Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Bono

If youve got famous parents, your chances in the film industry appear to improve exponentially. If were serious about equality, this has to change

Interviewed by Variety at the Los Angeles premiere of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the actor Maya Hawke denied that a personal connection led to her being cast in Quentin Tarantinos latest film. Hawke is the daughter of Uma Thurman, who has appeared in three Tarantino films, and she argued that she had gone through the same casting process as other actors by sending in a self-taped audition piece with her father (Ethan Hawke). Its perhaps a sign of our changing times that she was even asked about this, since the open secret of pervasive nepotism in the film industry has seemed to bother remarkably few people since the days when the Barrymores became the first acting dynasty.

Variety (@Variety)

No nepotism here. Maya Hawke says she had to go through the same process as everyone else for her role in #OnceUponATimeInHollywood

July 23, 2019

Indeed, people who rightly get exercised about working-class actors being increasingly shut out of the film industry can become defensive when it comes to nepotism in film. When I recently questioned the casting of Honor Swinton-Byrne in her godmother Joanna Hoggs film The Souvenir alongside her mother, Tilda Swinton, people countered online that Swinton-Byrnes performance in the film was excellent. I fully agree with that assessment, but believe its worth discussing the casting in a prestigious film of a first-time actor whose mother met the director at the expensive school they attended as children. Films thrive on personal connections, and family collaborations or friendships have yielded invaluable work but its right to ask if this masks a financial and social ill. It seems a pattern in need of breaking.

First, its important to rule out talent as a valid counter-argument to charges of nepotism. A great many children of are adept at their craft. But this is unsurprising because they may have been exposed to it from a young age. If you accept that other people who have no family connections with acting can be equally talented, then nepotism has to be considered wrong. For instance, Sofia Coppola is an immensely talented director: that doesnt change the fact that her father, Francis Ford Coppola, helped her to make The Virgin Suicides, her debut feature, by producing it with his own company, American Zoetrope. Sofia Coppolas cousin, Jason Schwartzman, got his debut role in Rushmore through her. Another cousin, Nicolas Cage, made three films with Francis Ford Coppola at the outset of his career: Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club and Peggy Sue Got Married. (The word nepotism derives from the Latin, nepos, meaning nephew, and thence the Italian nipotismo, after the practice of popes giving jobs to their nephews).

Film-making is, of course, not a democracy. Theres a case to be made that artists should be allowed to create their work as they see fit. This is true, yet other inequalities in film are now being met with initiatives to correct, for instance, gender and racial disparities. This is right, because such moves address fundamental inequalities. But the fact that children of rich actors never seem to have trouble finding work also propagates systemic inequality. The phenomenon is so widespread that we dont even question the fact that the children of, for instance, Melanie Griffith and Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Bono, Will Smith and Johnny Depp are now becoming stars.

The issue of the employment of children and family members is hardly top priority for an industry still reeling from allegations of widespread sexual abuse, and which is still failing to represent, hire and reward women and minorities adequately. Creating an awkward red carpet moment, as Variety did in subjecting Maya Hawke to forensic questioning, is perhaps not the solution. The systemic nature of nepotism, as with industrial racism and sexism, requires asking tough questions of producers and creators. In so doing we may end up with an industry that is more open to recognising and paying talent fairly and reflecting a diverse, complex society.

Read more:

Record producer takes swipes at the Beatles, the machiavellian Michael Jackson, U2 and more

Quincy Jones: ‘The Beatles were the worst musicians in the world’

Record producer takes swipes at the Beatles, the machiavellian Michael Jackson, U2 and more

Read more:

Singer tells Rolling Stone hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment and thats not good

Bono has said that music has gotten very girly. Interviewed for Rolling Stone magazine, the U2 singer added, there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment and thats not good.

He went on to explain: When I was 16, I had a lot of anger in me. You need to find a place for it and for guitars.

Bemoaning a dearth of rocknroll in the charts, he said: The moment something becomes preserved, it is fucking over. You might as well put it in formaldehyde. In the end, what is rocknroll? Rage is at the heart of it. Some great rocknroll tends to have that, which is why the Who were such a great band. Or Pearl Jam. Eddie has that rage.

U2s latest album, Songs of Experience, recently topped the US charts, meaning the band have had a No 1 album in the US in every decade since the 1980s.

U2 in concert in New Orleans, Louisiana, 14 September 2017. Photograph: Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Bono cited streaming as a factor in the supposed feminisation of music. Right now, streaming is on the ad-based model, he told Rolling Stone. And that is very, very young, and its very, very pop. Its dominated by frequency of plays, but that is not actually a measure of the weight of an artist … If you are a teenager and you are listening to whatever the pop act is, youre probably listening to them 100 times a day. Its a teenage crush, but in a years time you wont care about that.

The singer predicted that ultimately it was the artists that could get people to sign up to subscription services that would benefit. When you move from an ad-based model to a subscription model, a funny thing happens. Then, the artist who will make you sign up is actually more valuable … artists that have a connection with you and your life, you pay for the subscription service.

The singer also suggested that the more widespread adoption of streaming had changed the bands approach to music: Were back to the 50s now, where the focus is on songs rather than albums. U2 make albums, so how do we survive? By making the songs better.

At least one social media user, though, had a suggestion for how Bono could put the anger back into music, referencing U2s controversial promotional automatic album download campaign with Apple in 2014:

Vicarious Dave (@GoldenVision90)

If Bono thinks there isn’t enough anger in music, he should just get Apple to automatically add a new U2 album to all our iPhones without anyone asking for it again.

December 28, 2017

Read more:

U2 frontman was investor in firm based in island nation where foreign investors pay 5% tax on profits, Paradise Papers show

His band have never been there, and neither, it seems, has he. But as an investment opportunity, Bono found what he was looking for in Lithuania.

The U2 frontman used a company based in Malta to pay for a share in a shopping centre in a small town in the north-east of the country, the Paradise Papers reveal.

The singer, whose real name is Paul Hewson, was an investor in the Maltese company Nude Estates, which bought the Aura mall named after the Lithuanian word for dawn for 5.8m (5.1m) shortly after it opened in 2007.

Nude Estates incorporated a Lithuanian company of the same name to hold the property in Utena, 60 miles (97km) north of the capital, Vilnius.

Read more:

Read more:

Pamela Anderson, Elena Ferrante, Huma Abedin and, ahem, Bono all make our list of women worthy of a mention

When you dont have anything kind to say about a year, you probably shouldnt say anything at all. Far better instead to have an awards ceremony recognising the most memorable moments in a weird year for women.

Most monetisable laugh: Candace Payne AKA Chewbacca Mask Lady

On 19 May, Payne got into her car, took out a Chewbacca mask and proceeded to howl with verging-on-maniacal laughter for several minutes. There was a time when this might have got her sectioned; in 2016 it turned her into an internet celebrity. The Texan mums Chewbacca-chuckling was viewed over 160m times and Payne received about $420,000 (340,000) worth of free gifts in the weeks after the video went viral.

Most entertaining confusion between Fabric and Brexit: Louise Mensch

Actually, make that the only instance of confusion between the potential closure of a legendary London nightclub and Britains decision to leave the EU. In September, Louise Mensch fired off some incensed tweets that muddled up the two, much to the amusement of, well, everyone. Dont ask how or why: nobody knows what goes on in Menschs head before she tweets. Instead, take a moment to give thanks that Mensch is no longer an MP with anything to do with Brexiting.

Harriet Tubman justice at last. Photograph: HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images

Best makeover (of a $20 bill): Harriet Tubman

In April, it was announced that abolitionist Tubman would replace slave-owning Andrew Jackson on the front of the US $20 bill. This makes Tubman the first woman in more than a century and the first African American ever to be on the front of a paper note. As Beyonc said, always stay gracious, ladies best revenge is your paper.

Ieshia L Evans creates an iconic moment. Photograph: Jonathan Bachman / Reuters/Reuters

Best dressed police-brutality protester: Ieshia L Evans

You have seen the photo, quickly heralded as an iconic image of non-violent resistance: 28-year-old Evans standing calmly in front of armoured officers at a protest against police brutality in Baton Rouge. The image was a striking juxtaposition of her flowing sundress and grace with their riot gear and guns. With the world getting increasingly bleak, its easy to feel hopeless. Evans is a reminder that a single person armed with nothing but courage can have a significant impact.

Model immigrant: Melania Trump

Immigration would not be the issue it is if they could all be like Melania.

Most inspirational example of our duty to defend the honour of proper cheese: The Vegan Cheese Vigilante

Any Facebook rant that starts off with CHEESE, followed by 13 cheese emojis, is going to be gouda but you dont always expect it to change the world. In October, thats what happened when one unidentified womans demands that vegan cheese be renamed Gary or something … BECAUSE ITS NOT CHEESE!!!!! went viral. The vegan community considered the suggestion caerphilly and decided it was great. Vegan cheese is now called Gary.

Most controversial lunch date: Pamela Anderson

In October, Anderson brought some vegan Pret a Manger sandwiches to Wikileaks Julian Assange at the Eduadorian embassy and the pair lunched together. Shortly afterwards, fevered rumours began to spread that Assange was dead, murdered by the former Baywatch star with a Gary sandwich. Assange, alive and well, did little to quell these rumours.

Most unwanted unmasking: Elena Ferrante

In Italy, since 1992, someone has been selling bestsellers under a fake name: Elena Ferrante. It was basically the Panama Papers of the literary world yet many people appear to have enjoyed Ferrantes books, despite the deceit. Not investigative journalist Claudio Gatti, however. Outraged by all of this, Gatti unmasked Ferrante in October. Many people were disgusted by this invasion of privacy, but Gatti remains undeterred. His next scoop will be an expos of everyone who raves about Ferrante, but hasnt actually got around to reading her work yet.

Most stoic woman: Huma Abedin

Abedin has had an annus extremelyis horribilis. The long-time Hillary Clinton aide has had to deal with her (now estranged) husband, Anthony Weiner, getting embroiled in his third sexting scandal and the release of a high-profile documentary, Weiner, about their marriage. She has also been blamed for costing Clinton the election. Despite this, she kept calm and carried on.

Best unwitting protagonist of a Dada-esque kidnapping drama: Marina Joyce

In July, Joyce, a popular 19-year-old beauty vlogger, posted a weird YouTube video of her acting oddly as she modelled a dress. Some of her fans decided the video was actually a cryptic cry for help: Joyce had been kidnapped by Isis. The hashtag #SaveMarinaJoyce became the No 1 trending topic worldwide and the police were dispatched to Joyces house, where it was ascertained that, actually, it was just a weird video.

Biggest burkini brouhaha: Siam

Who knew a swimsuit could divide a state? Probably not Siam (as she identified herself) when she went to a beach in Nice wearing a burkini in August. The 34-year-old soon found herself surrounded by armed police, who forced her to remove her excessive clothing and fined her for failing to wear an outfit respecting good morals and secularism. A country-wide row about the legality of burkini bans ensued. Because libert, galit, stupidit.

The Queen. Photograph: Neil Mockford/GC Images

Most extravagant birthday party for a pensioner: The Queen

Taxpayers already give the Queen a 400,000-a-year alcohol allowance. Youd think that would be enough to cover a decent 90th birthday bash (street-party tickets cost 150 each) but Britain decided to go all out this year for Her Majesty. Austerity be damned.

Worst mock-knighting: Princess Beatrice

November evening. A small soiree. James Blunt jokes to Princess Beatrice that he wouldnt mind being Sir James. The Princess, spying a ceremonial sword, decides to knight him on the spot. Being new to the knighting thing, she misses and the un-blunt sword slashes Ed Sheeran in the face. This is not absurd fanfic, it is just another night at the Royal Lodge in Windsor.

Most tireless champion of WhoHaha in Hollywood: Elizabeth Banks

Banks directed and produced Pitch Perfect 2. You should forgive her for this, however, because, as well as being a longtime campaigner for Planned Parenthood, Banks has been working to increase the representation of women in Hollywood onscreen and off. In April, she launched WhoHaha, a new website dedicated to [shining] a spotlight on funny women. Apparently, there are a few around.

Worst honorary ambassador: Wonder Woman

Even Wonder Woman, it seems, cant have it all. Despite being blessed with a body of impossible proportions and a superhero skillset, the comic book character was deemed unsuitable for her role as the UN honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. She lasted two months in the position.

Best leather trousers: Amanda Wakeley

Only 995 if youre looking to channel Theresa May in desert-khaki this Christmas.

Best comeback: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In November, the editor of the American Spectator, R Emmett Tyrrell Jr, helpfully racistsplained racism to author Chimamanda Adichie on Newsnight. White people hating people who arent white is more complicated than racism, silly! And Donald Trump is, like, so not a racist. Adichie retorted: Im sorry, but, as a white man, you dont get to define what racism is. You really dont. You really dont.

Most glamorous woman of the year: Bono

Due to an unexpected shortage in the world supply of women, Glamour recently made Bono one of its 2016 women of the year. He accepted with grace and aplomb. A role model for little girls everywhere.

Read more:

Born Maurice Micklewhite, the star of The Italian Job has legally changed over to his stage name. But where did he get it? And what about Joan Crawford and Bono?

Eighty-three-year-old Maurice Micklewhite is the latest victim of the global war on terror. After renewed security checks meant hours having his passport thumbed by baffled border guards who knew him better as Michael Caine, one amateur Italian Job impression too many has meant that he has finally legally changed his name to Michael Caine.

The Blue Ice stars stage name came to him while he was stood in a London phonebox on a drizzly evening, calling his agent, while Humphrey Bogarts The Caine Mutiny was showing in the Odeon opposite.

It was Caines second attempt at a moniker the call was about how he could no longer use Michael Scott because another one had turned up in the West End. And he is certainly not the first star to have made his name through making up his name. The US has a long and slightly depressing history of Jews rebranding to fit in with a WASP star system Jon Stewart (Leibowitz), Winona Ryder (Horowitz), Gene Simmons (Chaim Witz), just to pick a few.

But Whoopi Goldberg is perhaps the only star to have gone the other way. The first part of Caryn Johnsons stage name comes from her reputation for breaking wind (like a whoopee cushion), and the latter half from her mothers injunction that if the first half of her name was super silly, the second half should be super serious (and probably an understandable desire to keep the family name out of it).

Sometimes, they come from even less likely places than Goldbergs. Sid Vicious took his name from a hamster belonging to John Lydon which bit him, causing him to exclaim Your Sid is vicious!, a remark Lydon found so hilarious hed soon wrapped it around his childhood pal.

The artist formerly known as Paul Hewson was once known by the street gang he hung around with as Steinhegvanhuysenolegbangbangbang, so no doubt he appreciated it when one of his pals noticed a hearing aid shop in Dublin called Bonavox, Latin for good voice, and adapted it as Bono Vox or Bono for short.

Fellow store-front lover John le Carr claims he plucked his made-up last name from a shoe shop he spied in Battersea from a passing bus. Although this has never been confirmed, and double-agent that he is, there are a lot of question marks over whether he made the whole yarn up. Likewise, Vincent Furniers claims to have been contacted by a 16th-century witch doctor while playing a ouija board seem mildly dubious. The doctors name was Alice Cooper. Furnier made it the name of his band, but somewhere along the line it transferred tohim personally meaningthat he still pays royalties to the original band members for loaning it out every year.

Having to loan out your name is one thing, but having it sold out from under you is quiteanother. Glamourpuss Lucille LeSueur was told by her film studio, MGM, that it would be holding a public competition to choose a new name for her. Readers of Movie Week voted for Joan Crawford a name LeSueur detested, as it made her think of crawfish.

Read more:

Elvis wanted an FBI badge from Nixon. Jacko fought drink-driving with Reagan. Jagger got lovebombed by Blair. Are these the strangest back-room deals in politics?

Relations between pop stars and politicians have always been awkward. Each wants something off the other. The politician wants glamour, the pop star wants to be taken seriously. The result, more often than not, is a stalemate.

The famous 1970 meeting between Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon was never going to be easy. At 6.30am, Elvis had dropped off a six-page letter at the White House, asking for a meeting with the president to tackle the problem of drug abuse among the young. He wished, he said, to counter the influence of the drug culture, the hippie elements, the SDS, Black Panthers, etc. Above all, he wanted to be made a Federal Agent at Large, and be awarded the badge to go with it. Appropriately enough, his paranoia about drugs was exacerbated by the quantity of drugs he had consumed.

Elvis got his badge. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

His letter triggered a panicky exchange of memos between different presidential aides. If the president wants to meet with some bright young people outside of the government, Presley might be a perfect one to start with, read one, against which HR Haldeman, the White House chief of staff, added, You must be kidding, before initialling the box marked Approve.

The half-hour meeting went pretty well, all things considered, though at one point Elvis went off on a rant against the Beatles, leaving Nixon unsure how to react. The Beatles, I think, are kind of anti-American, said Elvis. They came over here. Made a lot of money. And then went back to England. And they said some anti-American stuff when they got back.

Nixon gets a close look at Elviss get-up, watched by White House aide Egil Krogh. Photograph: Getty Images

The White House aide Egil Krogh, who transcribed the conversation, couldnt work out what Elvis was on about. From the look of surprise on the presidents face when Elvis said this, I was convinced the president didnt know what he was talking about either.

But the odd couple arrived at an accommodation: the pop star got his badge, and the politician was photographed with the most illustrious representative of the young, or young-ish (Elvis was 35). For some reason Elvis & Nixon, the new film about their meeting, fails to include their most telling exchange. Towards the end of the meeting, Elvis hugged Nixon to his chest. This least touchy-feely of presidents somehow managed to extricate himself before taking a step back and looking at the pop star in pancake make-up, brass-buttoned Edwardian jacket, purple velvet tunic with matching trousers, and vast gold belt. You dress kind of strange, dont you? he remarked.

You have your show and I have mine, replied Elvis, in what was in many ways the perfect summary of the clear divide between politician and pop star. Yet it had no influence: over the following 46 years, the divide has grown almost totally obscure, the average pop star growing older, grander and more statesmanlike, the average politician younger, more awestruck and deferential. In the old days, a president or prime minister would have shown no more interest in hobnobbing with a pop star than with a window-cleaner. But as the 1950s gave way to the 60s, pop stars had grown more prominent, and politicians had started dancing to their tune.

The fifth Beatle? Harold Wilson with the Fab Four in 1964. When he became prime minister, he proposed MBEs. Photograph: Bentley Archive/Popperfoto/Getty Images

In Britain, meanwhile, Harold Wilson was quick to recognise the importance of the Beatles. In March 1964, as leader of the opposition, he presented them with their personality of the year awards at a Variety Club lunch. Watching footage of the event, it is clear which way the deference is flowing: while the Beatles are relaxed and joshing, Wilson seems tense and genuflective. Accepting their awards, Paul says: You should have given one to good old Mr Wilson! while John says: Id just like to say thanks for the Purple Heart. Silver! Silver! chips in Ringo, in a jokey stage-whisper. Wilson forces a chuckle. The following year, Wilson engineered the Beatles MBEs.

By the second half of the 60s, pop stars were growing more political, sometimes even going so far as to rhyme solution with revolution. In the spring of 1967, the American poet Allen Ginsberg arranged a meeting between Mick Jagger and the maverick Labour MP Tom Driberg. Britain was on the brink of revolution, Driberg told Jagger, And the Labour party is where a young man should be when it happens. Driberg later admitted his surprise at hearing himself say this, as he hadnt believed a word of it. But one begins to share that revolutionary hope when one is in the company of someone like Mick.

Jagger was clearly flattered, but expressed a fear that, if he agreed to become a Labour MP, I wouldnt want to have to give any of that up to sit behind a desk … I mean, I dont exactly see myself scrutinising the Water Works Bill inch by inch, if you know what I mean. Driberg did his best to reassure him. Dear boy, we wouldnt expect you to attend to the day-to-day ephemera of the house. Not at all. We see you more as a figurehead.

As their meeting went on, Dribergs eyes began drifting downwards, finally coming to rest on Jaggers crotch. Oh my, Mick, WHAT a big basket you have! he gasped. Jagger blushed, and even Ginsberg was a little shocked, but the conversation soon managed to find its way back to politics. Years later, Marianne Faithfull wrote that Driberg could see exactly what Mick wanted, which was a form of respectability.

Whos bad? Reagan gives a special achievement award to Michael Jackson in 1984, for supporting an anti-drink-drive campaign Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Ah, respectability! It sometimes seems as though no pop star, however offbeat or rebellious, is immune to its allure. In a bizarre replay of Presleys visit, President Ronald Reagan welcomed Michael Jackson to the White House in 1984. Asked to donate his song Beat It to a government anti-drink-driving campaign, the beady Jackson had agreed, but only on condition the president presented him with an award for his work against drink and drugs at a special White House ceremony. Documents recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the FBI simultaneously agreed to drop an investigation into claims that Jackson was abusing two Mexican children, so as not to embarrass the president.

The president and Mrs Reagan stood on a special platform on the South Lawn to greet Jackson, who wore a military jacket with sequins, plus floppy gold epaulettes and a gold sash, a single white glove with rhinestones, large dark glasses and full stage make-up. The president then commended Jackson as proof of what a young person can accomplish free of drink or drug abuse. Years later, Jacksons autopsy revealed traces of lidocaine, diazepam, nordiazepam, lorezepam, midazolam, propofol and ephedrine.

By the end of the 1980s, it had become de rigueurfor politicians and pop stars to hobnob, and even to perform together. Neil Kinnock appeared on Top of the Pops, acting the part of Tracey Ullmans My Guy in a video; and in 1992 Mick Hucknall of Simply Red broadcast his commitment to socialism to a Labour rally, via a satellite link-up from the south of France.

Watch the video for Tracey Ullmans My Guy. Labour leader Neil Kinnock arrives two minutes in

The balance had switched: it was now the pop star who conferred respectability on the politician rather than vice versa. The new generation of political leaders were the children of Elvis and the Beatles: they looked up to their older pop idols. When President Bill Clinton and Tony Blair met Chuck Berry, it was, reported Blair, a mutual case of Wow! Never mind about meeting world leaders, this was a REAL superstar. Can you imagine Churchill and Roosevelt undergoing a mutual case of Wow! after shaking hands with George Formby?

Blair had, of course, been lead singer with the group Ugly Rumours, wearing purple loon pants and whooping Lets go, honeys! before launching into a cover version of Honky Tonk Women. Of all the party leaders, he was to prove the keenest, gushiest autograph-hunter, almost as though somewhere in the back of his mind he was still awaiting the call from the producer of Top of the Pops. In his memoirs, Peter Mandelson recalls how, at one dinner party, Tony Blair summoned up his courage to go up to Mick Jagger and tell him: I just want to say how much youve always meant to me.

Moves like Jagger Tony Blair, right, idolised the Stones frontman. Composite: Getty

But, then again, even the most strait-laced Conservative leaders were once pop-pickers: in his biography of Michael Howard, Michael Crick revealed that Howard sported an Elvis quiff in his youth. He wanted to BE Elvis Presley, said his cousin Renee. He used to sit in the bath shrinking his jeans.

On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians would now offer obeisance to pop stars. Sometimes, they even sought a form of absolution from them. In her memoirs, Hillary Clinton writes of taking a phonecall, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, from Stevie Wonder, who had attended the state dinner for another of his fans, Czech president Vaclav Havel, the night before. Wonder asked her if he could come over and play a song he had composed for her about the power of forgiveness. As he played, I kept moving my chair closer to the piano until I was sitting right next to him. When Stevie finished, tears filled my eyes…

Hillary Clinton gets support from Stevie Wonder in 1998. Photograph: Gina Ferazzi/LA Times via Getty Images

Four years later, Bono dropped in on the White House to have a word with President George W Bush. He brought me a thoughtful gift, an old Irish Bible, Bush recalls in his memoirs. The lessons were all one-way: within minutes, Bono was quoting verses from the New Testament at a reverential Bush. The two men then rode in the presidents limo to a conference at the Inter-American Development Bank. Bono participated in the event and praised our policy … Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I consider him a friend.

Three years later, in preparations leading up to the G8 conference, the chancellor, Gordon Brown, was in discussion with Bono and Sir Bob Geldof. Before long, anyone who had ever topped the charts Chris Martin, Annie Lennox, Madonna, Sting was allowed to deliver a lecture on poverty to politicians whose salary amounted to about half as much as one of their junior hairstylists.

Pop stars are the new grandees. They enjoy the kind of status, wealth and respect once accorded to Lord Curzon, issuing eagerly awaited proclamations on world affairs from the comfort of their stately homes, their careers crowned with gongs for long service.

There has been the occasional hiccup, of course. At the Brit awards in 1998, Danbert Nobacon of the rock group Chumbawamba spotted a bucket of ice cold water on one table and John Prescott on another, and was overcome by the understandable urge to pour the one over the other. Mr Prescott thinks it is utterly contemptible that his wife and other womenfolk should have been subjected to such terrifying behaviour, said a spokesman from his private office, and, for that brief moment, the natural order of things was restored.

Read more: