Matthew Norman's Media Diary
Monday 20 December 2004
Given the epic scale of the saga, this may seem slightly trivial, but I am concerned about the quality of Kimberly Quinn's non-romantic relationships.
Given the epic scale of the saga, this may seem slightly trivial, but I am concerned about the quality of Kimberly Quinn's non-romantic relationships. In any story of this kind, unnamed "friends" pepper reports with their quotes, and ultra-cynics wonder if they aren't sometimes the main protagonists in cunning disguise. I don't believe that myself, and certainly not in the case of Mrs Quinn. Thankfully, at the time of writing, she is expected to be out of hospital by now, and this is obviously good news. Only last Thursday, after all, the Daily Mail quoted her "friends" as saying that she was lying in hospital "ill and unable to speak". Thursday, to remind you, was the day after David Blunkett resigned. On the Wednesday itself, soon after the Mail hit the streets with more visa revelations on its front page, an acquaintance of mine spotted something spooky in central London. At 10.30am, a woman stood on the junction of Marylebone High Street and Paddington Street, a two-minute walk from the hospital in which Mrs Q so wordlessly lay, with her hair scraped back and looking like she'd just got up. She was wearing glasses and a brown coat that covered a large foetal bump, while speaking animatedly into her mobile phone and laughing. Either this acquaintance (who for years worked for the same publishing company as the then Kimberly Fortier, and knows her moderately) was mistaken, or reports of Mrs Q's medical condition were a little exaggerated. We may never know. But on the off-chance of the latter, is it time for Mrs Quinn to think about culling her current "friends" and bringing in some new and better informed ones?
At newspapers, as elsewhere, Christmas parties can tend towards the mawkish, but the bash for the Daily Telegraph sports department acquired a genuinely bizarre air. After a rapid departure earlier this year, no one expected unpopular former sports editor David Welsh to turn up, least of all Simon Hughes, the former Middlesex seam bowler turned cricket reporter and Channel 4 commentator. In days gone by Welsh would have chaired said event but instead he sat, a folorn figure, ignored by most of his former colleagues. Not so Hughes. Being the Noël Coward, or possibly Richard Stilgoe, of sports reporting, Simon performed a humorous review of the department's year at the piano, which included numerous hilarious references to the gatecrasher not universally adored by his erstwhile staff. As our most beloved Richie Benaud would put it, good effort Simon.
With the International Cricket Council threatening to remove its HQ from Simon's old home ground of Lord's and relocate to Dubai - a terrible blow to English prestige should it happen - the timing of the England and Wales Cricket Board's new TV deal seems unfortunate. Given an uneasy balance between its white and non-white member countries, the ICC is understandably hypersensitive about any perception of racism. So what it will make of the ECB selling exclusive rights to Test highlights to Channel 5, within a week of that station hosting Ron Atkinson's return to the screen, is anyone's guess. Who knows, perhaps it won't make the connection.
Fears mount that Times editor Robert Thompson is spending too much time on his letters to readers - when it comes to writing missives, he makes St Paul look a dilettante - and too little protecting priceless assets. One night last week, genius columnist Matthew Parris was spotted in a Chinese restaurant by the Thames in east London with a figure from a major rival... this a few weeks after he was seen taking coffee with musclebound Telegraph boss Martin Newland. Probably this is no more than Matthew - so bemusingly moved to a less appealing slot on Saturday's comment pages not long ago - being sociable. No, no, I'm sure Robert has everything under perfect control.
In one of magazine history's boldest strategic decisions, new Time Out editor Gordon Thompson decides to run a swinging sex special. Why Gordon wishes to reposition the London listings mag like this is a mystery - not least to himself, you suspect, now he spends so much time fielding calls from livid readers who've blundered across swingers dressed as ponies, en route to the Odeon timetable. But he's made his bed, and whether or not he chooses to use it to indulge in some of the recherché practises graphically described in his pages, lie in it he must. Bashfulness precludes any detail regarding this Sex In The Suburbs feature, so any of you unaware of "gloryholing", "wolfbagging", "CBT", and many other eclectic amusements must either buy a copy or educate yourselves on the internet.
Finally, to anyone planning to interview the new Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, the very best of British. A while ago, I went to review a restaurant in Westminster and was stood up by my guest. Worried about having so few dishes to write about, I went up to the next table, and asked if I could sequester their opinions. ITN political editor Nick Robinson exclusively revealed that his steak was "good", and this duly went in the notebook. And you, I asked his companion, how did you find your poached salmon? "Very nice," she said. "But you cannot quote me on that." What could I do except fall back on a familiar trick of the trade? "Friends of high-flying Treasury minister Ruth Kelly," I had no choice but to put, "said she thought her salmon was 'very nice'."
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