Time for Titian
When it was announced at the end of August last year that the Duke of Sutherland had given two of Britain's biggest galleries a deadline of 31 December 2008 to raise £50m to keep Titian's 'Diana and Actaeon' from being sold abroad, the wider public must have assumed that the galleries had only four months to amass the funds. Not so, revealed John Leighton, director of the National Galleries of Scotland, who this week acquired the work along with the National Gallery in London. Speaking to 'The Independent', he said the Duke and his family had notified them about the possible sale well over a year before the public were informed. "When we made the announcement in August, it seemed as if we had just heard yesterday but we had known for some time. We have probably been working on this for one and a half years." He also revealed that he and the National Gallery had "raided our piggy banks" to provide enough funds to save it for the nation and that the remaining funds were left rather depleted.
In the same week that the Met Weather Centre reported record snowfalls, Glastonbury announced it has just sold the last ticket for this year's festival. So despite freakish weather and the lack of confirmed headline acts (although Bruce Springsteen, right, is whispered), the public have been taking time out from scraping ice off their cars to reserve a ticket for the June festival, also traditionally besieged by weather freakery. Organisers said the "vast majority" of festival-goers completed payment by 1 February.
Only half Irish
Sebastian Barry, the novelist who has just celebrated his Costa Book Prize for 'The Secret Scripture', revealed how he was a "disappointing Irishman" in the eyes of Americans who assumed he would display Dionysian levels of alcohol-fuelled revelry purely because of his Irish genes. "I was a terrible disappointment as I'm not a drinking man," he said. But he shored up one stereotype, albeit jokingly, saying that he and his wife "live quietly in the mountains in Wicklow. We come to London like old-fashioned 18th-century people."
Dating Wunderkind shares his wisdom
Alec Greven, the nine-year-old American boy who wrote a straight-talking guide to dating which spent weeks on the 'New York Times' bestseller list is going to be published in Britain on Valentine's Day with a front of store promotion by Waterstone's, apparently. His book alerts readers to such essential facts such as "pretty girls are like cars that need a lot of oil" and warns boys not to tease girls because "this is not a good approach". Alec's second book, 'How to Talk to Moms', will be released in Britain in March and he is currently writing his third on dads. Doubtless, they will offer the same levels of insightful diplomacy.
His Wikipedia entry describes him as an actor "perhaps best-known for his roles as Aragorn in 'The Lord of the Rings' film trilogy", but Viggo Mortensen reveals that two of them had too many special effects for his liking, in an interview with 'Total Film' magazine, published today. He says: "Starting with the second one it became more of a blockbuster special effects thing. You can't argue with the films' success, but had it been me, I would have focused less on the effects and more on the characterisations."
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