The Feral Beast: True love between the covers
A little ray of sunshine
Sunday 07 April 2013
She is Britain's most glamorous literary agent, with past clients ranging from Salman Rushdie to Jeanette Winterson. And for three years, Caroline Michel has been much sought after among bookish bachelors, following her high-profile split from the Faber publishing peer Matthew Evans. So it pains me to inform the literary singles market that Michel has been snapped up once more, and has a new man in her life. The lucky chap is Charlie Morgan, a 52-year-old Australian oil tycoon, chairman of Tamaska Oil. The happy couple could barely keep their hands off each other at a literary party last week. Michel, 53, is the CEO of top agency Peters Fraser & Dunlop, and has three children by her husband of 19 years. She confirms the relationship when I call, but declines to shed any light on how they met. "It's a long story!" She laughs. We're all ears.
Eddie Mair is being touted as a shoo-in to replace Jeremy Paxman, after Mair's snarling interview with Boris Johnson, but not everyone is convinced. Michael Cockerell, who made the Boris documentary about which Mair was quizzing him, tells me he was horrified by Mair's performance. "That programme behaved very badly," he says. "They told Boris they wanted to interview him about immigration and the Olympics legacy, and that there might be one or two personal questions at the very end. Well, they dedicated eight out of 12 minutes to them." Cockerell is one of the BBC's leading documentary makers, and has made Emmy-winning profiles of, among others, Margaret Thatcher, Alan Clark and David Cameron. Mair is said to have spent two days locked away in preparation of the interview, but his research didn't cut the mustard with Cockerell. "Eddie Mair didn't do any new research of his own. He simply watched my programme and followed up on what I had already asked Boris. As a journalist, I can understand why Mair asked those questions. But it meant that when you came to watch the documentary, you rather got a sense of déjà vu."
Rachel Johnson has had a mixed response from friends since appearing in Cockerell's biopic of her brother. It was thanks to her talking about Boris that he came out with the key quote in which he admits that he wants to have a crack at being Prime Minister "if the ball came loose from the back of the scrum". At a party to launch Charles Glass's latest book, Deserter, The Last Untold Story of the Second World War, she was rounded on by their host, Lady Amabel Lindsay, and fashionable interior designer Nicky Haslam. "That was the most common thing we've ever seen," they chimed. Lady Antonia Fraser, widow of Harold Pinter, put it more subtly. "It was gracious of you to allow Boris to appear in Cockerell's biopic of you," she quipped. Handbags!
The Harry Potter series was spun out from seven books to eight films, in what might have been a money-spinning ruse, or an excuse to make the pleasure last longer. Now, the question is: how many episodes will The Casual Vacancy be? J K Rowling's first novel for adults has been picked up by the BBC and will be adapted as a TV drama. I can reveal that the producer will be Paul Trijbits, who comes fresh from working with Stephen Poliakoff on Dancing on the Edge, a ponderous five-parter about a black jazz band in 1930s London. Casting hasn't even begun for The Casual Vacancy, though Trijbits assures me the wheels are in motion. "It's very early days, but J K is going to be very much involved. She's very hands-on." The novel is set in a small West Country town and received mixed reviews. The adaptation is scheduled for airing next year on BBC1. TV critic A A Gill called Dancing on the Edge "a towering Babel of syncopated incoherence". Let's hope The Casual Vacancy is a bit snappier.
A lamb's tale
David Cameron wasn't the only one rescuing sheep over Easter. Guests at a drinks party at the house of writer Charlotte Moore were astonished to find a lamb milling among them, which her partner Simon White had rescued from deep snow the previous week. Moore is the sister of ex-Telegraph editor Charles Moore and Rowan Moore, the architecture critic. She lives in Hancox, the family's dilapidated house near Hastings in East Sussex, which is the subject of her latest book. "The lamb seemed quite at home among the peeling wallpaper and Tudor staircases," says one party-goer. "Simon had found it stranded in the snow, and the farmer didn't want it as it had been rejected by its mother." The only trouble was that the lamb had pustular dermatitis, which is highly contagious, and passes to humans. According to my veterinary dictionary, symptoms include scaly skin and pustules, which can last up to two months. That's quite a goody bag!
I'm on the list!
As the Rolling Stones' Hyde Park gig sells out in five minutes flat, proof comes that it's not what you know but who you know in the dizzying world of rock. The guest list for a 1997 Radiohead gig has come to light, packed with A-listers and their entourages. And it reveals some interesting definitions of "plus one". Courtney Love and Brad Pitt have got the idea all right, with one guest apiece, but others have rather more best friends. Topped by the Beastie Boys plus eight, the list goes on to include Marilyn Manson plus 14, Blur plus eight and REM plus four. But easily the biggest bandwagon is U2's, with a massive 18 guests. Their manager Paul McGuinness also brought a party of three, bringing the total U2 presence to 21. Did the VIPs outnumber the paying punters?
Blinded by glitz
Daisy Waugh, granddaughter of Evelyn, has set her latest novel in Hollywood in 1929. Melting the Snow on Hester Street has been described as "Grazia meets Gatsby". So the Loggia room of London's Mandarin Oriental Hotel, next to Heston Blumenthal's restaurant Dinner seemed a suitably spangly venue for its launch. But one wonders if Waugh shares quite the sophisticated irony for which her grandfather was famed. "Isn't this just the glitziest party ever?" she panted. To which the only possible response was "up to a point, Lord Copper".
Back to Boujis
Awkward timing for GQ magazine, which features Jake Parkinson-Smith and Carlo Carello in the latest issue's "men of the month" slot. The young blades are business partners in new fashionable nightclub 2&8 on London's Berkeley Square. Or at least, they were. After a massive bust-up, Carello has flounced off and gone back to working at Boujis, Prince Harry's old haunt. Still, they look quite the team in my copy of GQ.
Goodbye, possums... I'm off
Where's Sir Les Patterson when you need him? South Australia gave a party last week to mark its rebranding. Thirty years ago, Australia "cultural attaché" appeared on Michael Parkinson and said: "We've got more culture than a penicillin factory." Alas, Patterson wasn't at the party, but Barry Humphries was. Was he making amends for Sir Les? "What do you mean? He's the most reputable politician Australia has ever had!" The comedian is retiring his alter ego Dame Edna Everage. "She's exhausting," he said, "but you haven't seen the last of her." Nor Sir Les, we hope.
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