Pandora: Fire hydrants out for the lads

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The Independent Online

September will bring publication of Nice Tits, by Tony Davidson, the advertising guru at Wieden+Kennedy (responsible for Levi's "Flat Eric"). The book appears to be an ornithology tome, featuring as it does two blue tits on the cover. Not so.

"For several years," Virgin Books explains, "Tony Davidson has collected photographs of objects that look like breasts: street lamps, alarm bells, fire hydrants, policeman's helmets ... Nice Tits is a surprising photographic collection of breast-like objects – along with the thoughts of the ordinary men who love them. A glorious miscellany of mammaries, this collection will ensure that you never look at a bobble hat, cup cake or melon in quite the same way again."

Or, indeed, look at your boss the same way again. Davidson's female colleagues are, naturally, "delighted" by his publishing deal and wish him all the best. Employment tribunal, anyone?

A landscape of 21st-century Britain fit for a minister

Jokes aside, the Culture Secretary Andy Burnham does not wear mascara. His new friend is familiar with a spot of slap though. Burnham has borrowed Grayson Perry's Print for a Politician (2005) from the government art collection to hang in his Whitehall office. The transvestite guerrilla potter's 7ft by 2ft etching, an antique battle scene, shows groups divided by their biases, identified by tiny spidery handwriting as homosexuals, Scientologists, agnostics, provincials, elitists, the obese, parents, the old, Sunnis, Satanists, fantasists...

"It's nice to have a satire and something to burst the bubble of pomposity nearby," Burnham, 38, tells Pandora. "It's captivating – not only a study of the politician's mind but the human mind and its prejudices."

The "delicious irony" is not lost on Perry, 10 years the older man. "I harboured a fantasy of it hanging in a minister's office, helping him to temper any prejudices he may have," he tells me. "We are all as bad as each other and everyone, including politicians, has to acknowledge their dark side. We all have a floating vocabulary of clichés, but if you are making decisions that affect other people's lives, these clichés are not good."

Kureishi attacks 'mental' writing courses

As he is a writer famous for exploring the sexual dilemmas of British Asian men, who has commented of Martin Amis that "the only Muslim he's ever met is Salman", we should perhaps be unsurprised by Hanif Kureishi's performance at the Hay Festival, which was not so much off-piste as leaping off a blind drop.

The celebrated scribe behind My Beautiful Laundrette and The Buddha of Suburbia, who teaches creative writing at Kingston University, told the Hay audience that such courses are "the new mental hospitals", and claimed their growing popularity is built on deceiving the students. "I should not be saying this, fuck, I am a professor. One of the things you notice is that when you switch on the television and a student has gone mad with a machine gun on a campus in America, it's always a writing student.

"The writing courses, particularly when they have the word 'creative' in them, are the new mental hospitals. When you use the word creative and the word course there is something deceptive about it."

Conceding that "the people are very nice", Kureishi said that his own students, who he teaches in the café near his home in Shepherd's Bush, west London, "are always better at the end – and more unhappy," adding: "The fantasy is that all the students will become successful writers – and no one will disabuse them of that."

Kureishi's course director at Kingston, Nick Wilson, was unavailable to comment last night.

A swinish spot of bother

Congratulations to my colleague Will Self who has (as was accidentally revealed months ago in the Hay Festival brochure) won this year's prestigious Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, for his novel The Butt.

The gong is unusual: the victor not only lugs away a magnum of champagne, but also wins a share of a pig, a Gloucester Old Spot, below, with whom the writer gets to roll around for some companionable grunting, before the beast (Old Spot) is led off and named after the conquering book.

Self was robbed of this joy by a selfish outbreak of the livestock disease bluetongue, which led to restrictions on Welsh animal movements. Self's swine instead appeared via video link – but it didn't quite cut the mustard. (Sorry, porky.)

No transparency

An email drops in Pandora's inbox from a mole at the London Development Agency – the mayoral organisation soiled by the stories concerning "General" Lee Jasper and his cohorts, not all of whom were honey-glazed. Peter Rogers, the man hired as interim chief exec to replace the outgoing Manny Lewis, has "bagged one of the LDA's 'general' internal meeting rooms as his own and ordered for blinds to be installed around what was previously a see-through glass office. Staff want to know what he's hiding." Redundancies?

* Google "House of C'mons" and you'll get a YouTube video of Prime Minister's Questions, redubbed as a US stand-up comic-style dissin' yo muvvas.

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