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Same stable, same old rubbish

Updated: Jan 1

Following on from last week’s blog about reviews in The Times, I find it impossible to refrain from adding that the “Culture” section of the Sunday Times is just as bad. To provide just three examples from the most recent issue:

Christopher Goodwin, reviewing “Frank: the making of a legend” (James Kaplan), asserts that Frank Sinatra was a “momma’s boy”. Yet a few paragraphs down it turns out his mother was“abusive, violent and vengeful”. Make your mind up... By the way, I suppose there’s a few things you could slag off Frank Sinatra for, but being gentle in bed and sobbing because Ava Gardner left him ain’t two of ‘em.

Meanwhile Daisy Goodwin, reviewing the dreary-sounding “Why not say what happened?” by Ivana Lowell, reveals:“the effects of excess wealth can be just as corrosive to the human spirit as the most grinding forms of poverty and deprivation.” Um – yeah. If you say so, Daisy...

To cap them all, Christopher Hart, reviewing “Poet McGonagall: the Biography of William McGonagall” explains: “In those days, the working class still dreamt of improving themselves...”

Blimey. It seems the Times/Sunday Times have really reverted to type: talk about class war. If it wasn’t for a very thoughtful weekly column by Frank Skinner I’d be off... (that and the knowledge you have to pay for the Times content, so one may as well read that and read the others online for nowt).

Skinner is a far cleverer bloke than he’s given credit for. If it came down to a choice between a drink with him and one with Ricky Gervais, he’d win hands down (even though he doesn’t drink).

Finally on Times writers: having watched about 2 seconds of Giles Coren’s latest MOT-failing vehicle from behind a cushion last week, it would seem journalism’s gain is definitely television’s loss.

More positively, I’m about to print off “emptiness” again for a final mark-up; had a great talk at London Met on Tuesday with the superb Sunny Singh and her students; and coming up I have two more events, at Middlesex and Tower Hamlets (again) with Alex Wheatle, which should be interesting.

After which: Gibraltar here I come. Watch out monkeys...

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