Saturday, November 29, 2008

For those who were trying to buy my book

Just a quick word for the people who contacted me saying they were having difficulty getting hold of copies of The King of Sunlight after it appeared on A Good Read on Radio 4: I've dug out a box of paperbacks I had and put them up on Amazon marketplace here at some extortionate price (hey, I've got to buy Christmas presents too - and it's considerably cheaper than the nutter who's got a copy up at £1,219.99). If you buy one and email me using the button on my website I'll scribble whatever you want inside it...

I'm arresting you on suspicion of... oh, alright, not suspicion, just a whim really.

Gawd bless David Blunkett, the man you can always rely upon to say something stupid in a crisis.

From today's Guardian:

"David Blunkett, the former home secretary, led a cross-party attack on the police yesterday for what he described as 'overkill' in arresting Damien Green, the shadow Home Office minister... Blunkett spoke of 'the danger of treating every case as though we are dealing with a suspicious character.'"

That's most police work screwed then...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Most unexpected thing found so far in research for the history of Private Eye...

... mention of a teenage Sharon Osbourne (then Levy), in an article on her father Don Arden's business practices in November 1969, when the Eye was rather groovy and Paul Foot wrote lengthy articles about pop music mis-management.

Alright, I'm really only bringing this up as an excuse to point you towards this picture of a pre-surgery Sharon, as your friday treat.


... from this week's issue, out now:


Cartrain is a 16-year-old graffiti artist who creates Banksy-style stencils and collages containing such recognisable figures as Mickey Mouse, George Bush, Clint Eastwood and the Queen, none of whom have ever objected. Damien Hirst is a 43-year-old, Turner prize-winning, world-famous artist whose work For The Love of God, a platinum cast of a human skull set with 8,601 diamonds, sold for £50million last year.

Cartrain recently made a series of collages which featured, amongst other things, photographs of Hirst’s sculpture. Some imposed the bejewelled skull over the faces of figures taken from other photographs. One showed it sitting in a shopping basket alongside a bunch of carrots. He displayed them in the online gallery, where the average price for one of Cartrain’s collages is £65.00.

He was contacted by the Design and Artists Copyright Society, acting on the direct instructions of their member Damien Hirst, informing him that he had broken the law by infringing Hirst’s copyright. Hirst demanded that he not only remove the works from sale but “deliver up” the originals along with any profit he had made on those that he had already sold, or face legal action. The DACS, who refused to comment on the matter when contacted by the Eye, duly took delivery on Hirst’s behalf of four collages by Cartrain on 12 November. They still await the cash the teenager made from sales of his work, which his gallery say is “around £200”. Until it arrives, Hirst will have to get by on the £95.7million he made in September in an unprecedented direct auction of his own artworks, held without the involvement of middlemen because he felt that “there’s a hell of a lot of money in art - but the artists don’t get it.”

Critics, meanwhile, see interesting influences in Cartrain’s work – including that of Hymn by Damien Hirst, who in May 2000 donated an “undisclosed sum” to charity in lieu of his royalties on the £1m sale of the work to Charles Saatchi after toymakers Humbrol objected to the fact it was a direct copy of their Young Scientist Anatomy Set. Or of the Fermat spiral of circles at fixed divergence of approximately 137˚ which mathematician Robert Dixon developed, exhibited at the Royal College of Art, and published in his book Mathographics, only to find it reproduced with Damien Hirst’s name next to it in the Guardian several years later (see Eyes 1086 and 1104). Or indeed For The Love of God, which not only closely resembled a range of skull jewellery sold by Butler and Wilson (see Eye 1186) but also bore a strong resemblance to works by his former friend and co-exhibitor John LeKay, who told the Times last year that “I would like Damien to acknowledge that ‘John really did inspire the skull and influenced my work a lot’. Damien’s very insecure about his originality.”



How is the Eye’s favourite columnist Liz Jones getting on in the country retreat she documented her move to so thoroughly back in December (see Hackwatch, Eye 1201)?

Well, she has adopted some chickens who had formerly been in a battery farm. In February this year she described the poor animals as “bald… covered in blood. Their beaks were misshapen. They were so weak they could barely stand, let alone walk or grasp a perch.”

The good news is that a mere nine months later, after tortuous negotiations and the involvement of the Press Complaints Commission, Jones’ paper the Mail on Sunday agreed to print a letter from the Battery Hen Welfare Trust which pointed out that “the ex-battery hens Liz Jones collected from us in January 2008 were generally in good condition, not ‘covered in blood’ nor ‘almost pecked to death’ as she wrote.” Founder Jane Howorth, who prides herself on her good relations with the farming industry and the fact her organisation will “never knowingly allow a hen to go to a new home with health problems,” pointed out that “her sensationalist article only illustrated how shock tactics and negative spin achieve nothing – it directly damaged farm relations resulting in the loss of thousands of Ex-Bats, hens we could have homed.”

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Signs you are getting older (and the world more prosperous)

... you remember listening to Radio One when their "Gimme Shelter" campaign was all about teenage homelessness. And now you are listening to Radio Six and their "Gimme Shelter" campaign is all about how to get the best mortgage deals in a challenging market.

Do you ever get the feeling we might deserve this recession just a little bit?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Quiet in here, isn't it?

I am thinking about things.

It's just that they're not really things which are any of your business, that's all.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

That's not news, that's just your mum talking...

Reading the alarming number of comments on this made me want to buy one of these.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Memo to all hacks: the word "historic" is hereby banned in all headlines and opening paragraphs. Use of "new dawn" is permitted only until 12 noon, when it will be discarded to the pile of meaningless cliches in the basement which are, er, "not fit for purpose".