The Feral Beast: Bedroom farce at 'The Lady'
Eats prime ministers for breakfast
Sunday 03 June 2012
Fresh scandal at The Lady. Less than six months after the genteel women's weekly installed a male editor, Matt Warren, it seems he has been behaving in a most unladylike way. He has been thrown out by his wife, and is lodging with a friend. He is being comforted by his editorial assistant, Lena Dunkin. Rumours that he was planning to install a sofa bed in the office are, I can confirm, untrue. Warren, who is married with young children, declined to comment, but publisher Ben Budworth is standing by his editor. "I am not going to comment on Matt and his private life," he says. "There is a lot of malicious nonsense around. But if Matt had moved into the office, I would be more concerned that the bed was properly aired, with the linen put on correctly."
Osborne the queen-maker
More evidence for those who think George Osborne is some sort of puppet-master, controlling government behind the scenes. (He was the one who got Andy Coulson into No 10.) Now, Christine Lagarde has revealed she had never thought of taking the top job at the IMF until Gideon planted the idea in her head. Speaking in an interview, she says he suggested she go for it long before Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the previous incumbent, had fallen from grace. "We were travelling together and we were sort of thinking about the political scene, and he said, you know [Dominique] Strauss-Kahn is bound to be a candidate for the French presidential elections. What's going to happen with the IMF? Have you thought about it? That's when I started to play with the idea," she says. Gordon Brown was also keen on the job, an idea David Cameron pooh-poohed. When Lagarde put herself forward for the job, after Strauss-Kahn resigned over a sex scandal, Osborne's saying that he would back her was seen as a clincher. Turns out he masterminded it from the off. Next we'll be told he is attending the Bilderberg conference. Oh, hang on...
On the subject of Osborne, have you tried tapping his name into Google lately? It helpfully suggests "looking evil" as the next two words. And now there's a useful new website called GeorgeOsborneLookingEvil, dedicated just to pictures of the Chancellor. There he is in "evil formal wear", and "wearing an evil poppy", and, my favourite, "on an evil stroll through London".
Architects of jubilee snub
Not everyone has managed to cash in on the jubilee. The Royal Institute of British Architects has had to cancel a debate discussing the architectural legacy of monarchs, through lack of interest. Telly historian Dan Cruickshank and critic Jonathan Glancey were lined up to speak, but only a third of tickets sold. Former Riba president Jack Pringle says it's a sign of the architectural community's dislike of the monarchy. "I'd always told the Riba to stay away from anything to do with royalty," he says. "The Royal Family has not been a patron of architecture, quite the reverse." Prince Charles has had frequent run-ins with modern architects, memorably deploring the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery as a "monstrous carbuncle on an old friend", during a speech at Riba. When he returned three years ago, some members protested. But Riba president Angela Brady dismisses the notion there has been a collective snub by architects on the monarchy. "I think there's so much jubilee stuff on and a lot of people are away." Riba's next event, a talk by Renzo Piano, super-trendy designer of The Shard, sold out in minutes.
Ai Weiwei's new dust-up
Art luvvies are gushing about the Serpentine Gallery's latest installation, a submerged landscape made of cork. It has been co-designed by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei with Swiss architects Herzog and De Meuron. Ai Weiwei's interactive Sunflower Seeds installation a couple of years ago caused headaches for Tate Modern. The museum was forced to ban the public from walking on the 100 million porcelain seeds after dangerous clouds of dust were thrown up. Now, reports are emerging of a similar side-effect at the Serpentine. The installation is made entirely of cork, and one reviewer says "you smell it from yards away, and the dust coats your clothes". Uh oh. Could this force the Serpentine to ban the public from entering? "No, not at all," says a spokesman when I call. "The cork was laid the day the press came to see it, and had been sanded just an hour before they arrived, so there was a bit of dust lying around. We were working right up to the last moment, but it was just a bit of powder and has all gone now." Phew!
Children should be encouraged to bop each other on the nose. That's the message coming from Tory MP Charlotte Leslie, who says boxing is the solution to releasing pent-up aggression. The 34-year-old member for Bristol North West used to box as a teenager, and now chairs the all-party parliamentary group on boxing, as well as being president of the Avonmouth National Smelting Boxing Club. Speaking at the launch of a Channel 4 programme tracing the journeys of three young Olympic hopefuls, she said: "There are hundreds, maybe thousands of cases where boxing has saved young people from a life of crime, drugs and alcohol abuse. If you look at the work our boxing clubs do, it's clear that it's as close as you'll get to a silver bullet in tackling the kind of behaviour that leads to kids rioting in our cities." Is she right?
Cleaning up in Hollywood
Still on martial arts, Jackie Chan's announcement that he is retiring will be a blow to anyone who has worked with him. The 58-year-old stuntman and actor recently spoke to the Beast about a little game he likes to play while on set. "I put $10,000 in a basket, then give everybody a number before picking one out at the end of a day's shooting," he says. "Anyone can win, even the runners." Chan says he puts up the money himself, and operates his lottery on every day of filming. But it comes at a price: Chan takes a dim view of anyone who drops litter, and issues on-the-spot fines. "I do this to make sure that even after a crew of several thousand have filmed somewhere, when they leave, it is as if nothing ever happened." Still, a fine's better than a kick in the face.
West has time on his hands
Dominic West bagged a Bafta at last Sunday's ceremony, for his portrayal of serial killer Fred West. But what he really needs now is some work. The star of The Wire tells me he has nothing lined up, and spends all day knocking about the house. "I'm not worried, but my wife isn't pleased," he says. "She's desperate to get me out the house." West was a guest at the garden party last week for the launch of Harry Mount's book, How England Made the English. Self-deprecation being quintessentially English, West later assured me he is "turning plenty of offers down".
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