Theatre, Women, Writers

The many lives of Rebecca Miller

The Times July 4, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

Daughter of Arthur Miller, wife of Daniel Day-Lewis… It would have been easy for Rebecca Miller to be overwhelmed by the male presences in her life. Here she talks about how she found her own creative voice, and explains why her stories are filled with echoes of the family and relationships that have shaped her

Rebecca Miller
Photo: Mark Harrison

About five minutes into the interview, Rebecca Miller starts to cry. We had been talking about writing, and I read out a line from the end of one of her short stories about different women’s lives which touched me. Louisa, a painter who has a complicated relationship with her mother, has come home to lick her wounds after an emotional collapse in New York. The family are around the table and her mother is drinking, as usual, which enrages the daughter, but when she looks up, “Her mother was looking at her with such love that Louisa could hardly bear to see it: it was like looking into the sun.”

Travel & Adventure

Driving San Francisco to LA – Chlling out in style on the West Coast of America

The Times May 23, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

Where better to start than Haight-Ashbury, the San Francisco centre of the Summer of Love? At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that this was 1968 rather than 2008.

The main drag is dominated by “head” shops selling crazy-looking bongs, and the boutique windows are full of tie-dye T-shirts. The pavement panhandlers, however, are very much the new generation of dropouts, mostly in their teens and twenties.

Our cheap and immensely cheerful digs were around the corner, also close to the great green swath of Golden Gate Park. These quiet streets are lined with grand old houses painted in dark aubergines and greys.

Music, Travel & Adventure

A hip-hop tour of New York’s Harlem

The Times May 23, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

Ginny Dougary and teenage sons take a guided tour of Harlem and the Bronx to find the roots of hip-hop

ginny and sons at the wall of fame

So there I am with my solid crew, two teenage sons and me in Kangol berets, dripping in bling, on loan from our hosts Grandmaster Caz and Reggie Reg, the grandaddies of hip-hop, manoeuvring our way through Harlem and the Bronx in a tour bus rapping to “It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under”.

What a great way to start a family holiday in New York. Caz (short for Casanova) is an A* teacher; no slacking permitted as he fires out questions, checks whether his pupils have been listening, points out places of interest — where such and such a gangsta rapper was shot dead (“We always pause here to pay a little love . . . a little respect”) — and lists the four cornerstones of hip-hop culture: the DJ, the MC, breakdancing and graffiti. And then there’s the clothes.

Music

How do you pen a song for the Brighton Festival Fringe?

The Times May 16, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

It’s taken a year, but Ginny Dougary’s latest song is about to be unveiled in public. It’s been a steep learning curve

This time next week, 150 singers will be on a stage crooning a song that has taken a year to write. Why has the gestation period been so extended? Is it because the piece is unbelievably long and complex? Or that the lyrics came from some deeply angst-ridden place? Could it be the case, as Nick Cave once told me, that: “In order to write a worthwhile love song, it needs to have within it the potential for pain or an understanding of the pain of whatever you’re writing about. I don’t think they allow themselves to be written until I’ve fully experienced what it is I’m writing about. They wait patiently to be finished.”

The answer is, unfortunately, rather more mundane — the occasionally fraught business of collaboration. As a team, the composer MJ and I are pretty new to this game, with maybe a dozen songs to date, some performed by professional singers and actors but mainly by amateur choirs.

Politicians

Who is David Cameron?

The Times May 16, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

The past year has been a momentous one for David Cameron. As Gordon Brown’s Government stumbles from crisis to crisis, Cameron has reaped the political reward, as his target narrows on No 10. Yet alongside this public ambition has been private grief as he suffered the devastating death of his eldest child, Ivan

David Cameron
Photo: Tom Stoddart

If David Cameron wants to survive to become the next prime minister, he should avoid being driven at all costs. We are hurtling through the narrow, winding country roads of West Oxfordshire, having left his constituency headquarters in Witney (Tory-blue carpet and chairs; wobbly round table; rough Cotswold stonewalls) a fraction behind schedule for the 20-minute journey to Chimney Meadows nature reserve, where Cameron is to deliver a speech.

Artists

David Hockney on why iPhones are the future for art

The Times May 09, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

As a major exhibition of new landscapes opens, Britain’s best-loved artist talks about mortality, family, his return to his beloved Bridlington, and why iPhones are the future for art

David Hockney is a very funny man. If he ever wanted to give up the day job — about as likely as Bridlington becoming the new St-Tropez — he would make a superb monologist; Spalding Gray, perhaps, channelled by Alan Bennett.

He may have lived in Los Angeles for the greater part of the last 30 years but his humour, and accent, remain dry and forthrightly northern. His mother, Laura, who died in 1999 at the age of 99, was quite religious, he tells me, and was wont to refer to her late-beckoning mortality thus – “I haven’t been called yet.” Her son would sometimes joke: “Well, stay by the telephone.” He continues: “When I told that story to a friend of mine he said, ‘You might live longer than her, David, because you won’t hear the call’.”

Theatre

Peter Hall – my memories of Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett

The Times April 04, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

Nudging 80, he’s full of memories of his theatrical past, but the great director’s love of work – and family – is undimmed

Almost two decades have passed since Peter Hall and I last met. The baby that his fourth wife, Nicky Frei, was expecting then is now a 17-year-old bright spark, Emma, who thrills her father with her scholarship and enthusiasm for theatre, and occasionally appalls him with her use of language. Emma Hall’s accolade of “awesome” for a performance of Hamlet by a scion of another notable dynasty, Will Attenborough, made her father blanch. “I said, ‘Don’t use that word. I hate ahhhh-soom,’” he drawls, like a septuagenarian valley-girl .

News, Writers

British Press Awards 2009:nominations

Interviewer of the year
Cole Moreton, Independent on Sunday
Decca Aitkenhead, The Guardian
Elizabeth Day, The Observer
Ginny Dougary, The Times
Lynn Barber, The Observer
Robert Chalmers, Independent on Sunday

Actors, Theatre

Steven Berkoff: angry man or cursed by the past?

The Times March 21, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

Slovenly, ignorant, inept – his attacks on fellow actors are legendary. Does he have a softer side?

Steven Berkhoff

You definitely don’t want to be around Johnny Friendly when he smiles, and the same could be said of Steven Berkoff, who plays the murderous, most unfriendly, union boss in his play of Elia Kazan’s classic film On the Waterfront. The acting-directing-writing-theatre-company-founding polymath has his own intimidating form when it comes to interviewers (particularly women) as well as theatre critics, whom he has abused in various ways, with insults, bannings, even a death threat.

Politicians

Tony Blair on Gaza, Catholicism, Iraq and Cherie

The Times, January 31, 2009
– Ginny Dougary

Since leaving office 19 months ago, Tony Blair has rebuilt a life almost as frantic and globetrotting as the one he lived in Downing Street. Amid criticism of his role in the Middle East peace process, Ginny Dougary and photographer Nick Danziger join the former Prime Minister on the road to discuss Gaza, Catholicism, doubt, Iraq, money and Cherie

Tony Blair
Photo: Nick Danziger

It’s an exhausting business interviewing Tony Blair. For a start, everyone has an opinion about him and feels the need to express it, usually with some force. Cab drivers, handymen and the like – certainly in the UK – call him all sorts of unprintable names. Their main complaint is Iraq, as is everyone else’s, but they also blame him for the spend-spend-spend culture which in their opinion has landed us in the mess we’re in now.

Related news

News

Tony Blair

Guardian – January 30, 2009 I suffer doubts over Iraq war, says Tony Blair Telegraph – January 30, 2009 Tony Blair admits daily doubts about the war in Iraq Evening Standard – January 30, 2009 TONY Blair has admitted he suffered doubts over Iraq in an interview with Ginny Dougary in The Times and he […]

Women, Writers

Arianna Huffington: The superblogger

The Times, November 01, 2008
– Ginny Dougary

Born in Greece, educated at Cambridge and now the queen of Capitol Hill: Arianna Huffington’s superblog has made her one of the most influential political commentators in America

Arianna Huffington
Vince Bucci

There’s a perfect Arianna moment during our long interview in the heat of the Los Angeles summer, when I ask her whether she’s seen Swing Vote, a highly topical film that had just opened in America, starring and bankrolled by Kevin Costner. “Yes,” she says. “I am in it…” Pause. “I play myself.”

Food, Writers

Heston Blumenthal: the alchemist

The Times, October 25, 2008
– Ginny Dougary

You don’t just eat at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant, you have a whole sensory experience. Ginny Dougary drops by his laboratory to talk the science and psychology of food, families and uncontrollable fury

For those of us afflicted with vivid imaginations, it can be disturbing to hang out with Heston Blumenthal. Odd thoughts cross your mind such as what would it be like to be served a life-sized head of the chef-owner of the Fat Duck. First: you and your fellow diners would be invited to insert earphones connected to iPods which would play barnyard sounds of contented chickens clucking. A waiter would waft a distilled essence of something suitably earthy: fresh hay, say, laced with something borderline unpleasant to stimulate the senses. You would then be presented with a silver spoon and instructed to tap the patron’s bald pate which would crack open to reveal a rich brew of truffled brains, which you may or may not find delicious depending on how easily you could overcome your conditioned resistance to cannibalism.

Fashion, Women

Celia Birtwell’s flower power

The Times, October 04, 2008
– Ginny Dougary

Celia Birtwell’s floral designs defined a decade – and now they’re in vogue again with the Topshop set

Celia Birtwell, a name that once seemed firmly consigned to the past, is enjoying a prodigious renaissance – and her new fans, legions of them judging by her sell-out collections, are the daughters and granddaughters of the generation of women in the late Sixties and early Seventies who once wore, or could only dream of wearing, those gorgeous epoch-defining frocks, the fabric designed by herself and tailored by her ex-husband, the late, murdered Ossie Clark.

Celebrities, Women

Kay Saatchi on life after Charles Saatchi

The Times, July 26, 2008
– Ginny Dougary

Now the dust has settled on her divorce, Kay Saatchi has returned to her first love: modern art. With her pick of Britain’s best new talent on show in London, she tells Ginny Dougary about her future plans – and past mistakes

Kay Saatchi

« Prev - Next »