The Diary: Stephen Fry; Chetan Bhagat; Venice Biennale; Honor Blackman; swine flu

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Frying tonight for the AudioBoo boys

Stephen Fry displayed his obsessive interest with the joys, or otherwise, of AudioBoo this week when, while recording the 51st series of the Radio 4 comedy show 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue' (the first episode without dear old Humph), Fry, who was acting as a guest host for two episodes broadcast from 15 June, asked the audience at the capital's Haymarket if they wouldn't mind booing into his iPhone for one moment. "I know I'm a bit weird," he said, before explaining the delights of URLs, Tweets and uploads. The show's contestants, including Victoria Wood, looked on mildly puzzled.

Bank on success

Chetan Bhagat, the bestselling novelist also known as the J K Rowling of India, admitted to me that he wrote all of his blockbuster books, including 'One Night @ the Call Center', which sold a million copies and is now a Bollywood movie, while carrying on "day job" as an investment banker for Deutsche Bank. "That proves I'm not to blame for the banking crisis," he said. The writer, who was a guest speaker at the London Book Fair and is the biggest-selling English novelist in India's history, has now left the day job to concentrate on writing.

A taste of Venice

Whatever the quality of the visual arts offerings at the Venice Biennale this June, one thing's for sure: art- lovers will be eating well at the New Zealand pavilion. Margot Henderson, wife of Fergus Henderson, the chef who founded the east London eaterie St John, will be doing the catering for the antipodean pavilion. The couple are embroiled in the art world and she will be cooking up a treat for the receptions at the two New Zealand venues. She is also set to appear at a Maori breakfast in St Mark's Square on 3 June to kick things off.

Shining bright again

The former Bond girl Honor Blackman is apparently taking over from where the late, great Eartha Kitt left off. A song called "The Star Who Fell from Grace", which was written for Kitt (she died last year), has now been taken up by Blackman, who at 83, is bringing it out as a single in June. A source said that she called the composer Adrian Munsey and lyricist Jeff Chegwin (brother of Keith) every day until they agreed for her to record the melancholy number, which tells the story of a fading female celebrity. One or two household names declined the offer before Pussy Galore pored over it.

Moctezuma's revenge

The "butterfly effect" has led swine flu to disrupt London's art world. A press trip to Mexico ahead of the British Museum's blockbuster exhibition on the Aztec ruler, Moctezuma, led by its director, Neil MacGregor, was scheduled to visit ancient treasures in New Mexico on 10 May, but has been cancelled after a health warning put out by the Foreign Office to avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. Museum officials hope to re-organise the trip and to bring Mexico's 50 (uncontaminated) treasures to London for the show in September. The museum is also celebrating a gift of jewellery given by Tiffany and designed by Elsa Peretti that can be seen from today.