Simmy Richman: Galloway feels the heat, caught at the net, in the hot seat, and Noel’s masterclass


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The Independent Online

By George, he’s done it!

Last week this column posed the thorny question of what would happen if an Israeli citizen purchased a ticket for the London Grill Club’s Q&A with George Galloway planned for 12 February (Galloway is on the record as saying he will not debate with Israelis, yet the Grill Club is a forum open to all).

Well, guess what? The Right Honourable MP for Bradford West has pulled out of the event citing “urgent constituency commitments”. Could it be that the man who faced down the US Senate could not cope with an hour of questions put to him by Grill Club founder David Selves? More importantly, the event is now urgently in need of a new guest.

Any public figures not terrified by the idea of the democratic process can contact the London Grill Club directly through its website (

Court-side controversy

While the new-media trolls who aimed abuse at Beth Tweddle grabbed all the headlines, an altogether more insidious slice of everyday sexism flew largely under the radar last week. It happened at the Australian Open tennis after the surprise victory of 19-year-old Eugenie Bouchard over the 14th seed, Ana Ivanovic.

Bouchard, the first Canadian player to reach the semi-finals of the tournament (she lost), came off court expecting the usual “So how does it feel?” banality in front of the crowd and the television cameras. Step forward Samantha Smith, the British-number-one-turned-commentator for Australia’s Channel Seven.

Did Smith use the time to grill Bouchard about her technique and training and dedication and skill? Did she hell. “You’re getting a lot of fans here,” she told the embarrassed-looking Bouchard, “and a lot of them are male. And they want to know: if you could date anyone in the world – of sports, of movies – who would you date?”

When Bouchard uncurled her toes she spluttered Justin Bieber. Her fellow Canadian teen star was, ahem, unavailable for comment.

Sit down and take notice

They are everywhere but we barely notice them. They gather around tables, but we never talk to them. They offer unconditional support and in return we stick our bums on them.

They are chairs, and unless they are shaped like black women in fetish clothing and a have a multimillionaire “philanthropist, entrepreneur and fashion designer” parked on them, they rarely grab the headlines. So, perhaps that astonishing picture of Dasha Zhukova did serve a purpose after all.

Here is a top five of noteworthy chairs, a hot list of hot seats, if you must:

1. Copy of Arne Jacobsen model 3107 chair (made famous by 1963 Lewis Morley photograph of the woman at the centre of the Profumo affair, Christine Keeler);

2. Red velvet thrones (as sat upon by  David and Victoria Beckham as they  toasted their wedding guests in 1999);

3. Couch (a gift from a Madame Benvenisti to Sigmund Freud in Vienna around 1890. Currently in need of renovation);

4. Wood and wicker chair in yellow (as painted by Vincent van Gogh in 1888-89. Acquired by the National Gallery,  London, in 1924);

5. Eames Soft Pad Lounge Chair,  circa 1969 (better known as the  ‘Mastermind chair. The original was given as a gift to the show’s first host,  Magnus Magnusson, upon his retirement  in 1997).

Beat the crush

First Facebook claimed the words “like” and “book” as its own, and then, last week, games developer King had its application to trademark the word “candy” approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The move is directly targeted at apps such as  All Candy Casino Slots – which use the word to attract the attention of anyone looking to download King’s hugely  popular Candy Crush game – but what might happen should King decide to get aggressive?

The actor John Candy is probably safe by dint of the fact that he died in 1994. But the recording artists behind “I Want Candy”, “Candy Girl” and “Candy Says” may wish to seek pre-emptive legal advice. Any move to stop Robbie Williams from singing his recent hit “Candy” again would, of course, be roundly applauded.

Hero of the week

It was recorded a little while ago, but the audio commentary by Noel Gallagher to the Oasis DVD Time Flies did not really garner much attention until last week, when someone called “nutsngum2” decided to post an edited-highlights version on YouTube. At the time of writing, the video had notched up more than a quarter of a million views in four days. Which will come as no surprise to anyone who has had the pleasure of watching it.

Highlights are many, but this soliloquy is a masterclass in the sort of honesty that can destroy a career in pop music (expletives removed for reasons of space rather than propriety): “I hate videos. I hate everything about them. I hate the fact they cost a fortune. I hate the fact you’ve got to be there at eight in the morning. I hate the fact that you don’t leave until eight the next morning. I don’t like the fact that the people who are making them think they are making Apocalypse Now. It’s bollocks. It’s nonsense.”

Noel, if the High Flying Birds thing refuses to take off, a career as the next Karl Pilkington awaits.

For no rhyme or reason

Another in an increasingly regular series of limericks based on recent events:

Though drinking in bars is reviving

An M40 location’s surprising

But a shiny new pub 

At this motorway hub

Means they trust we’ll not drink if we’re driving

Twitter: @simmyrichman