Sunday, 29 April 2012


Rainy weekend so visited the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern.  A tight retrospective of his work I think the brochure said, which I suppose means he had to choose the best of the best - I don't know if this meant the most iconic, most expensive but I took my 13 year old with me who's observations are always revealing.    It's the sort of exhibition you wouldnt want to come alive at night (Night in the Museum style) what with it's sharks, mass of dead and alive flies, cut in half cows, calves, sheep, although I liked the butterflies.   He seems to be fascinated by life and death but even more so by decay.  The cigarette buts, things in the process of rotting (the smell of cigarettes decaying is revolting) and the fascination with pills and potions to keep us artificially alive  (kept reminding me of Will Self's 'how the dead live) - as are the sharks and cows in their  glass coffins waiting to be kissed.  But the exhibition made every visitor think and stare and chat which is what art should do.   He's fiercely commercial which I know many sceptics say make him a fraud. I don't think that's true. Just because Hirst has his eye on the bottom line all the time doesn't make him less talented, just perhaps more focused on what he feels will sell rather than what he wants to produce - which I suppose could be in itself what sells.  This doesn't make him less talented, just shallow.  

It's his mid life retrospective I suppose.   Most of us have crisis he has a retrospective - or perhaps that's what mid life crisis is all about - looking back and going 'agh' what have I done/not done/achieved/who can I blame.  He can't blame any one. He's made money, friends, contacts, been hailed by the likes of Blair as being fulcrul to the whole cool Britannia - creative and commercial not impoverished artist who dies in obscurity and realises his success only when dead a long time.  Perhaps it's just a personality thing and people don't like the person which is completely different - the dislike of Hirst is personal not professional.   I found the butterfly stain glass window stunning and beautiful and morbid and ugly at the same time but from the blurb on the walls there he seems to want to contradict himself a lot.   His work is accessible and popularist which is good.   Some of it is nonsense - the wall cabinet, the first thing you see painted in Dulux (which sponsored him at Art school I am told) is an 'exhibit'. Tom wanted to open it but I said you couldn't. Pity, it would probably have SUCKER written in large black Dulux paint inside.

We watched a programme on Sky Arts about it when we got home and Damien talking about his work walking around the spaces we had.  He talked about selling his work direct to the market and making millions. That shows an incredible business acumen, self belief, possibly arrogance, although he described it as part of the art of and in itself as the art was to do with worth and value and gold and diamonds. Making his art perform for him so I supposed that makes him a performing artist.     He's a billionaire so he doesn't need to care what others think of him now, not that I'm sure he ever did which is unusual for creative types.   They tend to have they layer of empathy that reaches out to people but perhaps money changes all that.   For what it's worth my 13 year old thinks his work is more to do with science than art and people's sense of the ridiculous and appreciation of the eccentric. And that it has no soul.   Hirst didn't have a room for 'soul'. Perhaps he never will.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Fifty Shades of Jealousy

Well done to the lady who wrote 50 Shades of Grey which is being blogged, talked about and by the 'academics' criticised for it's poor quality prose.  It's jealousy.   Your book has made an awful lot of money and there are some beautifully written books out there that haven't made a penny.  The book has tapped into not just the mood of the moment, but probably for the past three to four years.    Writers focus on the fact that the heroine is submissive, rather than the fact she's allowing herself to be submissive which is totally different.    Three years ago, fashion led the way with the proliferation of pink, short skirts, and the doll like quality of style icons (Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham) both of whom, at under five four, look like dolls rather than women.   Very bright, ambitious, opportunistic, (think Cowell described Cole like a beautiful cat playing with a mouse (him being the mouse), their qualities of vulnerability are focused on, their beauty rather than their brains - what they look like rather than what they say.  OK this is probably mainly because with Cole, when she opens her mouth it rather destroys the illusion of the Audrey Hepburnesque beauty and Beckham who tries to be enigmatic by not saying much and not smiling but just comes across as boring, which is an achievement considering how much she has achieved.   Neither are submissive but both play that way.  As do many women who are obsessive about control.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


I visited the London Book Fair last week which was fascinating. I expected it to be down beat, ebooks having chipped away allegedly at the traditional publishing market, booksellers being limited to now just Waterstones, the supermarkets reducing the number of books they take in and everyone being encouraged to support their local independent book seller - of which there are quite a few where I live.   The talk was of J K Rowling's grown up comedy novel and another lady's best selling bonk buster that she self published on the internet and has sold millions and according to twitter saved many marriages and sex lives.  Forget the joy of sex, lets hear it for the joy of writing about it because everyone seems to be having a go - writing about it that is.

Despite my expectations, the overall feeling was very positive. People are reading, they are reading more, just using different ways to read.    Romantic novels, with the impossibly slushy heroines and the dominant and forceful heroes are being read on kindles by people who wouldn't be seen dead reading them if others could see the cover of the book.  This is not porn but they are reading it like porn.

And only this week we learnt Tom Bower's unauthorized biography of Simon Cowell, the affairs picked up on more than the numerous good works he does and the uber intelligence and ambition of this media mogul.    So it was win win all round for sexy fiction.  

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


I saw Tony Blair on TV yesterday. He was in America I think, looking very busy, but had time to stop and talk to the reporters about how our government should not cap the amount of tax you can offset against donations. He has a right to his opinion, but come on, of what importance is his opinion?   Why does the BBC and ITV and Sky need to put a camera in front of him and ask his opinion?   Of what value is it? I think they probably did it to wind up the masses even more.  I think if they'd have got Fred Goodwin that would have got the masses marching.   TB is paid by extremely wealthy people who work and own extremely wealthy companies to discuss how he managed to teflon coat himself and still come out alive and rich, and how they can do the same.   I think even they are in utter awe of his ability to come out on top when really, in a saner world, he wouldn't be where he is today. No wonder Goldman Sachs came out with the comment about doing God's work, I think they had just been lectured to by TB.     I thought it was a joke when news was announced he was being sent to the Middle East on some sort of peace keeping mission.   Then again perhaps they thought by sending him out there someone would shoot him but no one has.      Blair looks increasingly demonic these days although I'm sure he still believes he is doing good work - well he is still alive so I think he must think that - after all those who make the most money only do so because they are worthy of it, yes?  Honest, decent, law abiding, tax paying (well within the law as it is now) transparent types who are philanthropic asking for nothing in return because giving of itself is enough.   And in these times of transparency no one, least of all the wealthy have anything to hide.   Which is of course utter rubbish.   It's always been utter rubbish but at least when we didn't know about it, it didn't wind the tax paying, charity contributing without getting recognition rest of us up so much.    I don't think they should receive any tax relief to give to charities.  I feel there shouldn't be a need for charities if you think about it.  There should be sufficient for the government to give out to those who need it, but then I suppose it would be the government playing God rather than the super wealthy, power hungry who feel they deign to give and hold back when and how they chose.   But at least the government wouldn't ask for a pay back, and there's no super wealthy power hungry people in politics right?  

And any way, I'm told that the super rich give only a teeny weeny percentage of their wealth to charity compared to those on say £30k a year.    I have visited resorts where guests have hired the £10k villas a night and the ones next door not for privacy but for security. These people have money to burn but have also burnt a lot of people on the way to get there. Perhaps that's why TB is in such demand as a lecturer.  They want to know how he's managed to get the tax payer to pay for the other two villas on the side. 

In the meantime, I've found a cure for rich rage.    Think of Tony Blair on a toilet.    I guarantee all emotion will completely leave you.   A sense of utter indifference overwhelms you.   While waiting for the second coming think of TB on the toilet.   Constipated. 

Sunday, 8 April 2012

POEM from my book POETRY IN EMOTION (get it on Kindle!!) relevant to last post...

SAFE SEX? The safest sex The female choice To make men heel And girls rejoice Crescendo spills Into a flood Exalt her spirit And fire her blood Weak men fail While others dare To kiss her gem Push through her hair Then lick lick lick To make her moan Until she spots her mobile phone Eyes closed to him Tongue opens wide The fantasies She now can hide Of other men Who dared before She one day hopes Will dare once more.


There's an article in the Sunday Times magazine about women not being able to talk about wanking. Not doing it, just talking about it. That it's a taboo. If the article is to be believed, we (the Sunday Times readers) feel if we do, we offend our partner because we make them feel irrelevant, unnecessary and potentially impotent. Mmm. I don't usually read the magazine so perhaps I'm not their audience but what is the point of talking about it? Much more fun doing it than talking about it. Unless of course it's phone sex. And we analyze everything so much. Analyzing it too much, just like analyzing anything too much, takes something away from it. Men would like women to talk about it. They fantisize about women talking about it to each other, the little dears. They get off on it. And if the DIY orgasm is more powerful than the partner variety, wouldn't it be a good thing for the men to know that? Perhaps they'd try harder. I know - why not do it in front of them, win win situation. They learn and they get turned on and they don't have to do anything. Always tell them you are thinking about them at the time, especially if you have your eyes closed. Whatever turns you on, make them think it's them, even if it's not. Unless they get turned on by you not thinking about them.. Of course, it works both ways. I don't know a man who couldn't think of that as anything but ideal. All the benefit none of the work. And the article mentions a website called


OMG. I wish I had thought of that one. Global publicity although admittedly most of it negative, but when Barbara Walters talks about you, you're on This Morning, Daybreak and the Sunday Times does an intellectual analysis of your comment, wow you've made it. Bet she's got a book out soon! Of course, it's all so silly. It's in the Daily Mail for goodness sake a paper that knows how to stimulate publicity better than well, anyone else I know (well, perhaps barring Max Clifford and Posh Spice). And she lives in France, in the Dordogne, several hours from my place, of course where she'll be completely safe because everyone in France thinks they are beautiful, they just don't say it. Ditto super models, ditto diva film stars (well done day they do and the next they don't and the next day they do..) but it's a bit like telling someone you're sexy. Someone tells you you're sexy but you dont' tell them you're sexy. People even baulk at you if they say you are attractive and you agree with them. You can't even do that. Total vulnerability, self deprecation, totally unassuming bewilderment at the attention you are getting is the way forward. If men like you, it's because you are witty and charming and have interesting banter and smell wonderful. Yup. And if women like you it's because you are witty and charming and have interesting banter... yup. Truth is, it's not. But there is such wonderful hypocrisy about this argument the DM should be rubbing their hands with glee. Do women hate women because they are beautiful? Nope. I watch America's Top Model because it's my popcorn of TV. Completely mindless but I enjoy it. But I also watch because I admire those stunning women who are put up in front of the most bizarre looking people (even Nigel Barker) and pulled to pieces for not smizing enough and looking broken enough. If they are not broken enough at the beginning they are at the end. I don't think women dislike women who are beautiful, they may distrust them, think they have it too easy, feel they focus too much on their looks than their work (any woman who has immaculate nails, hair, a bit too polished I usually think is either a tad anal, uptight, self absorbed or calculating. But that's more to do with the polish rather than the natural beauty or as Keats would put it the 'truth' of beauty. Someone who is naturally stunning without needing to do anything to herself, I think is lovely. Any way, I don't think it's beauty that is in the eye of the beholder, I think it's prettiness that is. Beauty, true beauty is apparent to everyone. I don't think women dislike you for being beautiful Samantha. Think it's more to do with lack of empathy. And the fact they just don't like you.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

cambridge unworthy winners!

Just watched the boat race. What a mess.   Cambridge are totally unworthy winners.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

SHOULD YOU STAY TOGETHER FOR THE KIDS?.. something in the air..

Life's about timing not time. I remember thinking that watching that film with Brad Pitt where he was born old and became young and died as a baby, literally in his lover's arms.   Almost overwhelmingly tragic it struck me how at least for some of their 'time' they got their timing right.    There's been a spate of celebrity break ups, but not short term, no kid variety, more long term, both sensible types, pragmatic, with older kids variety. Seal and Klum, Depp and Paradis.  Everyone who has time to waste must be eyeing up Pitt and Jolie although they seem to smile through it and I'm not sure if anyone any longer cares or believes in the Beckhams. There is a reason that lady doesn't smile a lot.     I'm always sceptical about the depth and truth of any of these relationship brands because that is essentially what they become whether the couple are genuinely in love or every time they are in each other's company and they see the face and hear the voice they want to rip the throat out.  

I was called by BBC Radio Kent to talk about a blog I wrote for netmums about parents choosing to stay together for their kids.  My parents stayed together for me although they both had the opportunity to go elsewhere, ironically when I was about three, although I never found that out until my father died.   "We had a little three year girl to look after." my mother simply said.

The netmums response to my blog, which was based on research I've done for my next novel THE INFIDELITY BIBLE,  was that parents should not stay together because the parents are unhappy the kids know it.  And that if there is physical abuse they definitely should not stay together.   With the second I agree whole heartedly.  Emotional abuse is EXTREMELY common in middle class functionally looking families.   So many sociopaths who seem completely blameless and take it out on their families and partners but as far as the world is concerned they are a good parent and partner when its not the case. This relationship should also be walked away from but is harder to do because there's no physical abuse to go with it, and I feel our culture (British culture) isn't emotionally open (as in the States where shrinks are bought off the supermarket shelf) or intelligent enough (as in France say where you only need to read their literature or watch their cinema to realise they have an understanding of tragedy and life we do not want, wish or feel we need to comprehend) to deal with the impact of emotional abuse.  All my novels are to do with emotional abuse of one kind or another - in the playground, the office, the gym, the work place, the marriage, the divorce, between father and son, mother and daughter.  I am sure people could add more and in researching the novel I've heard stories where parents should not have broken up, they should have moved to different countries. In some cases, they did.

For those who follow the blog, you will know that I don't always get on with my ex.   I try, he tries but the trying doesn't happen at the same time, which brings me back to my first comment - life is about timing.   We both have our separate issues and usually it doesn't matter because one of us can always stand back and think 'this is their stuff, nothing to do with me, walk away.'  And sometimes you both have stuff.   And then you row.  And then you may row in front of the children.  And then when the good parent becomes the bad one.   Just for that moment they become a bad one, but that moment sticks with the child (I know it does, I've researched it and the 'expert's say it does), and often stays with them into adulthood, when in their forties their 'stuff' hidden away is so full they explode.  Mid life crisis, breakdown, call it what you will, it happens.  And just in time for hormonal changes too!. Whoopee!  See timing again.  

The book/film The Bridges of Madison County captures this perfectly.   First time I watched it I cried and wondered why Meryl Streep didn't go off with Clint Eastwood. This wonderful National Geographic Photographer who could show this unappreciated mum and wife the world.  Her husband doesn't beat her emotionally or physically he is just, well, dull (I think they call it passive aggressive these days).    I watched it this week I realised she did it for her kids.    And Clint's timing was crap.

So what to do?   Knowing that our actions have an impact on our kids (nothing new there) and that parenting is not a science it's instinct and that we all should do and try and probably most of us do do and try our best (nothing new there), and men are prone to infidelity (yes true) and to denial (true) and women are bored by men because they are, well, boring (true), especially when they have been married to them for a long time, how the hell do you make relationships work?  

Get your timing right.   And put the kids first.   The second is easier than the first.    And oh yes, find a hobby.