SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Sunday 29th August 2004

Julie's Sugar Plum


I'm a great admirer of Julie Burchill's. Some people will imagine I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not. We used to be bosom buddies, then we had a falling out, and now we're friends again--email friends, that is. I haven't actually seen her in nine years and I suspect that's one of the reasons we've been able to keep our present relationship on an even keel.

She's back in the news again, partly because she's just got married to her long-term boyfriend, and partly because Sugar Rush, her new novel for teenage girls, is being published next week. The two events sit a little oddly together, for while she's embracing bourgeois convention with one hand, she's demolishing it with the other--the one that holds her pen. Sugar Rush features copious amounts of lesbian sex and depicts heterosexual relationships as stultifying and boring. Julie herself went through a lesbian stage--she was 36 at the time rather than a teenager--but changed her mind after a few months. Indeed, the man she's just married is the little brother of her ex-girlfriend, Charlotte Raven.

Sugar Rush is surprisingly good. At least, it's good for a novel that, by her own admission, Julie wrote in 10 afternoons. To give you some idea of how fast that is, I'm currently writing a novel that I've been working on for over a year. If I manage to finish it by Christmas, it will have taken me about 18 months--and that's considered quite quick within the publishing industry. It took Tom Wolfe 11 years to write A Man in Full, whereas if Julie keeps up her current pace she could produce 36 novels in a single year. That would beat her own record in 1998 when she managed to write a novel, an autobiography and a book about the Princess of Wales.

The sex in Sugar Rush didn't grab me-- "She pulled my head down and kissed me hard on the lips. Fireworks exploded inside me."--but Julie manages to capture the highs and lows of adolescence extremely well, possibly because she's never really emerged from that stage herself. She claims she was able to tune in to the mindset of a 15-year-old girl without any difficulty--and I believe her. Sugar Rush may well be the first teenage novel written by a 45-year-old teenager.

Would I give a copy of Sugar Rush to my own daughter? Well, since Sasha is only one, she'd probably put it in her mouth, but I might let her read it when she's 13. That's not the real test, though. In the past, whenever I've gone on the telly or the radio to defend pornography, the toughest question is always, "Would you want your own daughter to appear in one of these films?"

Would I want Sasha to appear in a Julie Burchill novel? The answer, I'm afraid, is no. For that reason, I'm going to continue to avoid any face-to-face meetings between our two families for the foreseeable future.

What's It All About, Jude?

Paramount Pictures has just released the first trailer for Alfie, a remake of the 1966 classic starring Jude Law in the Michael Caine role. It's not due to be released until October 22, but judging from the trailer it won't be a patch on the original. The mistake the filmmakers have made is to set the film in present-day New York and it's simply unrealistic to think that a fast-talking, British womaniser would have the same sort of success in Manhattan that the equivalent character did in Swinging London.

Believe me, I know. I spent five years in New York doggedly chasing everything in a skirt and the days when an English accent worked like an aphrodisiac on the opposite sex are well and truly over. Successive generations of freeloading Brits have poisoned that well. These days, when a New York girl hears the dulcet tones of a true blue Englishman she thinks: low income, small apartment, alcohol problem. And she's usually right.

Admittedly, there's a flaw in this argument. As my wife pointed out when I ran it past her, Jude Law is about a thousand times better looking than me. Nevertheless, I doubt that even he could pull the number of birds that his character does in the film.

Parky's Nose Out of Joint

It's bad news that Michael Parkinson's bosses at ITV1 have slashed his entertainment budget, if the rumours are to be believed. The only way he was able to attract such high-calibre guests during his long career as the BBC--David Niven, Mohamed Ali, James Stewart, John Wayne and David Beckham, to name just a few--is because the corporation was willing to pay through the nose to get them. If the ITV bean counters are cutting the amount of free wine that's available in the green room, they're unlikely to fork out the six-figure sums necessary to secure top of the line talent.

The reason Parky defected to the opposition after 20-odd years at the Beeb is because his bosses wanted to shift his Saturday night show from 10pm to 9pm to make way for Match of the Day. ITV1, by contrast, will broadcast the new show in exactly the same slot it used to occupy on BBC1. But how can he be expected to compete with the premier league if his guests are all from the second division? My hunch is that ITV1 had to pay so much to secure Parky's services that there's simply no money left in the coffers.

Stop Bawling, Pinsent

Congratulations to Matthew Pinsent for securing a fourth gold medal for his country, but did he really have to turn on the waterworks as he stood on the podium? As an old Etonian, not to mention the son of a Vicar, he could have shown a little more self-control.

I know it's supposed to be a good thing that men are able to show their feelings in public, but I'm very much of the old school when it comes to this subject. The true gold standard, as far as I'm concerned, is the behaviour of Joe Simpson, the British climber who managed to crawl back to his base camp in the Peruvian Andes in spite of suffering terrible injuries after falling through a crevasse.

During the making of Touching The Void, the documentary in which he recounted his adventures, Simpson was asked why he'd waited so long to return to the Siula Grande in Peru. "I don't see why going back to a traumatic place is necessarily a good thing," he replied. "Why can't you just leave it behind and go on? It's all mixed up with that counselling bollocks that's completely out of control in the States. It's much better to take the British stiff upper lip approach and get on with it."

Now that's what I call a hero.

BA's New Uniform

I spent last weekend in Denmark and, on the flight back, took the opportunity to ask the British Airways staff what they thought about their new, much tighter uniforms.

"It certainly looks better than the old one, which was a bit Marks & Spencer's," said David, a good-looking young flight attendant. "But it's a lot less comfortable."

Sandra, a middle-aged stewardess, agreed.

"It's alright, I suppose, but I don't like the fact that the shirt now needs ironing. It's too much hassle."

Could this be another example of BA's management trying to impose more restrictive working practices on the company's employees? Let's hope the new, Julian Macdonald-designed uniforms don't provoke another bout of industrial action.

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Twitter My 2017 Constance Holden Memorial Address on Liberal Creationism -- why the left has been denying the findings of iā€¦ link  (17 hours ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski - the-american-interest.com
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony - jerusalemletters.com
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller - quillette.com
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand - newyorker.com
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge - economist.com
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell - city-journal.org
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander - prospectmagazine.co.uk
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell - quillette.com
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff - newsweek.com
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings - dominiccummings.wordpress.com
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew - politico.com
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus - claremont.org
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman - theguardian.com
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer - conservativehome.com
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch - thetimes.co.uk
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth ā€“ He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Corbyn's first seven days - theguardian.com
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey - news.sky.com
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy ā€“ just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair - theguardian.com
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite ā€“ it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
In defence of free schools by Toby Young - standpointmag.co.uk
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film