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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Sunday 11th April 2004

Who's the Next Bond?

The news that Pierce Brosnan may not appear in the next Bond film has prompted yet another bout of speculation about who's likely to fill his shoes--or, rather, his dinner jacket. The latest names in the gilt-edged frame are Colin Firth, Clive Owen and Jude Law.

Why is it always assumed that James Bond has to played by a white actor? If the producers really wanted to breath some life into the moribund franchise they'd cast a black actor in the role. My vote goes to Chiwetel Ejiofor, the charismatic star of Dirty Pretty Things.

It makes perfect sense for Britain's foremost secret agent to be played by this fine young actor. After all, black men and women make up an increasingly high percentage of Britain's armed forces, not to mention our national teams, and some of our brightest Olympic hopes are black. Who better to represent Queen and country in the world of international espionage than a black man? The Battle of Waterloo may have been won on the playing fields of Eton, but the battle against terrorism will be won on the patches of grass in Britain's inner-city council estates.

Just think what a strong message this would send to the racist Neanderthals of the BNP. James Bond is our most famous national icon, a standard bearer of everything that's still great about Britain. Casting Chiwetel Ejiofor as 007 would be the perfect way to signal that the vast majority of Britons are proud of the huge contribution our black population makes to the health and vitality of the nation.

Beckham's Message of Love

I'm not surprised that David Beckham and Rebecca Loos chose to express their love for one another via text message. The days when celebrities communicated by letter are long gone. They might go to the opening of an envelope, but they would never, ever address one.

This is bad news for the auction houses. Scarcely a week goes by without the romantic outpourings of some famous historical figure going under the hammer. In the not too distant future they'll be reduced to flogging dusty old mobiles bearing a few lines of illiterate gibberish.

On Tuesday, Dylan Thomas's first love letter to his wife Caitlin will go on sale at Sotheby's and is expected to fetch up to £3,300. Written when he was only 22, it reveals the depth of his love for the young dancer.

"You'll never, I'll never let you, grow wise, and I'll never, you shall never let me, grow wise and we'll always be young and unwise together," he wrote.

Contrast this with one of the text messages that Beckham is alleged to have sent to Loos.

"Just lay back and think of what I done to you," the England player punched into his mobile. "I want to hear you scream."

Somehow, I can't imagine that fetching the equivalent of £3,300 in 100 years time.

KIll Bill: Vol 2

I went to a sneak preview of Kill Bill: Vol. 2 last week and, I'm sorry to report, it's no better than Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Like the first film, it contains a number of spectacular scenes, but they completely fail to come together into a satisfying dramatic whole. Every time it takes flight, it comes crashing back down to earth and the upshot is that it lacks any cumulative momentum. Indeed, it's more like a series of extended trailers than a full-length feature film.

Quentin Tarantino has evidently fallen victim to the same curse that afflicted an earlier generation of Hollywood filmmakers. In Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind described the appalling price paid by Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Peter Bogdanovich, among others, for their early success. Like Tarantino, they suddenly found themselves worshipped and fawned upon wherever they went and, like Tarantino, they took full advantage of their new-found fame to indulge their basest appetites. Not surprisingly, within a short space of time their talent had deserted them.

A few of these filmmakers came back from the brink, while the majority are now languishing by their pools in Beverly Hills, waiting for the phone to ring. Can Tarantino ever return to the form he showed in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction? On the strength of Kill Bill: Vol. 2, it seems very, very unlikely.

Follow My Leader

There are few things I hate more than the knee-jerk anti-Americanism of Britain's chattering classes. The latest outrage is Follow My Leader, a new "satire" by Alistair Beaton, a contributor to Loose Ends, that's just opened at the Birmingham Rep.

At one point during the evening's "entertainment", the audience is invited to sing along to a number called 'Let's All be Anti-American'. The chorus goes as follows: "Let's all be anti-American / What's so wrong with that? / They're much too loud / And they're far too rich / And one in three is incredibly fat." The concluding line of this witty little ditty is: "Let's tell America to go f* off."

As a conscientious journalist, constantly on the look out for good material, I should journey up the M40 to see this play, but I can't trust myself to behave when I arrive at the theatre. I might leap up on stage and point out that if it wasn't for America's intervention in 1941 Hitler would have won the Second World War and if it wasn't for America's military commitment to defending the freedom of Western Europe during the Cold War we would almost certainly be living under Soviet occupation.

Vive La France--in London

France may not be pulling its weight in the war against terrorism, but as a restaurant critic I have every reason to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordial. Thanks to the efforts of chefs like Albert Roux, Michel Roux and Raymond Blanc, Britain's cuisine has been transformed from the laughing stock of Europe to the envy of the world.

France, on the other hand, has less to be grateful for. There's been no comparable culinary traffic in the opposite direction. Indeed, thanks to the defection of France's top chefs, you can now find better modern French cooking in London than you can in Paris.

Let's hope the Entente Cordial lasts for another 100 years, by which time we'll be a nation of food-and-wine lovers, while our poor cousins across the Channel will be reduced to Brown Ale and fish and chips.

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