What makes Coren so cross?

As Matthew Bell found out at a (very) brief interview, pretty much anything and everything

Count to 10. And breathe. As anger management techniques go, it's elementary stuff, but it usually does the trick. I want to tell Giles Coren, the notoriously splenetic restaurant critic and columnist for The Times, about it, because even though he has just written a book called Anger Management for Beginners, he is pacing like a chained zoo bear when we meet.

"It's exactly fucked up situations like this that make me angry," he explodes as he comes into the sunny Kentish Town kitchen where I've been waiting for half an hour. "Fuck. Fuck." The reason for Coren's rage is that there has been an administrative cock up over our meeting, and he has only an hour and a half before he has to fly to Scotland to appear on Newsnight's Review Show, where he is expected to talk about a book he hasn't yet read and a film he has only half seen and a television series he hasn't formed an opinion of. He has just come from a viewing of the new Sex and the City film which, given the reviews, has perhaps not improved his mood. But he has to pack, and read, and think, and now The IoS is here to see him. "Fuck!"

It seems vaguely appropriate that Coren should be spitting teeth for an interview to promote a book about anger. It strikes me this is an elaborate publicity stunt. But no. "The publicity people have been a fucking nightmare," he yells. This interview was due to last half an hour but in the spirit of compromise I say let's do 10 minutes. In the end it lasts less than a minute before Coren stands up and calls it off. A few fucks later, coupled with a hasty apology, and I'm standing in the street, Dictaphone whirring.

Perhaps it was my first question that did it: "Are you a naturally angry man?" I asked. He never did answer, but later he calls to apologise. "I was angry with myself at the situation. Of course I would rather be talking to you than spending four hours of a sunny afternoon watching Sex and the City and reading a Tony Parsons novel."

In fact, I got off lightly; Coren has been in therapy for years to deal with his anger, and in the past there would have been a lot more shouting.

"Giles does get cross about tiny things," says Victoria Coren, his younger sister and a columnist on The Observer. "He is a rock in a crisis, but if you're driving somewhere with him and you're late he will shout at you, at other drivers, at the A-Z. He is a kind, loyal, good person, but not blessed with a naturally calm temperament. His frustrations are unmitigated by a sense of sanguine confidence that everybody is doing their best."

Sue Perkins, the comedian and friend with whom Giles Coren films the successful BBC series Supersizers, says Coren is cursed with unrealistically high expectations. "His anger is born of delusion and a slightly skewed expectation of the world," she says. "It sounds awful coming from a friend but I think it is born of a genuine disappointment that the world doesn't meet his ludicrously high standards."

Coren's latest public tantrum came last week, when he discovered Amazon had run out of copies of his new book, prompting him to write on Twitter: "Just spoke to my publishers. they say it's a 'distribution blip'. Fucknig WANKERS! wHY ARE All PUBLISHERS SO fucking shit?[sic]"

He says he regrets having agreed to the book, though it can't have been too onerous to write, given that it's a compilation of his columns from The Times, where he has been since 1999. The idea stemmed from an email Coren wrote to a Times sub-editor two years ago, berating him for tampering with his copy. The 1,000-word tirade was subsequently leaked to The Guardian and has done more to boost Coren's profile than any number of interviews ever could.

But where does it all come from? His father was the celebrated humourist Alan Coren, who once edited Punch and appeared on gentle BBC game shows such as Call My Bluff. He was not known for his temper and yet family life among the Corens has always been tempestuous, says Victoria. "My dad wasn't slow to express his point," she says. "We had almighty rows – everyone shouting and storming about – then lots of apologising and saying how much we loved each other. You'd think we were Italians. But we were just from Cricklewood. My mother has Hungarian blood, and you might think Giles's passionate temperament comes from 'the foreign side'. But actually my dad was the shouter. Everyone carries around as much potential anger as Giles, it's just more traditional to hide it behind the teapot."

Giles Coren's anger has landed him in trouble, notably when he tweeted in January that he couldn't decide whether just to kill the 12-year-old boy next door or whether he should fuck him first. Vivienne Pattison, director of Mediawatch UK, condemned the remark as being in "very bad taste" and Coren was forced to apologise. To many, his anger is a form of exhibitionism, and is born of arrogance and insecurity. But his friends say his passion is as ardent in his positive qualities, like loyalty and generosity.

"He does say terrible things," says Perkins, "and occasionally he gets it wrong. But there's a visceral thrill in watching him drop a clanger in public. Giles is a mixture of innocent schoolboy and belligerent cleric tyrant. I love being with him because as long as I am, I know I won't be the most irritating person in the room."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
film
News
people
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'