09 November 2009


I'm a huge fan of Toby Young and my Spectator reading usually goes

  1. Liddle
  2. Taki (down from #1 since Rod got so good)
  3. Toby.

I like his style and am surprised I've only just come across what seems to be his own blog, No Sacred Cows - the sort of bumblingly not-quite-coming-off title he would choose.

His or not, there's a super foto of entrancing young ladies (above) and that's good enough for me.

He's particularly good in a recent Speccie on the cinematic atrocities wreaked on Roald Dahl's wonderful Fantastic Mr Fox which the Spectator is good enough to have online so that I can viralise it to my pals and, voici, share with you.

The further irony is that TY's measured rant appears in the same issue as the mag's film critic's own review and of course outclasses it hands down for both information and style.

Critic Rant: Everyone's got to do a job and tastes differ, but ever since the new critic appeared my eye has glided swifter and swifter over that particular section.

Oh dear, this started out as a bouquet for Toby and has sunk to a whinge about another writer.

But no, for the purposes of informing me and giving some idea of the quality of a movie, the critic is useless and in a highly irritating self-referential way. Some people can pull the me-me-me stuff off, this lady canNOT.

Oh and how embarrassing it must have been to have Mr Young blasting her out of the water on the same movie and in the same issue.

Bound to happen one day by one or other journo on the mag.

But back to the film in question and Young's well-judged boot.

Quoth Young: "The Fox family all have American accents and they shop at the Five and Dime. To all intents and purposes, the film is set in rural Connecticut, except that Boggis, Bunce and Bean all have British accents.

No explanation is offered as to why the three farmers happen to be British. Presumably, Anderson didn’t think one was necessary. They’re baddies, so they’re British."

Here comes the money shot: "Far more offensive, however, is the introduction of a new character in the form of Mr Fox’s only son, Ash.

In the book, Mr Fox has four children and they’re undifferentiated, so this character is a total invention on the part of Anderson and his writing partner, Noah Baumbach. Initially, Mr Fox is a bit stand-offish towards his son, preferring his more athletic cousin, Kristofferson (another invented character).

We’re told there’s something ‘different’ about Ash — he stands apart from the Fox clan and Mr Fox doesn’t invite him to join his criminal gang. But what is this difference, exactly? All is revealed in the film’s final scene, when we see Ash wearing what appears to be lipstick. The message couldn’t be clearer: Ash is gay."

At this point, it was Pass the Sick Bag time but Young went on to introduce my most favourite character of recent reading - his nonpareil wife.

Readers of TY's very funny and observant How to Lose Friends will know Carol as the mainstay of the slightly buffoonish (in a good way) Tobers, and early fans will have gasped as his family expanded at an astonishing rate, all good material for our scribe, and no exception here. I even gave a little cheer as TY wrote that,

"As we emerged from the cinema, Caroline was white with rage. She was so cross, she didn’t even want to go to the party."

Actually, How to Lose was also made into a movie, which I'm desperate to see despite Pegg annoying the heck outta me - but scant chance it'll come to Corfu and scantier that the local DVDorium will stock it.

But good excuse to splash this page with pics of babes, and this flick has many of my faves. Come to mention it, I think Kirsten asked for Young to be removed from her knickers for suggesting how she might play her part.

And our new Vicar's wife is from Connecticut, so I must suggest she sees this appalling-sounding Fox roobish and report back.

Dahl Snarl: I spent 10 years as a bookista PR hack and, for Fred. Muller's children list, would take my guitar on the road to plunk softly in the b/g as my author read to the tots - Sor, Carcassi, Carulli, namby stuff - and then in the evening get dirtier to seduce the hotel receptionist.

One dull break I was working on a John Lee Hooker instrumental - all rasping tones and hammer-n-claw stuff and grunts - and fellow scribbler Dahl came over and said,

"I dont suppose you can play that when *I* do my little act?"
It was soo Dahl - the song went "Mean mean black snake, sucking my rider's tongue".

We had to laff. Didnt do it of course but bully to that baad boy for spotting the chance to get down and dirty.

He's up there, aghast at the Wesleyan affront. The Curse of Ro' will make itself felt.

Grauniad feature: I'm a fair man [not ]. Anderson has sufficiently cocked it up with his ridiculous correctitude, so here's a video.

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