Monthly Archives: December 2018


Old age is often perplexing. Many things become more difficult as we age including it seems the ability to tell fibs. A study has found that people over 60 tempted to tell a white lie about sneaking out to play golf or whether they like someone’s dress, may find it harder work. It’s because they are worse than younger people at remembering their lies, which makes it more likely they will be caught out.

US researchers compared the lying ability of people aged 60-92 with young adults aged 18-24 when asking them about their daily activities. Older people, asked to fib about simple things such as having used a fork at lunch or pressing the snooze button on their alarm clock, were less able to remember the truth when tested again. It suggests lying is more confusing for older people, whose mental efforts to keep the story straight was not as effective.

The study authors, led by Dr Laura Paige of Brandeis University, Mass, said: ‘Unexpectedly, results revealed that older adults showed reduced accurate memory for items to which they previously lied, compared to younger adults.’

In the experiments 22 younger adults and 20 older people were questioned over more than 100 normal activities such as whether they chatted with a stranger that day. The groups were instructed to tell the truth for half the questions and lie for the rest of the time.

When they were later told to answer the whole questionnaire again truthfully, older people became more muddled. They were more likely to remember their lies as being the truth and answered about a fifth of a second more slowly than the younger generation. Surprisingly, the brain activity showed little difference between the two age groups while trying to work out the truth, suggesting their brains work similarly, but older people’s do not work as well.

The study, published in the journal Brain and Cognition, says the stress of lying may explain why older people struggle. Dr Laura Paige said: ‘Older adults showed worse correct memory performance in the later tests, which might mean they have more difficulty monitoring truthful versus deceptive information in memory. In other words, older adults are unable to separate falsehoods from the truths because they lie. There were no age differences in correct memory for truth items.’

The study also suggested that older people may be better at lying if, rather having to fabricate information, they feign amnesia.

Well done oldies, if the study is accurate. At least we’re good at something…

In the meantime a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to my loyal readers.


Jane Haynes can’t stop getting reviews. The latest, by Rebecca Wallersteiner, is on the medical blogsite, The Hippocratic Post and here it is:

‘ Relational psychotherapist Jane Haynes’s compelling new book, If I Chance to Talk a Little Wild, uses both ;personal and clinical experiences to explore complex issues such as parenting, emotional and sexual, abuse and unresolved conflict and is full of fascinating case histories and anecdotes. The memoir vividly explores Haynes’s early life and complex relationship with her mother who suffered a nervous breakdown. Haynes also writes about her own struggles with IBS and panic attacks and juggling motherhood with a successful career as a psychotherapist. In recent years, watching her grandchildren grow up, particularly her youngest grandchild, Bell, aged seven, has inspired her to “think more about the mysteries and magic of child development”. Her entertaining, unpredictable book is filled with literary references and discussion of the author’s controversial first mentor, the legendary R.D. Laing and his wife. An unconventional and enlightening read, full of quirky detail and literary references, with a chapter on Proust, that makes you think, even if you don’t agree with all of it. I tremendously enjoyed it, although I skipped parts of it.’


What a delight to find an honest reviewer!

But for us poor publishers we need to sell the book for two obvious reasons. Firstly, because it is an honest and revealing book and secondly, it encourages us to continue our support for authors like Jane who are consistent in their fight to defy the Establishment when need be. Hence, your contribution when buying this marvellous book is an added tonic.



Exciting news! What will surely be one of the blockbuster art exhibitions of next year was announced in last week’s Evening Standard after a press release from the National Portrait Gallery. 160 years after the first pictures were exhibited by the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1849, an exhibition – ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters’ – will open at the NPG on 17 October 2019 and run until 26 January 2020.

The exhibition explores the overlooked contribution of twelve women who were connected to the artistic movement in different ways. Featuring new discoveries and unseen works from public and private collections across the world, the exhibition reveals the women behind the pictures and their creative roles in the Pre-Raphaelite’s successive phases between 1850 and 1900.

Women, such as Joanna Wells (nee Boyce), a Pre-Raphaelite artist in her own right whose work has been largely omitted from the history of the movement, together with Marie Spartali Stillman and Evelyn de Morgan, whose art also shaped the development of Pre-Raphaelitism alongside their male counterparts will be on public display for the first time alongside works such as Thou Bird of God by Wells, which hasn’t been exhibited for over 25 years.

Through paintings, photographs, manuscripts and personal items, ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters’ also explores the significant roles women played as models, muses and helpmates who supported and sustained the artistic output of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The exhibition tells the story of Annie Miller and Fanny Cornforth, who inspired and modelled for some of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood paintings, and introduces Jamaican born model, Fanny Eaton, whose life story is presented in public for the first time.

Also featured is Christina Rossetti, the poet of Pre-Raphaelitism and a model for early paintings, and Effie Millais (nee Gray) and Georgiana Burne-Jones, whose domestic support underpinned their husbands’ artistic and social successes, while relinquishing their own ambitions in the process.

For the first time Elizabeth Siddal, who famously modelled for John Everett Milliais’ Ophelia, is presented as an artist as well as a sitter, alongside Jane Morris and Maria Zambaco who also entered the art world as models, and later became individual muses and icons of the movement. Both Morris and Zambaco also created work of their own in pictures, embroidery and sculpture much of which will be on public display for the first time.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were young men aiming to overturn the conventions of Victorian Art. As the self-styled ‘Young Painters of England’ they challenged the previous generation with startling hues and compositions inspired by early renaissance painting. The names of John Millais, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris are now well-known, and have become synonymous with the Romantic notion of the male genius. ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters’ shows them in new light, both supportive of and dependent on the women in their lives and art.

Dr Jan Marsh, Curator of ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sisters’ said: “When people think of Pre-Raphaelitism they think of beautiful women with lustrous hair and loose gowns gazing soulfully from the picture frame or in dramatic scenes painted in glowing colours. Far from passive mannequins, as members of an immensely creative social circle, these women actively helped form the Pre-Raphaelite movement as we know it. It is time to acknowledge their agency and explore their contributions.”

Quartet will reprint their edition of Jan Marsh’s Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood in good time for the exhibition with a new Introduction written by Dr Marsh. Until then, copies of her other title, The Legend of Elizabeth Siddall, remain on sale and can be bought from the Quartet website.



Why not treat yourself for a copy during the festive season and even if you have a copy, buy another one to give to a friend.




China’s fast growing economy is producing a wealth of tycoons: Two new billionaires a week as entrepreneurs take advantage of the country’s economic liberalization. In 2006 there were only 16 billionaires in what is now the world’s second largest economy, but that figure has grown to 373, making up nearly a fifth of the global total.

‘China is currently the leading country for entrepreneurs to create wealth,’ said Dr Marcel Widrig, partner and private wealth leader at PWC. ‘Nowhere has the same combination of a huge population, technology, innovation and government support.’ Almost all Chinese billionaires are self-made, with just 3% inheriting their fortune. However, the new fortunes come with a high level of risk; although 106 Chinese crossed the 9-zero mark last year, 51 dropped off the list again.

Joseph Stadler, head of Ultra High Net worth at UBS Global Wealth Management said: ‘What we have seen in the past is that Silicon Valley invents. Asia copies. What we see today is a world movement where China stops copying, and China develops and disrupts on its own and re-exports to the rest of the world. Chinese businesses were leapfrogging other industry leaders,’ he said, adding: ‘They can do that because of massive scalability and a mass market that is 3 to4 times as big as the United States.’

The total worth of Chinese billionaires is now1.12 trillion dollars. Half of the wealth enjoyed by China’s billionaires comes from three sectors: real estate, technology, consumer and retail. Experts said this reflects the country’s rapid development, after the government began loosening economic restrictions and allowing private enterprise. Early entrepreneurs made real estate fortunes as the population moved from the country to the city. A burgeoning middle-class, combined with the growth of communication technology has now fuelled a boom in technology and e-commerce.

But while the number of people living in poverty in China has dropped significantly in recent years, at the end of 2016, 43 million still lived below the Government’s official poverty line of 2,300 yuan income per year (that’s £258).

It’s truly remarkable how China is now competing with the world’s biggest economies to become a gigantic force to reckon with.

Proof positive why you can’t beat a bookshop

OXFORD TIMES Thursday, December 6, 2018

Proof positive why you
can’t beat a bookshop

CHRIS GRAY braves the football fans for a literary encounter

index.pngChris Gray with publisher Naim Attallah at the launch of his latest book  Picture: Rosemarie Perry

From the heavily policed Baker Street station branch of boozer JD Wetherspoon, rammed
with lager-swilling Spurs supporters en route to a crunch match at Wembley Stadium, we crossed to Marylebone High Street – ah, the cultural shift! – and the elegant Edwardian premises of Daunt Books for a date with London’s literary elite.

Before the night was over, there would be cause for satisfaction both for the football fans and us. They saw their team beat Inter Milan 1-0, helping them towards a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League; we had the privilege of meeting one of the more remarkable figures of our time in the shape of publisher and journalist Naim Attallah.

A bonus came in the acquisition of a splendid book we had been keeping an eye out for. This was Patience Gray’s 1987 publication Honey From a Weed, concerned with cookery and much else besides, which was reissued a few years back by Prospect Books at £20.

My much-missed friend and onetime Osney neighbour, The Independent’s pioneer food writer Jeremy Round, dubbed Gray “the high priestess of cookery”. He also called her a witch – as did others, including Paul Levy. Add the fact that she was resident for a time
where we partly dwell, on the Greek island of Naxos, and her book clearly demanded to be read.

We’d drawn a blank at Blackwell’s, but the well-informed assistant at Daunt Books led me straight to it and, for good measure, found me a copy of Adam Federman’s newly
published biography of Gray (no relation, by the way), Fasting and Feasting (Chelsea Green, £12.99).

This seemed typical of the sort of excellent service famously offered by Daunt Books, which was founded by James Daunt in 1990 and now has a number of other shops in the
swankier parts of London.

By coincidence, Daunt was profiled in The Times last Thursday, the day following my London visit.
Now at the head of Waterstones, he told Robbie Millen of his almost mystical belief in the power and importance of bookshops, as places to mooch and browse.

He said: “A book bought within a bookshop is a better one than the identical one that pops through your letter box [from Amazon}.”
One controversial decision made by Daunt was the removal of the apostrophe from Waterstones’ name. The same thing was tried at Blackwell’s a couple of decades ago, until its boss thought better of it and reinstated the mark.

My trip to Daunt Books was made for the launch of Naim Attallah’s new book, No Longer With Us (Quartet Books, £30), featuring 49 interviews he conducted for The Oldie magazine, at the behest of its editor, Richard Ingrams.

In a witty speech, Naim paid tribute to Ingrams, whose Private Eye magazine had made him one of its targets.

He recalled: “As the editor he lambasted me mercilessly as ‘Naim Attullah-Disgusting’ and as such he gave me a notoriety which in retrospect did me no harm at all. On the contrary, I became a figure which attracted an attention that
catapulted me to celebrity status. For that I’m eternally chuffed.”

Attallah’s involvement with Ingrams could cause trouble with his interviews, though, including the one with solicitor Lord Goodman, Master of University College, Oxford, who Private Eye always called ‘Lord Goodmanzee’ or ‘Two-dinners Arnold’.

As Naim writes in his blog: “I saw him over a lavish breakfast at his London flat, initially to be assessed for my suitability to be an interviewer of this giant among men. I outlined the concept of the book for him and mentioned several people who had agreed to participate.

“Evidently I passed muster because a month later I conducted the interview itself. Then, a few days later, a letter arrived from Lord Goodman withdrawing his permission for publication on the grounds that Richard Ingrams would be appearing in the same volume: ‘It was inexcusable to have lured me with a number of respectable names and to have withheld the fact that Mr Ingrams is to be included in the book.’

“I replied with a soothing letter, reminding him of his avowed opposition to censorship and questioning the wisdom of bowing out in vexation. The strategy worked.”




No Longer With Us – my collection of 50 interviews, garnered over many years, and is starting to receive some highly favourable reviews – and the up-coming celebration of Auberon Waugh, A Scribbler in Soho, which Quartet will publish in January – were both edited with much help from a memoir I wrote in 2007 – Fulfilment & Betrayal 1975-1995.


The final volume of my memoirs, its epic length – nearly 800 pages – tells two main tales: my business career, in particular the story of Asprey, and my obsession in maintaining the cultural concerns of Namara Ltd, my family firm, and its publishing and artistic activities. Books, magazines, movies, theatre and perfume were all created in a razzle-dazzle style which still leaves me breathless whenever I dip into the book to check a date or memory.

Copies are still available and it strikes me with the constant flurry of business memoirs, Fulfilment & Betrayal has maintained its quality and will make an ideal gift for anyone interested in culture, business and the shenanigans of high finance. It’s also, if I may say so, an engrossing read. It’s also chockablock-full of anecdotes, some of  which may enrage these PC times. Buy a copy, find out for yourselves and be merry…


For the last three years I have been suffering from insomnia which has caused me no end of grief. To stay awake most of the night is by  no means something one can get used to. However I now read that lack of sleep is unlikely to shorten your life than those who snooze soundly.

Insomnia affects about a third of Britons every year and has been linked to high blood pressure and diabetics. But a review of 17 studies taking in almost 37 million people has concluded being unable to sleep does not raise the risk of an untimely death.

Researchers at the Flinders University of South Australia found those with night-time insomnia alone have no extra chance of dying, based on studies following them for up to 28 years. Those with daytime symptoms such as fatigue and anxiety had a slightly higher chance of death, but it was not statistically significant.

Sleeping pills may add to your mortality risk but insomnia does not, the authors state. Dr Nicole Lovato, lead author at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at the university, said: ‘This knowledge and reassurance may help reduce insomniacs’ anxiety related to this matter and break the cycle of insomnia.’ In the studies reviewed, approximately 10% of participants suffered from insomnia. The overall risk of an early death was just 6%, however, which is not seen as statistically significant.

Other research has shown a link between lack of sleep and life-limiting conditions. Professor Russell Foster, of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at Oxford University said: ‘We do know the kind of sleep loss seen in shift workers, even when confounding factors are taken into account, can increase the risk of conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.’

Whatever conclusion these studies come to, the discomfort of insomnia is still a major factor to cope with, even if on the whole, it does not necessarily shorten one’s life.