Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (28/08/11)

Never one to shirk off, even for bank holidays

Share
Related Topics

Operas at English National Opera may not always be sung in English, according to its 36-year-old music director, Edward Gardner. In an interview with Norman Lebrecht to be broadcast on Radio 3 this week, Gardner gives his strongest indication yet that he is prepared to tamper with the ENO's sacred unique selling point.

"I wonder if in a few years we might possibly look at doing an original language opera," he says, risking the wrath of ENO's most traditional supporters. Speaking about the pitfalls of translation, he adds: "There is something lost – I'm not going to deny. It's a compromise. The allure of the language, especially Italian can get a little bit lost, and you're hopefully replacing it with something more immediate."

The first step may be to perform an opera in two languages. "My big idea is to do an Ariadne in two languages – with the comedic scenes in English, the opera itself in German."

ENO was founded by Emma Cons, a Victorian philanthropist who staged popular operas for the poor in English. And yes, that is the sound of her spinning in her grave, in English, of course.

Novelist Philip Hensher will provoke a backlash against homosexuals if he keeps writing such graphic gay sex scenes, says the ex-Sunday Telegraph editor Peregrine Worsthorne. A heated exchange between the writers has been running in the letters page of The Spectator since Worsthorne slammed Hensher's latest novel for its "unseemly anatomical accounts" of provincial orgies.

To those who remember Worsthorne's stance on homosexuality in the Eighties, this may come as no surprise. But he insists he is not homophobic, simply that he finds Hensher's sex scenes "hard to believe" and "depressingly impersonal".

"Philip Hensher and Alan Hollinghurst are two of our greatest contemporary writers," he tells me, "and of course I believe in free speech. But reading Hensher's latest novel I was shocked by all the grisly detail. It's completely unnecessary."

Worsthorne adds that far from being anti-gay, he has "spent much of my time in the gay world", and was recently named a gay icon by a magazine. Hensher, meanwhile, doesn't seem to be taking Worsthorne too seriously: "I really don't give a toss," he says.

A group of poets hoping to rescue The Travel Bookshop need to wake up to the realities of running a small business, says its founder, Sarah Anderson.

Made famous as the venue where Hugh Grant meets Julia Roberts in the film Notting Hill, the bookshop is closing, despite becoming a Mecca for fans of the rom com.

Anderson, the author of a moving account of growing up with one arm, Halfway to Venus, sold the business after 25 years in 2004. "Of course I am sad it's closing," she tells me. "But it's just too tough to run an independent bookshop these days."

Last week, TV presenter Ben Fogle and a number of poets volunteered to run the shop for free until a new owner was found. But staff costs are not the problem, warns Anderson. "Everyone dreams of running a bookshop and sitting there writing poetry all day," she says. "The reality is rather different. Rates and rent have gone up, and no one can compete with Amazon."

Speaking of Fogle – why doesn't he put his money where his mouth is and buy it? Earlier this month he was trying to buy Taransay, the Scottish island where Castaway was filmed. We're sure the bookshop is up for a lot less than £2m.

Much buck-passing between the British Council and the Foreign Office, over who knew what about Hana Gaddafi. She is the adopted daughter of Colonel Gaddafi, who he claimed had been killed by the US in 1986, with all the propaganda value that entailed.

But, last week, Irish Times journalist Mary Fitzgerald found a certificate from the British Council dated 19 July 2007, showing "a Hana Muammar Gaddafi had completed an English-language course at its Libyan centre, achieving an A grade". A British Council spokesman denies that they failed to alert authorities at the time, saying the British Embassy would have known. "It's certainly not something we would keep a secret," he says. "The embassy would have been aware. But there's a possibility that she was a different daughter, who was adopted and renamed in memory of the Hana that was killed, which is not unheard of in Libya."

It premiered on Friday at the Edinburgh Television Festival, but the hilarious Channel 4 film, Comic Strip, The Hunt for Tony Blair, will not screen on TV until October – on the day the Chilcot report on Iraq is made public.

Featuring Jennifer Saunders as Margaret Thatcher, the ludicrous plotline sees Stephen Mangan's Blair end up in bed with Thatcher. But it has subtler touches: the theatre where the denouement takes place is called The Chilcot.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones