Matthew Bell: Rant & Rave (04/03/12)

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The Independent Online


Obviously I'm as jubilant as the next Hampstead liberal that the National Gallery has bought Titian's Diana and Callisto for £45m, because it means we can all enjoy it alongside its sister painting, Diana and Actaeon, forever after. But please can we stop using that meaningless phrase "saved for the nation"? A more accurate description of what happened on Thursday would be that "a ludicrous amount of money was splurged by a legacy-hungry gallery director on a work by an Italian painter, 20 of whose works the gallery already owns".

It's not that I don't appreciate Titian – only on Tuesday I used a spare 10 minutes to admire his Bacchus and Ariadne. But spare us the hysterics about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to rescue vital works. If the National hadn't splashed out, some other museum or collector would have, and would probably have loaned it back to us in due course. And just look at the success of the Leonardo exhibition, in which most of the works were on loan. Instead of costing the gallery a fortune, it generated one.


Anne Robinson is all over the place again, promoting a couple of TV shows. And being an attention-seeking ex-wine-hound, she can't resist barfing up headline-ready quotes for any hack who'll ask. So she told the Mirror that dating at her age (68) is like "fishing in a very small pond", as all men have pot bellies and bad breath. Then there are the facelifts: she's begging her surgeon for a third, even though she's already had so much work that she looks like Wee Jimmy Krankie.

Some people seem to mind that the woman who made her fortune by being poisonous, shallow and rude is still all of the above. Personally, I rather admire her. Who else admits to having two TV shows "just to irritate Selina Scott", who has none? And who else savages interviewers who tiptoe round her plastic surgery by barking: "Why don't people just say what they mean?" Why indeed? Anne – you're ghastly, but I like you.