Matthew Norman's Media Diary

It's another own goal for David

WITH ALMOST 10 months to go until that elegant ceremony is held, I'd like to be the first to nominate David Blunkett for Columnist of the Year at the 2007 British Press Awards. Each Wednesday, David appears in his drinking buddy Rebekah Wade's Sun (you will recall that the two had a few in the hours between his last sacking and her domestic with husband Ross Wade). It's always a cracking read (his recent bafflement at the release of foreign prisoners, more of whom vanished under his Home Office aegis than anyone else's, was a gem), but David surpassed himself last week with a subtle expression of ersatz jingoism headlined: "Get behind our flag, be proud."

Having doughtily defended the cross of St George against the "politically correct clowns" who disdain it, and made a vibrantly original point about "the educational ninnies who think the very idea of winning will damage those children who lose", he rallied Sun readers - always reticent about expressing their World Cup loyalties - to the cause. "Losing simply isn't an option," writes David, deft as ever at sidestepping the cliché. "And as the late Bill Shankly said: 'Some people think football is a matter of life and death... It's much more important than that.'" Some people think that trotting out that quote has seemed a little dubious ever since the catastrophe at Hillsborough, and perhaps they have a point. Still, what with being born and bred in Sheffield, representing the city as an MP and being a lifelong Sheffield Wednesday fan, one hardly expects David to be especially sensitive to the feelings of those few people in Liverpool who still take The Sun.

* I AM dangerously excited by the debate about Andrew Marr's hair. Andrew wrote in The Daily Telegraph that he has ceased washing it, to allow the natural oils to replenish themselves, remaining as fragrant as ever. While this is great news, it presents an obvious dilemma. On the one hand, one can't get enough of Andrew's intimate reflections - personally, I'd like to see him move on eventually to his pubic hair - so touch wood there's more to come on the subject. On the other hand, Andrew is fondly remembered at this newspaper for the care and concern he showed staff during the continual job-cutting that attended his editorship. There's no reason why he should show such empathy to strangers, of course, but there must be people at the Pantene factory having sleepless nights. Entirely his call.

* NOW THAT Andrew has ruled himself out of the Desert Island Discs job, Martha Kearney is the clear 15-8 favourite, with David Dimbleby second best at 13-2. Bracketed on tens are Jeremy Vine, Fi Glover, Kelvin MacKenzie, Eddie Mair and Soo from Sooty and Sweep, while Chris Evans and Celeb BB's Maggot are on 12s. The week's market-mover is Professor Stephen Hawking, in to 100-6 after a large each way bet was taken at a BetFred on Merseyside, and it's 20-1 bar those.

* I AM distressed to find two DID outsiders attacked by John Fortune, author of a film script about the Equatorial Guinea coup plot involving his acquaintance Simon Mann. Fortune was in bed a couple of years ago listening to Today, he recalls in the Telegraph magazine, when he heard the news. Then, so he claims, he drifted off into "a delightful dream in which I'd chosen three Radio 4 presenters to be tied in a sack with some hungry ferrets and thrown into the sea." One was a gardening chap, but the second was Nigel Rees, presenter of my favourite quiz Quote... Unquote (750-1). The other, would you believe, was Libby Purves (125-1) of Midweek. As if that weren't insult enough, Fortune concludes the piece by musing as to whether he'd rather be sitting on the concrete floor of a Harare prison cell, like Mann, "or here, where I am about to hear Libby Purves. It's a serious question." He does plump for his own bed in the end, but only because he can turn the radio off. Poor taste.

* GOOD TO see the US military in Baghdad showing off the photographs of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which later appeared in so many newspapers, at press conferences last week. Once this story has died down, perhaps it's time for the Western media, led by the Americans, to resume the attacks on al-Jazeera for being bloodthirsty by broadcasting pictures of corpses.

* A SLICE of history in the Daily Express. On Friday, beneath a World Cup story by Harry Harris, appeared the words: "In association with Samsung Mobile". This sort of line often adorns columns, but this was seemingly the first ever sponsored news story. Harry is close to one Mark Mitchinson, a PR for Samsung, and whatever the deal might be - all his World Cup expenses taken care of, perhaps? - hats off to him for breaking new ground.

* FINALLY, RICHARD Littlejohn seems at last to be settling on his return to the Mail, judging by one item last week. Richard recalled how a few years ago, in his Nabokov-influenced novel To Hell In a Handcart, he wrote scenes in which squeegee-wielding asylum-seekers used fake traffic lights to trap drivers and pester them for money - a ruse now reportedly being deployed exactly as he wrote it. "You couldn't," he ended, "make it up." But you could, Richard, you daft old goat. You could make it up, and you did make it up. You said you did, for Christ's sake, in the same bloody piece. You. Made. It. Up.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

BI Analyst

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency in Central Lo...


£40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: DBA, London,...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform