Chris Schuler: btw

Share

I had the good fortune this week to attend a lunch addressed by the amiable and indefatigably entertaining Gyles Brandreth, who was promoting his new book Oscar Wilde and the Candlelit Murders, the second in a series of Victorian mysteries in which the flamboyant man of letters engages in a spot of sleuthing. Recalling how an elderly teacher at his school had once known Lord Alfred Douglas, Brandreth shook the hand of the diner seated next to him, exclaiming: "You are shaking the hand that shook the hand that shook the hand that shook the hand of Oscar Wilde." I was inevitably put in mind of the story of how James Joyce, approached by a fan who asked, "May I have the privilege of shaking the hand that wrote Ulysses?" replied: "I wouldn't if I were you. It's done a lot else besides."

Ooh, er. Carla Bruni, lissom consort of the President of France, can be seen disporting herself in her scanties while strumming a guitar in a new advertisement for Lancia that was, ahem, unveiled at the European Motor Show in Brussels on Thursday. The previous weekend, Tony Blair drew enthusiastic applause from a gathering of Nicolas Sarkozy's party, the UPM, when he described their great helmsman as "very active in all areas". Now, there's no better way to win over a French audience than by praising the manly vigour of their elected representative. And no doubt there will have been those among them who, recalling Cherie's "five times a night" boast, will assume that our former prime minister knows whereof he speaks.

While we're on the subject, the manufacturers of Marmite are launching a special St Valentine's Day limited edition of the popular savoury spread, with an added dash of champagne. Aficionados will be relieved to hear that it's packaged in the traditional glass jar, not the disappointing new squeezy version, with a label that reads "For my lovely Marmite lover". Am I missing something here? I can't quite see the romantic potential of yeast extract. Perhaps M. Sarkozy can enlighten us.

Meanwhile, spare a thought for the 84-year-old Estonian opera-goer who spent a night locked in the lavatory at the opera house in Tallinn last week after a performance of Rossini's Cinderella. The retired music teacher went to spend a penny after the three-and-a-half-hour Sunday matinee, and was only discovered 20 hours later when staff arrived to reopen the building on Monday morning. "This is very embarrassing," said a spokesman for the Estonian National Opera. "It's not the first time that an opera-goer has been locked in the lavatory in Tallinn. The last occasion was in November when an American who was very drunk got locked in."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN 1:1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Y1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Y1 Teacher required for a So...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Scottish referendum: The people of my country have brought a catastrophe upon themselves by voting No

Simon Brooke
Young voters leave a polling station in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh  

Scottish referendum results: The independence question is resolved for a generation at least

Douglas Alexander
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week