i doubt the evening standard will give me a right of reply so i’m doing it myself…
i was at the west end opening of curious at the apollo theatre on shafestbury avenue on 12th march. it was an astonishing evening in so many ways. certainly the most uplifting night i have ever spent in the theatre.
i was sitting in the circle. will gompertz, the bbc arts editor, was sitting 3 seats away. we’d met a couple of times before and said a friendly hello. after the curtain call at the end of the play he got up to leave and i suggested that he hang on for a couple of minutes or he might miss something (i won’t spoil it for anyone going to see the play by saying what). that was the entirety of what passed between us.
two days later an article appeared in the evening standard, titled gompertz confesses to curious lapse of memory about the night-time dog. it ran like this
will gompertz, the bbc’s arts editor, confessed to an embarrassing encounter with novelist mark haddon at tuesday’s press night of the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.
compering an event at the barbican last night, gompertz told the audience he was seated next to the author of the book-turned-stage production at the apollo theatre and as the lights came up, he said: “well done. but why aren’t the actors taking their curtain call?” haddon replied: “because it’s the first half, you f***ing idiot.” gompertz swears he has read the book but was swept away by the production.
i would never talk to anyone in this way. and i'm really uncomfortable at the idea that many people now think i talk to people in this way. if 5% of the evening standard’s readership read the article that’s 35,000 people.
it’s generally assumed that you should grow a thicker skin if you appear in newspapers or on tv. i think the obligation should be on journalists not to insult people for entertainment.