Diary

By Humphries, Barry | The Spectator, June 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

Diary


Humphries, Barry, The Spectator


An Australian periodical, G'day, is at present being sued for vast sums by my client, Dame Edna Everage, because it recently published the confessions of Dame Edna's estranged mother, the Hon. Gladys Beazley-Kydd. Dame Edna is seeking exemplary damages from the publishers of G'day because she claims her mother has made `uncalled for' disclosures about the megastar's gross eating disorders. A recent dinner with Michael Winner (or was it Jeremy Isaacs?) is cited as an example. It is exceedingly stressful to be Dame Edna's manager in a situation like this, and readers must forgive me for letting off steam in this column. The megastar's mother (whose honorific is perhaps soi-disant) has been residing for some years in a maximum security retirement village for the bewildered and has only recently, according to a close family friend, `come good'. For the record, since the death of her husband Dame Edna has always supported her mother financially, even making her a shareholder in Ednacare (Switzerland) and a governor (emeritus) of the World Prostate Olympics, a prostate-oriented sporting event conceived by Dame Edna in memory of her late husband. This event will be non-elitist; open not merely to members of the prostate community and their families and friends but to everyone at the sharp end of prostate research. Dame Edna has, incidentally, no intention of auctioning any of her famous gowns. Some of the more glittering numbers of Diana, Princess of Wales are coming up for sale in New York soon, and Dame Edna was appalled to learn that an eager queue of members of the `drag queen community' is already forming. The Dame would do anything for charity, but the thought of a member of the opposite sex community in one of her frocks understandably sickens her.

If there are eating disorders, there are also culinary aberrations. The fashionable habit of cooking fish al dente is one of the most repellent. The other day I had lunch at a smart place and noticed that the monkfish was chewy in the middle. A close look revealed that it was raw. I sent it back for a good blast under the grill or in the pan, and got a very old-fashioned look from the senior hospitality executive (head waiter). I felt like someone in a latter-day Bateman cartoon committing an unspeakable solecism, as those within earshot dropped their napkins, regurgitated their soup and ejected their monocles. Rather inconsistently, the new potatoes were cooked right through, unlike the other vegetables which, though glazed with warm oil, were still crunchy from the deep-freeze.

On the subject of potatoes, Mr Blair has now more or less apologised for the great potato famine (of 1845-SO) which killed many and obliged still more to flee Ireland and rebuild their lives near the remote potato fields of North America and Australia. Instead of apologising, Mr Blair should surely have taken full credit on behalf of England, for if it were not for the potato famine the United States would never have had Bing Crosby, the New York police force, the Kennedy family, the Roman Catholic clergy or Alcoholics Anonymous. As for Australia, under our former prime minister Mr Keating, schoolchildren were taught to be grateful for the potato famine, for had it not been for this catastrophe no one could have been found to man the taxation department or join the republican movement

It was only when I tripped over one the other night and nearly came a terrible cropper that I really noticed it - and them. …

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