SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: David Hockney says smoking cigarettes could protect against coronavirus…


Acclaimed as our greatest living artist, David Hockney is keen to share his opinions on the worldwide health crisis. 

The 82-year-old painter is convinced that smoking helps protect against coronavirus. And he’s written a letter to the Daily Mail to argue his case. 

Hockney suggests ‘smokers have developed an immune system to this virus’. 

He points to research in China that appeared to show there were fewer smokers being treated with Covid-19 in hospitals than their numbers among the general population would suggest. 

Writing from his home in Normandy, France, he says: ‘With all these figures coming out, it’s beginning to look like that to me.’ 

He adds: ‘I’m serious.’ His claims contradict the medical establishment, which has asserted that smokers find it harder to recover from the virus. 

David Hockney (pictured in 2008), 82, is convinced that smoking helps protect against coronavirus. And he’s written a letter to the Daily Mail to argue his case

Just last month, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘It is abundantly clear from the research into previous coronaviruses that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse.’ T

his echoed the advice of Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, who advised: ‘If you are going to give up smoking, this is a very good moment to do it.’ 

However, Hockney has never been one to accept the consensus when it comes to smoking and said the Americans’ censorious attitude to cigarettes was one of the reasons why he moved to France last year.

‘I’ve smoked for more than 60 years, but I think I’m quite healthy,’ he said. ‘How much longer do I have? I’m going to die of either a smoking-related illness or a non-smoking-related illness.’ 

Pictured: Paramedics take a patient into St Thomas' Hospital in London last week

Pictured: Paramedics take a patient into St Thomas’ Hospital in London last week 

He took up the habit as an art student in Bradford. His father Kenneth was a militant anti-smoker. Hockney’s contrariness could be seen as part of his anti-authoritarian streak. 

He once had some badges made emblazoned with the words: ‘End bossiness soon.’ 

He added the ‘soon’ because he thought ‘now’ would sound bossy. 

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Rich donors flock to back Wills and Kate 

While the Royal Family are stuck in lockdown like the rest of us, they’re busy trying to help behind the scenes. 

I can reveal the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have teamed up with a string of wealthy benefactors to help charities who are supporting those leading the fight against coronavirus. 

Prince William and Kate have been approached in recent weeks by a series of donors, who have offered cash to the pair’s Royal Foundation, which will hand out grants to good causes.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the Royal Variety Performance at the Palladium Theatre, London, UK, on the 18th November 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend the Royal Variety Performance at the Palladium Theatre, London, UK, on the 18th November 2019

‘Under William and Kate’s direction, the foundation has spent the past two weeks speaking to charities and groups who support emergency service workers,’ a source tells me. 

‘They’re working with a number of donors who have offered support.

‘William and Kate are keen to ensure it goes to the services who really need it most.’ 

Cavell Nurses’ Trust and The Care Workers’ Charity are thought to be among the groups to which the Royal Foundation is reaching out. 

It is hoped that grants will be awarded to some charities ‘very soon’ to help them roll out extra services. 

The source adds: ‘Kate and William both realise help is needed quickly for many of these organisations.’ 

The Prince is believed to be particularly worried about the mental health strain that fighting Covid-19 is having on NHS staff and their families. 

The future King has spoken of the impact that his former job as an Air Ambulance pilot had on his well being.

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Lily’s big ambition

For A big-screen debut, Lily Allen is aiming high. 

I hear she’s been cast as Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Caitlin Moran’s book How To Build A Girl.

Lily Allen, pictured, is set to star as Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Caitlin Moran’s book How To Build A Girl

Lily Allen, pictured, is set to star as Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor in the film version of Caitlin Moran’s book How To Build A Girl

‘Lily can’t be accused of lacking ambition,’ says my man with the clapperboard. 

Moran’s semi-autobiographical bestseller tells the story of a 16-year-old extrovert from Wolverhampton who yearns to make a name for herself and answers an advert seeking ‘hip young gunslinger’ journalists for a cool London music magazine. 

Lily, the daughter of actor Keith Allen, appears as double-Oscar winner Taylor in the teenage character’s imagination. 

The film’s co-producer just happens to be Lily’s mother, Alison Owen.

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She can work it out: I hear Sir Paul McCartney’s sister-in-law is making a vital contribution to the fight against coronavirus.

‘My links to the NHS have never gone away,’ Macca’s brother, Mike McGear, tells me. 

Their mother was a nurse who died aged 47.

‘My wife, Rowena, who usually makes beautiful wedding dresses, is now making scrubs for the NHS.’

And Mike’s band, The Scaffold, have reformed to release a new version of their 1967 hit Thank U Very Much, in aid of the NHS. 

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I would be MasterChuffed to be a grandad, says Gregg 

Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace, who became a father again just last year, hopes to be a grandpa, too. 

And he’s already had a word with his son Tom, 26.

Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace, pictured, who became a father again just last year, hopes to be a grandpa, too

Masterchef presenter Gregg Wallace, pictured, who became a father again just last year, hopes to be a grandpa, too

‘When we were celebrating his birthday I said to him: “What about a grandson?” Because he’s been with his girlfriend — who he met at university — for a while. But I don’t think either of them are quite ready yet.’ 

Four-times married Wallace, 55, adds: ‘There won’t be a lot of difference between me being a grandad and a dad. I do have cardigans and the complete set of Winnie-The-Pooh books, so I’m ready.’

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Was David Bowie really a musical genius? 

The pop chameleon owed his Eighties resurgence to Nile Rodgers, the hit-making producer claims. 

‘If you take away what I did on Let’s Dance…purrrlease. I mean it would be totally different; he wrote a folk song! That’s not arranging; I rewrote Let’s Dance,’ claims Rodgers who also sprinkled his chart-topping magic on hits by Madonna and Duran Duran. 

‘And in today’s world, you get credit for that…everything on that Bowie album, I’d be a 50 per cent writer.’ Perhaps Rodgers will beseech Bowie’s widow Iman for a chunk of the star’s £80million estate?

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How mystic Sir Michael foresaw 9/11 

Not a lot of people know this…Sir Michael Caine is enjoying a thrilling lockdown. 

The veteran actor is penning his debut novel, at the grand old age of 87. 

‘I’m writing a thriller,’ he reveals. ‘All I can tell you about it is that it’s called If You Don’t Want To Die. ‘I’ve never written fiction before; I’ve always written autobiographical books.’ 

Veteran actor Sir Michael Caine is penning his debut novel, at the grand old age of 87

Veteran actor Sir Michael Caine is penning his debut novel, at the grand old age of 87

Caine abandoned work on a novel 19 years ago after he unwittingly predicted the World Trade Center attacks in New York. 

‘I had this plot where terrorists fly a plane into a London skyscraper,’ he explained at the time. ‘Then they did it in real life. ‘I was stunned by that, so I stopped writing.’

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Dame Joan Bakewell is determined not to let lockdown spoil her birthday tomorrow. 

‘I’ll be doing a good deal of “Zooming” with my family,’ she says of the video platform.

‘I was due to be in Florence with them for Easter but that was cancelled.’ 

Baroness Bakewell, who will be 87, adds: ‘If we weren’t in lockdown I’d certainly have a drink with friends, but I’ll have to let that wait.’ 

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