Matthew Norman's Media Diary
Alas, poor Kelvin, we feel your pain
Monday 31 March 2008
So alarmingly do fears for Kelvin MacKenzie's well-being intensify that some form of intervention must be imminent. It isn't that Kelvin's latest Sun column lacks startling originality. With lightning raids into such virgin territory as tax-avoiding Gypsies, hyper-fecund underclass scroungers and the ghastliness of Heather Mills, he shocks and amazes all over his page. What is distressing is the increasing evidence of dramatic memory loss (you may recall the posited connection between the heavy snoring to which he's a martyr and early-onset Alzheimer's).
For example, the old boy observes in one paragraph that he has considerable doubts that he wants his country led by posh boys like David Cameron and George Osborne, adding in the very next that a growing Tory poll lead "will cheer me up no end". This isn't good. Nor is the befuddled railing against the anonymity granted to criminal defendants aged under 18. "Why shouldn't this scumbag be named and shamed?" he asks, somehow failing to remember that under British law it is for a jury to decide – as Lord Denning put it in R vs The Scum of the Earth – "who is, and indeed who is not, a scumbag".
Worse still, is the unending befuddlement over Hillsborough. Kelvin seems no closer to resolving the fierce internal battle over whether or not he regrets blaming Liverpool fans for the tragedy. Where once he sincerely apologised to a Commons select committee for modern journalism's most calamitous misjudgement, now he openly taunts Liverpool fans by reporting playing golf with former midfielder Ray Houghton, adding a glibly ironic, "I'm sorry about that Anfield."
It isn't for me to declare anyone mentally incapacitated, after the fashion of Kelvin's diagnosis of Tony Benn. Even so, this reads much less like a column than a cry for help. Who will answer it?
* NO SUCH worries enshroud his colleague Jon Gaunt. "I don't care what those who don't love our country say," writes my favourite columnist, "there is no nation in the world that does pomp and circumstance better than us." Well said, Gaunty. We'll leave it to those who hate Britain and such ancient traditions as the presumption of innocence to peddle their filthy treachery. "Didn't it make you proud to watch the state visit of the French President? This truly is a great country." He gets better and better by the week.
* IN ANY list of broadcasting's greatest giggling fits, Charlotte Green's effort on Friday's Today programme will rank alongside that US local station weather guy interrupted by Borat and, of course, Johnners and Aggers losing control over Ian Botham's failure to get his leg over the stumps. The newsreader went to pieces after being told that the first-ever sound recording sounded like a buzzing bee (and buzzing bees are hilarious; all Big Hearted Arthur Askey fans know that), and if it was unfortunate timing that she started going just as she was intoning the words Judgment at Nuremberg, you'd have to be dementedly pious to fixate on that. Charlotte is a gleaming adornment to the nation, and we salute her. Hats off also to Jim Naughtie for introducing the following item, about the hideous violence in Basra, without succumbing to anything more than a faint catch in his voice. A true pro.
* A MERE 31 days to go until polling day, and still not the faintest sign of Boris Johnson's mayoral campaign self-destructing. Boris is now a hot 4-9 favourite, and shortening all the time. Could it be that, despite his luminous unsuitedness to the job and the sacrifice of some £500,000 in annual income, he actually wants to win? God have mercy, it just could.
* WITH THE dog days of George W Bush upon us, a challenger to his position as the planet's most grammatically inept leader emerges. It is Nicolas Sarkozy, who according to a caption in early editions of Friday's Daily Mail refers to his wife, Carla, as "Ma chérie". If only Johnny Hallyday, and not Stevie Wonder, had recorded that song.
* I AM thrilled, finally, to introduce the new regular feature Most Credible Anti-Cameron Daily Mirror Story of the Week. The inaugural winner is Bob Roberts for the "exclusive" beginning: "A row erupted last night after Labour accused Samantha Cameron of snubbing a charity trying to stop mothers dying in childbirth." And what a spectacular volcano of controversy it proved. Who knows when the lava will finally settle, but none of us will forget where we were when we first heard it erupt.
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