Londoner's Diary: Will the thighs have it for Man Booker Prize?

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Now here’s something that will inspire you to plough through that impenetrable Man Booker shortlist: which of the novels up for consideration contains the lines about the “milky white thighs begging to be taken from behind”?

Last night Baroness Lola Young, chair of the prize, spoke at a party at The Serpentine Gallery celebrating the six authors who made the grade. But she also admitted that she’d been reduced to blushes by the above phrase she found in one of the books. The cross-bench peer and professor wouldn’t say whether it was from one on the longlist, or the final six. 

“All I will say,” she teased, “is that it was one of a couple of books which could have been considered for the Bad Sex award.” 

No book that has ever won the Man Booker has won the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, run by the Literary Review. Novelist Ben Okri has scooped both in separate years, the Booker in 1991 for The Famished Road and the Bad Sex in 2014 for The Age of Magic.

Richard Flanagan, a runner-up for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award in 2014, for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, in which he wrote of “slight, rose-coloured trenches”, and included a sex scene interrupted by a dog slaughtering a fairy penguin. That same novel won the Booker that year, crowned as an “outstanding work of literature”.

So which author is responsible for the thighs that caused such blushes? Judges in attendance kept schtum. The Londoner will get reading: we may have found the next, cerebral 50 Shades of Grey. 

THE Londoner once offered Sebastian Faulks a job, but he declined. Evidently, though, his way with words would have made him an ideal candidate. In this week’s Spectator the author recalls a recent trip to Iceland: “It was like a crash course in geology GCSE,” he writes, “as our guide pointed out volcanoes, tarns, magma, calderas, tectonic plates and terminal moraine. We urged him to go further on the basis that one good tarn deserves another.”  

Reviving naughty memories of Gielgud

What a legacy: a plaque at John Gielgud’s former home (Getty)

The Southwark Playhouse is reviving A Day by the Sea by NC Hunter, the first major staging since it premiered at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1953, directed by and starring John Gielgud. The actor was arrested for cottaging in a public convenience in Chelsea during the show’s run. Back at the theatre after he was fined by a magistrate, fellow cast member Sybil Thorndike said, in a perfectly delivered double-entendre: “Oh, John, you have been a silly bugger!” She then led him on stage and asked the audience to show their support: he got a standing ovation. Anyone there is invited by organisers to get in touch to share recollections and attend the press night in October. 

Quote of the Day

Brexit Beatle: Ringo Starr (Getty)

‘I would have voted to get out, but don’t tell Bob Geldof’

Ringo Starr says he would have voted for Brexit, unlike his fellow rocker

Creative types are on the loose, and how

TO New King’s Road last night for Designed at Talisman, a new exhibition showing what happens when you give eight interiors experts, artists and florists one room in a house and carte blanche. 

Actress Daisy Lewis, a consultant on the project, told us her next step. “I am directing the first thing that I have written, with Andrea Riseborough in the lead,” she said, adding that she is working with an all-female crew. “It’s a short film about an actress who is playing the role of an addict and she overdoses while she is on stage.” Not a Friday night popcorn film, then. 

Shaken and stirred was the order of the night at The Ivy at Tower Bridge 

last night, as Beefeater gin toasted 50 years of its master distiller Desmond Payne. “Gin is the ultimate party drink,” he said. “It just works. The Queen knows a thing or two, as indeed did the Queen Mother, with her tipple of gin and Dubonnet.” Any secrets we should know about?  “The ‘11am’ is always a 

winner,” he says. “Angostura bitters, ice, gin and water.” Beats a cup of tea.

BBC’s Cheesecakegate

Anyone for cheesecake? Note: this isn’t the slice in question (Getty)

CHEESECAKE wars at the BBC. We’ve all had our food swiped from the work fridge, so it’s nice to see that even staff at W1A aren’t above a bit of passive-aggressive note exchange. Earlier this week Adam Robson, a staffer at the BBC, tweeted someone’s missive after they discovered their dessert was missing. “‘To the scumbag who stole my New York cheesecake, I hope you choke on it’.”

A few hours later, an update and a new note: “‘To the angry victim of crime,’ a third party wrote, ‘Violence is not the answer. There is cheesecake for you in here. To the cheesecake pilferer, go give money to charity’.”

The story is reminiscent of an episode from US sitcom Friends, in which Ross, a palaeontologist at a museum, is dismissed from his job after losing his temper with a colleague who eats his turkey sandwich. But can HR get involved without tracing the culprit? For now, the identities of the various protagonists are as yet unknown but we’ve got our eyes on Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly.

Tweet of the Day:

“BREAKING: The world’s problems will not be solved by arguing with strangers on Twitter. We’ll update you when we have more on this story.”

Channel 4 had some crucial advice yesterday

Package deal of the day: tweeter @juanbuis notes that you can fly to New York for €275, stay two nights in an Airbnb for €100 and buy the iPhone X for €830. Total €1,155. Or stay in Europe and buy it for €1,159.

The Only Way is Nashville now…

A Swift rise: Megan Mckenna with her prize (@megan_mckenna_)

Last night Megan McKenna, the star of The Only Way is Essex whose unlikely foray into country music has unseated Taylor Swift from the top of the charts, won Best Newcomer at the Boisdale Music Awards at the restaurant group’s Canary Whary outpost. Grammys are, surely, next.

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