Picture by Paris-based photographer Ed Alcock (for ES magazine), whose book Hobbledehoy is out now.
I loved interviewing Femen co-founder Inna Shevchenko in Russian (and a tiny bit — troshki — of Ukrainian) in Paris for ES magazine for the London Evening Standard. I have mixed feelings about Femen and the point of what they’re doing. And, as I stated in the piece, I worry for their safety: they are extremists and that attracts the attention of other extremists. But Shevchenko is a fascinating and intelligent young woman with her heart in the right place. I was sorry she had not heard of Germaine Greer.
Hilariously, a picture of me with Femen got me a warning from Facebook. (You’re not allowed to publish pictures of nipples.) And when I posted the link to this piece on the Standard website, I was banned from Facebook for 24 hours. I daren’t risk putting this picture there again…
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday (“Rachel Johnson is away”) about the remarkable regeneration of Victoria Beckham (“Posh in Not-As-Objectionable-As-You-Once-Thought Shocker!), Susanna Reid on Strictly, the critic who attacked Sarah Silverman and the UK Twerking Championships. All the most important global news stories, basically.
I can’t say enough good things about Elizabeth Gilbert’s wonderful new novel The Signature of All Things. I really did not think I wanted to read a novel about a 19th century botanist, and I resisted my proof copy for a couple of months because of that. But I was wrong. I really did want to read about a 19th century botanist, Alma Whittaker, and she’s one of the greatest heroines I’ve come across in a long time.
Thankfully this was a return to form (not that Downton Abbey has any reliable form), as most of the commenters seem to agree. In fact it almost felt like an apology for last week’s shenanigans. Which I won’t go into here for (a) fear of spoilerising and (b) fear of recurrence of my post-traumatic stress disorder.
Not the first piece written on the cronut/duffin craze (in today’s Observer) and it won’t be the last. The most irritating thing about this “Franken-pastry” story, which has particularly caught the American imagination, is that all it does is make you want to try the hybrid sugar vehicles in question to judge for yourself. Which makes it all into a big marketing exercise. I’ve held off the Starbucks duffin for now. But this won’t last.
Writing in the Big Issue about how I have been compared to (a) fat Renee Zellweger and (b) Home Secretary Theresa May. I know which I’d prefer. No offence, Theresa. You’re cute as a button and have great shoes. But you’re also 57. (Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with being 57.)
Writing in today’s Independent on Sunday Magazine about the return of Bridget Jones.”Bridget Jones was born in 1995, aged 32. The first column – “9st. The irreversible slide into obesity” – appeared in The Independent on 28 February, the week that Barings Bank collapsed. John Major had been prime minister for half a decade and would be there for another two years to come. The expression “New Labour” was yet to be used on a Labour Party draft manifesto. Later that year Pierce Brosnan played Bond in GoldenEye and the Princess of Wales played herself in the Martin Bashir documentary watched by 22.78 million people. The novel of the year? Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.”
The pictures (above) were a hardship. We got through a whole pack of Marlboro Red (not very Bridget, I’m sure she smoked Silk Cut) trying to get the shot. And no-one on the shoot smoked so we were all nearly sick. Good times!
Here is some royal baby nonsense for people who are fans of royal baby nonsense: A Guide to Having a New Baby (Not Necessarily Royal) and 10 Royal Babies in Fiction. Both from the Observer. So tongue-in-cheek. Not forelock-tugging. Supposedly.
My mid-life crisis stand-up comedy memoir I Laughed, I Cried: How One Woman Took On Stand-Up and (Almost) Ruined Her Life is out one month today! Hurrah!
To mark the countdown, Orion has released 10 copies for a giveaway on GoodReads.com. Click here to put your name in the hat. But hurry! The giveaway is only open until 10 June. And if you win, you are supposed to post a review on Goodreads (however short and however negative – it’s OK, I am used to heckling).
Other news so far: Last week it went in at No. 1 on Hot New Releases in Comedy on Amazon. Pick of the Month for June in The Bookseller. Best Non-Fiction Read in Good Housekeeping: “A seize-the-day memoir to inspire anyone with a long-held dream.” In the pages of their June issue I sit proudly alongside ANN WIDDECOMBE. Just as I happily would at any social function. I await your call, Ann. Bring Anton with you.