Sunday, July 15, 2018

France seal second World Cup triumph with 4-2 win over brave Croatia

France’s Hugo Lloris lifts the World Cup trophy as they celebrate winning.
 France’s Hugo Lloris lifts the World Cup trophy as they celebrate winning. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

France seal second World Cup triumph with 4-2 win over brave Croatia

Daniel Taylor at the Luzhniki Stadium
Sun 15 Jul 2018 17.54 BST

When the decisive blows arrived the entire squad piled on top of one another in the victory scrum. Hugo Lloris, the goalkeeper, had run the entire length of the pitch to join in the celebrations. All the substitutes were throwing themselves into this heap of arms and legs. There were even members of the backroom staff contemplating joining in, and who could blame them? France were on their way to winning the World Cup and a party was under way behind the goal where the tricolours were fluttering.

Kylian Mbappé
Those were the moments when everybody knew that no side – not even one with Croatia’s resilience and powers of durability – would find a way back. Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé had scored in quick succession and the next edition of the France national shirt will have two stars, rather than one, above the cockerel.
Didier Deschamps has become only the third man in history to win the World Cup as a player and manager, standing alongside two giants of the game in Mário Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer. Mbappé is a world champion at the age of 19, the first teenager to score in a final since Pelé in 1958, and there were jubilant scenes after the final whistle as the players gave their manager the bumps as the rain turned biblical and the trophy was lifted to a backdrop of thunder and slate skies.
The mistake from Lloris that allowed Mario Mandzukic to pull a goal back for Croatia did not matter greatly in the end and France are deserving champions bearing in mind their assured performances throughout the tournament. Any team that score four times in a final are entitled to feel they have won in style and nobody seemed to mind too much, in the long wait for the trophy presentation, that the only person being sheltered from the rain was Vladimir Putin. Kudos to the chap in the suit who suddenly appeared with an umbrella to keep the president dry while Gianni Infantino and the other assorted Fifa dignitaries took a soaking.
This was the highest-scoring final since 1966 and it was laced with drama and incident, not least a second-half pitch invasion apparently from members of Pussy Riot, and featuring a fair amount of controversy, too, bearing in mind that France’s second goal, a penalty scored by Antoine Griezmann, came from a borderline VAR decision that will always polarise opinion.

Even before that point it was difficult not to sympathise with Croatia given they had suffered the grievous setback of an own goal from Mandzukic. Zlatko Dalic, the Croatia manager, had promised that, if necessary, his team would take defeat with dignity and at least his players did not veer from that line, in trying circumstances. They will leave Russia, however, feeling that key moments of luck went against them, right down to the smaller details. Marcelo Brozovic’s alleged foul on Griezmann for the free-kick that led to Mandzukic’s own goal was a case in point: a generous decision, to say the least.
That was the 53rd own goal in the history of the World Cup, going all the way back to a Mexican player, Manuel Rosas, doing the same against Chile in 1930. Nobody, however, had ever done it before in a final and presumably Rosas did not have to suffer the indignity, as Mandzukic did here, of the public announcer making sure everyone knew who had applied the decisive touch. Mandzukic’s attempt to help out in defence had gone horribly wrong. The ball had skimmed off his head from Griezmann’s free-kick and France were ahead before any of their own players had managed an attempt at goal.
By now everyone should know enough about Croatia not to be taken aback by the strength of their response, culminating in a beautifully taken equaliser from Ivan Perisic 10 minutes later, using that precious left foot to fire a low, diagonal shot through a congested penalty area.
Paul Pogba celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal. Photograph: Martin Meissner

All this was rather unexpected bearing in mind the previous seven finals had yielded only four first-half goals between them. Yet it had quickly become clear that a thrilling tournament was not going to be let down by a cagey, prosaic final and the only pity, perhaps, went back to the first-half incident that led Croatia’s fans to whistle noisily when the match officials collected their medals.

It certainly was not a straightforward decision for the Argentinian referee, Néstor Pitana, and the length of time he spent analysing the replays told its own story. Eventually the handball decision was given against Perisic because it could be argued his arm was sticking out at an unnatural angle as he stooped behind Blaise Matuidi to defend a corner.

Was Matuidi’s flick-on on target or heading towards a teammate? The answer is no to both questions. But maybe that was deemed irrelevant. The ball did strike Perisic’s hand, however little he knew about it, and that was enough for the penalty to be awarded, no matter how tough that might seem. Griezmann held his nerve to guide the penalty past Danijel Subasic, the Croatia goalkeeper, and after nearly four minutes of arguments and counter-arguments France were back in front.
The game was still finely poised until Mbappé and Griezmann combined to set up Pogba to make it 3-1 just before the hour. Pogba’s first effort came back to him off a defender. The second was a more controlled finish with his left foot to wrong-foot Subasic and, when Mbappé fired in a low 25-yard effort for France’s fourth goal six minutes later, it was starting to feel as if it could be a rout.

Play Video
 Pussy Riot claim responsibility for World Cup final pitch invasion - video

Instead Lloris tried to dribble past Mandzukic in his own six-yard area, made a pig’s ear of it and at least that gave the score a bit more respectability from a Croatian perspective. There were 20 minutes to play and the losing players kept pushing forward, trying to pull off an improbable feat of escapology. Luka Modric demonstrated why he would later be announced as the Golden Ball winner, as the tournament’s outstanding player, and an argument could legitimately be made that Croatia matched their opponents in everything but goals. Dalic’s team had set off as though affronted that France were viewed as favourites.

Deschamps had substituted N’Golo Kanté, France’s midfield shield, early in the second half, mindful that the Chelsea player had been booked, but there were only fleeting moments when their opponents threatened to examine whether Lloris might be vulnerable again. France had joined Uruguay and Argentina as two-times winners and the World Cup had been given a fitting finale.


Natalia Vodianova / This much I know / 'I have an animal sense for danger’



Natalia Vodianova

'I have an animal sense for danger’
The supermodel, 34, on the humiliation of poverty, weekends in nightclubs and building a play park for children from the Beslan siege

Ruaridh Nicoll
25 February 2017

Natalia Vodianova

Poverty is humiliation. You feel like there is something wrong with you, not with society, especially as a child. You see other children who are happy and you think it must be so incredible. You daydream a lot about not being yourself. Maybe that helped me model.

Boys in my school in Nizhny Novgorod hated me. I was unhealthily skinny because sometimes we had nothing to eat. They used to draw me like a stick. And the stigma against my sister [Oksana, who has cerebral palsy and autism] brushed off on me. They called me dirty.

I have an animal sense for danger and make decisions based on intuition. I arrived in Paris at 17, but changed agencies within the week. On the second night, I was taken to a nightclub with some guys. Nothing happened, but I was a young girl so I liked young guys, and these were not young guys. A day or two later the Viva model agency said: “If you ever want to change…” and I was like: “Yes, right now.”

Ethan Hawke / This much I Know / ‘The most romantic thing I’ve done is have sex’

Ethan Hawke in a black t-shirt
 Ethan Hawke: ‘I am a giddy, ludicrous optimist. My team can lose and I’m already thinking about the next season. You can’t bring me down.’ Photograph: Alan Clarke for the Observer


Ethan Hawke: ‘The most romantic thing I’ve done is have sex’

The actor, 47, on being an optimist, avoiding marriage advice and why other people make him anxious

Natalie Evans-Harding
Saturday 16 December 2017

I have so many bad habits it’s impossible to measure the worst. My son would say I don’t take enough care with how I dress, my daughter might say I work too much, and my wife that I can’t seem to help in the kitchen at all. But in my opinion I have none.

Dita Von Teese / This much I Know / ‘Staying pale takes some effort in LA’

Dita sitting on a bed wearing a white dress
 ‘Heather Renée Sweet – my real name – was a very quiet, painfully shy person’: Dita Von Teese. Photograph: John Russo/Contour by Getty Images


Dita Von Teese: ‘Staying pale takes some effort in LA’

The burlesque dancer, 45, on divorcing Marilyn Manson, collecting lingerie and why she’s actually quite low-maintenance

Craig McLean
Saturday 31 March 2018

Burlesque has become a place for an alternative feminist movement. I didn’t ever think I was going to be famous. I just started doing it because it was fun and something cool that nobody else was doing. We get to decide if we want to be objectified. But I recognise that one person’s empowerment can be another person’s degradation.
You can only hunt swans if you’re royalty. The pair I have in my living room at home in Los Angeles are my best taxidermy score for sure. I got them on eBay. They’re antique, obviously, in case anyone is freaking out.
It’s good to collect, but sometimes it’s better to sell. I’ve been putting my hats on Depop – it’s Instagram for shopping. People get to say: “I’m wearing Dita’s hat!” But other things of mine, they’ll have to prise from my cold dead hands.

Nancy Sinatra Sr dies aged 101

Frank and Nancy Sinatra leave a Hollywood nightclub in 1946.
 Frank and Nancy Sinatra leave a Hollywood nightclub in 1946. Photograph: AP

Nancy Sinatra Sr dies aged 101

Nancy Barbato was the first of the singer’s four wives and the mother of his three children

Associated Press
Saturday 14 July 2018

Nancy Sinatra Sr, the childhood sweetheart of Frank Sinatra who became the first of his four wives and the mother of his three children, has died. She was 101.
Her daughter, Nancy Sinatra Jr, tweeted that her mother died Friday and a posting on her web page said she died at 6:02 p.m. but didn’t indicate where she died.
“She was a blessing and the light of my life,” her daughter said.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Gemma Arterton / ‘​Everyone in the industry knows I'm a pain’

Emma Arterton

Gemma Arterton: ‘​Everyone in the industry knows I'm a pain’

A decade after playing a Bond Girl, she has finally made a film she is proud of. The actor talks about breaking the mould and the joy of being difficult

Deca Aitkenhead
Saturday 14 July 2018

Aprotest march is one of Gemma Arterton’s favourite things. “Oh, I love going on marches,” she beams. “They’re such an amazingly galvanising, brilliant community.” She brought her mum along on a women’s march recently, “and she loved it, too. She just loved the energy you get off it. It’s like carnival, people really together, and they’re singing and they’re chanting.” She throws her head back, exhilarated by the memory. “It’s like, you feel power.”

Gemma Arterton / ‘It’s easier to conform and shut up’

Gemma Arterton

Gemma Arterton: ‘It’s easier to conform and shut up’

Gemma Arterton knows just how sexist the film world can be. Over lunch, she tells Eva Wiseman she’s fixing her career – then two celebrity fans show up…

Eva Wiseman

18 September 2016

f you ask Gemma Arterton if she regrets her career choices to date, she will look you straight in the eye and tell you it’s complicated. The year she graduated from Rada she appeared in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla; in a Brit comedy with Mackenzie Crook; as the lead in Tess of the D’Urbervilles; and as Bond girl Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace. From there, she went straight on to blockbusters Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Clash of the Titans. On her first day working on Quantum of Solaceshe filmed her death scene, lying naked for two hours on Bond’s bed, covered in black oil. It seems now that the experience gave her time to think.

Man Booker Prize 1973 / The Siege of Krishnapur by JB Farrell

Booker club: The Siege of Krishnapur
Looking back at the Booker: JG Farrell

Its unforgivingly exact portrait of the British in 19th century India makes it probably the best Booker winner I've read yet

In the mid-1970s, the Booker panel were suckers for punishment. The year after John Berger threw his award in their faces (or more accurately, threw it at the Black Panthers, knowing how much annoyance that would cause) the prize went to the equally subversive JG Farrell. At the ceremony he pointedly remarked that he was going to use the money they'd give him to research "commercial exploitation" and noted that: "Every year, the Booker brothers see their prize wash up a monster more horrid than the last."
Once again, it can only be assumed that the prize committee must have had some inkling of what was coming. The Siege Of Krishnapur might not be so explicitly Marxist as G, but as an exploration of the past and, by association, contemporary values, the book is just as incendiary, and just as uncompromising.
The siege of the fictional town of Krishnapur that Farrell describes was explicitly based on the real experiences of British subjects during the Indian rebellion of 1857. (More commonly know as "the Indian Mutiny", a semantic minefield that gives a measure of the kind of territory Farrell was charging into.)
The inspiration is a diary kept by Maria Germon, a young woman who had been through the siege of Lucknow. Farrell spins off from this to give an account not so much of the military tactics and feats of daring associated with warfare as day-to-day life under siege conditions. As such it's a dazzling success. The sights and smells of the siege are vividly conjured. The stench of putrefaction permeates all the later stages of the book, while horrific observations like those about carrion birds so bloated on corpses they ignore the huge piles of sheep offal festering inside the town are deliberately made to feel mundane, as is the stark fact that everyone is growing visibly thinner by the day.
Troubles is the first in JG Farrell's (above) trilogy on the British empire, which also includes The Siege of Krishnapur and The Singapore Grip. Photograph: Jane Bown

Equally effective is the exploration of how and why these starched Victorians start to wilt, and where their breaking point lies. Farrell mercilessly strips his characters of their defences and batters their values with something approaching glee. Here's how he describes the decline of the town's leader, the Collector: "From the farmyard in which his certitudes perched like fat chickens, every night of the siege, one or two were carried off in the jaws of rationalism and despair."
Farrell said that he wanted to show "yesterday reflected in today's consciousness", but by association, of course, he also holds a glass up to the modern world. His comically detailed descriptions of various residents' losses of faith - coupled with their outlandish religious beliefs and the way they adhere to now discredited theories like phrenology - forces us into a hard look at the accepted wisdom of the modern world (say, the immediacy of global warming, or the need to worship Radiohead). I for one felt a shudder of new uncertainty.

Then, there is colonialism. When the audiobook of The Siege Of Krishnapur came out in 2005, a writer in the Sunday Times said: "A novel set in India in 1857, the year of the Mutiny, in which the points of view of the Indians are almost nonexistent, would be unlikely to win the Man Booker prize these days." That's perhaps worthy of a debate in itself, but it's the accusation against Farrell that interests me: the idea that, as the reviewer went on, he was guilty of "cultural imbalance". I don't buy this line at all. The fact that Indians (with the rule-proving exception of a westernised maharajah's son) are so peripheral to the action speaks volumes about the attitude of the British colonialists squirming and struggling under Farrell's microscope, not to mention the way colonialism dehumanises and brutalises the oppressor and the oppressed.

It also provokes an uncomfortable recognition about the way we still think about our colonial past. It's the fact that The Siege of Krishanpur provokes such edgy, unsettling ideas that makes me think it would be unlikely to triumph in the Booker Prize in "these days" of safe and stodgy winners, rather than any misdirected political correctness.
Finally, reading over this post, I realise that its somewhat heavy overview seriously distorts the reading experience of The Siege Of Krishnapur. This is (with the exception of a very few longeurs) an admirably smooth and light read, after all.
Yes, as Farrell himself said, it's "a novel of ideas", but it's one that he also noted can be read "as an adventure story". The book is gripping, not to mention hilarious. Jokes fly as thick and fast as the musket balls aimed at the defenders of Krishnapur, but hit their target far more regularly.
After a while it gets so that Farrell only has to mention a character's name to provoke laughter (especially Fleury, as those who have read the book will recognise). One line of dialogue at the climax of the siege really did bring tears to my eyes (a rare event), so perfect is it in its understatement and absurdity... To say more would spoil it. You'll just have to read the book if you want to know what I'm banging on about. And if you do, I'm sure you won't regret it. I'm tempted to say that this is the best Booker winner I've read so far.

Man Booker Prize 1972 / B by John Berger

John Berger


Booker Club: G

Looking back at the Booker: John Berger

Few young men were angrier than John Berger on his victory. But although G.'s anger is rather outdated, its energy and invention remains alive.

Sam Jordison
Wed 9 Jan 2008

During its first few years, the Booker had drawn some press interest thanks to its comparatively large prize fund (£5,000), high calibre winners like VS Naipaul, and the presence of big hitters like John Fowles and Saul Bellow among its judges. All the same, until 1972, it was still very much in its infancy and received nothing like the media frenzy that surrounds today's award. It came of age rapidly, however, thanks to the political controversy provoked by that year's victor John Berger.
The Booker, you see, had a dirty little (open) secret. Its sponsors, Booker McGonnall, had garnered much of their wealth, as Berger related in his acceptance speech, from 130 years of trading in the Caribbean. "The modern poverty of the Caribbean is the direct result of this and similar exploitation," he said. He also later told everyone that he was going to give half his prize money to the Black Panthers - who were, as he explained, "the black movement with the socialist and revolutionary perspective that I find myself most in agreement with in this country". Right on!
Contemporary columnists huffed and puffed about this "kick in the teeth", labelled Berger a "literary thug" and generally described his decision as a Very Bad Thing. All the same, while it might not have been very good for its sponsors, the speech certainly garnered the prize some beneficial publicity and controversial interest.
In partial defence of Berger, another question is also pertinent: what else might the committee have expected in giving a platform to a man known fondly - even in 1972 - as "our one and only Marxist critic"? And what else, indeed, might they have expected from the author of a book as radical as their chosen winner, G.?
G. is the name that Berger gives - or rather, doesn't - to his "principal protagonist", the rich son of an Italian canned fruit merchant. G. is a libertine and a dilettante, and the determinedly non-linear narrative describes him being conceived under sordid conditions. In turn, we see his heartless raids on the the beds of women across Europe (including relatives), and his uninterest in great political events and movements of history. Eventually, he has something of an awakening and, instead of watching a rioting mob in first world war Trieste pass with his usual sardonic indifference, plunges into the middle of it. He is killed almost immediately for his trouble.
G.'s journey into class consciousness, coupled with the frequent demonstrations of how the old European order was to be washed away by great tides of dissatisfied workers and trampled under the march of technology, could hardly be a more blatant attempt to demonstrate Marxist principles - all of which gives the books the feeling of a lecture - and a dated lecture at that. Given the fact that imminent environmental apocalypse seems to have trumped class inequality as the most pressing political issue today, Berger's revolutionary advocacy reads as quaintly as a discourse on the qualities of lignin or the way the sun travels around the earth. An interesting curiosity, but hardly a pressing concern.
John Berger

That's not to say, however, that even those allergic to Das Kapital-influenced homilies won't find plenty of value in G. - plenty, in fact, that remains urgent and radical. Berger has more than enough charisma and style to make up for any perceived deficiencies of theme and, like the best lecturers, is able to keep us with him by force of eloquence alone. He is not, as Francis Hope unkindly put it back in 1972, "inhibited by the fear of being pretentious". But for me, at least, his determination to experiment ,and readiness to expound complicated ideas make G. all the more interesting.
And it remains a live influence. Michael Ondaatje, most notably, seems to have learned an awful lot from this book, both in terms of its fractured narrative techniques and the way the fleshy frailty of human characters is so exposed by the technology of the early modern age.
Berger also shares Ondaatje's ability to produce wonderful set pieces. G. is worth reading just for its vertiginous description of the first crossing of the Alps by plane, its crushing examples of the first world war's futile slaughter and a barnstorming rendition of the Milan riots of 1898. The latter scene culminates in a suave refusal to finish describing the slaughter because stopping where he does is "to admit more of the truth". Of course, the space Berger leaves here is even more eloquent of confusion and chaos for the reader prepared to put in the imaginary work. It's a neat sleight of hand and similar clever little tricks abound in G. Sometimes, however, such metatextual interruptions are irritating. Try to read the following without groaning:
"I must emphasise that I have used the word 'play' as a metaphor so we can appreciate the essentially artificial, symbolic, exemplary and spectacular nature of the occasion."
Fortunately, more often, these authorial throat-clearings and finger-pointings enrich the text. Even the sample quoted above moves on to a vivid evocation of the very physical aspects of a hunt. Perhaps surprisingly for a writer so easily caricatured as a dry Marxist theoretician, Berger excels in such sensual descriptions. For all its high-minded experimentation and self-conscious stylistic quirks, this book remains firmly grounded in the physical world. In fact, G. is probably most memorable for its virtuoso descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells of a lost world. As such it's a rich and pleasurable reading experience, as well as an admirably uncompromising, not to mention provocative intellectual challenge.
More kudos, then, to the early Booker judges, whose choice was again far more daring than recent victors ... even if that meant the prize-giving was a bit of a mess.