STAND BY YOR MAN

YOU might have enjoyed her as the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia films, or in her early experimental ones with Derek Jarman, however my favourite Tilda Swinton role is as Cissie Crouch in the BBC six-parter, Your Cheatin’ Heart. It was written by the playwright and painter John Byrne, and he and she became a couple through it, although their relationship, as you might expect, was somewhat bohemian. They lived together in Nairn, which sums up perfectly their idiosyncrasy.

That preamble is to stress that while I love her work, it’s her personal politics I can’t stand. In 2009 she was one of 100 luvvies who signed a petition in support of child rapist Roman Polanski, calling for his release after he had been arrested in Switzerland, where he had gone to pick up a lifetime achievement award.

Swinton was joined on the petition by many of the Hollywood luminaries, as well as our own Emma Thompson,

who subsequently recanted, claiming she was bamboozled at the time (not a synonym for sloshed, I think). Emma, coincidentally, starred in the other wonderful Byrne series, Tutti Frutti.

Until Polanski was arrested (and released shortly after) he was the world’s most celebrated fugitive and sex offender, on the run from arrest by US authorities for 40 years. He had pleaded guilty to drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl in Jack Nicholson’s mansion and then skipped bail, although his absence did not stop the Hollywood glitterati he left behind lauding him through the years.

Last week the Oscars organisation did what they should have done three decades ago and kicked Polanski out of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The response from the man who has spent a mere 40 days in custody was to threaten to sue and to describe the #MeToo movement as “collective hysteria”, adding that the airing of sexual misconduct allegations was similar to the way North Korea publicly mourns dead leaders and everyone cries so much “you can’t help laughing”.

So, my question to Swinton was, did she now disavow her support for him and did she have a view on whether Polanski was right or wrong in his attack on #MeToo? Her response, via one of her minions, was to “graciously pass” on any comment “with thanks and apologies”.

I think we know who she stands with.

DON’T LET THE FACTS GET IN THE WAY

Within the cyber cloisters of academe Wikiwars are raging, with one Edinburgh professor in particular catching the flak. Tim Hayward is one of the group of academics (his colleague Paul McKeigue is another) who set up the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – or if you prefer the Times description, Apologists for Assad. The group’s questioning over whether it could be definitively concluded that the Syrian regime was responsible for the Ghouta chemical attack last month (they have also queried the Novichok attack of the Skripals) is apparently what provoked their pillorying in the Thunderer.

Within hours Hayward’s Wikipedia had been strafed and apparently favourable references removed. Former ambassador Craig Murray is another who claims to have come under “obsessive attack” with his page subject to 107 detrimental changes over three days. The journalist Neil Clark has a similar story about amendments and alterations.

You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that there are common threads here. All of those are – (select your own description, anti-war, assiduous, useful idiots?) – prominent campaigners on social media and in the mainstream media vigorously questioning our foreign policy. All have also clashed with Oliver Kamm, a former hedge-fund manager and now Times leader writer and columnist. All have been edited on Wikipedia by Andrew Philip Cross whom the complainants believe, without conclusive evidence, to be Kamm after dark. He denies it.

This could all be dismissed as a minor stushie in the digital steamie if it didn’t cast doubt on the credibility of Wikipedia, the grand idea of Jimmy Wales, which has become almost the first port of call for students and lazy journalists seeking “facts” on someone or something.

Wikipedia is a wonderful aid but it is extremely porous. To prove how easy it is to interfere or meddle with a Wiki entry I did it to Tilda Swinton’s page, adding that last September she put her name to the Hollywood stars’ petition supporting Polanski, something that had been curiously omitted.

LENNY, THE LONG AND SHORT (TEMPER) OF IT

The Hibernian manager Neil Lennon is a feisty and mercurial chap. He’s now threatening to leave the club because his players were “unprofessional” in losing to rivals Hearts – apparently they went out in slippers rather than studs – which would be a shame for those of us who are repeatedly enthralled by his capacity to surprise and entertain.

“Lenny” has certainly had to put up with much in his time in Scottish football, from a bomb in the post, to on-field and off-field assaults, while the torrents of foul abuse he’s had to bear are on a scale and decibel level previously unknown. He’s Irish, and from a republican family, which probably has something to do with it, oh, and the memories of the cluggings he used to ditch out to opponents when playing for Celtic.

I like him. I’m on his side. But sometimes he can be his own worst enemy. I remember watching him playing for Celtic against Kilmarnock and getting dog’s abuse throughout, with one particular foghorn in the stand peppering his every touch, and foul, with a scalding litany of charges about his parentage and his sexual predilections. Players don’t normally react but at full-time Lenny vaulted the retaining wall and charged up the passageway to unleash his own verbal volley on the man. The problem was he had miscalculated the row numbers and the object of his ire was not the offender but one John Corrigan, at the time head of the anti-terrorism police in Scotland.