Diary: The jewel in Madonna's crown?
Wednesday 10 August 2011
A pleasant diversion from the current nastiness is in store, courtesy of Madonna, whose eagerly awaited (if only because everyone expects it to be hilariously awful) Wallis Simpson biopic W.E. will finally get an airing at the Toronto Film Festival next month – once Harvey Weinstein has finished his reportedly extensive re-cut. Madonna's previous brushes with cinema have been less than well received (eg, Swept Away), but a Grazia magazine source has seen an early screening and claims the film is "very pretty" and "looks nice", both of which are up there with "the lighting was good" in the faint praise stakes. Moreover, Ms Madonna has taken a few liberties with the historical record: in the film, Mrs Simpson loses an unborn baby when she is assaulted by her first husband; King Edward spikes the drinks at a party to "ramp up the high-jinks factor"; and the former dances the twist for the latter as he lies on his deathbed. None of these incidents is believed to have occurred. Still, The King's Speech was criticised by some for its inaccuracies, and its director won an Oscar. Stranger things have happened. (Not many, though.)
* In all the chaos, let us not forget some of the people whose livelihoods the riots have affected in unfortunate, if not immediately obvious, ways. The Prime Minister, Home Secretary, Opposition Leader and a police chief or two were all forced to cut short their holidays, yes. But think, too, of the tennis coach flown to Italy by Dave and his fellow vacationers last weekend to work on the PM's backhand. He is now just another statistic from the ranks of the unemployed. Albeit in Tuscany.
* And people say Dave has nothing in common with the rioters. Rachel Sylvester reports in The Times that, like any youth worth his salt, members of the Government are all persistently glued to their BlackBerrys. The PM uses texts to rally his troops, sending personal messages of praise after ministers make worthy Newsnight appearances. He has two such devices: one for official business, and one for private use (to broadcast the location of the nearest lootable branch of Gieves and Hawkes, for instance). Which brings to mind the wise words of the late Andy Warhol: "America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke... and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking."
* Alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson was also among the senior politicians to return home early from calmer climes. No doubt, on the way, he reflected on his most recent visit to Tottenham and the welcome he received. As this column reported in June, Johnson was jolly excited to join a dramatic police raid in north London, where he watched officers smash a barricaded front door before wrestling a suspected drug dealer named "Rambo" on to a sofa. Boris, reportedly a die-hard fan of Z Cars, observed the long arm of the law from a safe distance. But as he was being led from the scene, Rambo happened to spot his surprise VIP guest, allegedly asking, "What the fuck are you doing here?" By coincidence, Boris was met with similar sentiments while talking to Londoners just yesterday.
* Yesterday's column went to press before the true extent of the riots became clear, so I hope readers – specifically Toby Young (educationalist, "large-C" Conservative) – will forgive me for doubting the warning signs he spotted so presciently. As I noted, Toby's area has been experiencing a spate of criminality: first his son was robbed by a youth outside the family home, then a naked neighbour chased away burglars with a hammer. On Sunday evening Toby claimed a "major police operation" was underway in Acton. His fears came 24 hours early: neighbouring Ealing erupted on Monday night. Call him Cassandra.
* As one wag points out in an email, London's clouds have a silver lining: the England vs Holland game has been cancelled, thus sparing us the sight of "a gang of clueless young men running around like idiots, bringing shame upon the nation..."
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