Wednesday, November 16, 2005

no, not *those* libertines

This week two of my favourite shaggers - one dead, one very much alive - are making waves. Priapic blond Tory Boris Johnson is to resign as Spectator editor, according to Andrew Pierce in The Times, and there’s a new film out chronicling the life and early death of Restoration poet John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester.

To Boris first. After six years spent trying to calm Mark Steyn the fuck down and dry Taki out enough to get anything approaching a coherent column out him, BoJo is apparently set for stardom on the Tory frontbenches. David Cameron, (“a fellow Old Etonian”, The Times reports with a conspiratorial wink) apparently loves the bumbling bombshell as much as I do (although probably in a different way).

All very exciting - the more so since it was barely a year ago that his political career seemed in tatters, and that he would see out his dotage saying increasingly eccentric things until the scales finally tipped and he was put in a home. But, under the new David Blunkett Memorial Rules of Political Propriety, it seems every politician is allowed one mistake - witness Cameron and the drug rumours, George Osborne sitting next to a prostitute, Anne Widdecombe's hair... the list goes on. And so BoJo has been forgiven.

You know what this means, of course. Once again, the Tories will have a jowly posh bloke on the front bench who can be guaranteed to fall asleep during PMQs. Think! All that and a Tony Blair clone for leader... a few policies, and they’ll be home and dry.

UPDATE: Boris vehemently denies that he's stepping down as Spectator editor. "I am a mere toenail on the body politic. I am flattered that all this attention is being paid to the vagaries of my career but it is all a bit previous, frankly," he said.
Seriously, "toenail on the body politic"? How long do you think he's been waiting to use that line?


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And so to The Libertine, which is out this week. Were it not for my bangin' social life, I would be off to see it on Friday. It looks excellent - Depp in the title role as Rochester, plus support from Samantha Morton and (to continue a running theme of the blog) both Jack Davenport and Richard Coyle. The cinematography looks amazing from the trailer - they've deliberately drained some of the red from the palette to give that authentic 1600s London smoggy feel. Time Out have praised its "fogbound, piss-stained visuals", and what higher praise could there be?

Even better, it's adapted from a play by Stephen Jeffreys, and as a rule of thumb, films from plays = good. Look at The Madness of King George. Fact. I just hope that they've actually included some of his poetry - think how crap Sylvia was because the Plath/Hughes estate wouldn't let them use her words. Given that he's been dead for over 300 years, I would have thought copyright wasn't a problem - more traumatic might be the content of them (lots of swearing, shagging, masturbation and general tomfoolery). Considering it took nine years to bring the film to the screen, however, I'm hoping that the producers dug their heels in and let it be as dirty as it needs to be.

On that note, I'll leave you with a few links to Rochesteriana (not a real word). The reason I love him so much was that I studied him in the second year of my degree, and it was then I realised that I didn't have to read epic 1400 page poems on politics, war and government, but instead spend two years of my life finding out what people in the eighteenth century did in bed (yes, the answer was have sex, but often not with the people you'd expect, or in the way you'd expect, but that's a post for another day). A much better use of my time, I feel, and one that has made me the person I am today. Copies of my extended essay on lesbian communities in the later eighteenth century available on request.

  • A Satire on Reason and Mankind, from Rochester's Oh-Shit-I'm-Dying-Of-The-Clap period.
  • To The Postboy and Song. Two of Rochester's most depressingly anatomical and misanthropic poems. Yes, he may have had a title, an heiress for a wife and all the whores he could shake a stick at, but he was buggered if he was going to be happy about it.

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