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What a monumental frock-up!
Dame Vivienne Westwood, Issue 1378
vivienne westwood.jpg
DAME VIV: Vivienne Westwood who, according to John Lydon, should ‘go back to making frocks’
WHEN other newspapers started chasing up a story in the last Eye about inaccuracies, alleged plagiarisms and possible libels in Dame Vivienne Westwood’s new authorised biography, her publisher Picador issued a press statement: "We have not received any formal communication regarding the content of the book.”

They have now. Last week lawyers for Paul Gorman served a claim against Dame Viv, co-author Ian Kelly and Picador, alleging substantial plagiarism from Gorman’s book The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion (2001). Meanwhile, John Lydon, the former Johnny Rotten, snorted at Westwood’s claim in the book that she came up with the idea and title for the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK single. “What a fucking liberty,” he told the Independent. “That’s audacity of the highest order. Go back to making frocks.”

‘Super Thursday’
Never mind the litigation, what about the bollocks? How did the book come to be published in such an error-strewn state? Thereby hangs a cautionary tale about publishers being more eager to get their big titles out on October’s “Super Thursday” than to have those titles properly edited.

Westwood and Kelly signed the deal last autumn (for an advance of more than £200,000) on the basis that much of the work had been done and they could deliver in April for October publication. This was a tight schedule, but publisher Paul Baggaley was too thrilled at nabbing Westwood to worry. She had walked out of previous deals, such as one involving fashion historian Jane Mulvagh and HarperCollins in the late 1990s. But this time she would deliver.

Bosh is together
April came and went. Kelly was clearly floundering. On 8 July, when the cover design was released to reassure the trade, he rashly tweeted: "I’d better finish writing it.” With a Sunday Times serialisation already booked, he had no choice but to bosh it together, with mistakes galore, miscredited photographs and an unchecked reference notes section.

Sales prospects weren’t helped by Westwood’s announcement in mid-September, at the time of the Scottish referendum, that she hated England; nor by her refusal to go on the lit-fest circuit (while memoirists such as Kevin Pietersen and Lydon did the rounds). Picador was panicked into grabbing whatever publicity it could by releasing the book to the trade nine days early, on 1 October.

Limping along
Alas! The launch party at Mark’s club failed to attract the kind of celeb crowd Picador needed, and the rescue plan didn’t work. Vivienne Westwood sold 3,700 copies over the first three weeks of issue, whereas Lydon’s Anger Is an Energy sold 3,300 in its first week alone and – unlike the Westwood book – made the top 10 bestselling general hardbacks, alongside other Super Thursdayers such as Pietersen and Roy Keane.

Baggaley has some explaining to do, not least to Picador’s insurers, who will be asking why he paid a six-figure advance for a book which has been limping along at 1,000 copies a week and has already attracted at least one serious lawsuit. The first of several, it seems: the Malcolm McLaren estate is now consulting lawyers over the damage caused by Dame Viv’s claims to sole ownership of designs that were in fact produced by the McLaren/Westwood partnership.


Issue 1378
agri brigade
With Bio-Waste Spreader: "As a rural MP, Defra secretary Liz Truss seems to see herself as ideally placed to reverse Britain’s agricultural decline. But a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and there are signs that, with her experience limited to little more than four years as the member for South West Norfolk, she has little appreciation of the challenges facing most UK farmers…”
medicine balls
With M.D.: "The five-year plan for the NHS, as seen by NHS England CEO Simon Stevens, is mercifully free from the government’s five-minute gimmicks (£55 and a pat on the back for GPs who diagnose dementia; a red flag and public humiliation for those who fail to diagnose cancer). But his big idea to reward workers for losing weight – an incentive that helped him shed three stone in America – may not ‘gain traction’ over here… Stevens’ predecessor David Nicholson became obese and developed type II diabetes while in the job, which he managed to disguise with Marks and Spencer elasticated waist trousers. Poor physical health usually starts with poor mental health, and the most urgent health need facing NHS staff is to reduce the stress, overwork, bullying and fear…”
signal failures
With Dr B Ching: "Stagecoach bus and rail tycoon Brian Souter rarely fails to get his way, but now two setbacks have come along at once. First, fellow Scots voted to remain in the UK after Souter had bankrolled the SNP and Scottish independence campaign; and then last week democracy reared its head again when councils in north-east England’s ‘combined authority’ voted unanimously to return the region’s buses to public control. Souter previously said he’d drink poison if the region introduces London-style bus franchises …”
eye tv
With Remote Controller: "It has seemed for some time that one consequence of Russell Brand’s recovery from his addictions has been the triggering of a messiah complex. Now that he has decided to come out of the deserts of celebrity and Hollywood and flirt with becoming mayor of London or possibly benign dictator of the entire world, he is in need of John the Baptist figures to announce him and prepare for the final phase of the mission…
[reviews of Newsnight (BBC2) and The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV)]
keeping the lights on
With Old Sparky: "At a speech to the UN last month, David Cameron waxed lyrical on plans to keep the lights on with shale gas and nuclear power. But whereas billions of bill-payers’ money will ensure no expense is spared on nukes – particularly on their safety aspects – the government persists in trying to develop shale gas on the cheap…”
nooks and corners
With Piloti: "Culture minister Ed Vaizey recently announced approval of the plan to split English Heritage in two. The name English Heritage (EH) will belong to the independent charity which will look after the sites and monuments brought into state guardianship over the last century – Stonehenge, Warkworth Castle, Eltham Palace and suchlike. It will launch with a one-off endowment of £88.5m. At a time of austerity this might seem generous; but it is peanuts, especially given the £54m maintenance backlog…”
music and musicians
With Lunchtime O’Boulez: "It’s crunch time at the near-bankrupt, Belfast-based Ulster Orchestra, whose chairman Sir George Bain declared this month that it was likely to fold unless someone bails it out before its AGM on 15 December. In the arts world, musicians, led by luminaries such as Sir James Galway, have rushed to launch petitions and express outrage. But the slowness of the political establishment to react to Bain’s threat has been instructive…”
in the city
With Slicker: "Investors from the UK and the Far East, who in total handed over £20m or more to the London-based EcoHouse Group to finance social housing projects in Brazil, have failed to receive either the promised 20 percent return or their money back. Complaints have been made to the authorities in the UK and Singapore. EcoHouse promised to update worried investors about payment delays in early September but has not done so. The London ‘global headquarters’ telephone number diverts calls to a UK mobile whose message box is full. This is hardly surprising, as Private Eye, which warned against EcoHouse almost a year ago, has discovered that the office in Richmond, south-west London, suddenly closed several days ago…”
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For all these stories you can buy the magazine or subscribe here and get delivery direct to your home every fortnight.
Next issue on sale: 11th November 2014.

Private Eye Issue 1377