Bob geldof

The nightmare of making films about poets

Television and film are popular mediums. Poetry has never been popular. This is Sam Weller’s father in Pickwick Papers, when he discovers his son writing a valentine, alarmed it might be poetry: Poetry’s unnat’tral; no man ever talked poetry ’cept a beadle on boxin’ day, or Warren’s blackin’, or Rowland’s oil, or some o’ them low fellows; never let yourself down to talk poetry, my boy. In 1994, I made a short film about Kipling. The director, Tony Cash, a man with a first-class Oxford degree in Russian, objected to a two-second reference to Aristotle’s ‘pity and terror’ in my script. ‘If you mention Aristotle, they [the TV audience] will

The Olympics have become a celebration of human frailty

Coronis Embracing one’s vulnerability seems to have replaced the higher, faster, stronger ethos of the Olympics. The very frailty that makes us human appears to have triumphed over the need to excel, or so the Games sponsors tell us. Not that I watched any of it. Not a single second, so help me you-know-who. I liked Sebastian Coe’s remark in last week’s Speccie about taking advice from Djokovic, who quit the mixed, thus leaving his partner in the lurch. I’ve always liked and admired Coe and always mistrusted the Serb, but then I’m a small-timer where sport is concerned. One thing I’ve never done is quit, however, and I did

Why Mick Jagger is an insult to rock

New York Orthodox Easter Sunday came late in May this year, and I spent it at an old friend’s Fifth Avenue home chatting with his young relatives. During a great lunch, I thought of those calendar pages one sees in old black and white flicks turning furiously to represent the passing years. It was the three generations present that brought on these reflections. My host George Livanos and I have been friends since 1957, and he and his wife Lita have five children and 15 grandchildren. Not all of them were present, but there were enough youngsters to remind one of the ballroom scene in The Leopard, when Prince Salina

Dysfunctional music for dysfunctional people: The Public Image is Rotten reviewed

A star is born, but instead of emerging into the world beaming for the cameras, he spits and snarls and announces his intention to destroy the establishment via the medium of rock records. But who is it? Is it Bob Geldof or John Lydon? Citizens of Boomtown: The Story of the Boomtown Rats — another in the ongoing trend of the BBC screening films that are fundamentally ads for a band’s new album — made the case for Geldof, suggesting he and his bandmates singlehandedly dragged Ireland into the modern age (the Daily Telegraph’s chief rock critic popped up to say they were the first roar of the Celtic Tiger).

The joys of social isolation

No use datelining any more, I’m here for the duration. Even the ski lifts have been ordered to close: chiuso, geschlossen, fermé. The only way to ski now is the old-fashioned way, à la Hemingway: climb up with skins, peel them off, and enjoy the one and only run of the day. Not only is the climbing beneficial to one’s health, it’s also the only thing that’s free in good old Helvetia. Mind you, if too many people do it the Swiss will start charging for it. But for the moment, no one’s doing it as the snow has gone the way of women and children first in a sinking

Remembering Tim Hoare – a man like no other

He was a Falstaff in his drinking and in his celebration of life, but his greatness lay in his friendships. Like his closest friend Nick Scott, who left us two and a half years ago, he roamed the world making friends and being as generous to them as a fairy godfather. The years, with all their disappointments, teach us caution, but Tim Hoare remained reckless to the end. Here he is in a high life column from 15 years ago: We hit a hurricane while sailing off the Riviera last week, a hurricane called Tim Hoare. I have never in my long life met anyone quite like him. The words,

High life | 8 August 2019

Athens I am struggling up the slippery marble steps of the Acropolis with the Geldofs and the Bismarcks. We gaze upwards towards the façade of the Parthenon, whose simplicity has excited architects and conquerors for 2,000 years. There are no straight lines, everything curving upwards towards the centre. The whole structure tilts slightly towards the west end, the side you first see as you arrive, hot and winded. Yet every column seems perfectly straight, an optical illusion as real as the glory that once was Athens. The crowds are shabby and rather ugly — fat people speaking Spanish or Chinese, their children munching candy and ignoring the most beautiful structure

High life | 1 August 2019

Coronis   We are steaming on Puritan ‘What are you trying to say?’ asks Geldof, in probably the shortest sentence ever uttered by him towards the private isle of Coronis for a long Pugs weekend and the boozing is easy. Bob Geldof is lecturing on everything and anything and the listening is even easier. After three hours of this, and about five vodkas on the rocks in the sun, we have passed the island of Hydra and I feel faint. The gentle swaying of the boat, the constant blare of Bob’s lecturing, and the booze is just too much. I pass out in the sun, but only for a minute

High life | 21 September 2017

As everyone who stands up when a lady enters the room knows, the once sacrosanct rules of civility throughout the West have all but disappeared. The deterioration in manners has been accelerated by the coming of the devil’s device, the dehumanising iPhone, as well as by phoney ‘art’ and artists such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. I don’t know why, but Warhol is a bugbear of mine. He always treated me politely, featured me favourably in his magazine Interview, and referred to me in a good light in his diaries. Perhaps me being violent back then — he headlined a cover story with a reference to me being a

Bob Geldof: I led the booing of Mike Pence at Hamilton

Last month, the president-elect declared war on Hamilton — the broadway musical — after his vice-president elect Mike Pence was booed and jeered at during a performance. At the end of the show — which tells the story of Alexander Hamilton — the cast addressed Pence and warned that they were ‘the diverse Americans anxious you will not protect us’. Since then Trump has taken to Twitter to declare that the theatre must be ‘a safe and special place’ and claimed the cast and audience were ‘very rude’ to a ‘very good man’. Given that he is now in the market for an apology, Mr S was intrigued to learn that another high profile figure had

Arise, Sir Snob Geldof

Brexit, they say, has emboldened the hateful. It has given people permission to spout their prejudices, to pollute public life with their weird, rash dislike of anyone who is different to them. And it’s true, Brexit has done this. Only not in the way they think. The most visible hatred in the three months since the EU referendum has been of the Remain variety. It has been demosphobia, a borderline Victorian agitation with the pig-ignorant pleb who is madly trusted with making big political decisions about things like the EU. The hate that’s really been emboldened by Brexit is that old, historic disdain for ordinary people and their allegedly irrational

Is Hillary Clinton the new Bob Geldof?

So far in the course of the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has been labelled ‘crooked’ and had her political rival Donald Trump suggest that she ought to be in jail. However, has the worst insult only just arrived? Following Nigel Farage’s speech in support of Trump, Clinton took the unusual step of speaking out to discredit Farage. The Democrat candidate described Farage as a man who had ‘stoked anti-immigrant sentiment to win the referendum to have Britain leave the European Union’. Farage has since hit back. He has suggested that Clinton should spend more time speaking to normal people as  ‘she sounds rather like Bob Geldof and can’t accept Brexit.’ If

It’s been a year, Nicola Sturgeon. Where are your refugees?

This time last year, as images of refugees fleeing Syria dominated the news, a host of charitable figures offered to do their bit and take refugees into their home. Exasperated that David Cameron was not allowing enough refugees into Britain, Sir Bob Geldof, Yvette Cooper and Nicola Sturgeon were among those who publicly vowed to lead by example. Since then, things appear to have hit a few stumbling blocks. For one, Yvette Cooper claimed — in an interview with Nick Ferrari — that we should listen to the Tory government as they have said that ‘they don’t want people to take them into their home’. Happily times may now be a’changing. The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370

This EU anarchy is more interesting than the alternative

Don’t know about you, but the healing process is proving difficult from my point of view in dealing with my friends and family. My daughter, who is 9, broke down and cried over breakfast when she heard the result. Which is nothing to what her class will do: to a child, they’re solidly pro-Remain, and I know who’s spreading the message too – one of the little girls’ fathers is a journalist who worked himself up into a state of incoherence at the very thought of Brexit… he’s probably lying down in a darkened room right now. A colleague of mine whom I’d always thought of as rather a good

The Brexit debate has exposed the Establishment

Yesterday, on the Thames, in a bizarre battle of political flotillas, we got a glimpse of the elite rage that motors much of the Remain camp. On one of the pro-EU boats, Bob Geldof, a knight, superbly well-connected, who has earned millions, made wanker gestures and gave a two-fingered eff-you to the people on the anti-EU boats — who were mainly fishermen whose livelihoods have been wrecked by Brussels. One of these fishermen, his face ashen with desperation, shouted — almost cried, in fact — about earning £50 a week and not knowing where his next mortgage payment is going to come from, largely thanks to EU regulations on the

Battle of the Thames! Nigel Farage and Bob Geldof take their EU differences to the river

Forget the big EU debates, the most important face-off ahead of polling day is playing out on the Thames right now. Nigel Farage has taken to the water today as part of a Brexit flotilla, organised by the Fishing for Leave campaign. The stunt sees Scottish skippers boarding Brexit boats as they make the case for Out. Not quite the Battle of Jutland, but a swarm of RIBs flying IN flags is facing off against the Brexit flotilla — Kaya Burgess (@kayaburgess) June 15, 2016 However, not wanting to be outdone, the Remain camp are fighting back with their own attempt at some gentle naval warfare. Bob Geldof is leading the

The Spectator poll: Are You In or Out? Bob Geldof, Tim Rice & Joey Essex have their say

The Spectator’s EU Poll asked a fairly random group of well-known people how they’d vote in the EU referendum, and this is what they said: Sir Tim Rice, lyricist: ‘In 1975 I voted to stay in the Common Market from a standpoint of ignorance. In 2016 I shall vote to leave the EU, as a rebel without a clue. This is a gut reaction which I trust far more than the barrage of misinformation churned out by both sides of the campaign but overwhelmingly by the Remain camp. At least this time round I know I don’t know anything which is more than can be said for most of the

Singing Ireland into being

In recent years there’s been a fashion for arts documentaries presented by celebs rather than boring old experts — presumably on the grounds that knowledge and insight are no match for vague enthusiasm and a touch of showbiz glamour. (In a particularly gruesome episode of ITV’s Perspectives, Pop Idol winner Will Young established his credentials for discussing the life and works of René Magritte with the words, ‘I’ve been collecting bowler hats for 12 years now.’) Even so, one channel you might have expected to hold out against such frivolity is BBC4, the natural home of resolutely untelegenic academics telling us stuff they really know about. But then on Sunday

It’s been six months, Nicola Sturgeon. Where are your refugees?

This week Yvette Cooper was taken to task by Nick Ferrari on LBC over her refugee pledge. Although the former Labour MP had declared that she would be happy to house refugees in her own property, it turns out that she hasn’t actually done so: NF: Have you taken yours yet Yvette? YC: No that’s what I said, because the government has said… In the interest of fairness, Mr S thought it best to check in with another politician who had pledged to take in refugees. Step forward Nicola Sturgeon. Back in September, the SNP leader said she would be ‘more than happy’ to take in refugees into her own home. ‘Yes, I would

So Bob Geldof, where are your refugees?

After photos emerged of three-year-old Syrian Aylan Kurdi’s body being washed up on a Turkish beach, the British public hit out at the government for failing to do enough to help with the current refugee crisis. Although the government has so far spent £900 million helping refugees who have fled Syria, many were outraged that more refugees were not being allowed into Britain. In fact, to help the cause a number of high-profile figures — including Sir Bob Geldof and Stan Collymore — said that they would happily take refugees into their home to aid efforts. What’s more, thanks to schemes such as Room for Refugees their heartfelt pledges could now actually be realised.