Saturday, 18 February 2012

Dear Reader, Grapefruitcrazy Is Taking A Breather

I'm moving home next week. With the likely disruption and distraction, it is as good a time as any to take a breather with the Grapefruitcrazy blog - after more than two years, nearly 560 posts and 50,000 page views.
I plan to be 'off air' for around a month. I may post from time to time during the period if the spirit takes me; for example I'm looking forward to a private view of the new Picasso show at Tate Britain on Thursday evening.
If for any reason after taking stock I decide to make my silence permanent, I'll announce my decision here.
In the meantime I leave this message from The King to all my readers around the world especially those who have taken the trouble to comment and email.

Friday, 17 February 2012

To K - or the joy of the write stuff

I’ve a friend, call him K, who I’ve known for 40 years or so – and only today, for the first time, have I really envied him.
Not for his women; there have been plenty even before he made his pile, beauties too; some he made his wives.
Not for his money; he's probably a millionaire.
Not for his latest desirable residence, succession of ever more expensive sports cars or his regular holidays to tropical paradises.
What I envied was the pleasure he experienced this morning on learning that a literary agent liked the opening chapters of K’s novel so much she wanted to see the rest of the book as soon as possible.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Gunners spiked by Milan defeat but Wenger must stay

I allowed myself a hollow laugh this morning after the night before saw Arsenal taken apart 4-nil by a "beautiful" AC Milan at the San Siro. The Gunners goalie Wojciech Szczesny " told Arsenal Player, “It's not impossible to come back but it's going to be very difficult," in what must rate as the biggest sporting understatement so far this year.
There wasn’t a crumb of comfort in Arsenal’s abject performance to suggest there is a chance in hell of the team triumphing in the second leg of the Champions League contest at the Emirates in a couple of weeks.
Manager Arsene Wenger looked and sounded disgusted in his post-match interviews.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Binge drinking - a curse without a cure

David Cameron had another blast against binge drinking today but failed to come off the fence about whether he wants to press ahead with legislation that would price cheap booze out of the supermarkets.
Moves are already underway to lift the cost of alcohol but nothing will be as effective as introducing a minimum price per unit, as Scotland is considering.
It would be aimed at deterring drinkers who tank up at home before hitting town centres where they proceed to complete the damage at an estimated £1 billion a year to the emergency and accident services.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Sean Penn's moral compass points the wrong way

Sean Penn made an ass of himself when he sided with Argentina recently in its quarrel with the UK about sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
While in Buenos Aires meeting the country’s president Cristina Kirchner, he urged Britain to join UN-sponsored talks over “the Malvinas Islands of Argentina.” The Malvinas being what the Argentinians call the Falklands.
He said: “It's necessary that these diplomatic talks happen between the United Kingdom and Argentina. I think that the world today is not going to tolerate any kind of ludicrous and archaic commitment to colonialist ideology.”
Sean, what's to negotiate, you've clearly made up your mind?

Monday, 13 February 2012

Witch-hunt or just deserts: the Sun newsroom circles the wagons

Just as Rupert Murdoch didn’t blink when he took on News International newspaper workers in the Wapping dispute nearly 30 years ago and axed the jobs of 300 News of the World staff recently in the wake of the phone hacking scandal, it’s no wonder The Sun employees are jumpy.
They fear being thrown to the wolves by the parent company News Corp’s management and standards committee (MSC), which is apparently enthusiastically providing the police with shed loads of information which has led to the arrest of 30 Sun journalists with perhaps more to come.
Payments to police informants rather than hacking are under the microscope, as the MSC is tasked with scrutinising countless archived emails and expense forms.
Reading between the lines there appears to be more than one target in the complaint of Sun political veteran and associate editor Trevor Kavanagh in his column today.

Friday, 10 February 2012

How long before Health minster Andrew Lansley's luck runs out?

Health minister Andrew Lansley should do the Lotto given the extraordinary luck he’s shown in hanging on to his job. His Health and Social Care Bill intended to re-shape the National Health Service is a disaster.
Reform was overdue – we’ve known for decades demographics and advances in medicine required a response to control the pressure on spending.
But making the radical, top down changes, which the Prime Minister swore wouldn’t happen, proposed in the Bill can't be done at the same time as massive NHS cuts, another broken manifesto commitment.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Rednapp and Capello - missing pieces of the puzzle

Where would we Brits be without football?
The Beautiful Game inconsequential in itself but vital in providing the opportunity to step away from our every day lives and argue the pros and cons about dazzling/dirty/pathetic players, disputed goals, and shortsighted refs.
Every now again the game comes up with an occasion that focuses the attention of the whole nation; and if it’s a World Cup prompting countrywide lamentation – save for Bobby and the boys in ’66.
Yesterday’s acquittal of Spurs manager Harry Rednapp on tax evasion charges and the resignation of England coach Fabio Capello in protest at the FA stripping John Terry of our national team’s captaincy were the only stories in town.
Rare enough making major off-pitch football headlines; almost unique in breaking within hours of each other. There were still hardly any other topics for discussion today.
The Sunday newspapers will have their say and I hope fill in some of the gaps in both tales.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Katy brings out the mensch in Russell

I was particularly struck by the observation Russell Brand is a “mensch” in showbiz gossip website TMZ.com’s story today that he’s not seeking the $20 million he is estimated to be entitled to in divorcing Katy Perry.
“This divorce is as amicable as it gets, and Russell was a mensch (Yiddish for a good person)”, a source told TMZ.
The exclusive was sparked by the filing of the comedian’s divorce papers as he closed his 14 month marriage to the pop star.
There is a depth of meaning in the word mensch, which resonates with me over and above the “good person” definition.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Save Our (British) V-Sign

The good old British V-sign is under threat. Not the hippie peace one or the Churchill victory salute but the palm inwards f**k you or f**k off display of obscene anger.
I can just about stand having a Starbucks on every corner, watching English traditions like Guy Fawkes Night give ground to Halloween, and Americanisms such as meet with enter the language but the increasing popularity of flipping the bird for the V-sign is downright unpatriotic.
It’s such a feeble gesture that I missed it in M.I.A’s performance in the Super Bowl’s halftime show on Sunday in the same way Janet Jackson once flashed her nipple faster than these old eyes could see.

Monday, 6 February 2012

India's poor are certain losers if we turn off aid tap

I don’t know how long the Coalition government will be able to resist popular sentiment that Britain should cancel its £270 million a year aid programme for India.
A country of extremes, home to more billionaires than the UK, with massive defence spending and a space programme - and a third of the world’s poor.
Readers’ comments addressing The Times of India’s online reporting of the story provides an interesting insight from the perspective of Indians never likely to be recipients of aid given the necessary ability to converse in English on the internet.
There is widespread pride in India’s economic achievements but thereafter opinions divide into two main bones of contention.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Hoping for a happy ending to share price rise story

It’s too early to break out the Champagne but the recent strength of share prices on both sides of the Atlantic is very welcome and could prove to be a straw in the wind of recovery.
I’ve been away from financial journalism several years now having lost track of day-to-day events a week after my retirement such is the pace in the Square Mile.
But principles don’t change; stock market trends tell a story – the clever bit is getting the interpretation right.
Investors, who try to look three to six months ahead, are pretty positive at the moment.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

GC is reminded why he misses The Sunday Times

“Actually, the most fascinating place on the internet is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,” Bryan Appleyard wrote in a book review last weekend in the Culture section of The Sunday Times.
As he was challenging an assertion in a book to which he gave a lukewarm review, it wouldn't rate a link in this post even if there were free online access.
What I enjoyed was Appleyard’s throwaway erudition and was immediately prompted to go to the site of which I was ignorant such is my admiration for his breadth of knowledge and the clarity of his writing. I'll get back to you whether I think he's right.
I have given up buying the Sunday Times in protest at its parent’s News International’s ownership of the News of the World, the centre of the phone hacking scandal. This remains the case even though the NoW was closed.
This remains a wrench. The Culture section alone is almost worth the £2-20 cover price. Its regular writers of which Appleyard is a leading example are among the best in the business.
The closest I’ve come to replacing the newspaper is Saturday’s edition of The Guardian – an intelligent TV guide to the week ahead being a ‘must’.
Having failed to buy that paper I was obliged to return to the Sunday Times the next day because none of the other Sundays does the job. That’s for one day only, I think.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Keira Knightley's GQ cover shoot does her no favours

Keira Knightley’s “saucy GQ shoot” catches none of her natural beauty. The selection of pictures released to promote tomorrow’s publication of the March edition of the men’s magazine supports her detractors who rate her a pouty, bag of bones with middling acting skills.
Taking the last criticism first - in the right film (Pride and Prejudice, Last Night) is she excellent. For the rest she is never less than competent.
As for the GQ shoot timed to coincide with the UK release of her movie A Dangerous Method, there is a degree of albeit forgivable hypocrisy on her part.
Knightley lounges around in skimpy attire in a men’s magazine at the same insisting on the artistic integrity of the movie’s nudity and spanking episodes.
By now you must know she plays the real-life Sabina Spielrein, the masochistic patient of Carl Jung. Of course it’s journalists who raise the subject of these scenes; but Knightley relishes giving the answers in the knowledge notoriety is good for box office receipts.
Returning to the subject of the GQ pictures, I won’t mention the photographer’s name – he may well have been working to the magazine’s brief of trying to produce the sexiest pix possible within the limits imposed by Knightley.
He failed. As she is famously flat chested and narrow hipped, it’s never going to work presenting Knightley as a vamp let loose on the cosmetics counter.
Her vital asset is her face. It works for Knightley (or rather me) on the glossy pages as much as the screen.
Marc Hom captures the essence in the picture below of what might be called Knightley’s sensuality and sensibility.