The Diary: Moazzam Begg; Justin Adams and Juldeh Camar; Lisa Jewell; Election Drama; Colm Toibin
Friday 30 April 2010
Tale of two terrorists Beggs no questions
Moazzam Begg, the former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, was consulted by Chris Morris during the making of Four Lions, a film satire on the adventures of a bunch of bungling Islamic terrorists. Begg tells me he was sent the script by Morris and found nothing that could offend the British Muslim community – other than an over-generous littering of Urdu swear words. The actor Riz Ahmed, who stars in the film, also phoned him to ask whether it was "too raw" a subject matter. Begg watched the finished film recently at a special screening with an ex-Belmarsh detainee on one side of him, and another who was held (and released without charge) for a "beheading plot" on the other. "I was looking for faults that would offend Muslims," Begg says, "but all three of us loved it." He apparently related some more light-hearted tales of Bagram and Guantanamo to Morris during two meetings in Birmingham. Lucian Randall, who has just published Morris' biography, Disgusting Bliss, adds that Morris spent months conducting serious- minded research for the film, attending terrorism trials at the Old Bailey and spending time with the Muslim community in Bradford.
Sculpted in rock
The musicians Justin Adams and Juldeh Camar had a Warholian moment (is it art or ordinary life?) at a recent gallery opening in west London, when they were mistaken for a human artwork. The pair, who today won a Songlines Music Award 2010 for their album Tell No Lies, were playing a set at the private view for Malik Sidibe's photographic exhibition when they found themselves being stared at intently. Adams explains: "Some art lovers obviously thought we were an installation and peered at us as if we were up for auction, while others, Brian Eno included, were carried away by three hours of nonstop Trance Grooves."
Lisa Jewell, the chick-lit author of Ralph's Party, might spin yarns about hapless 30-somethings falling into bed with other hapless 30-somethings, but when it comes to her own sleeping arrangements, she and her husband of 10 years have separate bedrooms. Despite being every bit in love as they were when they met 15 years ago, they have kept their own bedrooms for years. It's a necessity (Jewell's husband needs to sleep in total silence and used to wake her up in the night, demanding quiet) that has become a guilty pleasure. "He is such a sensitive sleeper," she says, "He wears eye masks, ear plugs, black-out blinds. Now I have my own bedroom and I love it. After a holiday, we are both secretly looking forward to getting back to our own beds. I think this habit should be outed. Lots of couples have a spare bedroom which is really the other person's bedroom," she says.
A dramatic night for the elections
Debates not dramatic enough? Theatres will soon be filled with election night drama. Five playwrights will do an all-nighter on 6 May having been commissioned to write short plays based on the events and outcome of election night. The plays are to be cast, produced and rehearsed in 24 hours. The results of this experiment in immediate political theatre, will be Election Drama, showing for one night on 8 May at the New Players Theatre in London. Meanwhile, further north on election day, Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre will stage Gordon Brown: A Life in Theatre, featuring an insomniac PM, on the night before the election and on the verge of an electoral breakdown.
Yes, and what was the question again...
The author Colm Toibin lost himself in praising the internet for ending gay loneliness and making life better for homosexuals in Nebraska at a London Review of Books panel discussion in New York. One of the wonders of the world wide web, suggested the Costa Award winner, who grew up gay in rural Ireland, was the creative licence afforded to subscribers of gay chatlines. "You can say you're 6 foot 11" (and alter the size of other parts of male physiognomy) he said, before being asked by the panel's chair, ever so politely, to answer the unrelated question, I'm told.
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