Monday, September 24, 2007

Stuff from the weekend

Last week I was having a quiet cup of coffee in my local, green, climate-friendly, and fair-trade cafe, when I came across a copy of a journal called The Spark. This is a freebie, issued every three months, and financed mainly by adverts for complementary health services and the like.

Right at the back of The Spark I found an article by Catharine Stott. It's about the virtues and advantages of being an unrepentant childless person, and I found it remarkably forthright and interesting. It isn't going to please everyone, however, and will offend some.

Finding this article is a bit of a fag, but you go The Spark site first; then you click on the Spark editorial download link; this produces a 5.99 MB pdf file, but if you've got broadband that isn't a problem; then you go to page 31.

I take my hat off to a man who can write, you know. Every time. Here's an example which is a couple of weeks old now, but will still serve its purpose very nicely.

Few UK celebrities have had as much publicity in the past few weeks as Nigella Lawson (a TV cook of much fame and distinction). Ms Lawson is, imho, and in the ho of many other red-blooded males, a remarkable example of female pulchritude, and I have devoted much thought over the past few weeks to finding a succinct and appropriate term of description.

Ms Lawson, you see, is a pleasantly rounded person, of the shape which was once fashionable, and admired, before women got into this insane 'we-gotta-be-slim' mode. Think Jane Russell, if you're old enough. (I'm not the only person to have noticed this similarity, by the way.)

Anyway, A.A. Gill, in the Sunday Times, has cracked this succinct-description problem for me. The term he uses to describe Ms Lawson is moreish. Which is very clever, in that it conveys a due sense of lusciousness while also incorporating an appropriate reference to food.

Not only that, but Mr Gill continues in admirable form and style:
As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t anything like enough Nigella or voluptuous coquetry on television. She has developed a sort of gastronomic Method preparation, a sort of Stanislavsky cooking. Before our eyes, she becomes the thing she’s making: a slinky-fingered dish of baby squid dipped in mayonnaise, a darkly sumptuous and tempting chocolate mousse, a brazen splayed poussin. Nigella is an ingredient shape-shifter, an organic transformer. One minute, it’s merely bread and butter pudding; the next, it’s the goddess’s heaving breasts.
I couldn't do better than that in a month of Sundays.

I am not the first, of course, to notice that Katie Price's big-selling novel Crystal was ghosted by Rebecca Farnworth. But in searching for some info on who RF might be, I found this lengthy article about ghosting in general in the Telegraph.

I haven't followed up every single Google reference, but I looked at a good few, and still couldn't find out anything useful about the talented Rebecca. Except that her agent is Margaret Hanbury. All other reports just say she's Katie's ghost.

As I have said before, if I were forty years younger, a ghost is what I would be. Definitely.

Quite a few UK newspapers have picked up on the fact that the Oxford dictionary -- source of all wisdom on spelling (I regret to say, since I went to the Other Place) -- is dropping hyphens. By the thousand, apparently.

Well, it was ever thus. In the 1970s, when I began writing crime novels, firearm was officially fire-arm. Except in the real world, so Oxford soon changed it to firearm; then, just as I had got used to typing living-room et cetera, it became a living room. And well within living memory, today used to be to-day.

Oh, my dears, the whole of the UK is absolutely agog with the PFD story, mentioned here last week.

The Times last Friday had a big article, coupled with a complicated chart of who is connected to whom, and now the Guardian's at it.

This is not a simple matter, I have decided. It isn't as simple as commerce versus art, for instance, with the wicked new bosses wanting to make PFD go commercial, and the saintly agents in post wanting to keep it pure. For one thing, much of the talent is highly commercial in nature. So perhaps it's more a question of autonomy. Though one might think that true autonomy went out the window a while back, with the original sale to CSS in 2001.

Anyway, whatever it's all about, this one will run and run.


Pia K said...

Well written, entertaining as well as giving food for thought, article by C Stott, very much my thoughts on the subject! Thanks for the tip, I'd never would have found it otherwise.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Not that I ever doubted it, but it’s good to be reminded of the red blood that flows through GOB’s veins, with his hearty endorsement of A. A. Gill’s witness statement of Nigella Lawson committing exciting acts upon and with food in front of television cameras.

Here in Perth she graced our screens years ago, and I used to annoy my wife by claiming that Nigella made me want to learn how to cook, or at least be her voluntary assistant, arriving early, taking no breaks, leaving late. Just as I used to say about the Bra Bar in central Perth, except I added warming my hands for the latter position. My greatest joy was seeing Mrs Inkletter’s temperature rise, which is a good thing for most food preparation.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed ghost writer Fanny Blake's accounting of actually being allowed to attend a signing. After signing it for a woman the 'author' said, "'This is Fanny, she actually wrote it. Would you like her to sign it as well?" I just remember this horrified look on the woman's face.'

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Anonymous said...

Having just watched Nigella at work, I have to agree with Mr Gill's article. I can just see her fans drooling over her fruity crumble!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I must speak out as one of the few men who isn't excited by Nigella. I admire her body shape, certainly, but there is a obscene 'knowingness' to her television performance (and 'performance' it is) that dissipates all the homely, buxom charms she ever had. She clearly thinks she has every man in the country wrapped around her little finger ,like a rasher of bacon around a cocktail sausage. Maybe she does, but I wish she didn't know she did.

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing about this new celebrities and ghostwriters trend seems to be that (most) consumers don't really care much if they're reading a "genuine autobiography" - so long as there are enough juicy (i.e., shocking and embarrassing) details, who cares who wrote the darned thing! It's a bit like political speeches: we all know by now that they're composed by ghostwriters, but that doesn't stop anyone from praising/condemning, or even proudly quoting impressively sounding chunks read out by a president... At bottom, we identify celebrities with things they might never have had the ability (or inclination) to think. Which only goes to show how much humans actively seek and embrace myths - even if it means being obviously "duped"... Fantasy is just so much more appealing than dull reality!

Payton L. Inkletter said...

Raymond, I’ll make the generous assumption that you are not light in the lederhosen, but still are not excited by Nigella. I think her cooking shows should be taken for what they are, which I think is harmless fun while teaching a bit of tasty food preparation. That she knows she stimulates men is testament to her being an intelligent and aware woman. She probably studied human biology at school. Come to think of it, her cooking program would be an ideal human biology course: plants, animals, courtship behaviour, ...

Here in AussieLand, we have a G rating, then a PG rating. Her cooking shows would be PG: just make sure you watch them with a responsible adult, maybe your wife.

So we find her shows different to other cooking shows – that’s good, just as novels come in various strengths, as do TV dramas and comedies, films, and so on.

Anonymous said...

It's Kudo's Day here! Good call Clary on the human need for myth not reality, insightful of you. Belated kudos to Mr. O'Hara for his comment on Eckhardt Tolle's insipid complacency. And I'd be honored to have a drink with Payton and would suggest that he give Raymond a break for pointing up Nigella's disingenuous tease as somewhat common and insolent. And to round things out, Gladys your sense of humour is delightful. A great group of Gob's groupies and indicative of the old man's esteem, and I'm humbled and thankful to have discovered this site. As to the Grump's generous and, I could go on but won't for fear of redundancy, yeoman's efforts, the Spark site is NLP driven and this is wizardry of a practical nature. NLP is powerful but I hesitate at its moral indifference that might permit children to be found playing with weapons that could harm. The point here being that the GOB is, as ever, not stuffy at all about his reporting. Smitten by all this competency I thank you all again for allowing my presence.

Anonymous said...

"That she knows she stimulates men is testament to her being an intelligent and aware woman"
If you've seen the cover of her 'Forever Summer' cookery book, you might want to wonder whether Nigella is less intelligent than she seems; surely no woman in her right mind would actually want to look like that? She has put herself in the hands of the marketing men, and they haven't done her justice. My point is that she looks good enough without having to make so many insinuations.

Anonymous said...

Well, Raymond, one has to admit that lovely Nigella is a bit of a tease — a culinary 'pole-dancer' would you say?
Years ago Fanny Cradock ruled the TV kitchen (and her husband assistant?) But somehow I think the ratings would be rather low if her cookery classes were replayed.

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