Lloyd Evans reports on the latest Spectator / Intelligence Squared event
No debate this month at Intelligence Squared. Instead Gore Vidal is interviewed by Melvyn Bragg. The 800-strong crowd start to applaud even before Vidal reaches the rostrum. White-haired, frail and wheelchair-bound, he is modestly dressed in a dark suit but he exudes a dangerous alertness and grins hungrily as the questions begin.
Joan Collins lives an actor's lifeChannel surfing on a rainy afternoon, I zeroed in on an old black-and-white movie that looked quite interesting, and with a wonderful cast too — Stanley Baker, Gloria Grahame, Laurence Harvey, Robert Morley, Margaret Leighton, John Ireland, Freda Jackson and Richard Basehart — a veritable Who’s Who of wonderful 1950s movie actors. Then on sashayed a zaftig teenager in a tight sweater and a bun — both on her head and in the oven (in the film).
Fraser Nelson says that the 38-year-old Work and Pensions Secretary is the best candidate to succeed Gordon Brown. Already surging ahead at his department, he has the gift of sounding like an ordinary human being — and he understands the Cameron Conservative partyThese days, it is scarcely possible to talk politics with a member of the government for more than ten minutes — if that — without The Question cropping up.
Tim Walker talks to Greta Scacchi about her new role in The Deep Blue Sea, the gaucheness of Bill Murray — and being offered the lead in Basic InstinctGreta Scacchi is lying in bed beside Laurence Olivier. His head is resting against her shoulder. Suddenly it feels damp. She looks at the old man and sees that he is crying. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asks. He looks back at her imploringly. ‘Oh, Greta, I haven’t got any more work after this for six months.
I had hoped to bring you a little more fine detail about Cherie Blair’s menstrual cycle this week — I had provisional charts mapped out and so on. But at the last moment I came over a little queasy. Obviously all of us need to know precisely when she is ovulating, in case we should wish to impregnate her while her husband is away lecturing at Yale or bringing peace to the Middle East. But my nerve failed me.
In 1993, my wife Jenny and I bought a small, beautiful, mid-century modern architectural house in the hills of Silver Lake, an enclave of East Los Angeles. We became aware that the previous owners, Dr Herbert and Mrs Freda Alexander, had lived for the previous 15 years with an awful family secret: their daughter Phyllis, son-in-law Gene Chaikin and two teenage grandchildren had died with 914 other members of Jim Jones’s Peoples Temple movement in the infamous Jonestown mass-murder/suicides of 18 November 1978.