Michael Bywater

Michael Bywater is a writer and broadcaster. He was a long-running columnist for the Independent on Sunday and his books include Lost Worlds (2004) and Big Babies (2006).

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columns: The borne-up-by-invisible-hands stunt

I SHOULD have been in Rome today. Last Easter of the Millennium; the room booked and by the grace of God or bribery, tickets for the Maundy Thursday papal mass. But no. Things, you see; stuff; events. They always intervene, events. We should put a stop to them, issue an Order in Council, get in the enforcers: Enough is enough. No more events.

I love Lucy

THE ARTS editor summed it up, standing at the door to the bar with his arms outspread like a prophet delivering a benediction: "Feck! Drink! Older women!"

My grandfather could suck better than anyone on the planet, including the Chinese

THE NEW Penny Catechism. Postulants and catechumens start here. Memorise or burn. Now: who made you? God made me. Why did God make you? God made me to increase shareholder return by maximising consumer throughput. Correct. That will be pounds 19.99 plus VAT (service not included). Now piss off.

Perfection, except that it was in Manchester

FOOD IS a bore. Doesn't work, either. You get hungry, you eat it, but it doesn't last. After a while you get hungry and you eat more food. On it goes. And the fuss. Did you see the television programme about that horrible chef, the common one who goes red in the face and says "fuck" a lot? Who would want to eat food cooked by a man like that? Arms dealers, that's who; corporate hatchet-men, entrepreneurs, expenses experts: porky gits with bought-and-paid-for, nip-and-tuck girlfriends. You see them in fancy restaurants all over London, waving their credit cards at each other. The company that invents a credit card which can swell up and ejaculate is going to make a fortune.

Books: The daily mirror's bad news

Expensively shaved, Michael Bywater can face the world. Why do our features fix our fortunes?; The Face: a guided tour by Daniel McNeill Hamish Hamilton, pounds 16.99, 374pp

What a horribly ugly lot we are

I HAVE been having another look at Ecclesiastes. Couldn't get on with him in the past; a sententious old snake-oil salesmen, the sort you can imagine seducing young women with his nihilistic maunderings. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher - that's me, sweetiepops, the Preacher - all is vanities." Such a deep man (she thinks), so sad, so real, so unlike all these horrible young men with their fumbling and their ambitions. And so the soft white hand slides beneath the Preacher's soft white robe (cashmere; a present from one of his flock, a widow) and all is gone into a heavy undersea flux of fronds and currents and dark drifting shadows where shape is lost and nothing knows its proper name.

I feel a little humbled, and oddly relieved

COMMON HUMANITY? Gertcha. We'll have none of that in my column. What you have here, in the rather wonderful shape of my good self, is a terribly, terribly precious life dedicated to the cultivation of all things lovely, shielding oneself from the baser aspects of life - man- made fibres, cheap jam, Oxford Street, package holidays, tired old Judaeo- Christian ethics - and then one doles out the priceless distillate, drop by drop, to the parched groundlings hungering for beauty and insight in their plodding, workaday lives.

Study me then, you who shall lovers bee

STUDY ME then, you who shall lovers bee, At the next world, that is, the next Spring... and here it comes, snowdrops popping up, the topsoil thrumming with incipient daffs, sap rising, birds tuning up sneakily in the middle of the night, the more rackety sort of women down at The Sanctuary getting themselves bathed, pummelled, exfoliated and drenched with slick heavy-scented unguents which linger in the hair and drive men mad with...

Money, fame, respect... now it's my turn

DREADFUL MEN. Dreadful, dreadful men. Forty-something (ponytails, nasty pubic beards, improbable accents) and cooking up a scam to haul money out of Disney for some abominable "vidjoe wall", something to do with Music Vidjoes, right? Right. And there they sat, at the next table in the Chinese restaurant, bellowing in the up-yours fashion of those for whom the extent of their self-regard is only equalled by the slenderness of its justification. It would serve them right if we all sent in proposals for Vidjoe Walls to Disney, inundating the Mouse Folk so that they became utterly sick of the whole idea.

An old and common story

THEY SAY the dreams will start in a week or two. We'll be chatting on the telephone, she'll drop in for a cup of tea, I'll bump into her in the street. This is how it goes, they tell me, and one day she'll go too far - criticise my waistline, or start making plans to go to Vienna (she always wanted to go to Vienna but never made it) - and I will have to break the news. "Look," I shall have to say, "you can't keep just dropping by like this. You're dead."
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