The unlikely love affair between Tracey Emin and the Prime Minister continues apace. This past week, Emin revealed how David Cameron had dragged her raffishly round a corner during a Downing Street reception and showed her a place on the wall where he wanted to hang one of her works. She has now created a neon sign for one of the busy hallways: More Passion, a £250,000 bit of "edge" that is the climax of nearly two years of devoted support.
The romance started back in 2009 after Andy Burnham, the former cabinet minister, dissed Emin at a party. She renounced her affiliation with Labour and voted Conservative for the first time in her life at the last general election. At the opening of an exhibition of her work in May this year, she claimed that the Tories were "the only hope for the arts".
I'm slightly concerned, however, that yet another of Emin's relationships is now turning abusive. What exactly is Cameron giving the creator of My Bed - a place where she spent four days in a suicidal depression after the collapse of one such disastrous relationship - in return for such corridor moments? She is certainly in denial about the Tories' love of the arts, which included a 30 per cent cut to the budget in March. In view of this, I think some other slogan of hers would have been much more fitting, and made her seem less of a victim. "Is anal sex legal?", perhaps.
And so to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the IMF who has had all criminal charges against him in New York dropped, after a chambermaid accused him of rape at a hotel. Nafissatou Diallo, a 33-year-old Guinean woman who had claimed that Strauss-Kahn attacked her when she went to clean his room, gave a vivid account of the incident in an interview last month. Hospital records confirmed that he had grabbed her so forcefully that she was still red five hours later. She also tore a ligament in her shoulder, and spat his DNA over the floor of the suite. This does not sound like a very jolly encounter by anyone's standards, but the case has been dropped because she was inaccurate and unreliable, allegedly bragging to an acquaintance that she knew what she was doing and saying that Strauss-Kahn was "so rich". Besides, she had made up this kind of porky pie before. The French politician now returns to France exonerated and free to fight another accusation of sexual assault from the 32-year-old journalist Tristane Banon.
The awful thing is that DSK is by no means the only villain in Diallo's life just now. Her lawyer Kenneth Thompson is a fast-talking showboater who snapped up her case within hours of her leaving the hotel. He turned her trial into a circus, issuing dramatic statements to the press in the street, allowing his client to give flaky interviews in an unconventional attempt to correct misinformation. The American justice system became a French farce.I'm pretty sure that when Diallo left Guinea in the hope of a more civilised life, she did not envisage this.
As A-level grades rolled in, columnists scrambled to prove that the good results were overrated. The Guardian writer Charlie Brooker claimed that he flunked his degree and had "shit-all" in the way of qualifications; others boasted that they had missed out on higher education. I under-stand the sentiment - you can land a megabucks dream job with a single GCSE - but such anti-intellectualism from journalists seems unhelpful now that children are ditching school to raid the nearest branch of Foot Locker. The least we can do is encourage hard work and a genuine interest in education, in the hope that they might think it cool to follow our example.
It's all a bit academic
The Titian-haired academic Catherine Hakim has written a book on the topic of "erotic capital" - a theory that encourages women to monetise their hotness in a way that Hugh Hefner would surely applaud. Hakim has based her research on prostitutes in Indonesia who demand cash upfront for turning tricks. Their catchphrase "No money, no honey" inspired the title of her book. The suggestion that western women should emulate the lotus delights of central Jakarta's ping-pong arcade has met with fury and derision this side of the Pacific. This is partly because the book is a mess of assumptions and peculiar claims, but also because no one has a clue what erotic capital is. Hakim seems to think it is a mixture of things, some of them sexual and some of them not. Most other women assume it means sleeping with the boss. Men have no idea, thinking it is either Paris or Amsterdam, or maybe Bangkok.
Hakim has made the academic's mistake of applying rules to something entirely ungovernable, illogical, temporary and subjective, just like David Starkey blaming the riots on rap. As soon as they leave their libraries and stop barking at books, they are unable to function in ordinary debate about music, fashion or sex. There was a reason why Isaac Newton never got laid.
Lost lingo, hidden talent
For those lamenting the loss of outdated words such as "wittol" and "charabanc" - words meaning a man who puts up with an unfaithful wife and motorbus which are, among others, being retired from the smaller Collins dictionaries - I bring you a new verb: "to trev".In an entertaining account of understudying for Ian McKellen during a global tour of King Lear, David Weston, a jobbing actor and RSC understudy, writes that the director Trevor Nunn has a "trademark" bear hug. "I was being Treved," writes Weston as he is unexpectedly encircled in Nunn's faded denim embrace. And, reading his riotous account, which includes detailed descriptions of Lear's mad nude scene, I feel compelled to propose another expression: "an Ian". "His magnificent manhood dangles in the dusty Clapham air," writes Weston, of one of the rehearsals.
Camilla Long is a writer for the Sunday Times