Pepys doesn't know what he's missing

Related Topics
"Dear RUDEE" writes Magy Higgs. "Your wheeze to let the readers do the writing while the `writer' cashes the cheque deserves top marks for something. Choose: Ingenuity ... cheek ... efficiency ... the reader- feel-good factor." Good grief, woman, has it completely escaped your attention that the workers who get paid most are those who delegate? I sit here listening to the merry hum of my fax machine and making crucial decisions about what emerges. I am editor and managing director of this column: I only wish the cheque reflected my importance.

"She was only a sausagemaker's daughter has inspired Mike Bradshaw to: "But she curst every wurst that she burst" and John Hobson to "But she knew her Long Johns from her Franks."

Sebastian Robinson struck a chord with:

Sadly they trudge round the

Royal Academy,

All the good bourgeois, for

Culture athirst,

Yearning for Art to be repre-


Who do they end up with?

Damien Hirst.

I was given a sharp rap over the knuckles by a Hirstophile after being rude last year about the Turner shortlist so I wish it to be known that I try - God knows I try - to keep an open mind. Only the other day, finding myself in St James's with time on my hands, I applied myself to two extremely modern exhibitions. The first - to be found at the Economist Tower - is called "2 seconds 9 months", for, as the artist, Maria Marshall, explains, "An ejaculation of 2 seconds is sufficient to provide enough sperm to fertilise an egg; 9 months is self-explanatory."


The visual bit is OK, if you fancy a metaphor in the shape of a vast wooden-slatted pyramid housing baby pine trees, but what really grabbed my attention was Ms Marshall's diary of her pregnancy - complete with doctor's commentary. Now I'm well-up on boring diaries. When writing the history of The Economist I had to skim 60 years of the fantastically dull journal of one Eliza Bagehot, daughter of the paper's founder and wife of Walter, the third editor. A typical entry read "Got up late as had bad headache. Lady Radice called and told me Mrs Midget was unwell. Zoe read part of Mr Gladstone's speech to me pm."

Then last year, when I wrote a crime novel about a fox-hunting bill, I had to bone up on hunt diaries that made Eliza seem Pepys-like by comparison. I still keep instructions from an Edwardian autobiography: "In it should be noted the hounds he hunts with, the meets he attends, the distance to them, the weather, the directions of the wind, a concise account of the day's sport, and any noteworthy incident in it ... does not the soldier's art consist of order, simplicity and clearness?"

So does Ms Marshall's. And though more selective than the Antipodean who was in the news recently for keeping a record of every single event in his life, from the few pages I could see she appears to omit no detail, however slight, relating to her pregnancy. Where she goes further than Eliza, hunt diarists or the Antipodean is in selling it for pounds 350 plus VAT in a limited edition of 29.

I proceeded to the ICA and found Chapmanworld, an exhibition consisting mainly of pairs of child-like mannequins fused together in interesting places and naked except for their trainers. Upstairs a skeleton mannequin suspended from the ceiling dripped copious amounts of red fluid into a bucket: on the wall was a notice disclaiming responsibility for damage caused to clothing by splashes of blood.

I did not sign up for the workshop, exploring through discussion and practical experiment the Chapman use of distorted focus. OK, OK, so I'm bourgeois.

Improbability of the week: A marathon reading of Ulysses on Sunday at the James Joyce Centre in Dublin was kicked off by Jeffrey Archer. Which leads me neatly into the ICA postcard of the day with its Molly Bloom overtones. Jacky Fleming draws one woman saying to another: "then he said why was I always trying to CHANGE him and I said probably because he's such an obnoxious thoughtless selfish overbearing self-righteous hypocritical arrogant loudmouthed misogynist bastard..."

My fax number is 0181 932 4829 - not 4629.

Miles Kington is back next week.

React Now

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power