Tuesday
30
October
2012

Archive: The shadow of Princess Leia

 

 

On this day a year ago I was writing about Carrie Fisher in the Observer, the woman who likes to say, “George Lucas ruined my life.”  Fisher is such a wonderful writer (Postcards from the Edge, Wishful Drinking). As well as a great actress and all-round mega-fascinating Hollywood type, obviously.

The daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, she had a showbiz childhood from which she has perhaps never quite recovered. (Although who ever really recovers from their childhood?) “I thought everybody had stepmothers living in bungalows at the Beverly Hills hotel wearing negligees.” Her father had a passionate affair with Liz Taylor when Carrie was two.

Fave quote? “I just basically have too much personality for one person and not quite enough for two.”  Shockaholic, her memoir about her mental health and experiences with electroconvulsive therapy, is next on the reading list.

 

Carrie Fisher pic by Alan Light. Black and white cover pic: original Leia-coiffed Hungarian actress Franciska Gaal.

Saturday
20
October
2012

The shape of things to come

 

 

 

Gaga, Lena Dunham, Salma Hayek, Christina Hendricks and a new female aesthetic? Debating with Polly Vernon in today’s Observer about whether we can stop being so “fascist” (sub-editors’ word, not mine) about body shape. Polly says, “We’ve reached a tipping point on women and weight.” I say, “It’s all so much guff when 99.9% of bodies displayed in TV, films and magazines basically conform to a standard.” It would be nice if things really were changing, though, wouldn’t it?

Loved the comments and tweets on this. “Enjoyed reading this debate. Wanted it to go on.” “Usually I hate the ‘body image’ hype and debate that surrounds it but this Guardian debate is insightful AND snarky.” “Excellent debate on body trends with women and body image. I see both sides daily with patients.” “Fit is the new sexy.” “When journos do the email debate thing, it’s usually polite. Not quite so for Polly V and Viv G on body size.” I thought we were perfectly polite! I just pointed out that we are separated by five dress sizes. That is just a fact I thought the readers ought to know about…

Gaga picture by Yne Van De Mergel.

Saturday
20
October
2012

Downton: Have You Been Watching?

 

 

“Hello? What’s that you say? We’re over halfway through Series 3 and so it’s time for one of those Guardian Have You Been Watching? blogs? Indeed.” For Downton Abbey, the story so far, click here. Warning: spoilers. Downton is really having a moment since last week’s narrative bombshell. This post is today’s Most Viewed on the Guardian’s TV pages. Last week’s series blog was 5th Most Viewed on the entire Guardian website, had tens of thousands of hits straight after transmission and a record number of 300+ comments (see here). How on earth is Uncle Julian going to keep the momentum going until the end of the series? Isis the Labrador surely holds the key.

Sunday
14
October
2012

Interview: Sonia Rykiel

 

I interviewed Sonia Rykiel for a first-person memoir piece for Harper’s Bazaar August issue. The piece was then re-published in the Observer (here) and, this week, in You magazine. She was quite a character. Met her at her apartment in Paris which is all black lacquered walls and open wardrobes filled with fur coats.

She took one look at me and said, “If you are a larger woman, you need to know how to dress well.” I was not sure whether this was a compliment or an insult. Either way, she was cool. On her life with Parkinson’s: “What I don’t like is when they say: “Oh, isn’t she fantastically brave?” I’m not brave, I’m not fantastic. I’m like any other woman. I’m unhappy. I’m difficult. I’m sad. Am I strong, too? Maybe, but not always.” 

Sunday
14
October
2012

Mail on Sunday column

Covering for Suzanne Moore in today’s Mail on Sunday. Respect is due to France’s First Lady Valerie Trierweiler. Menage a six? Phew. Don’t really care what she has got up to in the past. But if she looks this good on it… I’ll have what she’s having.

Also: why Boris Johnson is the political equivalent of Jedward. Or Rylan. If the voting age is lowered to sixteen Boris has a serious chance of becoming PM. People will vote for him for the same reasons they vote for “joke” reality TV contestants: because they know they shouldn’t. Worrying.

Plus: Pussy Riot – one down, two to go. The GCSE fiasco continues as 45,000 resit their exams next month. And 34DD is apparently the new bra “average”? You wish. No. It’s just the PR people making tits of us again.

Saturday
13
October
2012

Interview: Monica McInerney

 

 

 

Interview with novelist Monica McInerney in today’s Guardian here about the day she was left looking after her 18-month-old niece and the baby almost choked to death. She didn’t tell her sister about the event for five years.

I love what she says about “the knife-edge that we’re always on in life.” “It was the moment I realised how much everything depends on crossroads in life. If something happens, it all goes in one direction. And if an alternative happens, then…” McInerney drew on this experience for the plot of her latest novel The House of Memories (see my Red review here). Recommended. 

Sunday
07
October
2012

Mail on Sunday column

Standing in for Suzanne Moore at the Mail on Sunday. Click here to read. This week: the charity Rethink Mental Illness says one in five GPs report patients contemplating suicide over the new “fitness to work” assessments. This is just the start of a brutal benefits crackdown. Tory bullies, this is not the time to stick the boot in…

Plus: Nicki Minaj versus Mariah Carey on American Idol. May the best bitch win. Jerry Hall for Strictly champion. Obama’s lacklustre debate performance. And Caroline Thomson, the female BBC Director General that never was. Instead a man got the job and made her redundant. Nice.

From online comments, on the one hand: “Great leader article.” “Time for Cameron to resign.” “Disabled people are easy targets.” “This week we will see just how nasty the Tory party is.” “They are kicking the poorest harder than even Thatcher or Major.” On the other: “What a naive and silly article.” Plus, there is blame for “professional breeders who come from other countries” (!) and “too many people claiming to be depressed or have a bad back or whatever who are simply making it up.”

But the most popular comment (people can vote for and against) comes from a single parent of a mentally disabled adult who risks having his benefits cut. So there is some compassion out there…

Saturday
06
October
2012

Paris Fashion Week Spat

 

 

 

 

 

Hedi Slimane’s debut as the new designer at Yves Saint Laurent has not been all champagne and roses. Diane Von Furstenberg (above) approves of his first collection, declaring the clothes “pure Saint Laurent.” But not everyone is a fan of “skinny suit” champion Slimane, the subject of today’s Observer profile. Handbags at dawn at Paris Fashion Week as he called New York Times fashion writer Cathy Horyn “provincial” and “average” after she dismissed his first womenswear show as “nice but frozen.” Elsewhere his show was described as “underwhelming” and greeted by “muted applause and hushed voices.” Miaow. Bet he wishes he’d stayed in menswear. 

Click here for link to “Catty” (Slimane’s expression) Horan’s original review.

Interesting responses to the Observer profile. The Guardian’s Alex Needham tweeted: “I know Hedi well. He is a fine, kind man – nothing like the person depicted in your piece.” Elsewhere on Twitter: “shamefully entertaining”, “beautiful write-up”, “Slimane gets a (not entirely undeserved) mauling”. Guardian online comments mostly focus on the readers’ deep-seated loathing for fashion (slightly mystifying why they clicked on a fashion piece but never mind): “Lifestyles of the spoilt and petulant”, “Who gives a frock?” “The fashion industry is […] heavily over-populated by children.” Never mind, YSL. No such thing as bad publicity…

 

Diane von Furstenberg pic by David Shankbone. Paris Match pic by Pink Moose.

Wednesday
03
October
2012

Turner Prize in Bonkers Shocker (Not)

 

Writing in today’s Independent about the Turner Prize. Now the Prize may spontaneously combust, safe in the knowledge that it has reached the limits of its powers. Because this year it features a work of art which depicts turds having sex with other turds. Favourite quote from The Sun: “Judges hail drawings of turds as ‘compelling life project.'”

 

‘This is not art’ chalk pic by Loran Davis. 

Sunday
30
September
2012

Downton: Episode Three

 

 

What a humdinger that was. Episode Three reviewed here. Poor, poor Edith. All that’s left for her now is to become a driving instructor. Poor, poor Matthew. He really doesn’t want Ginger Lavinia’s money at all, does he? And poor, poor Sybil. She has been pregnant for about three years.

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