Whispers from the classical music world

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Rumour has it that Katherine Jenkins provided the vocal track for this delightful mimed performance of Der Hölle Rache from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.

 

Affiliate marketing industry still working hard to shake off its sleazy image

Friday, 4 November 2011

I was sent this by my friends at Skimlinks as an example of the sort of swanky dos they get invited to. Though I am reliably informed that very few women (or men) who attend these parties look much like those in the image below.

To misquote Loyd Grossman, what kind of a person would be tempted by a flyer like this?

 

Return of the living dead: Johann Hari heads back to the Independent

Thursday, 3 November 2011

This week the chill wind of redundancy blew through the offices of the Independent and the Evening Standard. So far, only 20 jobs are threatened. But no one believes that the downsizing will end there. This would be a tricky problem for Independent editor Chris Blackhurst under normal circumstances. But he has also painted himself – or been painted – into a nasty corner. For, however many hacks he has to “let go”, he has promised to welcome back Johann Hari, the most comprehensively disgraced journalist in the recent history of Fleet Street. “It will be like a zombie movie – the undead Hari waddling around our corridors looking for fresh young blood,” says one source.

The fat fraudster has deposited more than one foul-smelling mess in his old newspaper’s offices. For a start, there are more revelations of his near-psychotic fantasising to emerge. What will happen, for example, if a particular African charity chooses to tell the whole story of Johann’s dangerous and histrionic hissy fits in war-torn territory?

Second, Blackhurst has to face the protests of his own journalists, who feel insulted that they have been left to clear up the aforesaid messes made by the paper’s grossly overindulged wunderkind. Just this week, star Indie columnist Julie Burchill wrote a final article for the Indie in which she referred sardonically to Hari. It was censored, of course.

 

Jimmy Savile and the Jersey ‘Masonic child abuse’: how long before people start talking?

Saturday, 29 October 2011

National treasure Jimmy Savile is dead. Without meaning to puncture the respectful atmosphere, given all the eulogising going on it is perhaps worth remembering that there was a dark side to this family entertainer too.

Savile, star of children’s television favourite Jim’ll Fix It, sued the Sun in 2008 over a series of articles linking him to Haut de la Garenne, the Jersey children’s home where human remains were found and children were allegedly tortured and sexually abused. He initially denied ever visiting the home, despite photographic evidence to the contrary.

In fact, Savile had close links to managers at the home. A journalist who reported on the case told me there are gruesome revelations waiting to surface that no newspaper felt able to publish at the time, given UK libel law.

And then of course there’s Savile’s reported friendship with Gary Glitter. (A case for phone hacking if ever there was one.)

Now that Savile is dead and no longer able to issue writs, how long before people start talking?

 

The 5 most terrifying Hallowe’en costumes of 2011

Friday, 28 October 2011

It’s not too late to nip out to the shops and pick up your Hallowe’en costume. But several readers in search of inspiration have been in touch to ask if I have any… unorthodox suggestions. Well, yes, I do. And here they are: the most terrifying things to go bump in public life in 2011…

5. MARGARET BECKETT

Nicknamed ‘Rosa Klebb’ by Private Eye and others – no doubt an appreciative nod to the good looks she shares with Bond’s 1963 nemesis – Margaret Beckett is best known for destroying British farmers’ livelihoods while at Defra, championing Labour’s insane climate change buffoonery and enjoying kooky caravaning holidays with her husband. More than egregious enough, I’m sure you’ll agree, to earn her a place in this year’s list – despite the fact that she’s now, thankfully, in Opposition.

4. JOHN BERCOW

Charlie Brooker recently used his Guardian column to call David Cameron a “lizard”. I’m guessing that’s because he doesn’t know much about politics, because John Bercow is surely a much stronger candidate for that nickname. Drenched in goo like the most frightening beast of your imagination, and with spectacularly bad taste in ties, the Speaker of the House of Commons is as loathed by his party as he is by his own wife, who only narrowly missed appearing in this list herself. This year we’re carving our jack-o’-lantern into a mock-up of the Squeaker’s slimy visage.

3. POLLY TOYNBEE

Toynbee is by a considerable margin the most hypocritical and irresponsible journalist in Britain, spewing forth dodgy stats, vitriol and class hatred from her Tuscan villa twice-weekly for the Guardian. Dead-eyed and dangerous, Polly invariably sports Joseph-style jackets stitched together with the metatarsals of young Tory researchers from bits of hazardous waste. Toynbee is impressively, almost superhumanly wrong about everything and her columns are a useful negative barometer to what’s going on in British politics.

2. CHRIS HUHNE

People of Hampshire: lock up your children! Creepy Chris Huhne, the most unpopular man in British politics, has been accused by the wife he has since left for a jackbooted lesbian called Carina Trimingham of trying to palm his speeding points off on her. The last thing you want is for Felicity and Peter to be innocently trick or treating in the neighbourhood when Mr Huhne is anxious to get home! Huhne’s also a climate change fanatic, who refuses to investigate Britain’s game-changing shale gas reserves.

1. MICHELLE OBAMA
America’s First Lady has never quite shrugged off the humiliation of being compared to Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare’s psychotic, scheming temptress, by my mate James Delingpole – particularly since it came so early into her husband’s presidency. As for that famously natty dress sense? Hmm. Don’t see it myself. As she gets more relaxed in front of the cameras, Mrs Obama is starting to let her personality shine through, as this recent picture shows.

 

The state of tech PR in Europe

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Regular readers will know that I leave serious reporting to the likes of Tim Bradshaw at the FT and the inimitable Mike Butcher. Love those guys. But frankly, for me, slavishly reporting on funding rounds and acquisitions and paying obeisance to the cult of UKTI is just too fucking tedious.

So I like to write about what’s going on around the edges of the technology scene in Europe: the people, places, events and ideas that are behind the dry reportage and which silently shape the headlines.

 

Johann Hari affair ‘could sink Blackhurst editorship’

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Johann Hari has disappeared. No, I don’t mean that he’s cowering in Elton John’s arboretum (though he may well be). I mean that he has been removed from the Independent‘s Pink List of the 100 most influential British gays. Given that (a) Hari is an Independent journalist and (b) he rocketed up to number 16 last year, this confirms his spectacular fall from grace.

To be more specific, it suggests that, while the Indie is nominally sticking by its disgraced plagiarist and Wikipedia vandal, the knives are out for Johann in the newspaper’s offices.

Did new editor Chris Blackhurst order Hari’s removal from the Pink List? Quite possibly, since Blackhurst is thought to be furious at the way conniving Simon Kelner and naïve Andreas Whittam Smith virtually forced him to keep Johann on the books. Also, bear in mind that the struggling Independent titles are likely to swing a scythe through their newsrooms – sacking journalists who would never dream of telling Johann’s porkies.

The official line is still that Johann Hari will be “welcomed” back to the Indie when he has undergone a period of enforced rehab – sorry, “retraining” – but, given the many x-rated stories about Hari that have yet to surface, Blackhurst would do well to harden his heart. Otherwise, his whole editorship will be discredited by his failure to tackle the intimately related problems of Master Hari and the amphetamine-crazed pornographer David Rose.

P.S. Here’s a little titbit for Hari’s politically correct admirers: apparently, Hari vetoed a New Statesman byline picture on the grounds that it made him look “like he had Down’s syndrome”. Nice.

 

I know I’m going to regret this…

Friday, 21 October 2011


… but I’ve signed my grandmother up to Twitter. She’s @NanaPetra.

I’ve filled out her bio (I am @Nero‘s grandmother. I’m here to keep an eye on him. Former model, now a house-bound invalid) and uploaded the picture but the tweets are all hers.

 

London’s most eligible startup CEOs

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Regular readers will know that for the last few years I’ve been on a one-man mission to inject some tabloid values into tech reporting. So, after the extraordinary reception to my Gold-digger’s Guide to London VCs from the investor community last week (and by ‘extraordinary reception’, I mean they bitched about it on Twitter while secretly forwarding it around furiously – no use denying it guys, your colleagues told me!), Real Business asked if I’d repeat the exercise for the real stars of the tech scene: the entrepreneurs. As it’s a picture feature, there’s not much point reproducing it here, but if you’re in the market for a well-heeled and hard-working spouse, check out the list on the magazine’s website.

 

Lord Sugar’s arrogance will be his undoing

Monday, 10 October 2011

This column originally appeared in Real Business.

If there are to be any firings in Alan Sugar’s boardroom this week, one hopes it will be his media spokesperson getting the chop, for allowing the East End bruiser free rein to snipe at national newspapers over the past few years.

No doubt the reality television star and businessman thought himself very droll while publicly bashing the Daily Mail on Twitter and, if what I hear is true, devoting an entire chapter of his new book to critiquing the paper’s journalism. Such behaviour is, I suppose, to be expected from a lowbrow popular entertainer.

But Sugar, or his people, ought to have known better. The Mail is notoriously brilliant at settling scores. Its editor, Paul Dacre, oversees massive and brutal retaliation for the slightest of perceived insults, and his newspaper just loves to publish devastating exposés of self-important public figures.

 

It’s official: Sarah Palin is not running for President

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I am inconsolable. That is all.

 

London VC: a gold-digger’s guide

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I’ve done a feature for Real Business on the most eligible investors in the London technology industry. Since it’s pretty picture-heavy, there’s little point in reproducing it here. Read it at Real Business instead.

 

An Insight into the Criminal Mind

Monday, 26 September 2011

My briefcase was stolen last week. I wasn’t holding out much hope of ever seeing it again, but somehow the intrepid officers of the Met Police recovered it, along with some of the contents – including, thankfully, my laptop. Here’s a selection from what appeared in my browser’s internet history between the bag being taken and its recovery.

 

#Hariturdgate: an update

Saturday, 24 September 2011

My spies tell me that the unfortunate situation with Johann Hari’s latrine has now been resolved.

Sources close to the matter say the Independent was so embarrassed by the turd revelations on Popbitch that Simon Kelner was dispatched to personally unblock the toilet. He later explained: “Let’s face it. All this shit is really our fault.”

“They were floaters,” he added.

 

Johann Hari: Popbitch has gone too far this time

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Always edgy and frequently hilarious, weekly celebrity and pop culture newsletter Popbitch has been one of the highlights of my week for many years. But I fear the writers may have gone too far with one of their latest revelations:

Writer’s block
Insert own career down toilet joke

It’s good to hear that Johann Hari has decided to take a course in journalism if only because it means it’ll get him out of the house a bit more. Visitors chez Hari have been subject to some rather icky sights. One friend who visited during one of his darker hours found the toilet full to the brim with shit. It was blocked, and obviously had been for a while, but that hadn’t deterred him from continuing to use it.

I mean, there are some things one really doesn’t need to know: the bowel movements of portly hacks are really none of anyone else’s business. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for the poor chap.

What’s more, I’m quite sure poor Johann is innocent. I’m betting the culprit is that slimy, unsanitary weasel David Rose!