DIARY

Lacks punch without Bruno

We all know that the boxing supremo Frank Warren's eye for talent is legendary (after all, the transformation of Frank Bruno into new world champion is little short of miraculous), but his new protege is not at all what one might expect. He is a French-Transylvanian, Hampstead-based, insomniac painter.

Sandor Szenassy has, under Warren's patronage, produced 24 "intimate, psychological" portraits of boxing greats such as Holyfield, (above), Holmes and Ali.

"People assumed," he complains, "that if a boxing promoter is involved, it must be some kind of ghastly, sports-art, picture perfect, titillating images of Sugar Ray Robinson, but this is simply not the case."

Szenassy first approached Warren when he learnt that the boxing guru had a secret passion for art - his study in Hertfordshire is filled with 18th and 19th-century prints, apparently. Warren, in turn, fell for Szenassy's paintings immediately. "They show the pride, the victory and the pain of boxing," he enthuses. (Judge for yourself.)

Strangely, Szenassy's first major exhibition, scheduled to open in Las Vegas this weekend in celebration of the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno fight has been postponed. It is not clear why. Personally, I can only think that somebody pointed out to Warren that, while the collection includes a stunning portrait of Tyson, one of Bruno is conspicuously absent.

Sock it to 'em, Joanie

As Random House's executives no doubt expected, the next chapter to this year's greatest publicity stint has just been written - apparently in Joan Collins's own words.

In the first weekly edition of OK magazine, Ms Collins exacts revenge on those who dared describe the prose style of her contentious manuscript Hell Hath No Fury as "rubbish", "trash" and "unpublishable".

Meet character number one, editor Joni Evans with, as Ms Collins puts it, her "bottle yellow hair and a leathery tan". Next is Kate Parkin, the "plump, plain editor-in-chief of Random UK". Another editor, Julie Grau, gets off lightly, but then she is only "a very ordinary-looking young girl". Collins reserves her real venom for Robert Callagy, the prosecuting lawyer, who is not only a "George Bush-lookalike" but also, "flinty eyed, thin-lipped and skinny ... with a stooped hump and a vinegary self-righteous expression" with the appearance of a "Midwestern hick town preacher" to boot.

Not a pretty cast list, is it? Still, I'm sure they won't take the criticism personally. Some may even privately thank Ms Collins for all the publicity she has given them and then publicly dismiss her descriptions of them as "rubbish", "trash" and "unpublishable"....

Many a truth...

Sheffield Crown Court may not have concurred with Simon Sunderland, jailed for five years on Tuesday, that his graffiti is an art form. But scrawled observation has definitely begun to attain a Post-Modern vision. At least I could not help being impressed yesterday when I passed a filthy white van on the road, and instead of reading the inevitable finger-drawn "also available in white", I read: "washed in Yorkshire water".

Racing quip

Could it be that Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has finally wiped the perma- grin from his face and is publicly venting his frustration at bad reviews of his musicals over the years? It would certainly appear so from recent correspondence in the Sporting Life.

Sir Andrew writes in response to a published letter by Tony Roestenburg, head of the racecourse caterers Letheby & Christopher, who declares he was "saddened" to read Sir Andrew's severe criticisms of L&C food in his new foodie column in the Daily Telegraph: "I have regrettably declined Mr Roestenburg's generous invitation to join him at Ascot and Cheltenham. Wearing my theatre producer's hat, I believe it unethical to contact critics about individual productions. Besides, if I asked every critic who has written a bad review of one of my shows to meet me, I'd never have the time to go racing!"

Ooooooh, touchy!

Eagle Eye

Crackling yarn with an Oriental flavour

Just when you thought the world had escaped a bacon crisis in the wake of Babe, the Disney film about a talking pig, there is grave news from Japan. Pork production in Australia, from where Japan imports most of its supplies, has plummeted so severely that the Japanese - who enjoy a rasher or two - are in a complete panic.

A few days ago, Tokyo's Shinjuku publishers decided it was time to act. They called David Burnett, publisher of Ham and Pigs - A Celebration of the Whole Hog, a guide to keeping your own pig by the Suffolk pig farmer Paul Heiney. They would pay almost anything, they said, to purchase the rights to publish a Japanese edition - fast.

Burnett nearly fell off his chair in amazement. Heiney, too, is utterly dumbfounded. "It's just a wistful little book," he says. "I never thought it would sell. I can't imagine how British pig culture can possibly be of interest to the Japanese. Not even Delia Smith's cook books have managed to crack that market."

None the less, production of a Japanese version of the book is already under way. "Apparently, it really is the case that the shortage of pork has made the Japanese so desperate they are prepared to grow their own," says Heiney, who only has one serious fear about the Japanese's new fad. He thinks he may have inadvertently put obscure pig farms (featured in the book) on the Japanese tourist map. "Who knows," he says, "Paul Zissler, pork butcher of Darlington, may become a shrine to an endless trail of Japanese would-be house-pig owners...." What an appalling thought.

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