Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Suave, refined - what's not to like?

Montgomery is among the finest proprietors of modern times. It isn't only his ability to produce papers with a greatly reduced staff that marks him out as so special. It isn't even his warmth and mesmeric charm, nor the absolute trustworthiness of any assurances he may give about his future intentions (in this, he is as reliable as Rupert Murdoch). What makes him such a total joy is his refined sense of self-irony.

Once, when he was running the Mirror Group, I rang to ask after the break-up of one of his marriages - not something I'd have dreamt of doing with almost anyone except an erstwhile News of the World editor running some very prurient papers. The next day, the Mirror Group's top lawyer called for a chat. David, he pointed out, fervently hoped nothing would appear in print obliging him to take legal action over what he would regard as a gross invasion of his privacy. The previous Sunday's People had carried long-lens shots of Anthea Turner sunbathing topless on a rock in the Aegean. How can you not love a man with such an ungodly gift for teasing himself? The Zeitung staff want to come to their senses, and look forward to a future both orange and golden.

WHAT A sensational flirt that Jenni Murray is. Jenni's interview with Jamie Oliver on Woman's Hour last week crackled with sexual static like a scene from Basic Insinct. Jamie, on the show to talk about school dinners and make her a pasta dish, was wontedly modest and immune to the lure of name-dropping. ("I spoke to Ruth a week ago," he said. "Yeah, Ruth Kelly.") But Jenni ... well, you've never heard simpering like it in all your puff. "Absolutely gorgeous," was her conclusion. She never did say what she thought of the pasta, but what a coquettish minx the old girl is.

PERSISTENT CHATTER about The Spectator continues to fascinate. If his old schoolmate David Cameron becomes Tory leader and gives Boris Johnson a major front-bench portfolio, this might be the natural moment for him to slip away, citing pressure of political work. If so, the word is that Geordie Greig is "being groomed" (not that he's not well-groomed already; he's immaculate) to replace him.

The notion of a Tatler editor and professional networker taking on a political journal may strike some as eccentric, but fans of Geordie's ferocious Tatler interviews (we may feature extracts in weeks to come) can have no fears about his gravitas. When in New York for the Sunday Times, his primary duty was to invite cuddly political figures to dinner parties whenever the then-editor Andrew Neil was in town. Now that Andrew publishes the Speccie, the thought of this double act - one likened by several leading media professors to Ray Alan and Lord Charles - being reunited is bracing. Anyway, Henry Kissinger's been a stranger to Doughty Street for far too long.

ENGAGING NEWS of my friend Simon Heffer, the Milanese catwalk model soon to become the Daily Telegraph's political supremo. So enchanted is Simon with Alan Bennett's book about his family that he's started writing one of his own. This grand Tory figure's father, you will recall, was a police constable in Southend (Anne Robinson claims he was a tax inspector, but we dispute this). "Mrs Perkins's guest house, Margate sea front," reads an entry leaked to us for August 27, 1971. "Quite a kerfuffle today when Dad insisted on coming down for high tea with his helmet on. 'Oooh, Dad, you're not going to make a spectacle, are you?' said Mam, visibly blanching. 'Nay, lass,' said Dad," (I'm not sure why these Essex folk have come over all Yorkshire, but then I'm not the author), "and proceeded to perform 'The Laughing Policeman' from start to finish ... " And so it goes on.

GOOD TO see a run out for Peregrine Worsthorne, who reminisces in a newspaper feature about public-school homosexuality. The perplexing thing here is that although George Melly also shared his memories in the piece, neither referred to Perry's fabled claim that George seduced him on the art room chaise longue when the two were at Stowe. George has always denied this, and I suppose we'll never know the truth of it. "It's not unusual for people to exaggerate after the fact," says Perry, George's senior by several years, and perhaps we'll leave it there.

m.norman@independent.co.uk

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