Friday, September 28, 2012

Julius Caesar and The Sun's sad attempt to educate PM

I applaud the Sun's attempt to educate the Prime Minister David Cameron on British history after his lamentable, red-faced performance on David Letterman's chat show. The paper prints 20 facts that may be news to the Old Etonian. Alas, we have only to get to fact 2 to spot a howler. 'Roman Emperor Julius Caesar didn't conquer Britain...' it starts. JC was never emperor, not even king. At best he was dictator for life. The first Roman emperor was the later Octavian aka Augustus.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Barbara Hulanicki Brighton award: Spilt fizz, Biba shoplifters and a Sun ritual

Barbara Hulanicki
Yesterday, Barbara Hulanicki OBE RDI was bestowed the Honorary Doctor of Arts by the University of Brighton. The heavens signalled their approval when the Biba legend, in Avengers-style black, collided with a waitress serving drinks just before the award: champagne scattered and fizzed in a divine blessing on the carpet of the decadent Royal Pavilion's Red Drawing Room. Nothing like a huge wet stain to remind of mortality. The spill was mopped up as condoling giggles seeped into George IV's perfectly hideous red-dragon wallpaper. An anecdote born. 

Permanent fiancee Molly Parkin (a close friend of Barbara's) and I sat in the front row. Before the early evening award conferment, and reception and tour of the Biba exhibition ('Biba and Beyond: Barbara Hulanicki'), Molly and I had planned to meet at Brighton's Grand for a catch-up. Sadly, the cunting Liberal Democrats put paid to that. Ahead of their pointless conference starting this weekend, cops had cordoned off the hotel - policing costs for this event will be a ruinous £2.1m in a time of 'austerity'.

So Moll and I retired to the delightful, faintly louche Metropole. We sat outside and gazed over the traffic towards the gnarled ruins of the West Pier - a monument to civic criminality. At one point Moll, in glittery red turban, stood up, looked up and addressed the cloud-dimmed Sun with arms outstretched, beseeching its help in a certain matter. Normally, she prays to the Moon, most effectively. But the Sun is a good proxy for the granting of wishes.

Brighton honoured Barbara because it was here she studied fashion in the 60s. She may be one of the most influential style icons of our time, yet she spent a lot of her formative years in the town (now a city) watching movies. Fellow Brighton student Moll had no truck with the likes of Barbara in those days - 'We were art students and we didn't talk to fashion students,' she says over four black straws standing in two tall glasses of ginger beer and ginger ale, much ice and lemon. 'They wore beige and were commercial.' 

Nonetheless, events forged a wonderful personal alliance later - and Moll became very much part of the Biba experience, designing, for example, the 'Mollies' - wide-brimmed hats, sold at the old Derry & Toms store in South Ken.

Later, at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery reception, I bumped into a talkative woman called Sue. 'I was a Biba store detective,' she tells me. 'I arrested loads of people every week. The job made me very crafty and observant, and I could blend in with crowds so shoplifters couldn't see me watching them.' The underbelly of Biba! The dark shadow of a store whose Rainbow Restaurant drew the Mick Jaggers and David Bowies! I like Sue, a trained nurse. Without the likes of her, capitalism would soon turn soup kitchen.

We walked upstairs to the Biba exhibition, which starts Sept 22 and runs through to April 14 next year. A bit cramped, but I liked the wall works - period model photos, headphones to listen to video Barbara, images of swirly-curly neo-arty deco things on cups and such-like. Frocks and hats centrally placed; what a palaver. We traipsed worshipfully now we're all atheists. A girl in the 1964 Biba pink gingham dress - a huge hit after the Mirror noticed it - didn't want to mislead the naive: 'The dress is a reproduction,' she smiled threw lovely teeth.

And speaking of the Mirror, who should we bump into but fabled Felicity Green, the sharp-witted octogenarian on a stick who was once that paper's women's editor and became the first female appointment to a newspaper board (and advised the Express, Telegraph and other publications). It was thanks to her that Biba, Quant and others enjoyed wide tabloid coverage and helped restyle the masses. She seemed a bit crabby because she couldn't find the chauffeur. This is not a woman I would cross lightly.

Into the night we strolled. And a group of us bitched about people we'd met.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gotcha! Kelvin MacKenzie doorstepped over Hillsborough

The bloated, bullying bastard of Fleet Street lore, Kelvin MacKenzie, is doorstepped by a Channel 4 reporter over Hillsborough in this video. It is so sublime as to be (almost) sexual. This is what happens when a bully is bullied - he runs, makes excuses, boo-hoos. I never imagined I would witness such a sight. It's enough to make me religious (but not quite enough).

Monday, September 17, 2012

Doris Day seeks your support for her '4-leggers' charity

My very dear friend Doris Day has written to (the likes of) me, seeking help for her animal charity, the Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF). You can donate or at least vote for DDAF on Facebook; links below in her letter. While Madame Arcati prefers cats - largely because they are commitment-phobes - I recognise that dogs require our extra help, as creatures inferior to pussies. All my love, MA x

Dear Friends,

The Doris Day Animal Foundation is very close to winning a grant from Chase Community Giving,
Doris Today
Doris & Duffy Day
but we need a favor from you today to reach our goal. The 4-leggers, especially our beloved senior pets, need so much from us.  And any award from Chase would go a long way toward providing them the extra medications and special care they require.

Won't you please vote for DDAF today?  Voting ends September 19 at 9pm ET, so clicking today is important!

Please cast your vote for DDAF today on Facebook. And, if you are a Chase account holder, you may cast an additional vote by searching for "Doris Day Animal Foundation" at - click here.

Would you please tell your friends?  By all means, forward this email to anyone who shares our dedication to the 4-leggers! 

You have my sincerest thanks! 


P.S.  The Doris Day Animal Foundation is now on Facebook and Twitter! Be sure to join us by clicking the buttons below!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Nesta Wyn Ellis: Three movies planned - one with a three-in-a-bed shocker

Nesta Wyn Ellis
While the world awaits the memoirs of Paris-based biographer and chanteuse, Nesta Wyn Ellis, and her conclusion therein on who, in her view, is the biggest ex-PM (Gordon Brown vs John Major - the former she used to spot in a 5* Park Lane hotel health club), I learn that she has not one, not two, but three film productions in development. These are in addition to other work undertaken by her Paris Film Productions - visit the site (click here) and enjoy sample film reels to Nesta's exquisite piano rendition of La Pluie d’Amour.

The first of the movies is €10 million Three Days In September. This will mark her debut as film director and screenplay writer. A 'passionate plot' is promised, perhaps stoked (if not poked) by a three-in-a-bed scene. Documents I have seen suggest money is being raised in Europe and the UK: principal cast requires one actress and two actors from three nations: France, Germany and the UK. I gather that the story alternates between the modern day and 1939 - we may safely conclude that if Hitler should have a walk on part, he will play himself. (As an interesting aside, Hitler is listed on movie site Imdb along with the likes of George Clooney and, er, Una Stubbs, et al; and is linked to at least 348 film productions - click here.)

Three Days is described as an 'international co-production'. Its musical director is notable theatre and cabaret composer Charles Miller. Nesta's romantic ballads and songs (in French and English) will be an 'important feature' of the movie and sung by the heroine.

Nesta also plans to turn her notorious novel The Banker's Daughter (nicknamed 'The Bonker's Daughter' by Austin Mitchell MP in a review for The House Magazine - produced for and by Parliament) into a feature film.

The third film is an Anglo-French affair, set on a tropical beach. This, and Three Days, will aim for visual gorgeousness and harness some of the cinematographic ideas of European art-house - Fellini, Antonioni, Malle (and for all I know, my distant relative, Pasolini).

Pour a glass of champagne and settle down to watch Nesta star in the short movie below, Bolsa de Huesos y Recuerdosdirected by Beatriz Ciliberto

Nesta Wyn Ellis in Bolsa de Huesos y Recuerdos by parisprod

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Colony Room bio! If you're any kind of cunty, buy now

I never had the pleasure of being called 'cunty' by Soho's Colony Room founder and proprietor Muriel Belcher. Some people have all the luck. So, I'll have to settle for second best.

Sophie Parkin's chronicle of the high culture boozing parlour, The Colony Club 1948-2008: A History of Bohemian Soho, is due out on 10 December 2012 - and she's declared open a dedicated website where you can find more book details - click here.

The book is a huge collaboration involving a great many of the former habitués of the establishment. Memories, conversations, goss, names - they're all here. Francis Bacon, Dylan Thomas, Tracey Emin, Princess Margaret, Molly Parkin, Lucian Freud, Jeffrey Bernard, Peter O'Toole, Kate Moss (barmaid), Christopher Hitchens, Will Self and so many other super-luminaries of stage, screen, canvas and piss contributed to the Colony legend.

Sophie is the ideal biographer. Quite possibly (or not), she trod on the dew of the vomit that Dylan Thomas projected onto the Colony carpet: she absorbed the soul of the place as a hereditary bon viveuse at her mother's knee, and for decades thereafter. Just how many of the ex-Colonists will still be talking to her post-publication?

Three editions of the title are available: Collectors, Limited and Standard (the last priced currently at £30). Without giving too much away, the Collectors and Limited editions comprise artists' prints which alone are worth the investment. Never-seen-before photographs grace all three. If nothing else, think Flog It!

Visit The Colony Room website as soon as and secure your copy - aside from my personal horoscopes, what better Christmas present is imaginable (to oneself)?

PS: For a flavour of the Colony, do read my post on writer Duncan Fallowell and the night he took off with Muriel Belcher's crutches. Be warned: the piece is illustrated by a nude photo of Duncan, cock and all. Click here.

Francis Bacon at the Colony, video

Monday, September 10, 2012

Barbara Hulanicki - 'Fashion today is so boring'

Further to my last post on the Barbara Hulanicki/Biba Brighton exhibition later this month, here's an excellent documentary interview with the fashion legend, created by Jo-ann Fortune for Visit Brighton. Unusually, she opens up and talks about early motivation (to be independent; not to have a life like her mother's), creating black nappies for her baby son ('rebellious') and how fashion today is 'so boring... it needs to be cleaned out'. I love her sci-fi jacket. Pure Doctor Who villain.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Nesta Wyn Ellis letter (2): Yes, I shed light on which ex-PM (Major* or Brown**) is 'better endowed'

Nesta Wyn Ellis
Nesta's Paris blog, click here
Dear Madame,

Thank you so much for reminding the world that the Banker's Daughter was nicknamed The Bonker's Daughter, thanks to the many and detailed sexual encounters. Yes, it was given this name by Austin Mitchell MP who reviewed the novel in The House Magazine.

You are right that my John Major biography was referred to as "an accidental masterpiece" [by AN Wilson].

As for my memoirs, two exciting volumes await world attention but I'm holding on until I can find a publisher who can actually read anything longer than a Tweet. I do indeed shed light on the question you raise about whether John Major* or Gordon Brown** is the better endowed.



*'Better endowed' may be meant in one of a number of different ways. It is not suggested that she and Major had anything other than a professional relationship.

**It should be explained that Nesta used to spot Brown at a 5* London hotel health club - see comments in previous post, linked above.

***Nesta can be a bit of a tease....