In which Jay Rayner confesses to being middle-aged.

Sunday 13 July 2008

Always an early riser, Andrew has spent hours this morning counting his column inches over and over again and feeling rather self-satisfied at the result.

Yes, today’s Observer features a very long feature by food critic Jay Rayner entitled “Is it curtains for critics?” (geddit?) about an imagined battle between newspaper critics and bloggers.

Andrew is very proud indeed because the entire article was probably written with his pen which Jay Rayner still hasn’t returned following their night out.

Phil was up slightly later and at the time of writing has not read it all although he has read the bit about the West End Whingers three times. This is only partly in order to satisfy himself that there is nothing in it which might alarm his mother.

Highlights of the piece include this lovely quote from Charles Spencer of the Telegraph on the West End Whingers:

‘I don’t think they’re very helpful, Mildly entertaining, I suppose, but that brand of camp humour doesn’t do it for me. They’re not really critics. The last thing of theirs I read was them whingeing about squeaky seats at the Old Vic.’

We love you, Charlie!

The general view of the newspaper critics seems to be that to be a useful critic you have to be very old and have experienced a lot of whatever you are writing about – a theory instantly undermined by a cursory examination of Phil (whose “early rising days” are long behind him).

But there was nonetheless a highlight for Phil as the Whingers are described as being “middle-aged”. For the record, Jay Rayner is “about the same age” as Andrew.

Phil feels he’s found a new friend (and contemporary) in dance critic Clement Crisp (76) who says “I don’t really understand the beastly internet”. But is worried that Jay Rayner thought that there was “quite a lot of alcohol” the evening Jay accompanied them to the theatre. Phil thought they were being quite restrained, it seems the youth of today just can’t take it.

We also greatly enjoyed meeting book reviewer and recent fellow Enid Bagnold convert Lynne Hatwell.

Lowlights include the photograph for which the Whingers were made to wear tragedy masks. Still, it was an improvement on the first photoshoot in which they were handed one comedy mask and one tragedy mask which led us to believe that no-one had actually bothered looking at the blog. Which says it all really.

5 Responses to “In which Jay Rayner confesses to being middle-aged.”

  1. AllShookUp Says:

    Good thing he mentions you after a mere 11 paras – I found myself leaving before half-way. He does go on a bit, doesn’t he?

  2. Josh Says:

    Gosh, you do look mysterious and powerful in the photoshoot. Like earthly representatives of Satan. My favourite bit of the article has to be Charles Spencer saying “until a year ago I hadn’t looked at the web at all.”


  3. We also enjoyed Mr Spencer’s opinion that “I don’t think they’re very helpful… The last thing of theirs I read was them whingeing about squeaky seats at the Old Vic.”

    What he fails to mention is that the seats don’t squeak any more and we like to imagine that our moaning played some part in Mr Spacey’s decision to oil them.

    How much more helpful could we possibly be?

  4. eddie Says:

    our moaning played some part in Mr Spacey’s decision to oil them.

    @Andrew: When I saw Pygmalion recently (which I enjoyed of course) all I can think about was the well-oiled seats!

  5. JohnnyFox Says:

    Rayner’s punctuation’s a bit dicy. Did he really mean to refer to Jane Horrocks as “a gritty little number full of cement dust” ?


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