The chill of the chase: Overfamiliar on the Underground


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In journalism, as in comedy, timing is everything. Chances are that you have seen by now the video of the woman walking down the street in New York and getting more than 100 "catcalls". But while that promotional film for the Hollaback! movement is still getting attention for a variety of reasons, no one seems to have pointed out that the day after the Hollaback! film went viral, the free newspaper Metro devoted a double-page spread to a book by the American writer Brian Robinson called How to Meet Women on the Subway.

In what could be seen as a stalker's charter, Metro sent its own reporter out on to the London Underground to try Robinson's tricks out on British women. "It was time to follow Robinson's step-by-step guide: clock a woman on the platform, follow her on to the train, sit next to her, wait 13 seconds, look lost, ask for help," and so on, the reporter suggests.

Even disregarding the timing of the piece, did nobody at any time stop and think: this is open to misinterpretation?

A dream commission

A couple of months ago an announcement appeared on the Arts Council website. "We're looking for artists who are willing to create a piece of artwork in their sleep. If you want to take part you will be agreeing to spend one night in an ibis hotel and paint your sleep as soon as you wake up."

One of the successful applicants was the Basingstoke-based artist Sian Storey, who recently spent the night at one of the group's hotels in London's Blackfriars to create her work. "While I was sleeping the ibis Sleep Art app on my phone tracked my sounds and movements and created a picture which I saw when I woke up. I then set to work to paint a piece inspired by the app's creation," she says.

Storey, and the other artists selected, will see their work go on show at the Gallery Different in Bloomsbury, London, from 24 November, while other artists will be sleeping in the gallery and adding more works as the exhibition progresses.

"It is probably the strangest thing I've ever done," says Storey, who has previously painted a Swinging London bus and a Book Bench. And did the app's picture look any different after her night in the hotel to the ones she creates in her own bed? "Well, the dreams I have at home tend to be yellow and green," she says, "while the hotel one was purple and blue, the colours of luxury and calmness."

No doubt the international hotel group behind this strange venture will like that.

The wrong wavelength

Meanwhile, the BBC World Service's flagship arts show appears to be struggling to find interviewees to fit its new Piers Morgan-style brief. An email is being sent to various media outlets that reads: "Arts Daily is a high-profile career interview slot [with a] worldwide audience of 42 million. What we need is successful artists who have particularly interesting personal stories. Stories that will communicate around the world to Uganda, Ukraine and Uruguay – where listeners relate more to the emotional value of the story, than to the art."

My mole in the publishing industry writes to say: "I think it is unbelievably patronising to suggest that people in Uganda etc can't relate to art, only emotions. Isn't the whole point of art that it imitates life? So, now we have the flagship arts show on the World Service that doesn't do arts, only true-life stories. And they're clearly struggling to find guests as they're always emailing us."

One smart idea

You might recall that a few months ago the editor of this newspaper and the editor of The Independent slugged it out (metaphorically, natch) in The Independent on Sunday over pros and cons of wearing a suit to the office. Now a businessman from San Francisco, Jesse Herzog, has come up with a Third Way of dressing for work.

It is, I kid you not, a business-suit onesie called (what else?) the Suitsy, and Herzog is currently seeking crowdfunding to bring his creation to life. According to the promo video on the Betabrand website, Herzog has even overcome the Achilles heel of onesie design: a solution to the question of what to do when nature calls.

Subs standard

"Do you get bitter subs giving you s*** for that," asked one Reddit user to Giles Coren as he undertook an Ask Me Anything last week (the "that" in question being Coren's infamous letter to Times sub-editors in 2008). "All subs are bitter," he replied. "I don't demand to see copy, I ask and they comply. If they've only p***ed on it, I count myself lucky." Nice to see he's mellowed.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

One day dressed in black you're the man,

The next you are getting a ban,

And because of his crime,

The ref's serving his time,

By being an Ed Sheeran fan.