Diary

By what leap of imagination have Saatchi and Saatchi - not the brothers, just the corporate rump - decided that their company should henceforth carry the name "Cordiant"? They explain that it's a latinate construction (cor, cordis, heart, as in cordial or hearty) to suggest they're at the heart of the communications industry. Fair enough, but new words stand or fall by their connotations in vulgar minds. Do the former Saatchis want to be forever associated with cordite (the smell of gunfire after a battle), cordelier (a strict and bullying Franciscan friar) and cordon (the fencing off of an infected region from a healthy one)? It's all too horribly metaphorical. Speaking for myself, "cordiant" instantly brings a cormorant flapping into my head. And the old word for cormorant (now redundant) is, of course, a shag. There can't be anything wrong with having the world think of you as a collection of redundant shags, can there?

Elton John cut a dignified, or at least an unembarrassing figure at the Brits on Monday, where he picked up a Life Achievement award and sang I'm Still Standing at the end. For the flipside of both qualities - the dignity and the carrying oneself upright - fans should hurry to the new issue of Q magazine, out next week, which features probably the most explicit interview with a rock star since Lemmy from Motorhead tried to bite off bits of himself, mid-conversation, while driving down the M1 at 120mph.

"Sometimes when I'm flying over the Alps," Elton reminisces, "I think, that's like all the cocaine I sniffed." Asked what sort of drunk he was, the former Rocket Man replies: "Vicious. Reducing best friends to tears and the next day not being able to remember ... Once in Los Angeles, I was so drunk and the next day, Bernie Taupin phoned and said, `I've never been so ashamed of you in my life'. I said, `Why?' Apparently, I was just disgraceful. I was trying to kiss Ray Davies." So now we know what - in rock 'n' roll circles anyway - is the ultimate act of blasphemous lese- majeste.

When did your hairdresser last say anything interesting? "See the match last night?" "Going anywhere nice for your holidays?" "Keeping busy, are you?" - this is the short change of the trichologist's obiter dicta. Not so in Fulham, where every two months I put my efflorescing barnet into the hands of a youth called Billy. (The salon also employs a Japanese lady called Kooi, who cuts my daughter's hair: Billy and Kooi - a romantic place.) Last week, Billy revealed he suffered from asthma. Oh, I asked, a childhood complaint, is it? Nah, he said. Parrot.

Come again? "My son got a parrot for a present, Colin by name, and it used to shed its feathers a lot, so I'd make the feathers into collages and draw a beak on them and give them to friends." And? "Well, parrots - as you know - produce a special body dust to keep their wings dry in the rain, and the dust gets into your lungs when it flies about."

So that gave you asthma? "Not exactly," said Billy, with the air of a man who has been the talk of Harley Street. "Extrinsic allergic alveolitis to be precise, also known as Pigeon Fancier's Lung. Terrible condition. You have to take steroids, which brings you out in rashes, scabs on the cranium ... it's all cleared up now, of course. It just took some drastic action."

"You mean the Department of Tropical Medicines at Guy's Hospital?"

"Nah. Got rid of the parrot. Swapped it for a hamster called Nellie."

All this and a fancy new hairstyle. I looked on the bill for an "Interesting Facts 'n' Info" surcharge, but there was, bafflingly, no sign.

Into my hands has fallen the most revolting catalogue I've ever seen. It's from Limbs and Things, a Bristol company whose jolly Toys-R-Us name belies the grossness of their productions. They make actual-size anatomical models of bits of the human body in frighteningly life-like near-flesh, and sell them to hospitals for training purposes. It's an idea that would have been applauded by anatomy teachers 200 years ago (and by Jack the Ripper, I dare, say, 100 years ago); but it's with mixed feelings that one surveys the price list. A liver costs £120, as does an "Ingrowing toenail (life-size)", but I mean, £850 for a fully-operational knee is a bit of a facer. Veins, on the other hand, are a snip at £15 each with optional phials of mock blood at only £3.50. Can this be what they mean by body consumerism?

It must be a biographer's nightmare. For years, you have painstakingly charted the life of a long-dead literary figure, whose complete works have long been tucked away in the canon of literature. Then you read in the Sunday Times that your subject's oeuvre has been virtually doubled by the discovery of 300 "new poems". This was the dilemma facing Richard Holmes, prize-winning author of Coleridge: The Early Years, when Dr James Mays of University College, Dublin, revealed to the paper the result of his 20-year researches through every cranny of the Coleridgean universe.

Initially, Holmes was delighted. "I hold my hands up in applause at this work," he said. "Since many of these discoveries are from the second half of his career, and I'm working on Volume Two, it's a marvellous gift for me." Then he read the ST piece properly and called back.

"Hang on," said Holmes. "These aren't new poems. At least the ones mentioned in the Sunday Times aren't. Several of them appear in Coleridge's letters, especially to his assistant JH Greene. They may not be part of the Collected Poems, but we know of their existence all right." Mr Holmes, whose concluding volume of Coleridge's life is out in late 1996, is the least competitive of men. But he could not conceal in his voice the authentic note of the academic infighter: "As for this claim about the sonnet Fancy in Nubius being found in Rome, written on a piece of seaweed. It may well have been found there, but the original was written in 1818 on the promenade at Littlehampton...".

The search for a new literary editor at the Guardian continues glumly. The shortlist is now so long it rivals those of Emily and Schindler combined. One reason for lack of result may be the presence on the selection panel of James Wood, the newspaper's chief literary critic, a chap noted for his withering scorn at his elders and betters. It is not, however, his reputation that prospective candidates object to; more the experience of being interrogated about a job by a future employees. The idea has potential, though. Maybe the personnel department at British Gas or the NatWest should try it ...

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
Rebel, rebel: Vivienne Westwood in her baroque-influenced early-Nineties designs
fashionWhy we mustn't take Dame Vivienne Westwood for granted
News
The police have been criticised in a raid on the luxury home of Sir Cliff Richard
people
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tvStrictly presenter returns to screens after Halloween accident
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Sport
Dwight Gayle (left) celebrates making it 1-1 with Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak
premier leagueReds falter to humbling defeat
Sport
Harry Kane
premier leagueLive minute-by-minute coverage
Arts and Entertainment
Morgana Robinson
arts + entsIt is not easy interviewing Morgana Robinson. Here's why...
News
video
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
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 General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin