Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Are Anna Wintour and Bill Nighy having sexual intercourse?

I have absolutely no idea. In fact I can say hand on cold heart that I could not care less. I am just hoping they don't cycle on pavements together. In Lycra. That would be too much.

Because most blogs are dreary in the extreme

Because most blogs are dreary in the extreme or just hack columns stuck on a space called blog I thought I'd return for a little while to show you how it's done.

The first thing to do as a blogger is to write as you would to a friend or foe. You can drop all those airs and graces.

Most people don't read closely but just skim before they skip off to do something probably not legal. They're in a hurry though they usually can't tell you why. It may be that something's cooking in the microwave or there's a screaming brat to play up to, but in most cases, hurrying is in itself the reason for hurrying. So I adopt a hurried style to match the hurried reading, with hurried reasoning. That way the hurried don't feel you're trying to button-hole them with wordy wankery and in consequence they feel in tune with the rush.

Hurrying is essentially pomposity about one's time and importance. The act of applying oneself to another person's energy emission is ever-so slightly humbling and so ought not to be protracted for fear of giving power away. And that ought not to be encouraged.

It goes without saying that anything read in a rush will be quickly forgotten because there's so much more to read in a hurry. No wonder people say time flies. No wonder people flee to the death camp Dignitas at the age of 54.

The new Madame Arcati has no fiances or fiancees, and admires no one in particular (though special projects or events may detain me). When I am in thoughtful mode, I shall continue to hurry but will adopt a cryptic way of writing in order to cause consternation or dredge-up deeply buried memories.

You can go now.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Most Haunted - by Madame Arcati

Hello dearies. Before Yvette Fielding came along with Most Haunted, there was moi - yes, Madame Arcati. You don't believe me? Well watch this. Part 2 can be watched on YouTube.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Molly Parkin on sale - at Selfridges!


Selfridges' Bright Old Things. Molly Parkin, far right
(Click pic to enlarge)

I've always thought my darling fiancee Molly Parkin should be in a shop window on permanent display. Now a dream is turned to reality. In the New Year, Selfridges launches a "concept" (ie a PR project) called Bright Old Things - or BOT for short. I love a BOT. It involves a load of talents showing off something in a Selfridges window on Oxford Street - and among this lot of BOT is Moll. Each of the participants (ranging in age from late 40s to 80s) has enjoyed some kind of renaissance or career turn in middle to late life.

You'll be able to buy BOT products (Moll's paintings, for instance) in store. But what precisely Moll will be doing I'm not sure. My current understanding is that she may sit in a window and cause traffic jams as millions of people pass by, gawping at her as she paints. It's hard to imagine that this is possible yet what else can one think? Or perhaps Moll will be seated in her own in store pagoda - I just hope a price tag is not attached to her. In which case she might be bought by some Qatari squillionairess and never seen again. What a tragic outcome that would be.

Anyway, keep your eyes on Selfridges, poppets.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Sarah Jane Morris sings Molly Parkin's 'Sally'

Sarah Jane Morris singing 'Sister Sally and Me'. Lyrics by Molly Parkin. Music by Simon Wallace. Filmed by Robert Chilcott. Total bliss - and a taste of things to come from the album, the stage show and the multi-media movie experience. You can see Moll in the video relishing Sarah Jane's stunning performance.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Molly Parkin: Art, cock and lyrics inspire jazz videos

Poppets, it's been too long! I return armed with two gorgeous jazz videos inspired by the sensual and erotic art (and lyrics) of Molly Parkin. Chelsea Hotel Orgy will doubtless prompt post-Christian atheistic beards who work for Google to try to close down this site (not for the first time) - and to expedite this process, may I draw attention to the depictions of massive cock. So Long At The Party is a little tamer and features the fabulous voice and person of Ian Shaw against the backdrop of Parkinalia. I just made up that word. Am I not the cleverest?

So, sit back, poor a drink, forget about Strictly and X Factor. And wallow in another world.

Chelsea Hotel Orgy (Wallace & Parkin feat, Alan Barnes)
Paintings and drawings by Molly Parkin including ‘Chelsea Hotel Orgy’ and ‘Las Vegas Lay’ which were used as the starting point for an improvised blues by Alan Barnes (tenor sax) and Simon Wallace (piano). The video includes preliminary sketches of the featured paintings.



So Long At The Party (Wallace & Parkin feat. Ian Shaw)
Lyrics and paintings by Molly Parkin, sung by the brilliant Ian Shaw with Alan Barnes on clarinet.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Andrew Logan's Alternative Miss World 2014 - be a sponsor!



Poppets, if you wish to do your bit to create yet further confusion in the minds of literalists, fascists and UKIP, do make a financial contribution to Andrew Logan's Alternative Miss World, to be held in London in October.

Was it really five years ago that Madame Arcati attended the 2009 Alternative Miss World? Read all about it here. "Is that a vagina?" co-host Ruby wax wondered aloud as yet another drag interpretation wafted past her. Personal transformation is one of the major themes of our time and I cannot think of a more exotic event than Andrew's for bringing to life the full spectrum of artistic cross-dressing (or whatever the latest term may have been assigned).

I won't go on as I'm busy. But do visit this page and read all about the history of Alternative Miss World and how you can play your part in the furtherance of sartorial and cosmetic art.

Isn't it time Andrew Logan had a knighthood? I hope they don't keep him waiting as they did my delightful friend Sir Christopher Lee.

Andrew Logan's Alternative Miss World will be held at Shakespeare's Globe on October 18, 2014.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Doctor Who: Capaldi is only just short of Cappalling

Madame Vastra - not one for David Icke
Ooh, I don't know, poppets. The Arcati jury's out on Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor Who. A Scottish Doctor Who. And being Scottish entitles him to complain - according to the script. Was this a knowing contribution to the Caledonian Yes/No referendum? A sly allusion to the world of politics to which one Malcolm Tucker once contributed his foul-mouthed wisdom, so ably played by Capaldi? Doctor Who mustn't get too clever - Whovians are not ultra-smart people but obsessives with social limitations. Their one true calling is the history of Doctor Who. What they don't know about the sex lives of Daleks is not worth knowing. History (non-Doctor Who), to them, is a place like Wonderland where everyone's a bit cute  and sounds like Yvette Fielding - Hitler no exception.

Deep Breath unfolded slug-slowly, the more to make space for acting. Capaldi did a lot of acting - his soliloquy in his smelly rags before a tramp turned up with the desired coat may yet feature in a thesp master-class - how to work Waiting for Godot into BBC sci-fi. Fans are quite used to Doctor Who changing shape so we could have been spared the epic anguished struggle with identity. How it went on. Rather like this paragraph. I must move on and set an example.

The lady lizard, Madame Vastra (I do love a madame) who I guess must be male because she's the husband of a human female - or else a native of the Land of Lesbos - easily stole the show: I did love her fireman's pole slide in rescue mode. The only person this will have displeased is David Icke whose synonym for establishment is reptile. I also liked the Jeevesy butler alien who confused mouth with eyelids. This is more like it. More cheap whimsy please and then I can pretend Jon Pertwee is still Doctor Who - my personal fave.

I have no problem with middle-aged Whos. Time Lords should bear the ravages of time on their clocks. Young actors have ardently reported sex drives (Matt Smith's off-camera erections proved far too distracting) and I'm afraid Who must share a raft with Mother Teresa and, er, Cliff Richard. Additionally, what Whos must not do is emote too much or imagine Olivier's ghost is assessing.

At the moment Capaldi has only slightly dodged the rating of Cappalling. Room for much improvement.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Most Haunted: Empty space is engaged

Yvette Fielding
The new Most Haunted is to be found on the Really TV channel - or, Oh Really, as I prefer. Yvette Fielding bellowed at empty space she calls ghosts, "I'm not afraid of you - S-C-R-E-A-M!" She has dispensed with the clairvoyant medium bit - in which a psychic recited information gleaned from Google searches about the relevant property's history of ghosts - which perhaps took up too much face time at the expense of hers: seasoned MH followers will have seen this coming as the ex-Blue Peter presenter diversified into mediumship, exorcism and levitation. These days she presides over ouija board seances, showcases the latest lovely Hammer Horror velvety capes and orders empty space to engage in conversation with her: a tall order given her readiness to shriek at creaks. After all this, the dead simply can't get a word in.

Actually, last night she wore no velvety cape but a tidy ensemble of cross-dressing inspiration: man's jacket, crisp shirt and garish yellow tie, all last seen on the Maggie Thatcher Spitting Image puppet that desired to be Churchill. For this alone I would have sat through a TV charade. Indeed, Yvette's various manifestations offer a running narrative of an ego struggling with the challenges of sharing (camera time). She even shares camera duties now, striding about with a tiny portable, introducing her underlings and tall husband Karl who has aged markedly in recent times. Or else, that was a white misty nimbus about his thinning locks.

The troll-like woman I think called Kath, who produced most of the screams in previous shows and did Yvette's makeup, has been replaced by a pretty, non-screaming near-mute who now does Yvette's makeup (lay off the kohl, dearie). Various hairy hunks bearing camera cargo grunt concordance with Yvette's every word ("DID YOU SEE THAT?!" "Yes."). For welcome contrast, the bald man who I believe is nicknamed Pebbles by MH fans - because he's the suspected astral thrower of stones when empty space fails to fill - has survived Yvette's latest cull.

In place of a medium we glimpsed an aged beard billed as a demonologist. He looked pleasant enough. Sadly he had nothing to do, was quickly forgotten about but made up the numbers when Yvette required crowd shadow scenes.

Perhaps the most interesting new addition is the man at the end - the Ofcom-required sceptic - who resembles the late Syd Barrett, of Pink Floyd fame. Long rock star hair, pretty face; trailer-trash clobber. His monotone instructed that poltergeists may or may not exist - "it's all a matter of belief." May I be the first to announce that Syd Barrett is not dead at all. He lives. Despite appearances.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Roger Lewis - 'Iain Dale's egotistical desire to be morally superior'

I think we can all agree that Madame Arcati is a proven champion of polysexuality (ie anything goes provided it's legal), so I was stricken - yes stricken - when I learnt that a celebrated Arcatiste had been accused of homophobia. The man in the dock is Roger Lewis (author of the classic Seasonal Suicide Notes - get for someone's Christmas. Now) and his accuser is someone called Iain Dale, a droning right-wing radio and TV opinionist who makes executive decisions in publishing.

I recall Mr Dale back in 2013 receiving a police caution after scuffling with a pensioner on Brighton seafront. Apparently, the old codger had dared to wave an anti-nuke banner in the vicinity of Mr Dale's author Damian McBride, prompting the sort of behaviour that Theresa May roundly condemns when the cameras are pointing at her and she's thinking of life beyond the Home Office.

Plainly Mr Dale has no keen ear for humour, camp or otherwise: indeed, to observe him on news chat shows, hangdog face composed in stoicism, is to re-experience Clement Freud but without the jokes (and beard). Then one day recently his eye fell upon Roger's review of a Dusty Springfield book in the Spectator. He was so appalled that he withdrew his company's book contract offer to Roger.

I emailed Roger with my commiserations, asking him what he made of all this. Here's his (slightly redacted) reply, from Austria:

"I wrote a perfectly fine piece on Dusty Springfield, inter alia making the joke that lezzos all have big chins the better to go bobbing for apples - and this cunt Iain Dale, a man of whom I had never previously heard, comes out of the woodwork accusing me of all sorts! And me the biographer of Charles Hawtrey and the world expert on camp comics!

"What I hate about the man is his egotistical desire to be morally superior - no sense of humour, hence of proportion, like those Welsh language fanatics I always poke fun at and who foam at the mouth when teased.
"XXX"

Iain Dale has responded on his blog

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hacked Off versus Private Eye: Now it's personal

The latest Private Eye's Street of Shame opens with an item on Joan Smith, the new Executive Director of Hacked Off. She promises to target companies that advertise in media signed up to the government-unapproved IPSO which launches next month and hopes to succeed where the PCC signally failed and regulate some of our newspapers. Private Eye is not IPSO-friendly but is Hacked Off-hostile while Hacked Off itself is IPSO-hostile but presently merely cool towards media that are 'unregulated' - such as the Eye.

No space was found to remind us that Joan's arrival in our post-Leveson world introduces a personal element to the ding-dong between the Eye and Hacked Off. Her former spouse is one Francis Wheen, Private Eye's deputy editor, who has much to do with Street of Shame and regularly froths in various places against Hacked Off's outrages (when he's not sulking over the existence of psychics, God, gods, aromatherapists, scented candle magic and anything else not sanctioned by white-coated geeks).

I wonder whether Mr W dispatched a congrats to Joan on her appointment. I do hope so. He strikes me as a gallant sort.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lauren Bacall - and who was NOT heir to Bogie

In my glossy magazine days I was sent to interview Lauren Bacall. 30 mins had been allotted and she turned up 10 mins late. "I've a lunch date so let's get cracking," she growled. I surprised her with her horoscope, which she proceeded to pick apart because I'd made a basic error (my astro green days) in the calculations - she knew exactly to the degree where each planet and point was in her natal chart, inadvertently giving me a story. When I wondered which then current actor was heir to Bogie - I playfully suggested Richard Gere - she made a vomiting face, repeated his name over and over in a disgusted way ("Rich-hard GEEEre?"), giving me another story. On the 30th minute sharp she shot up and swanned out of the hotel on the arm of her lunch date companion who'd come to collect - John Gielgud.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Duncan Fallowell: Why he's given up on star interviews

Duncan Fallowell: The modern
approach to flogging books
In Duncan Fallowell's latest book, The Rise and Fall of the Celebrity Interview: A Personal Account - a long essay best read in one gulp - Tina Brown is blamed for... oh, let's start again. I'm getting ahead of myself.

I've had some personal experience of Mr F. In another age I feature edited the late IPC glossy Woman's Journal. In my first week in the post, following years as a jittery freelancer, I had to deliver on promises made (aka wishes expressed) to the grand editor-in-chief Laurie Purden MBE and produce big-name interviews by writers. Now. Not just hacks, not just "professionals", but prose naturals of the stylised kind. Of the sort likely to take Laurie by surprise. Because nothing bored her more than an expectation confirmed. She wanted to be taken unawares by an expert in seduction. Only people with a voice and a gift for animating their perverse reflexes in the written word would do. Byron Rogers could do it. I did not know DF but he'd already made an impact (on me and innumerable publications). He really did take one's breath away. He'd pissed off Gore Vidal big time. "He's lazy," bitter, angry Gore growled when I mentioned DF in an interview. "He said that I said writers are like cows - I am not a cow." I liked the way DF started his slebby pieces, as if idly picking up on a conversation begun sometime earlier or out of earshot. By some magic he seduced one into thinking that it was worth listening in on, to see what happened next. All an illusion, of course. All artifice. But this is what he calls a celebrity interview. An unfamiliar voyage into the familiar.

So, I made contact with DF from one of the top floors of IPC Towers and before I could say "lunch" he'd delivered the nightclub queen Regine to me from the sunny south coast of France. The piece enraptured Laurie, not normally given to orgasmic display, such was her intimacy with disappointment. I knew I was safe for a while. Yes, DF: you played your part in my survival.

So, let's start again. In his latest book, DF holds Tina Brown responsible (not solely, but majorly) for the destruction of his brand of celebrity journalism in newspapers and glossy magazines. She's to blame for his decision to give up on interviewing the stars. You'll have to read the book to find out how precisely, but the word "corporatism" is repeated. No matter Tina's glory at Tatler/Vanity Fair/New Yorker/Whatever she did not get DF at all. "She became a control freak," writes DF, of her immunity to his interviews that she'd commissioned. Her editorial expectations were narrow; she favoured the "girlie and conventional": she animated the corporate move against "authorial independence" (ie DF's). Her Vanity Fair became a "watertight plastic product which no writer was allowed to upstage with a personal voice." Tina B unleashed the infection of professionalism on a generation of underling and inferior editors anxious to copycat her success in their own name. Bitch.

That aside there's much yummy goss and much reflection on the pleasing by-product of celebrity meet-ups. I won't repeat the Germaine Greer sexual position that was novel even to DF. The John Osborne letters crackle with acid intelligence and guile. Wily Mick Jagger (probably) positioned a certain druggie book title on a table as a nod to DF's chemical treks. Oh, there's much to savour. And there's no malice. Of Tina B, DF remains fond. It's just she's put paid to his career as a celebrity interviewer. Bitch.

Of course, the celebrity interview is still alive and kicking, as cat litter trays everywhere testify. DF does not credit Hello! as another foe, with its seminally inane Q&As and PR-driven drivel, draped around pendants of posy pics of orange skin. The celebrity interviewer (epitomised by the ever self-regarding Piers Morgan) is now favoured, one half of a recorded collision of a double-barrelled marketing campaign to other media, pegged to book/film/whatever releases (as identified in italics at the end).

During my time at Woman's Journal, by far the most successful interview we ran - as measured by headlines generated all over the world - was DF's discourse with Germaine Greer in which she ended up rating lovers by nationality. British men - all homosexual! You can imagine the impact. All achieved by allowing two people of learning to do battle in and on their own terms. Laurie (bless her) felt no need to interfere though she did order me to strike out a "fucking" or two. We were a smart ABC1 glossy after all.

Student hacks (among others) should read this book to script the next retro-revolution in journalism. The online extravaganza of global readerships has scarcely begun - and these billions of the jaded and the seen-it-all will be seeking tit-hardening surprises. Q&As won't do. Mark my words, poppets.

DF's book can be downloaded here now at 99p

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dominic Lawson & astrology: Cainer offers reassurance

Dominic Lawson treats Daily Mail readers to his recycled views on astrology (it's crap, in short) and even cites a 1940s psychology experiment in evidence, seemingly unaware that certain learned persons have cast doubt on the science status of psychology. I see that Dom is a Sag so I looked up his stars by the Mail's Jonathan Cainer for today. What message has he to impart to Dom? "If you complain, find fault, express a sense of outrage, or generally take pains to point out the downside to any particular plan or idea, it won't be long before someone else echoes your sentiment and you find yourself with many comrades to support you in your protest movement. Stick to smiling this week." So there we go Dom: yet further recycling of your views is forecast in our nation's rags (and in our one satirical organ); each an, er, original voice.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gary Pulsifer's Arcadia dismissal: 'I became increasingly marginalised'

Gary Pulsifer
How common to fire someone on a Friday - and I don't just mean commonplace. 

The dismissal of Gary Pulsifer yesterday from the publishing company he founded in 1996 - Arcadia Books - is shocking and presently inexplicable. Poet and novelist Fiona Pitt-Kethley (one of Gary's authors) compares his exit with the recent aggravated departure of Richard Ingrams from The Oldie, the magazine he founded in '92. She adds in a tweet: "The more I think about the sacking of Gary Pulisfer from Arcadia Books the crazier it seems. He has such a network of international contacts." And she asks: "Doesn´t experience and professionalism count for anything in publishing these days?"

Another of his writers, Michael Arditti, has tweeted his sorrow. He writes: "Horrified by this news. A sad day for you and for all your authors who must now reassess our futures." Only recently, Arcadia brought out Bonnie's Greer's memoirs A Parallel Life (reviewed here).

I asked Gary for an interview. Instead he sent me this statement:

"Of course it's difficult to leave the company I founded nearly 20 years ago and the one in which I invested so much in terms of energy and enthusiasm. In the new Arcadia I became increasingly marginalised and in a small company I suppose there is room for only one Big Chief. It has also been a real struggle to exist on the money I received as remuneration on a freelance basis. So it's with both a sense of sadness and relief that I say goodbye to all that. I've really been touched by the goodwill I've encountered since I made my announcement, not least from the stable of writers I built up over time."

Of his future he wrote this:  "And, who knows, perhaps I'll get Pulsifer Press up and running again."

Arcadia was rescued from administration by an outfit called MediaFund in 2013.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Molly Parkin's Sequinned Relic show a hit - but will it overturn Irish ban?

Molly Parkin & Andrew Logan at
Vout-O-Reenee's
Molly Parkin's return to the stage last night was an overwhelming success. Perfectly set at daughter Sophie's fab London E1 club Vout-O-Reenee's, the show - titled X-Rated Ruminations of a Sequinned Relic - wowed a full house. Among the audience ( I almost want to say congregation) was darling Andrew Logan whose Alternative Miss World returns this October. I'll have more to say about that shortly - meantime, do read my review of his 2009 extravaganza.

It was a mere 28 years ago that Moll last did stand-up - though she might not describe her show as such. So wild and gorgeous was she then that she got herself banned from Ireland - "I think I still am," she tells me. May I suggest to our friends over there that Moll, 82, be forgiven for whatever indiscretion(s) she committed. In all likelihood, most of the audience of that time have either passed away or are queuing up for assisted suicide now that it's fashionable not to suffer any more prior to death.

Certainly, Ruminations covers life's gamut of experience. It includes Moll's poem Viagra (read here - but beware David Beckham's cock. I know how sensitive some of you are; never having got out) as well as a reminiscence about a steel ladder she purchased in order to expedite her passage up the astral tunnel, prematurely, via the Thames. Moll's genius is talk and her magical ability to convert the daily humdrum into the sublimely comic. And she does it without telling one joke. It just comes natch. Her Ruminations show will be touring parts of the UK (and Ireland?) so keep a beady eye on your local ents listings when you can quite tear yourself away from regional coverage of the church fete or magistrate's court.

Moll and I are now permanently engaged once again - and she has a ring from Venice to prove it. Quite what that means in your world is frankly none of your business but ours. And stay in touch with Moll on Facebook.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Molly Parkin: Return of the X-Rated 'Sequinned Relic'

My gorgeous former permanent fiancee Molly Parkin is about to unleash herself on a public grown flabby on TV tat. On Saturday, July 12, she returns to the stage with her new stand-up show, X-Rated Ruminations of a Sequinned Relic. Her comeback previews at daughter Sophie Parkin's great new club Vout-O-Reenee's in London's E1.

Here's the foreplay: "Wisdom poetry Filth poetry Laughter poetry Glamour tears of joy - a celebration of life aged 82. £10 includes glass of wine or soft drink." You don't have to be a club member for entry on this occasion.

She tells me that the show will be quite salty - "I added 'X-Rated' to the title to keep kids away and prepare the audience for some surprises." Sequinned Relic is already being booked by various venues around the UK - so keep eyes peeled, poppets.

To get to Vout, here's the link. There's also the club's Sequinned Relic Facebook page here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Piers Morgan - a bull in life's tiresome china shop


Piers Morgan does persist in drawing attention to his own fallibility. It's an admirable quality in itself, to stand on a high altitude ledge and invite fate to push. A casting director would approach Heath Ledger to play Piers in the biopic, but for the tiresome limits of mortality. Ah, There He Goes. RIP. It's a winning proposed title.

A similar thought occurred only last Sunday when my eye (just the one) glanced on Piers' Mail on Sunday column in the paper's rather good supplement Event. I find that Craig Brown's Event book reviews are an able guide to what he's likely to spoof in Private Eye a few weeks on. Chris Evans' natterings on motors is in there too - of no interest whatsoever. Camilla's son parades his foodie weltanschauung. I don't read him either. But in an uncertain world it's reassuring to be reminded of celebrity constants driven by nothing more than nominal recognition.

Last Sunday, Piers teetered to the edge of the ledge and shared his thoughts on Rebekah and Andy. Both have something in common with an awful lot of other people who enjoy mere nominal recognition - they're close personal friends (CPFs) of Piers. His loyalty is a thing of wonder. Were I a Piers CPF, I'd feel duveted against the world's harsh consequences. Piers rightly revelled in Rebekah's release from Old Bailey trauma, already compensated for loss of office to the tune of a measly £16m. As for Andy, Piers played the safer game of not intruding on legal grief. But he told a telling tale instead. It was a parable with multiple angles.

He recalled a stag do in Spain. A cock-cunter friend of his and Andy's invited them and other cock-cunters to a bullring wherein male bonding required play with a livin'-snortin' bull. Apparently a number of the world's finest were gored in the name of friendship (I relate this as a summary of Piers' faultless memory). Then it was Piers' turn in the sandy arena. The bull, in common with Ian Hislop and other exemplars of masculine wisdom, took against the former CNN talking head and proceeded to try to kill him. But fate had other ideas. Step forward Andy Coulson who bravely and selflessly clasped his huge hands on bovine horns, steering them away from Piers' swaying, Moby Dick tum. This was cited as an example of Andy's courage, fidelity and honour. It did not occur to Andy, now Hotspur of Wapping, that the bull may have viewed Piers as one of many tortures in its brief and afflicted life and worthy of extinction.

I have no problem in finding every word of Piers credible on this encounter. Andy Coulson is a strapping chap of inordinate height (rather like too many in Murdoch's employ, past and present) and all the boldness of a hitherto unobstructed process. What's revealing is the sheer primordial and unreconstructed machismo set as expectation among peers of shared delusion. Was it this instinct - this drive to test life and parameters without regard for outcome - which lay behind the whole hacking saga? If so, you can keep it, poppet. It serves no useful purpose, here, there or in a Spanish bullring.

Piers, devoid of any reflective trait, cannot see this. Instead, he recalls a moment of high glamour touched by fear of death or injury. A thing to reminisce about in the bigging-up biz of CPFs. The reward of survival is continuation of the dream of masculine assertion - and ignoring its nightmare aftermath.