Media Diary: Of blondes and Blunkett

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The Independent Online

* Anyone who is at all interested or fascinated by Boris Johnson's apparent ability to roll from the intellectual to the ridiculous may do well to examine the content of his bookshelf. Whilst one would rightly imagine the wall to be bulging under the weight of tomes on such weighty subjects as magazine law, how to keep your office affair quiet, and The I Spy Book of Bicycle maintenance few could have guessed that Burying Caesar: Churchill, Chamberlain and the battle for the Tory Party and Roger's Profanisaurus would be found nestling next to each other. One is a compilation of vulgar slang and vile insults, and the other is a spin off from Viz.

* What was the reaction of the lobby journalists of the Daily and Sunday Express and the Star when they found the phones in their Westminster office had been cut off last week, supposedly because the bill had not been paid? Diary would particularly like to know what Julia Hartley-Brewer, the Sunday Express's feisty political editor, had to say to Express bosses. Nicknamed GBH, Julia has been known to put her views across rather vigorously. A former colleague from the Evening Standard days, the engagingly bunterish Gervase Webb, once appeared in the office sporting cuts and bruises after words had been exchanged between the two.

* A small but distinguished crowd gathered at the Polish Hearth Club in South Kensington the other day for the Tablet's Arts and Books summer party. In conversation with Sir Antony Kenny, the former master of Balliol College, Oxford, and also once a Catholic priest, Anthony Howard held forth about coverage of his recently published biography of Cardinal Hume. Howard was displeased at the paucity of reviews. "It's the anti-clerical press!" he fumed.

* Perhaps it was too much for London listings mag Time Out to imagine they would get away with photographing Ricky Gervais with a crown of barbed wire on his head. Whilst the comedy fraternity and the magazine's staff and readers might consider Gervaisbigger than God, some Christian societys were offended. The magazine has been inundated with letters, and threats to picket the building. "It left a bitter taste in my mouth", said one reader. "Jesus is God. Let's have some moral clarity on this issue". "You should be ashamed. God is sacred", said another. When you get the backs of the bible-bashers up, you must be doing something right. Time Out have refused to apologise but have compromised by agreeing to no longer buy their paper from David Brent's employers Wernham Hogg.

* As American Vogue's Anna Wintour prepares Men's Vogue for publication in September comes wonderment over exactly who will buy it. Having already captured the attention of the nation's teenage girls with Teen Vogue, Wintour is in the process of building her own corporate fiefdom and men are the next logical step. Working under Wintour's close supervision, 35 year-old arts editor Jay Fielden has identified the guiding concept behind the new mag as "things that are real, things that are authentic, things that endure". Within Conde Nast 4 Times Square skyscraper, however, there is another explanation: Men's Vogue is aimed at successful, straight, educated men in the forties and fifties, a category that includes Wintour's well-appointed Texan boyfriend, Shelby Bryan. For that reason, in the corridors of Conde Nast, Wintour's Men's Vogue has become known as Vogue Shelby.

* As the New York media heads for the beach, the rarely-noticed New York Sun - the Conrad Black-backed daily newspaper - pulled off a rare hot-weather scoop: the fascinating history of the now-endangered ice-cream sandwich (www.nysun.com/article/16540.) The history of this culinary mainstay - it was first offered in 1890 - along with the history of food down the ages, can be found at Food Timeline (www.foodtimeline.org), a singularly diverting media destination.

* On the day of the London bombings, Her Majesty's Daily Mail sent no fewer than four reporters to St Mary's hospital in Paddington, where the wounded from Edgware Road were taken. Keen to secure an eyewitness account, the Mail helped to negotiate a pool arrangement to send one reporter and one cameraman in to speak a victim. Not trusting the Mail to share every detail, the other journalists present insisted it should be the Press Association who conducted the interview. Oh the irony when PA's reporter emerged to reveal that the patient who had agreed to be interviewed, 28-year-old Chris Randall, works for the... Daily Mail.

* At the press centre outside St. Mary's the hospital's press officer was getting harangued from all sides. One journalist asked, "when can we expect to hear a statement about casualty numbers?", another "is there a computer we can use to file our stories?" and then one puzzled hack silenced all present by saying. "I'm sorry, the coffee machine seems to be playing up... do you know when it will be back on".

* Elsewhere on the Edgware Road people were listening to Tony Blair's impassioned speech, which some guys in a blue Ford had pumped up to full volume. Twenty yards away, casualties were being taken out of the station. But the landlord of a local pub was as miserable as ever. Spotting a hack who had nipped in to use the facilities, he bellowed: "That toilet's for customers only" Hard to believe that even during moments of tragedy journalists were failing to use the pub for it's correct purpose.

* At the height of the bombing last week which national newspaper newsroom featured the bizarre sight of the managing editor and the production editor doing card tricks whilst the rest of the journalists switched between watching Sky news and getting a paper out. It was like Drop The Dead Donkey,

apparently.

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