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Thursday, 21 November 2013

What's up with Frostrup

Mariella Frostrup is such a charming thing. I was touched when she confided to me that her favourite pleasure is to enjoy a delicious chuckle of appreciation at the crafty nuances in my subtle comedic posts while relaxing in the bath with a Babycham and a jumbo bar of catering chocolate. So I do adore her. But I have to say that she is hopeless, absolutely hopeless, as a presenter. Aside from her diversions into pretention, she is quite incapable of introducing the simplest of facts without leaving the listener quite bewildered.

Take, for example, her interview this week with Scott Turow, the American author of legal thrillers (Presumed Formulaic, etc), in which she made the absurd claim that Scott had for the last twelve years been occupied full time on criminal legal work, all 'pro' Bono.

Leaving aside the affectation of the latin 'pro', consider the what she is asking us to believe. Firstly, while we know Bono to be one of the wild men of rock, how much trouble can one man get himself into? Surely not the kind that requires twelve solid years of lawyerly intervention by Scott Turow. Secondly, if Turow's legal work really was criminal, why would Bono accept it? With his money surely he could afford a decent lawyer. And finally, if Turow was any sort of lawyer at all, why would he tolerate an accusation on air that his work was criminal? The more I think about it the crazier it seems. Absolute nonsense every word of it.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Bad with money

Let me put an end to the controversy: The Methodist Church Council was indeed right to suspend the disgraced minister Paul Flowers; there was no other choice. The illicit purchase of drugs, we could have excused: the result of an all-too-human weakness; the sudden lapse of a frail man under pressure, his God and his principles for a moment forgotten. But then came the breath-taking revelations that he- a man of the cloth- had been for months acting as THE CHAIRMAN OF A BANK (involuntarily shifts to upper case as inner rage overpowers sense of literary good taste). A cool act of premeditated and sustained cardinal immorality.

(As I proof read the words above, it is hard, even for me, to credit them.)

Alternative Bishops

Following the typically poor reporting of the topic in the media today, I have decided to clarify, for a confused public, the recent decision by the General Synod to allow parishes to choose 'alternative bishops'. As a pre-amble I should explain that the Synod is the body that makes the laws of the Church of England, and that I have been acting as a consultant to it since its failure to agree on the ordination of female bishops, my role being to facilitate a more harmonious and constructive process of decision making. Regular readers will be aware that I, virtually single-handed, brought about the revolution in British humour that subsequently became known as 'alternative' comedy. It was a simple step, for me at least, to extend that concept to an Episcopalian context, and to suggest to the lay and the clerical houses of the Synod that the time had come for a new style of bishop. Instead of the sexist stereotypes that have figured in mainstream preaching for two millennia, we would see the introduction of un-structured, 'observational' sermons, with no punch-lines as such. Already a cohort of young hopefuls, male and female, has crammed for two terms at my comedy and theology academy in Woking, which I run jointly with the Wessex Jesuit Phalanx, and hopes to pass out at the end of the comedic year with post graduate diplomas in Alternative Bishopry. It is a classic 'third way' manoeuvre, designed to end a polarised conflict by distracting the antagonists with a third option equally unacceptable to both opposing groups. Connoisseurs of my work will recognise the stratagem as being the same, in essence, as that which I used to bring together Bush and Putin, with the presence of Gordon Brown, in that case, being the unappealing alternative to their own mutual company.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Old-fashioned family doctors

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to require medical assistance on the very day on which our shambolic Government and the esteemed BMA launched the return of old-fashioned family doctors. In anticipation of the new service, I had been tucked into a Bath chair in a thick plaid dressing gown, with a warm glass of Madeira. I had been told that 'The Doctor' would arrive at 10 O'clock, and at precisely 9.58 I was alerted by the lodge porters that the gentlemen (no more of these silly lady doctors, thank heaven) had just motored through the southern gate, perfectly judging the two minutes that would be required to attain the end of the ornamental drive. I gazed through the open French windows, and was rewarded by the sight of a gleaming 1957 Alvis 3-litre coasting to a halt on the recently raked limestone chippings by the coach house. The glint of the sun off the abundant chrome trimmings, and the majestic row of dials that were momentarily revealed on the walnut dashboard as the doctor extracted his Gladstone bag from the passenger seat, were a tonic in themselves.
After the doctor had been shown into my sick room, and we had greeted each other in first name terms, he accepted a sherry and a cigarette, and for a few minutes we caught up on news of our old school and college chums. His was a vastly reassuring presence, clad in stout tweeds from which arose the mingled odours of iodine, carbolic, gun-dog, cordite, cigars and whiskey. When it came down to business, he took a stained balsa spatula from his beautifully patinated leather case, wiped it on his thigh, and inserted it into my mouth as I did my best to say 'aaaarrrrrggghhh'. His diagnosis was text-book, delivered to the point, with no intelligible details that might cause worry or concern to the patient. I was prescribed two teaspoons of the linctus three times a day, a linseed poultice for the melanoma on my arm, and was ordered to stay in bed for the next six weeks. I felt better already. Thank heaven for the BMA, I thought.
You will readily imagine my disappointment and confusion when, this morning, just a day after being promised the return of 'proper' doctors, I heard the bewildering news that the next president of the Royal College of GPs is to be a woman. Whether this is another blatant U-turn by a shameless Government, or yet more left-hand right-hand administrative blundering, I cannot say, but whatever the cause who can blame the electorate for being cynical and apathetic in the face of such monumental inconsistency? I feel a relapse coming on. Pass the Madeira.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Typhoons and triptychs

Even I, a man of worldly cynicism, was struck today by the contrasting news from the coast of the Atlantic, where millions of dollars had been spent on record-breaking bid for a painting, and from the centre of the Pacific, where millions of Filipinos were spent of starvation and exposure in the wake of typhoon 'Haiyan'. That said, I suppose technically it was three paintings, being Bacon's triptych of Lucien Freud. There's no harm now in revealing that the artist and the  sitter both were students of mine in the early sixties, when I ran an open art college in a converted convent off the King's Road. I  remember the pleasure I gained as the raw, under-developed intellects of my charges blossomed under my tutelage. Fine art, sculpture, poetry, music, theatre... I encouraged every form of expression.

And to think of those names: Finney, Hepworth, Freud, Moore, Hendrix, Bacon, Brittan, Greene. I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on. Freud and Bacon were a contrasting pair in physique and temperament: one gangly, withdrawn and intense; the other a superficial, devil-may-care, squat mesomorph. Neither had a scrap of natural talent, but they were malleable enough, and hungry for the commercial success I led them to expect. While both were prepared to take risks with their art, I always knew that Bacon was cut-out to be the rasher.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dumming Down

In times of uncertain fashions it is natural that those possessing an authoritative sense of taste should be approached for guidance by those lacking one. My mailbag has been bulging since the 'Richard and Judy' brouhaha, in which the popular book-club champs complained of criticism received from certain quarters for their promoting books written by 'authors' such as Dan Brown.

The enquiries fall in two perfectly orthogonal categories: those from everyday members of the public, worried they might have to stop reading Dan Brown; and those from high-brow types, worried they might have to start reading Dan Brown.

Let me say at once: both concerns are equally understandable.

Let me say next: worry not. There is no need to change your settled reading habits, however mean, shallow, low-brow, contemptible, vacuous, pretentious, overblown, arcane, puffed-up, self-important, affected, showy, fustian, or otherwise Austentatious they might appear to me.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Operation Yewtree

I am ordinarily a placid old gentleman, emotionally unruffled by the strongest storms of life; but you find me today quaking with rage at the unspeakable tabloid calumnies which this morning attempt to link my name with the police enquiries known as 'Operation Yewtree', as if I were an object of those enquires, when in all truth I am the pre-eminent facilitator of them. The seeds of the outrage were planted some weeks ago, when the head of Yewtree, Commander Spindler, rather naively allowed himself to be trailed to my spartan Mayfair apartments by representatives of the gutter press. The consequences were inevitable.
My life has been one not without a certain degree of controversy. I am frank by nature- some might say outspoken- and it has been my duty at times to make public observations to prevent mis-understandings in my areas of especial expertise, such as business, the arts, pharmacology, linguistics, computer science, literary theory, economics, education, capital finance, architecture, medicine, archaeology, plate tectonics, string theory, quantum gravitation, law, genetic engineering, ethics, cybernetics, neurology, global warming, politics, semiotics, and so on, and so on, and so on. As a result, I am not a stranger to the courts in which cases of libel are heard and, in my cases, won; and many are the Fleet Street editors with old scores to settle. Through bitter experience these hacks have developed a cautious guile, and their attacks upon me have become more subtle and nuanced. This morning's case is classic. I am described in front-page articles as 'helping the police with their enquiries', an exact literal truth camouflaged beyond recognition by resentful insinuation.
I may say that Commander Spindler's visit was to learn of the exemplary system of checks and balances that I designed and implemented to safeguard the innocence of the young ladies that are schooled at my Academy of Lap-dancing, which has been operating without incident for almost 15 years in a renaissance mansion in Tuscany.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Trouble brewing

Fewer than 36 hours have elapsed since I revealed to a scandalised public that, with one notable exception, none of the big names touring the UK comedy circuit writes a scrap of their own material, and that they have been passing-off my work as their own. In that short time there has been an explosion of legal activity directed at preventing any further disclosures by me. The names of the so called 'comedians' concerned have not featured in any of the writs issued so far, doubtless from the hope that their anonymity might still be preserved if enough of their ill-gotten earnings is stuffed into the maws of their legal advisers. Instead the cases have been brought by professional intermediaries,  physiognomically paradoxical characters, faceless and hard-nosed. Quite why they are trying I cannot fathom. To think that I, the pre-eminent legal mind of our any generation, would be in the least concerned by their manoeuvres in the courts. It's entirely ridiculous.