Author Archives: simon

The social landlord with a secret weapon: his tenants

Ian Fife is 62 and always wears a small sailing cap. It started, he says, because his girlfriend likes to sunbathe and, since he’s pretty thin on top, he was getting burned. He is a property journalist for South Africa’s … Continue reading

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Playing the race card belittles success stories

Simon Fanshawe on Leroy, 19. Tall, good looking, Leroy has ‘mus-cols’. He tried dealing drugs but decided it was not ‘worth dying for’. Now he is doing a part-time training course for young volunteers in peer mediation and conflict resolution … Continue reading

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Bring back the polite state

Good manners have become unfashionable. It’s thought authoritarian to point out that someone’s behaviour is bad, that there is a right and a wrong way to do things. Being called judgmental is an accusation. There were good reasons for this. … Continue reading

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Round and round the houses

He’s a Home Counties boy who flays the middle-classes from his base in Yorkshire, a shy man whose inner turmoil comes out in his plays, a comic writer of world renown – yet the critics are divided about his reputation. … Continue reading

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Zoë Wanamaker

“More Vodka, please” goes up the shout. The shoes have come off. The feet are tucked under the star on the sofa in the press office of the National Theatre. The umpteenth liquorice roll-up has been smoked and as it’s … Continue reading

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Wit

Flying high on the ‘screaming ovations’ that greeted his American solo concert debut in Las Vegas in 1955, Noel Coward booked into a hospital for a check-up. The doctor advised less alcohol. Coward wrote in a letter “it is bad … Continue reading

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Victoria Wood

The first fifteen minutes of Victoria Wood’s first ever sit com, the self-explanatory ‘dinner ladies’ seems a terrible disappointment. You’ve been here before. You know what a Victoria Wood joke sounds like. Sex, net curtains and a Gypsy Cream. Two … Continue reading

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Stigwood

When Saturday Night Fever became a global epidemic in the late seventies it gave fat office workers, thin shop assistants, in fact wage slaves the world over a path to stardom in their own heads. White flares were their flight … Continue reading

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South African comedy

Sitting in a Jo’berg deli, eating the entire Jewish breakfast paraphernalia while simultaneously chain-smoking, is one of South Africa’s longest standing comics. His VW parked out side has “Mel Miller Live and Gatvol” painted down the side. “Gatvol” means “pissed … Continue reading

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Simon Russell Beale

Simon Russell Beale took up embroidery, he once told me, because everyone else at the RSC seemed to have a hobby and he thought he’d better get one too. It was a typical Russell Beale thing to do. A Clifton … Continue reading

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