Saturday, 29 May 2010

This Week's Scandals of the Rich and Famous

Scandals of the week:

#1 Alain de Botton confesses to feeding his dinner party guests with what sounds like Smash*. I wonder whether in his ongoing quest to take on the persona of Theodore Zeldin, he's thinking of inviting random members of the poor to attend? (Zeldin would approach a member of Oxford's unemployed to invite them to Sunday lunch with him and his friends - God knows what they made of it. I wonder how much of Zeldin's research for an Intimate History of Humanity was perpetrated on these unwitting lunch guests?). Anyway, Smash. If I were one of those impoverished surprise guests I'd complain - even the poor can afford potatoes.

#2 Ringo Starr attends Chelsea Flower Show and the caption to the photo that appears in The Telegraph describes him as 'the narrator of Thomas the Tank Engine'. I know he wasn't a great drummer, but he really was a full member of that band, you know, those ones, The Thingies. (H/t Hooting Yard).

#3 Christopher Hitchens is exposed as being not just crapulous in the mornings but also a bit portly.

#4 David Laws... Nothing to see here people, move on, move on.

* I heard of this incident because someone told me about it. They, in turn, had read it in a newspaper, one that is not available online.


Barendina Smedley said...

The dinner party piece is online, isn't it, here? Granted, if de Botton regularly asks people round in order to serve up Smash and ask them 'what is the point in your life?' then I am not surprised that he has enough free time left for a successful writing career - or perhaps some cookery and deportment lessons.

And now I shall go back to grinding my teeth over the unjust persecution of the sea green incorruptible Mr Laws, almost the only person in politics right now whom I quite like, and hence self-evidently doomed.

Sean said...

Alain de Botton knocking up Smash does not suprise me one bit.

Alain de Botton dinner party

Brit said...

Horrible, snidey Grauniad hatchet job on Hitchens that. I wonder how Decca Aitkenhead (who he? she?) would have done it if Hitch had been anti-Iraq, ie. orthodox left?

zmkc said...

That Hitchens thing is so po-faced - as if written by a prefect who will never understand people who don't aspire to pleasing anyone but themselves.

Gaw said...

Barendina: Oh yes. I assumed once the shutters came down it that would be it. How confusing. Now I've read it, I'm also shocked by his parsimony: one bottle of red and one bottle of white? I wouldn't stay long.

Re Laws I initially felt strongly he should stay - as he did what he did for reasons of privacy - but I ended up thinking he had to go for this reason: why did he not stop paying rent in 2006 when the rules changed given that records of expenses were still secret then? If something had got out of the Fees Office he could have said he stayed with friends who were kind enough not to charge him. I'm sure there wouldn't have been a story in it.

One may think the rules are a nonsense but they are the rules, and legislators need to acknowledge that more than the rest of us.

It's a terrible pity and a grievous loss but you make your choices and have to live with them.

Anyway, he may get off if the Fees Office determine that the other fellow wasn't his 'partner', as defined. But again, surely it would have been best if he hadn't brought the need for such a public judgement upon himself?

Sean: Excellent! It is like he's from another planet...

Brit and z: One of the most pathetic pieces I've ever read. She came out far worse than C Hitchens.

It was as if she was trying to manoeuvre herself to look him in the eye, couldn't get up there, so decided to drag him down by whatever came to hand.

No Good Boyo said...

A good test of the worth of a person is whether they admire Hitch. I've disagreed with much of what he's said in public for decades, but consider him a fine man. He'd never say "I'm visiting Cuba before the Americans ruin it, for example".

De Botton's book on Proust is a delight, but he clearly wasn't bullied enough at school. Perhaps a spell in jail would make up for it.

Barendina Smedley said...

You make those points about Laws in a much more sane and reasonable way than pretty much anyone else has done, Gareth, and I do understand the points you are making. All I'd say - and I'm sure it's something you've considered already, so I'm probably just saying it to (re) convince myself - is that, back in the mists of 2006, those parliamentary allowances felt far more flexible, far more like funds that were there for the taking, than like the stern test of ultimate moral probity into which the saintly souls at the Daily Telegraph and elsewhere converted them c. 2009. Personally, I despair (again - but why not keep in practice?) of a system wherein a man who might well have saved our public finances literally billions ends up losing his job for having, perhaps, at the margins, have made a misjudgement concerning rather less than £40,000. But anyway, I've said my piece so that's probably enough of that.

As for the Hitch piece, though, I agree with everyone here. It all made me want to ask the journalist questions along the lines of, 'So, are you a really lovely sight first thing in the morning? Would you like to tell us a bit more about your own personal relationships and whether they've been entirely succesful? And since you're obviously admirably clean-living, what exactly has held you back from achieving pretty much anything in the realms of criticism, political commentary and so forth, unlike the paunchy and hard-living Hitch? Have you considered whether the odd 10 am dram might make you less of a humourless, po-faced witch?' (Etc, etc.)

Gaw said...

It's all very depressing and I regret where the literalist logic takes one. What a fuck-up.

Have you seen Danny Alexander interviewed? His media training is front and centre, you can see through the tricks as they're deployed. So not only do I fear he hasn't the technical wherewithal but I'm not sure he's even going to be a very effective advocate.

Sean said...

Laws was brilliant at the dispatch box wed. he is serious intellectual artillary.

How is it these AAA+ male minds all seem to be gay?

As for Jessica, what a contrast, but then again politics at manchester I should guess is like having a lobotomy.

Gaw said...

Funny how Laws was at King's, Cambridge like Turing.

Gaw said...

NGB: Agree - Hitchen's prose style is enough to take him seriously, never mind what he says.

Sean said...

Cambridge exludes him from being PM then. Maybe we should not be suprised at the events of the last 24 hours.

Barendina Smedley said...

It could be worse, of course. Had Laws chosen Trinity instead of King's he would have had to be not just very clever and a bit gay, but also a spy.

Gaw said...

Ha! Academic predestination is an interesting one, isn't it? Not sure how you parse it in my case however.

malty said...

Sometime shortly a cow, grazing in the Italian Val Veni will quench its thirst from the stream that winds its way from the southern slopes of the Mont Blanc range, it will pause, turn to its companion and moo 'mamma mia, that a water tastes of Cadburys Smash.'
Some years earlier, once again benighted by electric storms on the Peuteray ridge's Aiguille Blanche one of the party produced a sachet of Smash, peeled it open held it was taken by the wind, blown into the abyss, ending its days on the glacier thousands of feet below, slowly being carried ever downward to the valley floor.
Later we decided that one so careless with the provinder could not be trusted on the rope, don't ring us, we'll ring you.

Gaw said...

That sounds a fine way to put a potato to rest: scatter its dried particles across the Alps. I'm sure it's what it would have wanted.