This week saw an emotional event. Surviving cast members of The Godfather I and II were reunited live on stage in New York for the 45th anniversary of the first film: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, James Caan and Robert De Niro. (I marked this occasion by confessing on Twitter that, when I was 15, I thought Don Corleone’s first name was Don, like Don Revie’s.)
And of course the director, Francis Ford Coppola, was there, indulging in what is coming to be a strange new tradition for great public figures coming to the end of their careers. It’s the last rite of passage for the truly famous: claiming that your breakthrough early work wouldn’t be permitted today. Of The Godfather – in all its risky, mould-breaking epicness – Coppola said: “Today it wouldn’t get a go-ahead.” In an interview, Maggie Smith said: “If I was asked to start now, I just don’t think I could, seriously.” And the great physicist Peter Higgs, discoverer of the Higgs Boson particle, has said that if he were starting out now, he “would be sacked”
There is hardly a legend in any field who hasn’t airily declared that the great album or novel or movie of their youth wouldn’t get made today. Really? Well, who knows how much early creative genius gets crushed by the corporate bean-counters, either in 2017 or 1972. But it could be that this mannerism is born of the older celebrity’s subconscious need to seal off their uniqueness, reputation and legacy, and tell the youngsters snapping at their heels that they might as well give up and go home.
One in the eye for statins
Things weren’t necessarily better in ye olden dayes, or even all that different. But what oh what has happened to the grapefruit? When I was a kid, you would often sit down to a meal (not necessarily breakfast), to be confronted with a halved grapefruit. You would jab it with a spoon and it would hilariously squirt acid in your eye. Or you could have a refrigerated glassful of this substance in the form of grapefruit juice.
Now hotels increasingly fail to serve grapefruit juice at their breakfast buffets. The reason is that Britain has become the statins capital of Europe. Eight million people here are now taking these cholesterol-busting drugs, which can react badly with grapefruit juice. In particular, NHS advice is that taking simvastatin with grapefruit juice is a no-no. So beefy Brits crowding up to the hotel breakfast bar increasingly find that grapefruit juice is off the menu.
Maybe the management doesn’t need the grief of keeping medics or lawyers on permanent standby. Perhaps the strange, mouth-puckering, acid-metal tanginess of grapefruit juice will become a lost British taste, like liver and bacon.
Nothing illustrates better the profound psychic difference between women and men, or supermodels and mortals, than the recent social-media revelation from New York’s Met Gala hosted by American Vogue’s Anna Wintour. The ultra-cool, badass thing for these wealthy women to be seen doing was hanging out in the ladies’ loos, Instagramming themselves sitting on the floor. Bella Hadid was even, to quote Kathy Burke’s character Waynetta Slob, “smoking a fag”.
No matter how pristine the men’s toilet floors, no way were the guys going to do same thing: the associations would be quite different. There is a cult film by the Chinese director Fruit Chan called Public Toilet, about two guys who, without sexual overtones, just liked hanging out at a public convenience. I’ve never seen anything so disturbing in my life.