LETTERS FROM LONDON
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
14 February 2015
Grim Fairy Tale

Sigh. Is there any other news than Sam Taylor-Johnson’s direction of EL
James's novel, 50 Shades of Grey? I think not. The hottest (do they really have
to write that?) ticket for the hottest (do they?) book ever sold.

Oh you surely know the numbers: the fastest-selling book in British history with
100m copies sold, tickets for the first public showing were being bought at the
rate of one every seven seconds while the desperate queued for at least 15
hours and worldwide pre-sales have topped 2.75 million - and that was last week,
sex toy sales are up eight percent year on year - no mention of hardware sales.
Books alone are said to have made the author £50million in the last year alone.
Blimey! Utter desperation, madness, what exactly? And this is one of the most
appallingly written books ever. Oh really, you know that's true, even Salman
Rushdie tried to warn you. One wasn't enough, there are three - and one film
with surely two more assured.

What is it about torturing attractive young, vulnerable women then? Breaking the
Waves, 91/2 Weeks, Secretary, Belle de Jour, the Story of O, Emmanuelle - a
never-ending list really.

In an interview, director Sam Taylor-Johnson was defensive and apparently
rather pompous: “To be feminist doesn’t mean you can’t be submissive. It
doesn't mean you always have to be on top (figuratively, oh yes it does,
darling)...The opening night is not a big fancy premiere – they’re going to do it
for just fans; it’s their film. I don’t know what the criteria are." Did I mention Sam
Taylor-Johnson now lives in LA having moved the family there? Clearly she
wants to be on top - having been passed over in the past. STJ informs us that
"There will always be humourless people in the world." Really? Surely not STJ
herself. Will those looking for a laugh, a bit of fun be queuing to relish in
physical, psychological power over the easily manipulated?

OK time for more facts. James (aka Erika Leonard) is a fanatical control-freak
(how perfectly ironic is that?). She had control over every aspect of the film.
Every aspect. She clashed with Taylor-Johnson over every aspect. She
demanded the sex scenes be "raunchy", she sent floor plans of Christian Grey's
apartment to the set designers, she sent designs for his clothes to the costume
department, she had to have the last word quite literally. Taylor-Johnson wanted
‘red’ as the ‘safe word’ used in the bedroom and James insisting on ‘stop’.

The gossip is that Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan couldn't stand the very
sight of each other during the filming. Oh dear me. Perhaps 'stop' was the right
word.

Not such a fun time on set. Apparently ELJ and STJ were at each other's throats
throughout the filming - and not in a good way with scarlet satin sashes. James
was present on set each day during filming in Vancouver. Which brings the
question: why is it set there? The writer, the director are British, the lead actor is
Irish - so why is it an American film then? Follow the money?

The Daily Mail claims a source said ELJ threatened to tell her millions of fans
across the world to boycott cinemas when the film is released if she didn’t get
her own way. How scary is this woman? Living vicariously through control-
obsessed Christian Grey? Hmmm. Now she can afford to recreate his stunning
apartment. (I'm assuming it's amazing.)

Not satisfied, ELJ now 'flogs' (oops) a fetish range plus music and wine. The
wine is called white silk and red satin. This woman is incapable of
embarrassment - or taste. Should it be consumed before or after the mouth gag?
Yuck.

But she missed out on the sweatshirt featuring the slogan 'Property of Christian
Grey' (scary and creepy) and the babygro '9 months ago my Mommy read 50
Shades of Grey (obviously for the American 'Mommy' market) and a teddy for
the baby with an eye mask and mini handcuffs - for the teddy or the baby?
Naturally there have been mixed reviews, mostly negative. Possibly the most
accurate is "it was excruciatingly boring.”

Surely to cash in, James decided to release the soft-porn film on Valentine's
Day. Ah the perfect romantic date night for a submissive feminist keen on
humiliation and abuse. Right Sam?


Lords a Leaping

Funny how all those Tory donors and tax dodgers are paid off with a title - don't
you think? But putting that aside, the Tory mantra "we're all in it together" is
appropriate - right Dave? Ministers have been doing wink, wink, nudge, nudge
since 2010 regarding the massive HSBC cover up in Switzerland, land of the tax
havens. "HSBC? Is that like LOL?" Erm - no Dave.

Focusing on one of many, Lord Fink (love his name) kept cash to "allocate very
small share holdings to each of my children so they could pay deposits on
houses...my children are under 18 and I wanted them to have something to help
them make their way in the world." I have a suggestion: they could get jobs.

Clearly his £130m fortune wouldn't be enough. Lord Fink is one of those 1,000
richest people in Britain. But sadly not rich enough to cover those deposits. Oh
so sad. Time to take a collection.

Lord Fink said he had taken "vanilla" measures to reduce his taxes - rather than
chocolate-mint-ed. Sorry, but sometimes the absurdity is just too hard to ignore.
Let's not ignore Lord Green, former HSBC chief executive who was made trade
minister (no, really) by PM CallMeDave months after the government was
informed of the allegations. Oh dear me, Dave. Plus ça change.

An ordained Anglican priest, banker (what an oxymoron) Lord Green confessed:
"...competitive instinct (oh that's what greed is then) is compatible with the basic
commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves." Lord Green has refused to
comment on the HSBC scandal "on principle". A Christian principle then? Lord
Green lobbied the Chancellor to turn UK into tax haven. Will that be in the
Conservative 2015 manifesto? What planet are these dodgy tax dodgers on
exactly?

My favourite repeated rationale (from the likes of Tory-enamoured
Express
columnist Julia Hartley-Brewer) is that "we all avoid tax when we buy duty free".
Oh so true, so true. Saving £2.10 is surely equivalent of saving £210 million.

Lest you forget, we pick up the tab for the tax avoiders. They were all picking up
the tab at the Conservative party's annual Black and White fundraising dinner
where the guest list is secret. It's all so black and white.

Here's what your tax avoidance pounds could buy you if you were invited: a run
with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, tea with Boris and his book on
Churchill, dinner with Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, private lambada lessons
from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (what???), a dinner at the home of Chief
Whip Michael Gove (a 'hearty roast chicken' is on the menu) or surely the best
on offer - shoe shopping with Home shopping - oops - Home Secretary Theresa
May plus a £500 spending voucher. Oh joy. For those who don't wear animal
print kitten-heels, a copy of the 2015 election manifesto signed by CallMeDave
would be a treasured prize.

Big sums were donated: £220,000 and you could spend a week in a 17th
century fortress in Majorca, £210,000 for a copy of the bronze Thatcher statue
standing in the Commons (oh the thrill), £50,000  for a mini JCB digger (huh?)
and for those who enjoy killing animals - okay, birds - a pheasant shoot for eight
of your blood-sport-loving friends with a 500-bird maximum (most of which are
dumped into pits - lovely) or £110,000 to hire famed private-members nightclub,
Annabel's (heyday in the 60's).

To sit at a table cost £15,000. More than 1,000 attended 'the secretive (and why
is that?) gala dinner' to add at least £3m to the effort to create a total capitalist
country. They raised much more. No free lunch here then.

Their most generous donor (£3.9m so far) is Michael Farmer who was given a
peerage by CallMeDave last year just weeks after he’d donated £330,000 to
party funds. You seriously could have placed a winning bet on that.

Sir Michael Hintze, the billionaire hedge fund manager, last year gave the Tories
£1.5 million. He was paid off with a dinner with Sam&Dave.

They really are 'all in it together'...lords a leaping through loopholes. This year's
election-buying-dinner is said to be the most lucrative dinner in modern party
political history. Zut alors! The number of major backers has doubled since
CallMeDave became PM.

And what did Labour do to win the election this week? They drove a bright pink
van around Britain with two arrows reading Woman to Woman. One word: pink?
Six words: do they actually want to win? Two words: clearly not. one word:
pathetic.
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