Mandy Rice-Davies – From High-life Scandal to High Life

I met Mandy Rice-Davies in the summer of 1989. 

We got on like port and nuts. She invited me to have supper with her and Ken Foreman, her husband, at Le Caprice in Arlingston Street, Picadilly.

She said she was interested in how my life was going to turn out.

It was with sadness that I read of her death this week.

This is the interview I wrote after meeting her.

The first thing you notice about Mrs Foreman, née Mandy Rice-Davies is that she looks innocently young. It’s been 26 years since that spot of bother with Profumo, Keeler and Co which led to the collapse of Harold Macmillan’s government. But the years have passed without leaving the barest trace.

Enviable figure, too, Wafer-thin and perfectly groomed, she looks exactly right in the opulent setting of her Knightsbridge drawing room….

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The danger of gun control in South Africa

‘Terror rushes through my body and floods my brain, roaring in my ears.  He shoves the gun against my right temple.’

Scene of a crime, Clifton, South Africa

Jani Allan recounts her ordeal of when she was held up at gun-point outside her Clifton home in 2001. She also weighs in on the new debate surrounding gun control in the wake of the murder of Senzo Meyiwa. Allan contends that a licensed firearm is a viable means of protection. She continues to diagnose a ‘gun culture’ image problem in South Africa. 

Cape Town, 2001

It is one a.m. in the morning. I have just finished doing a radio show at Cape Talk in Cape Town.

I drive along Victoria Road in Clifton in the black, bandaged night.

As I turn…

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I refuse to be the poster child of slut-shaming

Slut-shaming is the act of criticising a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity. I left the country in 2001. I live in a blaze of obscurity (sic) in America. I am a recluse by choice and a PONTI – a person of no tactical import in South Africa. Yet my epic humiliation and allegations about my sex life remain, it seems, an all-consuming story to certain South Africans.

 

On Friday, 19 September at the Open Book Festival at the Fugard Theatre, Cape Town, the Daily Maverick hosted a mini-gathering to debate the future of independent, free and intelligent journalism in South Africa. At one point…

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Kendall Jones – Evil in a Rah-rah skirt

Kendall Jones, 19, is a Texan cheerleader who sparked outrage on Facebook by posting pictures of herself with animals she hunted and killed in Africa.

Huntress, Kendall Jones.

She has responded to her online backlash, using President Teddy Roosevelt in her defense.

“He killed the same species that hunters now chase today under a mound of anti-hunting pressure,” she posted on her page. “Yet, how can it be possible that someone can love the earth, and take from the Earth in the name of conservation? For some folks, they’ll never understand.”

Kendall, don’t you realize that you capsize your own arguments by brazenly admitting that you are “looking to host a TV show.”

This is not my first rodeo with your kind. TV presenter,

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The Marquis of Debris

Jeffrey David Hamilton.

Not long after coming to the little river town in which I live I met an extraordinary man.

His name was Jeffrey Hamilton. He resembled a kind of Indiana Jones and was seldom seen without his trademark battered and greasy hat. His hands could open parking meters and with his craggy, tanned good-looks, he must have broken hearts like hickory nuts when he was younger.

His family was studded with over-achievers. His father, Jim, was a Broadway set designer. His French mother, an accomplished ballerina and cook.

One of his sisters, Gabrielle, wrote a best-selling food memoir “Blood, Bones and Butter” and runs a wildly successful restaurant in New York called Prune.

The other sister, Melissa, together with her colleague Christopher Hirscheimer publishes four cook books a year. Oprah rated the Canal House…

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Conversation Envy

Anaïs Nin once observed that life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.

I have pondered this for some time and am bound to disagree. Life shrinks or expands, at least to me, in proportion to one’s conversations.

Last night I had an acute episode of Conversation Envy.

I can tolerate the drivel most of the time, but deep down I secretly yearn for a philosophical argument and a fresh point of view with the odd bon mot thrown in the mix to keep things fresh.

Living in a blaze of obscurity has its drawbacks. One is the quality of chat to which one is exposed.

Quentin Crisp said that the key to speaking with style is to command of a vocabulary large enough to give you both flexibility and precision in expressing yourself. The more words you have the…

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Jani on Art

‘Art has been the needle that has pulled the tapestry of my life together’

Jani Allan at home, Kallenbach Dr, Linksfield Ridge. Painting ‘Apartheid’ by Norman Catherine (Gordon Schachat Collection).

I started Art lessons when I was 9. I was taught by Betty Clur in Linden in her tiny dining room. Margaret Brewer, another little girl in the class has gone on to become a famous botanical artist and lives in Canada.

One of my drawings – a dog and a kitten entitled ‘Me and my tiger’ was published in the Blairgowrie school yearbook – along with an essay I wrote about ‘Road Safety Depends on me.’

The latter was a bossy little tract about how you…

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LETTER TO OSCAR …

Dear Oscar

Many years ago an Afrikaans man fell in love with me. It was a complicated situation. I was a journalist and he was a story.

Things became as messy as a cat’s sandbox. When he drove into the gates of the monument at Paardekraal he was taken to court. I was called as a witness. The man whom I thought was a leader and an inspiration to his people took to calling me obsessively and crying noisily on my answerphone.

Once he drove to my apartment in Sandown in the middle of the night. When I refused to let him in he fell into a drunken stupor outside the door. Another time, he and his wife turned up to beg me to testify favourably and to ‘stop the press’ from writing about us. His young daughter was with them. I implored his wife to make him realize that it was his…

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MEN vs WOMEN REDUX

And so, praise the Lord, another Restaurant Week has come to a close. Restaurant Week is the week when most of the regulars stay well away and people we have never seen and may never see again descend on the restaurant. Why not?

A mere $29.95 (tax and gratuity additional) will get you a three-course meal at a restaurant that you would traditionally reserve for a special occasion. Like announcing you want to consciously uncouple. Or propose marriage.

Last week on Monday night a female co-worker – let’s call her Miss Bunny – and I served about 50 people. No hostess, no bus, just the pair of us. (Sounds like a Cole Porter song right there, I know).

Miss Bunny and I hardly needed to speak to each other. We anticipated each other’s…

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Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

Frankly I am not interested in what two consenting adults – or three or however many are up for it – do in order to obtain sexual gratification.

However when I read that there is a flourishing business in Denmark in which people pay in order to have sex with animals, I am moved to write a few words about the repugnant practice. Call me a keyboard warrior, if you must.

The law (in both Norway and Denmark) states that bestiality is perfectly legal “so long as the animal involved does not suffer.”

This is a statement so broad as to be comical. The animal must be restrained and is unable to talk. How does one gauge how much suffering is involved or what implements are used in the process?

According to the Danish newspaper 24timer, this “interesting gap” in the law has led to a flourishing business.

On the internet, several Danish animal owners…

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Evolutionists have been making monkeys of us all

“A long time ago …” is the traditional beginning of a fairy story.

When a long, long time ago a princess kisses a frog that promptly turns into a man, we call it evolution.

Some years ago the scientific mafia announced that the “Missing Link”, the earliest direct ancestor of humanity, had been discovered in Ethiopia.

So funny.

Heidelberg man was also applauded as the “Missing Link”. Only later was it conceded that perhaps the evidence had been somewhat flimsy to have made such assumptions.

Piltdown man, too, is these days – after appearing in the textbooks as bona fide proof of evolution for over sixty years – acknowledged as a hoax.

In 1929 Nebraska Man was presented as the most indisputable evidence of evolution yet. Three years later it turned out that the sole evidence on which this premise had been based was a single tooth – that of an extinct pig.

From small molars great…

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Pik Botha – poetry and waves of politspeak

Pik Botha appeared on BBC’s Question Time last month. He looked as irrelevant as the solitary man sitting at the end of the bar. But it was not always so.

Many years ago I interviewed the then South African Foreign Minister, Pik Botha. This is what I wrote:

Often running, frequently jumping and rarely standing still, Foreign Minister Pik Botha’s name snags newspaper headlines internationally and daily. After a quarter of a century – make that half a century – in the killing fields of détente, his gungho tyle of dueling has his detractors groaning. But there are those that smile on the showman as Elgar would on the young Menuhin.

Minister Pik Botha tells me he has a passion for Greek philosophers.

Especially “That guy who used to have his castle next to the river in Athens. He would…

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By Golly! It’s Hello Dolly : RIP Joan Brickhill

I have just heard of the passing of Joan Brickhill. As a tribute to her I remember an interview I did with Joan Brickhill and Louis Burke.

Joan Brickhill and Louis Burke. Photograph by Andrzej Sawa.

The giddy glitter and G-string gun ‘n doll of South African stage and cinema fulminate into the room – Joan Brickhill and Louis Burke.

Before I can say Follies Fantastique, I am whirled out, slow-slow-quick-quick-slow into Joan’s garden to ‘ooh-aah’ the marvel of Joan’s Green Thumb.

“She talks to them you know,” Louis explains proudly, whizzing me past outsized rhododendrons….

“….and of course they respond!”

We zoom past seed-packet Technicolor ranunculus, delphiniums and snapdragons, before stopping at a giant rose-garden that would have done Capability Brown proud.

“She’s had a rose named after her you know…

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Diagonal Street Déjà vu

Twenty five years ago on January 8th I was told by my editor to write a front page interview which was to be entitled Jani by Jani. In those days the Sunday Times cost R1.61 +19c tax. Many of the key players in this storm in a thimble are dead. Hopefully the other haters are dying off. I write this for a different generation and for those with a sense of the ridiculousness that has always been a hallmark of many things South African. Cf Nkandla, Malema, Zuma etc. 

Jani by Jani

Hot on the trail of South Africa’s most-wanted journalist.

Photo credit: James Soullier.

Roll up! Roll up! It’s the Jani and ET show. BOM. Bring own mud.“Broedertwis! Blondine!”

Credited…

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Death by tabloid

Dear Nigella,

You probably won’t remember me. We met briefly in Londinium when you were still married to John Diamond. I was an avid reader of your restaurant reviews in The Spectator.

I have seen your star rise and scintillate. You truly are a domestic goddess. Actually, make that just a goddess.

But goddesses are on pedestals and how delightful it is knock something from a pedestal. How the public enjoys to see a fall from grace. This is the theatre of schadenfreude. How they love it! Why, the scribblers are filled with such joy as rises like the aroma from the bœuf en daube!

I have been reading about your trials in the court and my einüfhlung is at full throttle.

You see, Nigella, I also mistakenly believed that one could expect justice from a court.

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Making a mockery at Mandela’s memorial

 

From the far side of the world I watch with open-mouthed disbelief. You can’t make this stuff up.

The world’s focus is on South Africa. The world is mourning the passing of a great man.

The gravitas of the occasion knows no precedent.

Therefore how deeply insulting to the world that the ANC hires Thamsanqa Jantjie, a  faux signer to stand a few feet away from Obama!

There is only one thing more preposterous than a corrupt African leader. That is the exaggerated respect accorded him by the West.

Consider:

Obama has been surrounded by a 24/7 Secret Service detail beginning in the spring of 2007, months after he announced his run. He received Secret Service protection earlier than any other candidate in history because of what is euphemistically referred to as “the historic nature of the campaign” (i.e., the…

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Rhinos under siege? It should be poachers and their customers under siege!

In the same week that a summit is held in Skukuza, South Africa about rhino poaching, the Dallas Safari Club issues a press release about its plans to auction a hunt for a black rhinoceros in January.

The hunt will take place in Namibia, which is home to some 1700 black rhinos.The DSC will sell the hunting permit during its annual convention and expo Jan 9 – 12 2014.

Again, a comedian has weighed in. This time it was Stephen Colbert. The black rhino is a species listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. So how do we plan to save them? Hold an auction to shoot one. Harharhar.

It’s rather like fornicating to encourage virginity.

Rhinos are under siege. To-date this year, at least 793 rhinos have been poached in South Africa, including…

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DEAR MELISSA LION KILLER

Dear Melissa

I have to hand it to you.

That pic of you sitting gloating triumphantly behind the huge male lion you killed has gone viral.

I’m not saying that people aren’t admiring your big strong teeth or even your big strong breast implants.

But your timing was all kinds of special.

A week after we hear the Western black rhino is officially extinct, you post this picture of yourself on all your social media sites. Now you are front page news in many countries.

——————————————–

STOP MELISSA BACHMAN:
https://www.facebook.com/stopmelissa?ref=br_tf

——————————————–

Even the comedian Ricky Gervais has weighed in. He thinks you are a great hunt. Typo.

When a man wantonly destroys one of the works of man we call him a vandal.
What then do we call a person who shoots a wild animal?

Not for food, or even for their pelt. Just for…

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ON FRIENDSHIP …

I think my Pomeranians have taught me much about friendship.

After a gruelling shift I walk down the lane in the violin-case dark to my little apartment. My footsteps quicken. I peep through the window and there they are, waiting expectantly.

They are greeted in order of seniority. Breeze (aka Tallulah Wiggles), whirls like a top waiting to be picked up. China hasn’t quite mastered the full-spin so she does a ballerina three-quarter turn.

Molly, agitated with delight, runs into the other room and picks up a toy, squeaking it excitedly. She promenades around the apartment, beeping it importantly while I prepare their late-night supper

After half an hour in the company of my pups – interesting how God is dog spelled backward – the cares of the day boil down to sediment. Often times I will…

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FEAR & LOATHING IN NEW HOPE, PENNSYLVANIA

I MARRY IN AMERICA – AND THE ABUSE BEGINS …

At the beginning of 2001, things were not looking sanguine for me in South Africa. I was sacked from Cape Talk Radio. I was held up at gunpoint outside my apartment in Victoria Road, Clifton. Mario Oriani-Ambrosini*, who had insisted that I come back to South Africa from the UK to work with him and Prince Buthelezi, now insisted that I leave the country. He bought me a business class ticket and sent me to Washington DC.  I felt I had no choice in the matter. I was allegedly on a hit-list (again with the hit-list!) …

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Pieter-Dirk Uys once described me as a Statue of Liberty standing in the vast bay of South African journalism. He then went on to say (as I recall) that I defeated all would-be assailants with kryptonite. Or wit….

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JANI – ABRIDGED

The Swan Supper Club in Lambertville, New Jersey, meets in the historic upstairs dining room of Anton’s at the Swan.  Each month the local fashionistas and intelligentsia gather to enjoy good food, wine and conversation. On the 24th October I was invited to be the guest speaker.  Among those present were award-winning artist Luiz Vilela who promised to paint a portrait of my pups!

Welcome to the Supper Club – and my coming out party. No, alas, I am not gay.  In fact, the two of the most tragic things in my life is that I was not born either Jewish or Gay. So I am not coming out in the tumbling-out-of-the-closet gay sense. But I am coming out as being someone other than Juliett, that old British woman who is a server at Hamiltons. The woman…

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