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LAKSHMAN MENON
LONDON CALLING

Paparazzi Players

e were copping a cigarette outside our local Italian when a large gentleman carrying an even larger camera suddenly emerged from the shadows. Being of curious (okay, inquisitive) mind, I asked him why. He replied he had been tipped off by the publicist of a celebrity that she and her latest husband would be dining at the restaurant. They were late and he had no intention of being kept waiting by a petulant star who had only got to the top because her clothes do not. Five minutes later, with a great jangling of jewellery, the lady arrived, duly clad in a handkerchief held together by a button. The handkerchief, or robe de soir as frock makers prefer to call it, obligingly parted like the Red Sea when she emerged, legs akimbo, from her limousine. It would have made a terrific photograph but the Pap had gone. In an instant, the celebrity's legs snapped shut tighter than a socialist's wallet and she devoted the evening to loudly berating her bridegroom for making them late and so ruining her career. Curiously, the lady is a supporter of Hacked Off, the pressure group that demands restrictions on media "intrusion". It's a strange world, my masters.

The Phallic Fixation

Sir Roger Moore may have made an unmemorable James Bond, but he is a talented memoirist. In his new autobiography Last Man Standing, Sir Roger recalls the Hollywood producer, Darryl F. Zanuck. Zanuck had an unrivalled eye for a hit film; during the course of his long career, he produced everything from The Jazz Singer to the Grapes of Wrath and The Longest Day. Like many movie moguls, Zanuck also had an excessive appetite for sex matched only by an even higher opinion of his own endowments in that department. One might say indeed, that not only did he positively worship himself, he expected actresses also to worship at his shrine. The shrine in question was a solid gold, life size mould of his tumescent manhood which adorned his desk.  Once, when Joan Crawford came to his office, Zanuck drew her attention to the statue saying temptingly: "Impressive, isn't it?"  Miss Crawford cast an appraising eye over the statue before replying: "I've seen bigger things crawl out of cabbages."

Taxing Times

Barack Obama's initial response to the so-called Islamic State sums up his foreign policy. He summoned a much heralded press conference to declare: "We don't have a strategy yet." Nor, apart from bluster, did he have a coherent strategy for putting an end to Vladimir Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine. Under his administration, America has become a limp wrist inside a kid glove. But if Mr Obama is arguably the most ineffectual president in US history, he is inarguably unique in another respect. According to the US lobby group, Judicial Watch; the Obamas have spent £27 million on holidays since 2009. One holiday last year alone, a family jaunt in Africa followed by the inestimable Mrs Obama's sojourn in Hawaii, cost the American taxpayers £10 million in security costs, making Mr Obama the most generous president with taxpayers' funds ever to occupy the White House.

Pooling Our Resources

I am obliged to The Times for informing me that charities researching longevity (as old age is now called) have come up with the secret to happiness in the autumn and winter of our lives. Being possessed of a charitable disposition, I will disclose to you that one of the ways to rejoice in happiness after the age of 60 is to learn a new fact every day. Sure enough, in another column, The Times, a wholesome and informative newspaper, comes up with a new fact that should cause much rejoicing; one in five adults — that's right, not infants or children — but fully grown and presumably sentient adults, admit to relieving themselves in public swimming pools. Apparently the red eyes one suffers after swimming are not caused by chlorine in the water but by chloramine, the chemical created when urine is mixed with chlorine. Which leads very naturally to yet another new fact; if you use public swimming pools (and yes, your club's pool counts as one), in which 100 other adults have swum before or with you, the overwhelming odds are you will have imbibed the fruits of 20 people's bladders. Now, hasn't that new information just made your day?

 
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