Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Neil gets Nobel for knee-squeezing

In this country, as Alan Bennett once observed, all anyone need do to wipe the slate clean, however soiled that slate, is survive: "If you live to be 90 in England and can still eat a boiled egg, they think you deserve the Nobel prize." The latest beneficiary of this sentimental national trait (Bob Monkhouse syndrome by proxy) is Andrew Neil. Andrew isn't 90, of course, and regardless of his ability to ingest yolk and albumen seems unlikely to become a Nobel laureate until the gang in Stockholm create a prize for the wearing of humorous string garments. What he has become, however, is a style icon for trendy males aged 25-35.

In one of the more bizarre features ever printed in a lower shelf magazine, Arena runs a lengthy piece celebrating him – and Michael Portillo, who plays the Hank Kingsley to Andrew's Larry Sanders on BBC1's This Week – as style gurus to the young and hip. "Which duo-about-town have wealth, influence, sex on tap and party harder than all the others?" asks the Emap title. "Kate and Sadie? Jay-Z and Bono? No, it's Westminster players Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo – Arena's unlikely night-life heroes." Blimey.

From spending time with "The Boys", Steve Beale learns the art of seduction. "Old school chivalry and panache, served with a dash of knee-squeezing sauce, is more popular with the ladies than ever..." he writes. Encouragingly for those ladies, Andrew, whose gleaming white teeth get a mention, has a "decade of potency" left to him. What a renaissance this is. Years ago I launched a nationwide appeal to find Andrew a girlfriend. There were only two respondents, and one of them was my mother. And just look at him now!



* And yet, and yet... Andrew might wish to divert some time from cultivating his image as a Eurotrash poster boy to helping his employers, the Barclay brothers. The Telegraph owners could use a crash course in gallantry after Patience Wheatcroft's departure from the Sunday Telegraph editorship. Adorably skittish as some perceive it, the Bros' inability to stick with any editor for more than five minutes may one day make them look like chumps. Given that Patsy "resigned" over her unwillingness to embrace the brave new world of multimedia, it was peculiar to discover, at 4am on Friday some eight hours after his death was announced, the web site speculating about the state of Pavarotti's pancreas. Anyway, when the Barclays next hire a female editor, they must give Andrew a hands-on mentoring role. Who's to say that Patsy wouldn't still be in situ had she had her kneecaps saucily squeezed now and again by our industry's very own Young Mr Grace?



* I am sad to report that the prankster responsible for Daily Mail sports columnist Des Kelly's Wikipedia entry has not come forward. You might recall last week's account of this crude satire, which is replete with a section of quotes and the intriguing detail that Des sold a house in West Cork in 2006. A witch-hunt was promised unless the culprit came forward and undertook to desist. I must inform you that there has been no such undertaking, and that consequently the witch-hunt begins.

Not that Des's entry is the longest of any print journalist. As my colleague Stephen Glover has observed, that honour belongs to David Aaronovitch. David is also the victim of a malevolent nihilist, quite possibly the same one, who has spent untold hours at the newspaper library in Colindale trawling through old columns, just to append a section of quotes designed to make him look like a deranged narcissist.



* Following the revelation that his political memoir is the book most commonly discarded by hotel guests, Alastair Campbell receives a morale boost. "I think the BBC is... arrogant beyond belief," said Alex Ferguson, who refuses all contact with the Beeb over a documentary about his agent son, Jason, when interviewed in this paper last week. "I read Alastair Campbell's diaries recently, and he's written a fantastic piece explaining the arrogance and their inability to apologise." We gather that he never reached the chapter in which Ali admitted that, with hindsight, he now accepts that Andrew Gilligan had the story right all along, perhaps because Sir Alex left the book in a Travelodge somewhere off the M6. But a touching show of friendship all the same.



* The Daily Mail campaign to have cannabis reclassified at class B is losing steam. A few years ago, the Mail supported the downgrading to class C, but reversed its position due to mounting evidence of a connection with psychosis. There is nothing wrong with changing your mind because of fresh information, of course, but there's no excuse for reticence once you've done so. On Thursday, however, the Mail could only spare pages 27, 54 and 55 for lurid accounts of skunk-related tragedy. This dilettantism won't do at all.



* Returning, finally, to the Telegraph Group, I am perplexed to find Simon Heffer overlooked for an editorship yet again. Everyone knows that a more cherished ambition of Simon's than the resurrection of Enoch Powell is to park his pert and peachy buttocks in an editor's chair. Yet every few weeks when a job becomes vacant, he is passed over. If the example of dear old Mr Chips becoming headmaster isn't reassurance enough, he need only glance at Arena for succour. In about a dozen years, when he is down to his final decade of potency and heralded as a metropolitan sex god, his patience will surely be rewarded.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence