The Feral Beast: Keeping their eye on the ball

Makes dudes and big boys quiver

Enjoying Wimbledon yesterday were none other than Ryan Giggs and his wife Stacey. While the home lives of footballers do not usually concern the Beast, Giggs's is special. Once seen as a blameless, happily married winger, object of uncontested public esteem, after loose talk on the web he was found to be a love rat of the first order, having had an eight-year affair with his brother's wife Natasha and another with an "ex Big Brother beauty". And then came Lord Justice Leveson, whose judgment on whether we are allowed to know this sort of thing we await with interest.

Critic's stout denial

It is not unheard of for hardbitten news reporters on rival titles to wrong-foot each other, but who knew that things were so cut-throat on the arts pages? As the curtain came down on a late-running out-of-town show last week, London critics fled to catch the approaching train on an infrequent service. But when one reviewer, faced with a sprint down the high street that would serve as an Olympic qualifier event, asked Mark Shenton of the Daily Express and The Stage if she could hitch a ride in his taxi, he pronounced the car full, climbed in with his two companions and slammed the doors shut as the driver sped off, leaving one surprised woman of a certain age standing in the road. But hang on, taxis take four passengers, don't they? Shenton is the well-built pal and Critics' Circle ally of Financial Times critic Ian Shuttleworth, or Fatty, as he was dubbed in a spat with The Daily Telegraph's Tim Walker, which led to factions standing on opposite sides of the room at interval drinks time. Maybe needing extra room in the car is a sign that Shenton too has chosen avoirdupois over chivalry.

Job risks

And talking of chivalry, popular singer and actor Jess Conrad OBE, 76, has been talking about the success of his fast-selling new CD of old favourites, Dreamboats and Petticoats: Three Steps To Heaven. Jess, though, seems to know more about crooning than he does about chivalry, or even self-deprecation. He tells me: "I still get women throwing underwear at me. It used to be skimpy, but these days there's a lot of pretty large button-gusset stuff and it's a bit of a health and safety issue – they could have my eye out!" He adds: "I'm a sex symbol for women who no longer care. I mean, women still fall for me – but that's only because they can't stand up."

Scot-free

What lies behind Rupert Murdoch's casual dismissal of "the English", when asked why he was reluctant to invest in the UK. Author Peter Jukes, who is just finishing his book The Fall of the House of Murdoch, tells me it's all down to Murdoch, with his Scottish Presbyterian ancestry, seeing himself as "a poor colonial boy, fighting against elites and the 'English' establishment".

"Murdoch effectively parlayed the anti-establishment rhetoric of the New Right, derived from Richard Nixon, to a British audience. So much of that rhetoric, especially in Scotland, comes from the imagined community of betrayed Borderlanders," says Jukes, who says Murdoch was heavily influenced by Richard Nixon's famous 1952 "Checkers" speech. "Nixon hailed from a Scottish background, like so many of the shock jocks and avatars of the New Right from the 60s onwards: Nixon, Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck, Perry. They tally with a wave of Scottish immigration, trapped between the Protestants of New England and the Royalists of the South, who migrated along the marginal lands of the Appalachians, through Tennessee and the Ozarks to Oklahoma, and then followed through to southern California in the depression."

Who he?

Notwithstanding Janet Street-Porter's strictures referenced in her column today, we shouldn't be too hard on poor Chloe Smith, who was on the wrong end of a Paxo-bashing on Newsnight on Tuesday. Despite having had a rough time of it on Channel 4 News at 7pm that evening, evidently she did little to improve her prospects in the intervening three hours or so before appearing with Paxo. But it's quite possible she didn't know who he was. She didn't have a TV until she entered parliament in 2009. Laudable, maybe, but unwise for a modern politician, surely.

What a card

Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, may be many things to many people. Ukip leader Nigel Farage, for example, said a couple of years ago that Van Rompuy has "all the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk". But you can't say he lacks magnanimity. Those who attended Stanhope Capital's debate on the future of Europe last week heard Farage admit that he and Mr Van Rompuy will never be bosom buddies, "but he did send me a Christmas card last year". "I was totally astonished when I opened it," says Farage, who was lucky to survive a plane crash a few months after issuing his damning verdict. "Perhaps he felt sorry for me after my trials and tribulations. But if he thinks I'm going to ease up on him, he's got another think coming.

Pasty-faced

For the third year in succession, David Cameron will be spending at least part of the summer holidays in Cornwall. So be braced for lots of, er, cheesy, or indeed meaty photo-opportunities of Dave tucking into a tax-free warm pasty....

'Oy George

Exciting news from clubland. Iain Duncan Smith has been made an honorary life member of Pratt's, saving himself the annual £265 per year membership fee. Pratt's, as you won't need reminding, is a gentleman's club just behind the Ritz in central London. The male staff are all called George, presumably to save members the bother of remembering their names. The club suffered a crisis in the 1980s when a woman took a key drink-pouring post, but further angst was averted when it was agreed that she should be called Georgina.

High notes

Booking opens on Friday for the viewing galleries at the Shard, architect Renzo Piano's crystalline London spike, but the musically minded may be able to get to the top another way. Composer Samuel Bordoli wants to use the Shard as a concert venue. His "Live Music Sculpture", to be played a week today above the newly installed Olympic rings on Tower Bridge, could be a precursor to a performance at the Shard. In the Tower Bridge work, 30 instrumentalists will be dispersed around the vast 42-metre-long walkway at the top of the bridge, enabling the audience (also in the walkway, high above the road) to hear music which, rather than emanating from one source as in a conventional concert, effectively envelopes them. Bordoli is a believer in audiences' "remarkable ability to hear and process 360-degree sound", and is keen to immerse them in it. Given that the Shard is, at 310 metres tall, the highest building in Europe, with 95 floors and a £450m price tag, in Bordoli's hands it has the potential to be the world's largest and costliest glass harmonica, too.

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 People

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker