John Banville: My twin, lost and found

I did this not with the intention of hiding behind a pen name – although nowadays I ask myself wistfully if I wasn’t foolish in thus letting pass an opportunity for a little light entertainment, low-jinks, shall we say, at the expense of my readers – but merely to indicate that I was trying my hand at something different, and that as Benjamin Black I would indeed be writing straightforward mystery novels, if that’s not too much of an oxymoron. Prague Nights by Benjamin Black(Penguin/Viking) is out now. Therefore it was, from the outset, a lark. The first was that I had begun to read the work of Georges Simenon, which had been drawn to my attention by the English political philosopher John Gray, a long-time admirer of the great Belgian’s superb novels, especially those which didn’t feature Inspector Maigret, and which the author referred to as his romans durs, his “hard novels”. I’m an actor acting the role of who I am, or of the person I should like to be taken for, and all the world before me is a stage. For as long as I can remember, which by now is a long time, I have suspected that I was conceived as one of a pair of twins, and that my brother – for surely it was a brother – died at birth and no one told me. None of us, of course, is a singular entity. It’s perfectly possible that this is so, since my mother was strongly averse to speaking of anything to do with the messy business of sex and reproduction, and would have preferred to let me grow up in ignorance than to have had to explain to me that I was hauled into the world cheek-by-jowl with tragedy and loss. I was astonished to discover what wonders Simenon could and did achieve by way of a plainer-than-plain prose style, a restricted vocabulary, unfussy narrative, undramatic dialogue, and an eye that was cool yet always sympathetic, or at least empathetic. Worried that my readers might suspect I was playing a tiresome postmodernist literary trick on them, I decided to write this new kind of fiction – new to me, that is – under a pseudonym. This assertion, too, is foolish, I know, since BB doesn’t exist in any sense of the word as we commonly understand it. I blame television, and Georges Simenon; …

In a Word . . . Needy

They were so attentive to one another and the teenagers’ responses so warm, it seemed unlikely they were a family. There’s a type of person I know who I dread to meet in company. Then it becomes tedious. Related to the Dutch noodig, German nothig, Old Norse nauðigr. Better to drown. Indulge. Meanwhile, our attention-seeking companion went on and on. You know the sort. inaword@irishtimes.com Who needs such imprisonment? It is only for a while. He/she is deeply insecure. But then I know why. Not too long ago a group of us were on a ferry and, while we sailed, there was little comfort offered by the noisy parting waters as the company was hogged by the needy, attention-seeking antics of one such. It is similar when it comes to the tragedies of their lives. In such situations I have attempted all sorts of rationalisations. It never works. Get tipsy. To distract myself I pondered whether a young couple nearby were parents of the two teenage kids they were with. I fantasised that if the ferry sank, with just one lifeboat launched, and I was in the water and this person tried to pull me on board I would resist. When pinned and wriggling by the crucifying boredom, try a “yes”or a “sure” or a false guffaw to get through. All of the time. But in company he/she must compete for that attention and everyone’s else’s. Always. From the noun need plus adjectival suffix -y. And how. It can be exhausting and deeply irritating. He/she must have experienced some great deprivation of affection or trauma as a child and cannot help him/herself. Because he/she must always be at the very centre of everyone’s attention. Needy, from the later 12th century Middle English neodi, meaning “poor, indigent”. They have a litany of hilarious disasters to suit every occasion and which excel those of all others in the company. Pretend to listen. Possibly one was their parent with a new partner or maybe an uncle/aunt taking them on a trip. Peculiarly, such meetings are not so bad, one to one. When it is one to one, he/she has my full attention. Until you realise these seemingly carefully choreographed tales are just that and have one purpose and one purpose only, to hog the attention of those present. Usually. It can drive you to desperation.

Poldark returns: what next for Cornwall’s bare-chested hero?

(Think I’m exaggerating? Poldark is on BBC1 on Sunday 11 June at 9pm. The other brother, Sam Carne (played by Tom York), seems less likely to get involved in The Great Torso Contest as he is “a charismatic Methodist minister”. This series is based on books five and six of the original Poldark saga, the 1973 novel The Black Moon and the first half of The Four Swans, published in 1976. This season the services of a decoy torso have been enlisted in the shape of Demelza’s hot younger brother, Blake Carne (Australian actor Harry Richardson). Ross and Demelza were struggling financially, came to blows over Ross’s obsession with Elizabeth and finally reconciled, albeit not very believably. Cue another outbreak of Poldark fever sparked by Ross Poldark’s semi-naked scything. The on-off romance between the aristocratic Caroline Penvenen and the down-to-earth doctor Dwight Enys was a focal point of the last series. This is a slight departure from the previous two series that swallowed up two books per series. Is there any hope for the doomed romance between Sindy doll-lookalike Caroline Penvenen and scurvy expert Dr Dwight Enys? But this is Cornwall; anything is possible. In series two, Demelza had had enough of Ross running off to Elizabeth, while viewers had had enough of him by the time the controversial was-it-rape-or-not scene was aired. “With you beside me, whatever life sends …” “We can face it.” Ross is finishing Demelza’s sentences in the trailer. But Eleanor Tomlinson has hinted that Demelza’s loyalty to Ross will be severely tested, thanks to the arrival of Lieutenant Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse, as seen in Northern Soul). Now all that is forgotten and everything is rosy. (But don’t panic, Poldark fans, the end is nowhere near in sight. The shirt’s coming off Only this time it’s not Ross Poldark stripping. Poldark itself pulls in around 5m viewers.) But where can they go after all the twists and turns of the first two series? And can Team Poldark pull off a third outing following the Turbulent Second Series. Bergerac is back! Can that last for long? All signs indicate that this twin narrative will continue in the new series, although there are several key new characters to shake things up. So what’s next? Gabriella Wilde (Caroline) and Luke Norris (Enys) have both signed up for this series, as has Bergerac, sorry, John Nettles, sorry Caroline’s Uncle …

I Am a Bird review: A bruising encounter in which bodies are torn asunder

Theatre Upstairs, Dublin *** In one ghoulish moment in Ross Gaynor’s bruised but tender-hearted play for The Breadcrumb Trail, the speaker of his finely wrought monologue recalls the grisly aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London. (As a consequence, perhaps, some unexpurgated karaoke renditions are over-indulged.) Referencing Plato’s myth on the splitting apart of humans into two halves, and the loss of a third sex, Gaynor transforms again into an androgynous self, ruminating, with believable uncertainty, on becoming transgender and ever becoming whole. His next persona, a preening drag-act inspired by Donna Summer, is introduced as he describes moving to Brighton with his partner Alex, for some respite that only breeds abandon and tensions. But it is, nonetheless, a play full of swift, involving ideas and deep personal feeling, describing how both societies and individuals might come together or fall apart. But Gaynor’s play, which is never shy on vivid detail, is an equally poetic meditation on how bodies can be torn asunder. An Irish nurse working in an emergency ward, played by Gaynor, he describes scooping up limbs from the hospital floor, now burned and charred like “blackened wings”. Although he deplores the hatred and extremism of violent action, of all those bodies ripped apart, this torment of identity has him lurch towards extreme self-destruction, a tragedy more inclined to shock than move. Indeed, many things are a performance in Gaynor’s play, directed as a kind of dark cabaret confession by Karl Shiels, in which everything from Irishness to gender is an evolving act. Split, pointedly, into three parts, it begins as a parody of masculinity, opening with a karaoke cover of the Boss, before describing a Blanchardstown childhood, the fleeting promise of a football career, and the winding road to London instead. Standing at a butterfly microphone, in the denim, sleeveless T-shirt and bandana of Bruce Springsteen, Gaynor’s speaker begins with the fractured, first-hand account of a later hate crime, which tears through this story like shrapnel. Runs until Jun 17 Even without the heightened sensitivity following recent attacks in London, Manchester, Baghdad and Tehran, the searing image of such carnage, so horribly real, would be difficult to shake. But modest details are more affecting: the cruel casualness of taking someone for granted; the aftershock of terror; the theatricality of recriminations and remorse. “Have you ever sucked the life from someone?” he asks us. “Sucked their soul out …

Taylor Swift’s music returns to streaming services

Subscribers to Spotify, Google Play and Amazon Music can now stream the artist’s entire library, including her most recent album 1989, in an abrupt about-turn from her previous stance against free streaming services. Everything has changed: Taylor Swift’s back catalogue has reappeared on streaming services. The move ostensibly celebrates a twin milestone for Swift: her 10 millionth sale of 1989, and her certification from the RIAA for selling 100 million songs. That’s what her social media accounts would have you believe, anyway: London Grammar: ‘We learned certain things the hard way’ Bobby Osborne shows his thoroughbred credentials Phoenix offer succour in response to benighted times NO TAYLOR YOU ARE NOT ABOUT TO DO THIS TO KATY YOU 🐍 🐍 https://t.co/jLSQnZDjft— Karl Palenkas (@KarlPalenkas) June 9, 2017 Spotify about-turn The move also comes following an about-turn from Spotify: the company finally caved to the record industry’s demands to allow limiting new albums to paid-for subscribers only. That attack ultimately worked, convincing Apple to pay royalties after all, and led to a strong partnership between the two: 1989 appeared on Apple Music from its launch, and Swift has appeared in adverts for the service to boot. The move was made as part of a broad attack on free streaming services, with Swift writing in an opinion column for the Wall Street Journal that “music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. In a statement celebrating the presence of 1989 on its service, Amazon Music chief Steve Boom said: “We love Taylor and we’re happy to have 1989 now on Amazon Music for all fans to stream and enjoy.” – (Guardian Service) Taylor Swift first pulled her back catalogue from streaming services in 2014, ahead of the release of 1989. Swift’s rival Katy Perry (subject of the song Bad Blood, sample lyric: “Still got scars in my back from your knives”) has her new album coming out on Friday. Its previous insistence on identical terms for free and paid subscribers had earned it the brunt of Swift’s ire, with the artist pulling not just her newest album from the service, but her entire back catalogue. I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of …

Six of the best films to see this weekend

Just when you think you’re watching a variation on The Parent Trap, the film wanders away from big strings and melodrama. Now jollied along by the 70-strong Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, its key horrors and delights – an owl in the moonlight, a midget presiding over a cockfight, a secret lover buried alive – are all the more searing. Sure enough, it knocks Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman into a cocked cowl. Or have lived with a dog. It is unencumbered with DC “Easter eggs”. The Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation and its partners spent more than a year restoring the original colours and intertitles to a film that, since its 1921 heyday, had faded and degraded almost beyond recognition. He gives them round, expressive eyes, framed by reddened rims that speak to their continuing stress. Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya Gadot stars as an Amazon super-woman who helps Pine’s agent defeat the Germans during (in questionable taste) the first World War. Starring Florence Pugh, Cosmo Jarvis, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie,Christopher Fairbank Stirring, kinetic adaption of Nikolia Leskov’s 1865 novella Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk, concerning a young woman who fights back violently after being sold into a loveless marriage. Pugh, who made such an unforgettable debut in Carol Morley’s The Falling, is remarkable as the variously carnal, ruthless, suffering, pitiable, monstrous anti-heroine. 12A cert, gen release, 140 min DC DESTINY ★★★★★ Fritz Lang’s Destiny Directed by Fritz Lang. PG cert, gen release, 100 min TB LADY MACBETH ★★★★★ Directed by William Oldroyd. The film is a beautifully balanced, visual marvel. Oldroyd relocates the stort to Northumberland with windy, effective results. Against all odds, this translates into a warm, family-friendly entertainment, particularly for those who live with a dog. The bickering, especially between Ryota and his suspicious sister, is keenly observed. 16 cert, Triskel, Cork, 89 min TB MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE/ MA VIE DE COURGETTE ★★★★★ My Life as a Courgette Directed by Claude Barras. Starring Hiroshi Abe, Kirin Kiki, Yoko Maki The great Japanese director returns with the story of a broken marriage and its effects on children. PG cert, IFI, Dublin, 118 min TB A DOG’S PURPOSE ★★★ Bright bark Britt Robertson and KJ Apa in A Dog’s Purpose Directed by Lasse Hallström. As ever, the director has fashioned a lovely, appealing, lightly comic film that …

The realities of independent publishing in Ireland

The industry message was clear: Liberties are an “outlier”, with most Irish-based operations paying royalties on time, without issue. My intention isn’t to refute their claims – there are many things that publishing, and indeed the publishing industry at large, could do better – my purpose is to simply follow Ryan’s lead, and give an honest account of how things in this sector happen, but from an oft-neglected perspective, that of the fledging independent press. This is where the big houses maintain control, ensuring pride of place on O’Connell Street and Patrick’s Street. I do it for the same reason underpaid writers write – we see the value in literature, and we are determined to make it happen A compelling piece by Martin Doyle and Freya McClements in The Irish Times gathered responses from other Irish writers, many of whom expressed a lack of empathy for publishers. Maybe this is a privilege that has allowed me to pursue projects like New Binary Press, but it took me a decade’s worth of education to get to where I am, and if you think creative writing is difficult, you should give academia’s publish-or-perish model a spin. Before you get into any of the other costs that go into transforming writing into a book, you’re already looking at a profit of only €3.20. The press has published eight print titles to date, mostly poetry, so we’re looking at very limited numbers. The figures he outlined were telling: a “bestseller” could be established with as few as 300 copies sold. Independent publishing in Ireland has suffered a great many casualties in recent years, and that is arguably a consequence of our country having more writers than it does readers – we receive more submissions than we sell books. Whenever they placed an order, it was money upfront, with no returns. But authors are entitled to more than just royalties for their books – readings, guest lectures, journal submissions, interviews; these are all activities that demand time of people whose art is their profession. Fortunately, I have a full-time job in academia that is secure and rewarding. He is also a published poet, having appeared in journals such as The SHOp, Southword, and Cyphers. It’s one thing to publish a book, it’s an entirely different feat to have it on prominent display behind some glass on the high street. Right now, Ireland has many of …

BBC rejected Waiting for Godot as ‘too Irish’

For the first time, people could listen to a distant speaker in the privacy of their homes. He represents this as not only a journey into the world, but also as a journey into language. WB Yeats explains that he wrote his late poem Sweet Dancer for a 1937 BBC programme, making it perhaps the first Irish radio poem. When Seán Ó Faoláin wrote a programme on Irish literature for Schools Broadcasting during the second World War, the producers at BBC Northern Ireland were reluctant to broadcast it unless they could be reassured that Yeats had personally recommended Ó Faoláin. He says that hearing Magee’s voice inspired him to write Krapp’s Last Tape, which he originally called Magee Monologue. When I began researching in the BBC archives I was surprised both by the number of Irish writers who turn up and at the ways they credit the radio medium with shaping not only what they write, but how they write. Earlier generations of Irish writers, including WB Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen, Louis MacNiece and Samuel Beckett, describe similar experiences beginning in the 1930s. Her book The Wireless Past: Anglo-Irish Writers and the BBC, 1931-1968 was published by Oxford University Press in 2016 Early on, the BBC became an imaginary homeland for those Irish writers who felt increasingly disconnected from the new Irish Free State and yet who wanted to write works that reached Irish listeners. In Seamus Heaney’s 1995 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he credited an unusual source for his early immersion in poetry. Heaney began his speech with an image from his childhood, in which he described sitting on the arm of a sofa in his family’s farmhouse in Northern Ireland, listening to a radio broadcaster announcing news of the second World War: “I had to get close to the actual radio set in order to concentrate my hearing, and in that intent proximity to the dial I grew familiar with the names of foreign stations, with Leipzig and Oslo and Stuttgart and Warsaw and, of course, with Stockholm,” Heaney said. Over the years, the BBC’s sound waves crossed the Irish Sea and permeated Irish homes while at the same time writers such as Yeats, Bowen, MacNeice and Beckett, but also Denis Johnston, WR Rodgers, Ó Faoláin, Frank O’Connor and Brendan Behan wrote and produced radio plays and features for the BBC. Louis MacNeice began writing parables under the influence …

Provisionals and dissidents, in their own words

I spent almost an entire day with Ruairí Ó Brádaigh who then, in order to get his exercise, walked with me to the train station in Roscommon; presumably my questions were a welcome relief as he recovered from a horrible automobile accident. Like them or hate them, the transformation of the Provisionals is an important story for understanding contemporary Irish politics. Out of the Ashes presents the oral histories of the middle-aged men who created the Provisional IRA in 1969 and “Provisional” Sinn Féin in 1970 along with the oral histories of the younger men and women who transformed the Provisionals into a fully constitutional political party. Others, many of whom were founding members, like Ó Brádaigh, disagreed with the political direction the Provisionals took in 1986 and left for Republican Sinn Féin; some of them also created the Continuity IRA. Many people, like Martin McGuinness, joined the Provisionals and remained involved for the rest of their lives. The Provisionals were not all saints and scholars but they were also not all criminals and thugs as portrayed by some in the media. I am an objective, social scientist, observer. Out of the Ashes tells the story of the most important transformation in Irish politics in the last 50 years from the perspective of those who lived it. Ireland is filled with ex-Provisionals who found jobs as community workers, health service professionals, teachers and so on. I’ll always remember John Joe McGirl saying to me, “If Joe says you’re okay, you’re okay”. There have also been many people who joined the Provisionals and over time drifted away, or “disengaged”. In 1997, another group of Provisionals, including senior activists like Phil O’Donoghue and Joe Dillon, disagreed with the compromises embedded in the Mitchell Principles and left for the 32 County Sovereignty Movement; the Real IRA was created at this time, too. Oral histories collected after 2005 offer insight on a variety of issues, including “Who won the war?” Perhaps most controversial, these accounts show that people joined the Provisionals because they wanted to help build a better Ireland. Gerry Adams’s introduction of Martin Galvin gave the crowd a flash of his charisma; the RUC killed John Downes with a plastic bullet. Out of the Ashes may be controversial, but not like Ed Moloney’s Voices From the Grave. My academic journey has never really ended. The best approach to understanding how Bloody Sunday …

Bridging the age gap: a feminist faces her family

A week later my dad mocks me for my yappy tendencies on another panel. She says: if only I’d met you 60 years ago. She has not disowned me after my snarkiness about the eighth amendment. We are talking about feminism and Irishness and political writing. They genuinely believe that rape victims should automatically love their unwanted children. We are young, ranging from late 20s to early 40s. She will buy my book, not just because we are family but because she is interested. She restores my faith in Ireland. She wants to know more. It takes me longer to think of myself as such. She is 84, and both a “serious Catholic” and “serious feminist” according to my father. They all speak with such longing for what they view as the freedom and ease of the present day that I can’t bring myself to tell them that such freedom is still up in the air I am reading last, of the three of us, a thing that fills me with fear. They genuinely believe that we have a kind world that supports unwanted, unloved, un-financially-supported, un-medically-viable children. I remember: my parents do not do pity. He has seen her, and the way she does the thing that Irish Catholics are best at, which is à la carte Catholicism. Sinéad speaks about being surprised at being thought of a “political writer” and I nod and think, but of course she is! They all speak with such longing for what they view as the freedom and ease of the present day that I can’t bring myself to tell them that such freedom is still up in the air. Maybe because I am so conscious of the relatives watching me and hoping I won’t disgrace them. But I hear my dad laugh – the only man in the room apart from the photographer, and unapologetic for it – and it is okay. I meet my first-cousin-once-removed 10 minutes before the event. These are beautiful women I am appearing beside, and I wonder if that is objectification while at the same time wishing I was three stone lighter (I am large, I contain multitudes). I have heard about her many times but this is the first time our paths have properly crossed. We do not look it. I talk about reading Emma Donoghue in my late teens, how her work made my head …

OITNB review: Riot girls trying to get the world to care

It has also proven an involving and durable formula: like a stunned new inmate gradually becoming a seasoned hard chaw, the viewer gets to know a vast gallery of characters. The stand-off that ended the previous series is violently resolved, yet the comedy feels broader, making the cafeteria equally receptive to vigils and food fights, while characters split off in pairs to conduct roving and slight side adventures. The show quickly realised that neither this fish-out-of-water (played with willowy self-deprecation by Taylor Schilling) nor her bad-girl lover Alex (Laura Prepon) were its main attractions. Here the heft is glimpsed less often, registered mostly in the protest the black prisoners try to broadcast to an indifferent world outside. “You know women don’t riot,” one guard once assured another, but, following the death of tender-hearted tough girl Poussey, and the unchecked sadism of poorly-vetted correction officers, Litchfield Prison is now under siege by the inmates. Instead, its refreshingly diverse and expansive ensemble were the reason to watch. When Litchfield fell into private ownership and dismal conditions, just as Piper became don of her own clandestine business empire, it landed acerbic points about US capitalism. Given enough access, people do care. Orange is the New Black (Netflix, streaming now), Jenji Kohan’s comedy-drama series, now in its fifth series and guaranteed two more, has proven itself a breakout success by tending to turn inwards. That’s a shame, because at its best, OITNB has served as a canny barometer of American concerns. For that, it seems, they would need to share a much more exhaustive catalogue of their transgressions, passions, allegiances and quirks, much like OITNB. “People don’t care,” says the excellent Danielle Brooks as Taystee, the show’s conscience, shivering with the realisation that the prisoners are not seen as people. Piper, due for release in three months, does not, and so Kohan has now chosen to stretch time, spreading this series over just three days.

Sofia Boutella: ‘All Americans think they are Irish. Right?’

She was born in Algiers, the daughter of the versatile musician Safy Boutella – composer of brilliant scores such as that for Rachid Bouchareb’s Little Senegal – and of a busy architect. Why the hell do sheeps go in the f***ing road like this? She is not half-hearted in anything she does. She is so supportive. “Thank you. Those hours hoofing with Madonna on the Confessions tour didn’t go to waste. Born in 1982, the Algerian actor is, I suppose, not that young any more, but, after an initial career as a successful dancer, she is only now making louder noises in mainstream film. Though I suppose it rains all the time,” Sofia Boutella says. Sofia moved to Los Angeles many years ago, but I get the sense she’s never really had a chance to settle in. “I live where the work is,” she agrees. A mummified Sofia Boutella in, well, The Mummy It’s a good role for an ex-dancer. “Yeah, there are some similarities between the Irish and the Algerians,” she says. But you don’t meet that many who swell with character and eccentricity. Photograph: Fotonoticias/WireImage She begins wrestling with her own body. Now, opposite a breathless Tom Cruise, she plays the title character in Universal’s latest disinterment of The Mummy. ” And she’s off. Boutella looks to be an exception. Then I wanted to be join Doctors Without Borders because I had a board game based on that. Yes, it was physical,” she says. They are both still interrogating their own identities. I was terrified. Boutella, Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis at the premiere of The Mummy in Madrid. “Yeah, all Americans think they are Irish. There’s a lot of feline writhing and demonic glowering. “That’s sweet. “It’s an interesting question I have been asking myself,” she says. She was great as an alien scavenger in Star Trek Beyond. The longest I have stayed there in two years is a month and a half. The Shack review: A vision of heaven that feels like purgatory The Berlin Syndrome: Before Sunrise, but for psychos My Cousin Rachel: We ain’t saying she’s a goldigger… She initially turned down the role, but, after devising a more offbeat villain, talked herself back into it. “I drove to Kerry on the wrong side of the road for the first time. I noticed that in the people. I think I like the gypsy life. …

London Grammar: ‘We learned certain things the hard way’

“Well, because he works remotely we never actually got into a studio with him. While still fusing chilled-out trip-hop with a canny knack for insidious melodies, this time around they have made connections with heavyweight, chart-friendly producers such as Paul Epworth, Jon Hopkins and Greg Kurstin. He is by a mile the nicest man in music, and from a psychological point of view he’s so relaxed that he brings out the best in people.” Which leaves Jon Hopkins. Paul Epworth has enough self-confidence and belief in the work you’re doing to carry on well into the night, and make sacrifices to get things done “It really is like being in a room with rock stars,” she says, before outlining what each producer brought to the mixing desk. Greg Kurstin was astonishing, musically – he can play virtually any instrument and use something in a song that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought you could do. That said, the way he works is, he takes sounds that are already in the songs and then manipulates them. She said yes. Reid isn’t saying. If you’re no longer the coolest band around, then it doesn’t really matter, does it? There’s a big difference between touring and touring too much – the former is controllable, the latter isn’t. Some bands navigate the route from obscurity to success very well. Bank holiday guide: Mixed weather and a sheep shearing championship Bobby Osborne shows his thoroughbred credentials Phoenix offer succour in response to benighted times When If You Wait was released, London Grammar were viewed as the hippest band around. We’ve made sure that everything is manageable so that we can be musicians.” Hippest band around The band members met in 2009, while they were students at Nottingham University. Reid brightens up. London Grammar play Electric Picnic, September 1st-3rd “It was, definitely. The band’s music template of The xx meets James Blake meets Portishead turned their fortunes around. Yes, it was amazing – we were never chased down the street, or anything like that – but the success part was incredible. Reid’s voice drops ever so slightly. It’s one of the reasons why I’m a musician – I grew up listening to songs that meant so much to me. In touring too much, however, we learned about certain things the hard way.” “Real fans will stick with you, no matter what you experiment with, musically” It must …

Sofia Boutella: a female Mummy and Kerry sheep-scolder

I noticed that in the people. Another is stretched. She is so supportive. “Ireland is beautiful. Yes, it was physical,” she says. “Yeah, all Americans think they are Irish. Boutella talks as if speaking is about to be abolished and she must enjoy the chatter while she can. I had to adapt to what France was. She’s a woman’s woman.” The Sheehan angle Boutella began dating our own Robert Sheehan around three years ago and they have done much impressive red-carpet duty in the succeeding years. Though I suppose it rains all the time,” Sofia Boutella says. But I miss not having one place, because I have never really had that.” Well, we managed to find an Irish heritage certificate for her costar Tom Cruise when he was last here. They are totally different cultures, but there are these similarities. Performers who work closely with Ms Ciccone rarely have a bad word to say about her. Why the hell do sheeps go in the f***ing road like this? I adore Madonna. The producers of The Mummy were right to break with cultural imperialist traditions – Boris Karloff, who played The Mummy in 1932, was from Surrey; Arnold Vosloo, the 1999 incarnation, is an Afrikaner – and seek out a north African actor for the title role. Boutella looks to be an exception. “Home” is a slippery concept. There’s a lot of feline writhing and demonic glowering. I want mine.” But I haven’t really been there for two years. Photograph: Fotonoticias/WireImage She begins wrestling with her own body. Photograph: Phil Klein/Getty Images She barely pauses to deliver a parenthetical aside: “You don’t need to put that on paper if you don’t want to talk about politics. She went back and watched the 1932 version of The Mummy with Boris Karloff to get a few tips. A mummified Sofia Boutella in, well, The Mummy It’s a good role for an ex-dancer. Sofia moved to Los Angeles many years ago, but I get the sense she’s never really had a chance to settle in. She initially turned down the role, but, after devising a more offbeat villain, talked herself back into it. But it’s hard for me to keep still.” The gypsy life Boutella comes from a creative background. Now, opposite a breathless Tom Cruise, she plays the title character in Universal’s latest disinterment of The Mummy. They are both still interrogating their …