Matthew Norman's media diary

Any odd jobs for an odder man?

This is the most gruelling test this column's professionalism has known, but somehow the strength must be found to anticipate the demise of a much-loved friend. Reports that John Birt is advising the abolition of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport... well, you can see where this one's heading. Should Birt succeed - and his strike rate as Tony Blair's Head of Grey Skies Thinking has been superb so far - what's to become of Gerald Kaufman? It is only his splendid stewardship of the relevant select committee that gives any meaning to Kaufman's career, so one cannot overstate the damage were it to vanish. "It would be the psychological equivalent of a bereavement," is what Dr Raj Persaud would probably say if asked. "It's hard to see how a man of his age could recover." So there it is, as confirmed by a leading mental health specialist. The tragic irony is that Birt and Kaufman should be as brothers on this, driven as both are by a virulent hatred of the BBC. There are even hints that Birt's maste

This is the most gruelling test this column's professionalism has known, but somehow the strength must be found to anticipate the demise of a much-loved friend. Reports that John Birt is advising the abolition of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport... well, you can see where this one's heading. Should Birt succeed - and his strike rate as Tony Blair's Head of Grey Skies Thinking has been superb so far - what's to become of Gerald Kaufman? It is only his splendid stewardship of the relevant select committee that gives any meaning to Kaufman's career, so one cannot overstate the damage were it to vanish. "It would be the psychological equivalent of a bereavement," is what Dr Raj Persaud would probably say if asked. "It's hard to see how a man of his age could recover." So there it is, as confirmed by a leading mental health specialist. The tragic irony is that Birt and Kaufman should be as brothers on this, driven as both are by a virulent hatred of the BBC. There are even hints that Birt's masterplan is inspired by his failure to persuade the PM to destroy the licence fee. But I won't give the time of day to such a venal rumour when we face the urgent problem of finding Kaufman a substitute. His failure to win the Dick Van Dyke role in Mary Poppins (the producers thought his Old Bamboo a bit wobbly) casts doubt on a pro career in musicals. And while begging on the streets has some appeal (Sherlock Holmes fans will recall The Man with the Twisted Lip), the streets of his native St John's Wood haven't been safe since he called Ariel Sharon a war criminal. I am currently preparing a full CV for him, and hope to include it next week. In the meantime, anyone with a berth in a business or household (the role of surrogate grandpa may appeal) for a twinkly eyed 74-year-old may contact us in the strictest of confidence.

* One who may well be on the streets soon is that high priestess of penury Rosie Millard - although which particular streets will depend on which of her various homes she happens to be inhabiting at the time. Millard's revelations about her poverty draw a mixed reaction, and she addresses this in the New Statesman. "I didn't realise I was on the nursery slopes of a mountainous story," is the understatement, "when I wrote what I hoped was a vaguely funny piece in The Sunday Times about my cashpoint card not working." Well, we can all hope, love. Hope's the only thing that keeps us going when we are forced to borrow from one of the nannies to settle up with Ocado. What the answer is I'm not sure, but if she isn't attracted by a profession even older than confessional bleating in Sunday papers, there is a way out. Rosie is nothing if not fecund, having 27 children under six at any one time, and a healthy newborn will fetch up to £400,000 on the international baby market in Brazil. Just a thought.

* In The Spectator, meanwhile, it's great to note Taki back on form. Ever since Andrew Neil moved in, there's been a dearth of overt racism in his column (not a single "Sambo"), but this week he struck back. He reports that when Prince Charles (presumably wishing to reward the person with a box of Duchy oat cakes) asked who had mugged him, Taki said: "They were the kind of people you would like to see more of in the Guards." Charles' remark that he'd love a whole brigade of black guards drew this from Taki: "He is, poor man, obviously politically correct, but then he's not likely to be mugged, is he?" That's much more like it, and we look to Neil to confirm that, whatever he means by wanting to "drag the magazine into the 21st century", jettisoning this wittiest of erstwhile cocaine importers is no part in it.

* I have as soft a spot for Jim Naughtie as the next chap, so I trust he won't take offence at a suggestion. Listening to him interview Charles Kennedy on the Today programme, hmming and sighing away in those brief but infuriating intervals when Mr Kennedy took the liberty of speaking, one sensed the frustration. So, in future, wouldn't it be more sensible to ask party leaders to interview Naughtie? The man has so much to say, and I for one would like to hear it.

* This is excruciating (it's a betrayal of everything I hold dear), but I must mention the luminous brilliance of Radio Five Live's drivetime combination of Peter Allen and Jane Garvey. Best radio double act ever.

* We began with an old friend in need of new work, and so we must end. A leaked memo nudges Alastair Campbell back towards centre stage, and suggests a career move to rescue him from a post-election slump gazing forlornly at that disconnected No 10 hotline from his Ma Bates-style, kitchen rocking chair. "They have several papers," wrote Ali of Tory press supporters, "led by the vile (interestingly an anagram of evil) Daily Mail..." Well, it is interesting, isn't it? Even more interesting is a proposal to Channel 4 (let's face it, Countdown is getting on a bit), for the daily Anagram Show with Campbell. Here's an interesting one to whet the C4 appetite. Dam as a Sneak. And here's another. Teg Smoe Trapehy.

m.norman@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn