Icons, Simpsons

It’s sheer genius. Damien Hirst’s £50m platinum and diamond skull is the most dramatic piece of Brit-art for a decade, and the artist deserves the incredible fortune he’s going to bank from this single work.


Big Brother might be all over the tabloids, but history is what real people want to watch on telly.

I’d love to see my home starring in a hybrid of Ground Force and Time Team — archaeologists would delve into our garden and uncover relics of the healing centre which was established on the banks of the Thames here, countless centuries ago. In the fields nearby, I found a stone knife which I believe belonged to a Stone Age medic… it could be as much as 40,000 years old.

The archaeologists would have to keep their muddy boots out of our kitchen, of course. When they’ve finished, an elite squad of landscape gardeners will descend on their trenches and cover them over with a Celtic knot garden.

I’ve got other pilot shows in mind — how about a three-part History of Cutlery? Spoons the first week, knives to follow, with a climactic episode on forks. I must know more about cutlery than any other celebrity — I’ve been collecting it for thirty years. My early collection was boosted when I persuaded the American publisher Roland Gammon to sell me his magnificent assortment of celebrity spoons in the late Seventies.

Roland divided his spoons into two categories. The first comprised items which had been owned by famous historical figures, such as the mad Russian monk, Rasputin, who had the royal family in thrall to his hypnotic charisma. That spoon, like many others from Roland’s cutlery drawer, is now bolted to my Cadillac.

His second category was for spoons from a historic era, such as pieces from the Sun King’s palace or famous restaurants of Victorian London.

I added a third category: spoons which were held and examined by celebrities, such as Roger Moore last week, as they witnessed my metal-bending abilities.

I love polishing the metalwork on my Cadillac, though of course I have to be careful that I don’t get carried away — it would be a disaster if one wing fell off. The car is beloved by the parties of children who visit my home, such as the twenty youngsters with cancer we were privileged to meet yesterday.

Hanna, Shipi and I are always deeply moved by their dignity and courage. I refused to label them terminally ill, because I believe that the human mind and modern medicine will always hold out hope of a miracle. For us, a miracle happens in our hearts every time we see the children marvelling at our wonderful car, and clamouring to touch the bent spoons and sit in the driver’s seat.

I’ve been turning over another TV show in my mind, after a visit to Christie’s auction house this week — how about retelling the history of the world through antiques? When I examine the astonishing collections at the great auction houses of London, I always feel a greater sense of connection to the past than I do in a museum.

I bought another spoon for the Caddy at Christies: an 1894 piece of silverware by a St Petersburg cutler, Ivan Alexyev. This one’s going to stand out a bit — it’s seventeen-and-a-half inches long. When Rasputin’s spoon sees that, it’ll start spinning like a propellor.



The magic and mystery of the era was explained to me by His Excellency, The Most Reverend Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia. With his enviable beard, he loooks more Russian than the Tsar, but I understand he was actually born in Bath — he took a double first in Classics and Theology at Magdalen College, Oxford, and joined the Orthodox Christian church aged 24, in the late Fifties.

When we start filming my epic History of Cutlery, the Metropolitan will be the man I turn to for a full investigation of Tsarist silverware.

Here’s a terrible confession: I don’t find The Simpsons very funny. Their yellow faces are plastered across half the buses in Britain, to advertise the 400th episode of the TV cartoon, and every time I visit the cinema I’m reminded that this summer the Simpsons Movie will be taking billions at the box office.

What sums up the show for me is Homer’s famous cry of “D’oh!” It’s mildly amusing, that’s all. But this week I heard a story about that “D’oh!” — the actor who voices Homer, Dan Castellaneta, was told by the scriptwriters, on the very first episode, to make a frustrated, irritable noise.

Dan was a Laurel and Hardy fan, who remembered the great James Finlayson’s roar of wounded rage — ”Doohhhhhhh!” — as Stan and Ollie wreaked innocent havoc. As a teenager I would split my sides at Laurel and Hardy, and even now the thought of Finlayson’s cross-eyed anguish makes me giggle.

Homer couldn’t say “Doohhhhhhh!” of course. Valuable on-screen seconds were wasted. So Dan Castellaneta shortened it… and squeezed all the fun out of it, if you ask me.

Don’t tell anyone I said so, though. Failure to laugh at the Simpsons is a shocking faux pas… like pointing out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!



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