....

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Madame Arcati's cosmetic surgery: None of Francis Wheen's dreadful fire!

I do hope you like my new look. The red stage curtains backdrop alludes to what I can only trust is the theatrical experience of visiting this site. I had thought to introduce you to the joys of 'dynamic views' where you decide from a range of options how this blog should look. But Google-Blogger in its bearded wisdom forgot to add a button to its 'dynamic' templates that permits me access to my own dashboard - so, welcome to the curtains. Had I succumbed to the invitation to go dynamic, I'd now be permanently locked out of my site.

And people wonder why they get murdered.

I had planned to add a flame theme backdrop so that you could imagine Madame as the centrepiece of a mediaeval auto-da- - but only this morning I learnt that Private Eye deputy editor Francis Wheen's shed has just been lost to fire along with countless priceless things - archives, letters, part of a book, etc - I believe on a day not unadjacent to Friday the 13th. Thankfully no one was hurt. I do send him my condolences. Naturally this awful news rendered my fiery temptation inappropriate. People would have accused me of callous satire; and we can't have any of that.

My curtains - as you'll see in the excerpt below - enjoyed a past life as Madame Arcati's dress.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Duncan Fallowell: Journals stored away like a squirrel's nuts

What does the hard-copy residue of a creative life look like? See below. Duncan Fallowell's notebooks, his unpublished journals - packed with anecdotes and observation - presumably the basis of his many books (travel, fiction, celebrity journalism) - have been placed in a safe deposit box in a bank for posterity. Duncan has lived and lives a 'rich and varied' life - the dozens of journals are proof of that alone. What will happen to them eventually? he asks. Madame suggests: 'A foreign university may buy them, I guess, after he's discovered whether the science textbook writers were right. Or not. About life everlasting. Not that the uni will know.'

Roger Alton: Sun no longer supports Tories because of Leveson

Roger Alton
The hideous and dreadful Roger Alton, who is paraded as the executive editor of The Times, revealed on Sky News' excellent newspaper review show tonight that The Sun no longer supports the Government because of Leveson. In other words, a highly paid employee of Rupert Murdoch was prepared to state publicly that Murdoch's Sun is not appalled by the welfare cuts or the pension cuts or the state persecution of the disabled or the fact that this nation is currently run by a bunch of privileged, patronising plutocrat bastards - but simply because the Government has failed to block an inquiry into the practices and ethics of newspapers, starting with Murdoch's News of the World. I suppose we should be grateful to Alton for his honesty. But I suspect the truth just slipped out, like a wet stool after a rhubarb pie indulgence.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Farah Damji: Waging war on morons to help women ex-prisoners

Farah Damji
Darling MA

I find myself feeling dangerous and about to unleash the furies and Rottweilers against the morons we seems to have been lumbered with because not enough people went out and voted, called the Coalition Government. By default we are encumbered with the Bullingdon Boys Club of Social Misfits and Rejects. I mean Ian Duncan Smith, liar, bully, cheat? I thought I was bad.

Having written recently to Grant Shapps to ask him to stop funding the leaky charity bucket model to “end homelessness” by homelessness vulture charities, Shelter and Crisis, who are heavily invested in perpetuating disempowerment and disenfranchisement, I have been “condemned” by Crisis Director of Policy for being an ex-offender. Get out the big guns and act like a grown up, don’t gossip and tittle tattle about me, answer the issue you moron. I’ve now written to the Chairman of the Trustees at Crisis to ask him to suspend the funding from DCLG pending the outcome of a review by Sir Adrian Montague into investment in the Private Rented Sector as Lesley Morphy, CEO of Crisis who is on a hefty salary (I believe over 200k a year) refuses to forward my letter or concerns to him directly.

This on top of the amendment last year to create a Women’s Justice Commission, do you remember, the  fragrant Jonathan Aitken chaired it and lots of important criminal justice people attended and we passed a  motion carried forward into an amendment by Baroness Corston and Baroness Gould into the current Legal Aid and Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill currently before Parliament at Report Stage in the House of Lords. Well I gave a copy of the petition and open letter to Ken Clarke to Crispin Blunt personally and heard…well, nothing. So far. 

The amendment was taken to a vote and the House was divided 217:217. This isn’t about posturing or policy for me, as you know Darling MA, but about creating efficient, gender based policy which will save the Treasury tens of millions every year and actually reduce re-offending, which the Justice Minister claims he wants to do. And even when prison policy Government funded dragonesses Juliet Lyons and Frances Crook tried to hijack it, I thought it was all for the greater good, get the amendment into law and the needs of women in the criminal justice system properly addressed. I can’t help but feel sorry for Crispin Blunt of course, whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of women and probably can’t wait to hand over the toxic douche bag portfolio of Prisons Minister in the long awaited reshuffle promised for this summer.

I met with Imran Khan the human rights solicitor last week to discuss the possibility of Judicial Review of LASPO in that gender inequalities have not been considered and an Equalities Impact Assessment has not been properly undertaken.  I foresee a long hard legal challenge all the way to the European Court if necessary, about time Ministers in the Government and Dear Dave realise they are accountable to the electorate and punishment for profit and leaky charity buckets which go against the austerity and performance culture being embedded in other parts of Government have no place in whatever version of Big Society and philanthrocapitalism they are rolling out this / next week.

I wish you a Happy Easter (holiday) Darling MA, baton down the hatches, remember Jesus was the first hoody and keep your tin bucket and spade at hand. Any Easter Eggs?

Salaams / shalom

Monday, April 09, 2012

Allison Pearson and the curse of the columnista cluster trolls

Allison Pearson
It's ages since I last thought of Allison Pearson, once of the Daily Mail parish, now ventriloquising for the middle-class mutes of the Daily Telegraph. She re-entered my head with the horrible news that she had fallen victim to the troll virus. Some dreadful person-reader had unleashed the fruitcakes of Twitter upon her good name and exposed her to words yet to be recognised by Wikipedia. One of them, with a 'gynaecological' connotation! Allison opined eloquently against trolls - read her piece here.

The business of trolling - ie conducting a targeted and persistent campaign of threatening abuse - reminded me of a piece Allison wrote in her Mail column in March 2008 about Fiona MacKeown. You may recall that Fiona's daughter, British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling, was raped and murdered in Goa - it was largely thanks to Fiona's tenacity the case ever got to trial. Allison, among others, though I am sure privately empathetic, publicly used this tragic event to reproach Fiona for being a selfish hippy. Fiona had not bought into Allison's addiction to workaholic conformist angst otherwise known as bourgeois life - and so was now deserving of the kicking Allison happily gave her as editor Paul Dacre pulled yet another one of his theatrical faces.

Was this piece the work of a troll? Not in the current sense. We tend to think of trolls as sad singletons holed up in a state subsidised garret in the grip of a hateful obsession. We don't imagine that a troll can be a highly paid newspaper columnista because an economic value has been placed on her work - and she doesn't 'obsess'.

But trolling may also be unwittingly precipitated by the Allisons - I call it cluster trolling, where a hateful piece incites reader persecution of the topic-target.

I don't know what effect Allison's piece had on Fiona's life but most probably it prompted a number of morons to send her abusive letters, or abusive contributions to online message boards, or to think abusive thoughts about Fiona and her 'feckless' life. It is most unlikely that among the millions who read Allison's imbecilic words there weren't just a few hard-working, neighbourly individuals ready with the condemnatory (green) vitriol.

It's tempting to think that the highly paid cluster trolls draw to themselves the same kind of energy they put out. Alas, life is not so simple. Some unsteady trolls are on a unilateral mission. In Allison's case, she could atone for her irresponsibility by first apologising to Fiona MacKeown. Her excuse could be that she then worked for the Daily Mail.

BBC on Scarlett Keeling case