WHAT WE’VE FORGOTTEN ABOUT HARVEY WEINSTEIN

JORDAN PETERSON’S CLASSICS COURSE

THE ABC QUIZ I CAN NEVER WIN

HOSPITALS REVEAL COMMONSENSE’S TIPPING POINT

MALCOLM GLADWELL’S EMPTY VESSEL

MICHAEL MOSLEY’S RECIPE FOR SHARK

ANN PATCHETT’S CAUTIONARY TALE

VIDEO CLIP – HOORAY FOR ALL ABOUT EVE


MORE HARVEY, LESS ME-ME-ME …

#MeToo has been responsible for many outrages and disappointments over the past two years of its existence but perhaps this is its worst offence: it has succeeded in making so many of us forget the female bravery and courage behind the original expose that set off this poorly focussed movement.

I realised this with a jolt as I picked up a copy of She Said, by New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey in Kinokuniya bookshop a fortnight or so ago. There had been a strict embargo on it until its publication worldwide on September 10 so I hadn’t even seen a press release.

I’m highly sceptical of #MeToo, and have been from the beginning, and so I wasn’t expecting much from the book as I started to flick through the pages. My idiocy.

The book is galvanising. Read it. Everyone should read it.

Who did nothing?

It’s a clear and meticulously assembled account of what it took to bring down Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein by two of the reporters who did that, along with what they have been able to uncover and learn since. Until October 2017, when The New York Times and then the New Yorker published their stories about Weinstein’s alleged decades of sexual assault, sexual bullying and harassment of women, this man had apparently been able to get away with his behaviour while those with the power to stop it did nothing.

Instead, it was revealed, as the book chronicles, that, over the years, lawyers, women among them including high profile feminist attorneys Gloria Allred and her daughter Lisa Bloom, had basically gone into bat for Weinstein as he tried to out-manoeuvre his accusers or stop them ever speaking out. Other lawyers had negotiated settlements with women, employees as well as actors, that imposed a roll call of restrictions, with swingeing financial penalties if confidentiality was ever broken. Board directors and corporate heavies made it clear to colleagues they were only concerned about not being seen to break the law.

Weinstein employed, the authors write, with the knowledge of some of the above, a firm of covert Israeli operatives to track women he’d harassed to see if they might be potential sources of trouble or leaks. The firm also faked identities to manipulate and deceive journalists as well as Weinstein’s victims.

The silence of the lambs

“Much of the new reporting we present about Weinstein,” the authors (pictured below, Kantor is on the left) write upfront, “helps illustrate how the legal system and corporate culture has served to silence victims and still inhibits change. Businesses are co-opted into protecting predators. Some advocates for women profit from a settlement system that covers up misdeeds.”

Weinstein, whose trial on charges of rape and predatory sexual assault has now been moved to next January, had a pattern. There would be an invitation, often issued to an upcoming star by her manager or agent, to visit him in his hotel suite for a work meeting. If an employee, the invitation would be seen as a plus, a chance to get to know the supreme boss. Instead, he would greet them in a bathrobe and ask them to massage him and let him massage them. Depending on the feistiness or quick-wittedness of the guest, the woman would either get away with being harassed and possibly threatened, or, if younger, less worldly, more frightened, she might find herself massaging him, having her top taken off, undressed, forced into a shower with Weinstein, masturbated over or worse. Most of the women were in their teens or 20s.

Shame and its power

Some of the young women who left Weinstein’s employment afterwards or threatened to leave could then not find jobs. They would be offered jobs back at Miramax, and its successor The Weinstein Company, and even though there would be no more sexual overtures from Weinstein, with some of these women placed in offices in other countries, they would feel controlled, powerless. One woman, posted to Hong Kong to scout for Asian films, attempted suicide twice.

Another said, “He counted on my shame to keep me silent.”

So how did the story eventually break?

First, through the dogged work of reporters Kantor and Twohey at the Times and Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker. I’m now more familiar with the former because of She Said and what is impressive is the sheer nerve of these women, their perspicacity, their refusal to back down, their tenacity and that of their researchers and contacts, combing through government records and arcane directories to locate possible sources. All backed up by a solid team of editors at the Times.

Bands of brave women

Then there are the sources who risked so much. Ashley Judd, below who had tried to expose Weinstein in 2015 with an interview in Variety but with little luck, agreed to talk to the reporters and “be one of many women standing up to Weinstein in unison”. Then Gwyneth Paltrow came out.

Other women who could have been sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars or more decided to band together and break agreements that were so draconian and inhuman they should never have been forced to sign them in the first place. It turned out that women as young as 24 had tried to stick up for their colleagues with management.

Back in October, 2017, we read a lot of this (though not in such detail) but the furore of #MeToo, and the heat, rancour and polarisation it has since aroused, has left everything blurred.

She Said encapsulates a fantastic moment in the progress towards women being able to operate to their full potential, without fear. It is impossible to read this book and not be awed by the strength and intelligence and commonsense of these women (and the men they persuaded to help too, of course).

Truly inspirational women

This was and is womanhood at its most commanding. Who wouldn’t have wanted any of these women featured in this book, including its authors, in powerful and influential positions anywhere?

And then #MeToo took off. Brainless, whiney, narcissistic #MeToo which springboarded off those achievements and then, effectively, buried them in the public imagination.

I’m betting that many people wouldn’t now know, or remember, that Harvey Weinstein wasn’t outed by #MeToo. For, instead, it was these news reports and features about him that led to the phrase, initially invented years earlier by activist Tarana Burke, getting a high octane kick-off as a movement after a tweet from actor Alyssa Milano.

What a crying shame.

I knew I was right to think there was something off-key about the #MeToo movement when, in its infancy, I expressed reservations about it to a male friend who’s gay and he told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. I knew where he was coming from and I sympathised. But I also understood at that second the reason I had had concerns.

The damage caused by #MeToo

#MeToo was always going to turn into a movement that, as well as highlighting cases of sexual harassment, belligerence and far worse, also sounded a bell to those who felt as if they didn’t quite belong, to anyone who believed, often correctly, they had been unfairly treated or discriminated against. But that meant it would also appeal to the aggrieved, and those wanting to blame others, to attention-seekers and professional victims, to women who thought it was okay to identify as women who’d been treated badly by men and who’d chosen to band together to present as victims.

And that was the big problem. And I was not alone in my worries.

I cannot see, two years later, that the #MeToo movement, with its relentlessness and dogma, has achieved anything truly long lasting and worthwhile in the workplace and in the battle for equality except to make everyone as keyed up, charged up and as nervous as the posses of greyhounds who used to race in Macau before the track was closed down on humanitarian grounds.

Emma Thompson is right but…

I’m certainly with actor Emma Thompson when she said, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times mid-year, that in response to men griping they no longer know how to behave: “Get a grip, guys, it’s not rocket science. You just have to behave with respect, and courtesy. Now shut up and get on with it. And please don’t make this your … problem.” She concluded, “I’m so fed up with that I just want to smack them.” Well, absolutely.

But I still feel hugely sympathetic towards men about the change in the overall rules in an office: is it still possible to have a casual drink after work with a female colleague to bond better and discuss work problems? Is it still possible to compliment a woman? What about suggesting having a sandwich together because you’ve discovered you both have an interest in the same subject and it might be the basis of a good friendship? Because of all those are, I’d argue, respectful as per Thompson’s request – but I don’t think any of them would be as acceptable today as they were even 20 years ago. And that’s a drastic and bad change.

And I worry that women now present themselves publicly as such delicate pieces of porcelain we can’t even handle the slightest brush or wrong touch in case we shatter. Of course, brutish behaviour that is sexually menacing or harassing or threatening should be stamped out but I still feel discomforted at the fuss that erupted when ABC 7.30 host Leigh Sales was unexpectedly kissed on the mouth by a non-thinking male host at a charity event.

Oh puhlease…

Did she need to immediately cry “hashtag me too” into the microphone? (Ms Sales, I’d suggest a thorough reading of She Said and what those women went through before rushing to claim a #MeToo event for yourself.) Did the media really need to give the incident such exposure? I did not, and still don’t, believe that such a gauche and idiotic gesture merited this enormous, public shaming.

And who didn’t raise their eyebrows after comedian Aziz Ansari was humiliated in January 2018 when a woman he had sex with complained afterwards about how bad it was.

In the US alone, over 200 men had, a year after the Weinstein reports, been named, shamed, disgraced and forced to leave their positions. Not surprisingly, with all the accusations and back and forth, the rebuttals and overturned charges, the resignations and downfalls, it’s now all a bit of a blur to the average person trying to stay on top of the story.

Clearly, I failed myself given my initial reaction to She Said.

So to recap, we’ve had Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, NBC TV show host Matt Lauer, director and producer Bryan Singer and umpteen other high profile men, from comedian Louis C.K to New York Armory art fair boss, Australian Benjamin Genocchio, who have stepped down from their high status and desirable positions or jobs or, like US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, had to face intense scrutiny in public hearings.

Collateral damage

Of course, many, many of these men, like CBS president Leslie Moonves, seem on all the evidence to have clearly deserved it. Of course that made harassed women and men feel good. But some men like Spacey have since seen charges dropped (though British police are still pursuing six other allegations of sexual assault). Some, like Kavanaugh, have won through (but will never quite escape the unsavoury tinge that now adheres to them as two new books on Kavanaugh attest).

Some, like broadcaster and writer Garrison Keillor, have lost their jobs or stepped down but with supporters of both sexes on the sidelines feeling it has been unfair or rough justice. Or that a field has lost someone of massive talent or ability. The New Yorker’s recent reporting by Jane Mayer on the case of former senator Al Franken, pictured below, is unsettling and well worth reading.

Plenty of women are also disappointed, or even contemptuous, of the women – and men – who have come forward to complain of slights like an inappropriate touch or comment.

Metropolitan Opera stage director John Copley was fired according to the New York Times, after he “was accused of making a sexually charged remark to a [male] member of the chorus”. See this story also, from The Telegraph in London, on the 84 year old British opera director who apparently had made a camp joke.

For heaven’s sakes. Are these people for real? What do they do if a driver beeps them on the road? If a delicatessen server asks them to hurry up and choose their cheese?

Justice at risk

There have been more lasting and worrying trends. The case of Sydney actor John Jarratt, who was charged with rape but acquitted after just 15 minutes of jury deliberation (but after 20 months of agony and public humiliation for him until the acquittal), has led to some transparency as to what is now going on and the new pressures on prosecutors to proceed with cases that might once have been considered shaky.

None of this has helped women and men who have actually been raped, sexually violated or humiliatingly and frighteningly harassed and it certainly doesn’t help the people – the campaigners, the lawyers, the affected – who have fought for so many decades to get rape victims and victims of other sex crimes a real go in the courts.

And this brings me back to the real scandal of Weinstein, that he was protected for decades by so many powerful people who should have known far better. Perpetrators are one thing and they are often unbalanced, creepy or downright evil. But for every perpetrator, there can be five, 10, 20 people or even more who know what the perpetrators are doing – and say and do nothing. That’s the real problem.

Why not #YouToo

How much better it would have been if, instead of #MeToo – as in, yes this happened to me – people, men and women, had launched #YouToo, exposing all the many people who had stood by and let these things happen, or #NoMore, to lay down the new ground rules of behaviour – for everyone.

Anything but the me-me-me of #MeToo which, with its inbuilt whiff of righteous victimhood, its rash and destructive allegations, the witch-hunt group think and, finally, its influence on how allegations of rape and harassment are now pursued according to a new credo that women – and victims – should always be believed.

The movement, and its initial, rapid success, has simply opened up a whole new vulnerable flank in women’s battle for equality.

#MeToo for, a short time, made some women feel powerful and virtuous and it continues to have its effects. But the truth is that yes, it is now just another diversion, and one that has, in a society where men still run the show, weakened women’s status immeasurably because of the suspicion, hostility and anger it has now set off and how women let themselves be portrayed.

Would it not be better to remember what one of the original campaigners for women’s rights, the 18th century’s Mary Wollstonecraft said? Can it be bettered?

“I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.”

That surely is the better aim, yes?

It certainly seems to be the theme of She Said.

HOW TO BE BETTER

I discovered a close friend in a whopping lie recently and the experience so upset me I finally bought a copy of Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

I wanted to know where I had been going wrong to land in this situation. I wanted to understand what might have been going through my friend’s head. I especially wanted to work out how I could get back on the path to an unfurrowed brow, and maybe get him back there too.

Here’s what is lovely. I bought my copy of 12 Rules in Ariel (which has now, in a vote of confidence in the book-buying public, re-opened on Sydney’s Oxford Street, closer to the city). As I chatted to the bookseller about the title, he said cheerily how appreciative book shops were of Peterson.

“The young men who are buying this book,” he said, “and they’re young men in their twenties aren’t just now making their beds” – see rule six: set your house in perfect order – “they’re coming back and buying the classics. Peterson recommends they read Dostoevsky and so they do! Someone came in the other day wanting Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago.

Some of the other recommendations and mentions: T.S.Eliot’s The Cocktail Party, Goethe’s Faust, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and many more.

Hearing that in the bookshop made my day. I hope it has made yours just reading it. The power of books.

ABC QUIZ: WHO IS THIS PERSON?

One of the key leading signs that so many of the ABC’s old hands have upped and left is an irritation that will be familiar to any regular ABC radio listener.

You turn on a programme and, if you’re lucky, you find an interviewee who is really interesting. You keep listening and after a couple of minutes, you start wanting some context for what you’re hearing. You ask yourself: who is this person?

Well, don’t expect the interviewer to tell you; you can listen on and on and never be enlightened. Back-announcing, once an automatic part of any radio show, has now been virtually forgotten except by a few at the ABC like Richard Fidler and Robyn Williams.

And clearly, there are no producers experienced enough to prompt their hosts to back-announce. Just as clearly, there are no big-wigs in charge who know that back-announcing is essential. (Or maybe they’re too busy with important management duties and meetings to ever actually listen to what the ABC puts out.)

Here’s an idea for the many well-paid executives who now roam the corridors of ABC head office: send out a memo to every host, interviewer and producer on radio reminding them of what back-announcing is, how often it should be done in any programme, and why it matters to listeners. Remember them?

THERE MUST BE SOME WAY INTO HERE

I went to visit a sick friend at the Royal North Shore Hospital a few weeks ago. It was a cold and rainy day and I was travelling by train and foot, carrying a bunch of wrapped freesias in a vase, with the wind whipping around me.

But that was okay because I’d already checked a map online and it assured me it was about a three minute walk from St Leonard’s Station to hospital. Hello?

I went out the first train station exit marked “To RNS”, went down some stairs and found myself on a busy street, cars whizzing by, with no pedestrian crossing immediately in sight. On the other side of the lanes of traffic was a large sign pointing left, To RNS. Eventually I found a pedestrian crossing on the right, about 50 yards away. (I later discovered the station had a footbridge but with a sign so hidden and in the dark I’d bet most people, like me, miss it.)

So up there to the crosswalk, across, back down, past what looked like a construction site and then all the way down to Pacific Highway at which stage, the signs disappeared. A passer-by directed me further up the highway. I got there, started walking up a hill, lots of signs to Emergency and Parking but no sign to say which of the tall buildings in the distance was the actual hospital.

I stopped another pedestrian and he pointed to the right building.

I arrived. Finally.

All I could think was: if, in 2019, we still don’t have the wherewithal and management intelligence to clearly signpost one of Sydney’s biggest hospitals, what hope does this country have of solving any of its really big problems? In a lift at RNS, I exclaimed about the difficulties I’d had to a staffer and she didn’t blink. Yes, she said with exasperation, we know, the signage is terrible.

I mentioned it to a journalist friend who writes on health. She had just gotten lost trying to find her way at the Prince of Wales hospital.

I guess if I were social commentator Malcolm Gladwell, I’d now be fashioning a bestseller based on the question: is a society at tipping point into chaos once it no longer knows how to easily direct pedestrians to a hospital?

MR GLADWELL RUNNING ON EMPTY

As for the hugely successful Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, Outliers, Blink and David and Goliath, he is running into a barrage of criticism over his latest, Talking to Strangers. His modus operandi for his books is to take a clever observation and then construct a confounding theory out of it that supposedly explains such things as success, or why instincts work, or how trends begin.

The latest is based on the idea that we are far too ready to trust people we’ve just met are telling the truth, and that that disastrous instinct can be our downfall. Some reviews and articles have been enthusiastic but far more are now questioning  just what the book actually says.

This is interesting to me because years ago, I was commissioned to write a piece about Gladwell’s Blink. It was an enjoyable writing exercise – his books are a joy for journalists because he packs them with arcane anecdotes and surprising scientific facts to which we can then help ourselves and make our own writing look rather good – but I felt less impressed with Gladwell at the end of the assignment than at the beginning.

Something odd here

Blink, published in 2005, hypothesises that we should trust our immediate instincts – what Gladwell dubs “rapid cognition” – rather than our learning or rational thinking when we make a judgement as to whether an ancient Greek statue is a fake or if a marriage is going to work or if our child is sick. “The power of thinking without thinking” is how the book’s sub-title puts it.

But what became clear to me was that yes, if this is an area you know very, very well – a mother with her ill child, an antiquities expert with decades of experience – instant instinct trumps everything else. But in other areas, where we know less, we should defer to more careful deliberation and assessment of the facts.

Well, duh.

Then, I interviewed the Swedish psychologist K. Anders Ericsson about his research on talent for my 2006 book Triumph of the Airheads. Ericsson is the Florida University-based researcher who argues that talent is not innate, but something that comes out of years of exposure to what he calls “deliberate practice”. It’s now widely known as the 10,000 hour rule. He and I had a lengthy phone interview and I used the material in a few pars in the book to make a point about hard work and listening to feedback.

Later, after a flurry of articles and books based on his theory  and research came out, including Gladwell’s 2008 Outliers, I spoke to Ericsson again for a lengthy feature article for The Weekend Australian.

He was sanguine about all the books that were now drawing on his findings and theories and then adding their own. Gladwell, for instance, had reportedly earned a $US4 million advance for Outliers. Ericsson was gratified by the respect with which most of the authors had treated him and the attention he and the theory had received as a result. A true and pure scientist, he told me, then “If I’d wished for something ten years ago, this would be it. The more people who benefit, the better it is.”

But he also told me then that Gladwell had never contacted him.

I was amazed. For just a few tangential pars in an Australian book that wasn’t really about talent, I had sought him out, read his research and then checked back my sentences with him. For an entire book about success, drawing on Ericsson’s theory and studies, Gladwell hadn’t contacted him!

In a recent Wall Street Journal review of Talking to Strangers, writer Carol Tavris comments: “Mr Gladwell is well known as an enjoyable raconteur but a somewhat lazy researcher…”

Why this matters

I’m making a deal of this because Gladwell’s books have sold in their millions; by 2011, his books had already sold over six million. He seems to have been one of the first to capitalise on a feature of the ADHD digital era: that these days people like to look smart but they don’t want to put in the hard mental yards in their reading. Bring on the next Gladwell bestseller with its easily digestible, if questionable, driving theory.

Good on him, you’d have to say, for sniffing the wind. He does seem a very nice and personable man who is clearly interested in ideas – up to a point. But is this what this troubled world needs right now?

We now know that in the past 15 or so years, the rewards of authorship have gone to a smaller and smaller group of bestsellers. That is, some make it really big but, like the giants of Silicon Valley, they then suffocate the struggling minnows.

I can see the no-brainer for the publishing industry: why not keep publishing an author with a track record for selling millions?

But standards should also come into it. Perhaps the criticism of Gladwell’s latest, something that makes you wonder how much editing went into the book, will make any publisher realise the perils of relying on a sure thing.

Aesop’s fable about killing the goose that laid the golden egg comes to mind.

HOW (AND WHY) TO EAT SHARK

The late journalist Peter Smark once told me jovially, after writing a 1000 word column for The Sydney Morning Herald, that there was one new piece of information in it and that, according to his rules, was exactly right. “That’s enough,” he said with a big grin as we headed off to lunch. “Readers should be entitled to one new idea or fact per thousand words.”

I didn’t agree though, clearly, given Gladwell’s great success and Smark’s, they knew a lot more about the realities of the world than I did and do.

So it was uplifting to go to a recent lecture by British science journalist and health broadcaster Michael Mosley and, in the space of an hour, learn several new things.

Mosley was speaking at a free event held by the Centenary Institute for Life Saving Research on the role of inflammation in depression and obesity. He also delved deep into the role of the biome, the gut, in running our bodies and minds because it’s home, as he has written, to “trillions of microbes that influence, our mood, weight and immune system”.

Nearly everyone in the 1000-strong audience knew of his 5:2 diet and how effective it is for losing weight, but I hadn’t realised that the intermittent fasting drastically increased the lifespan of rats.

The wonder of knowledge

Here’s what I also learned.

Now that the Italians and Greeks have given up on the Mediterranean diet, and gotten fat and unhealthy as a result, the country that most adheres to the Mediterranean diet principles is Sweden.

For a healthy life, keep your waist measurement to less than half your height.

Think about flossing your teeth twice a day. Mosley does.

Stand up for two minutes every hour.

In the United States, between 1930 and 1935, as the Depression hit and people were forced to cut down on everything, including food, life expectancy jumped eight years, a phenomenon, Mosley says, that has never been seen again anywhere since.

And as fermented foods should be part of our daily diet, as many of us now know, Mosley threw in this recipe for fermented shark.

Put the raw shark into a wellington boot.

Urinate on top of the pieces.

Leave the boot and its contents for a year.

(He may or may not have been making up this last fact. Best not to try at home.)

WHAT WOMEN WANT REDUX

American novelist Ann Patchett, who also runs a bookshop in Nashville Tennessee because she and her husband love books so much, once worried in an interview that her characters almost never have sex. She exclaimed, “And I don’t mean for that to happen either. I get to the end and I think, dammit, but nobody had sex!”

But she does have a way of getting us to believe them as 3D people and involved in 3D situations.

Her latest, The Dutch House, opens with a cracking first sentence: “The first time our father brought Andrea to the Dutch House, Sandy, our housekeeper, came to my sister’s room and told us to come downstairs. ‘Your father has a friend he wants you to meet,’ she said.”

Who can’t pick what’s coming next? The story of the wicked stepmother is ingrained in us as children. Later, we graduate to films and plays  and novels created by directors and writers who also know their fairy tales and how visceral is our reaction to the calculating interloper.

While, in newspapers, we’re reading so often of the shocking true life tragedies perpetrated by men moving in with a woman and her family, up in the world of films and novels, it’s still the realm of the oblivious man, the all-seeing but powerless children …

The Dutch House, set against a spectacularly different family home that is really more of a glassy palace and which seems to float above the ground, is the story of a brother, Danny, who narrates the book, and his older sister Maeve, the loss they suffer at an early age, and how it affects the rest of their lives. Characters interweave in an extraordinary way, and the house is a dominating character too, influencing behaviour, providing motives.

(In a previous issue of this Hel-lo? blog, I quoted Cosmo Landesman in The Spectator answering the question: what do women really want? He replies: a man with a beautiful house.)

The Dutch House is a series of reflections on the way so many lives can alter in an instant because one person has decided to enter another’s life. Later, in the book – and this isn’t a spoiler because that compelling opening sentence gives the game away – the family’s former cook explains to Danny and Maeve why their father married Andrea: “Andrea loved the house. Your father thought that house was the most beautiful thing in the world and he found himself a woman who agreed.”

It’s perfectly true that rich women can sometimes acquire highly unsuitable suitors but, in the main, it’s high profile men who can so often end up with someone on their arm who makes so many of their friends and observers go: whaaaaaaat???

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was unimpressed when her headstrong son married Wendi Deng, and who, apart from Rupert, didn’t suspect that had an unhappy and costly ending in store? Fashion designer Stella McCartney was famously bolshie about her ex-Beatles father Paul’s marriage to model and amputee Heather Mills. “I’ll kill the bitch,” she reportedly screamed at her father after hearing Mills, in her divorce papers, had accused him of hitting his adored first wife, Linda. “I told you she was a bitch. Why did you marry her? She’s been a manipulative cow from day one.”

Mills exited from that four year marriage with almost £25 million.

Years ago, in London, I  lived in a street where two of my neighbours, a man and a woman, separate households, confessed their loathing and distrust of the woman who had taken over their father’s life. We all laughed because, you know, what were the chances?

Both people had, in their very non-criminal ways, confessed to their friends what they and their siblings did to possibly, very possibly, bring about injury to this loathed human-being.

We “forgot” to clear the steps of ice, said one. (Don’t worry, nothing happened.) On holiday in Italy, said the other, my brother took off at speed on the surfboat with our stepmother sitting on the rear. (Nothing happened.)

Strangely, there’s little literature on the subject nor much in the way of psychology papers despite the numbers of bold face men succumbing and the news space devoted to consequent news stories. So have fun reading The Dutch House instead. (It won’t leave you, and the brother/sister combination is wonderful.) I’ve also just added an excerpt from it to The Three Dog Reader.)

And if your widowed or divorced father owns a big house, maybe suggest he downsize.

VIDEO CLIP: ALL ABOUT E

If only we were allowed to be this honest – and funny – today. Enjoy, and if you have never seen this film, All About Eve, it’s still easily available. Hunt it down. The ending, unlike so many films today where naughty, outspoken women end up, as in Late Night, repenting their ways and only politically correct, diverse women are seen to triumph, is wonderfully virtue-signalling free.