Matthew Norman's Diary



What's Huw saying, Fiona?

Hearty congrats to Fiona Bruce on her anointment (perhaps a poor choice of word in the context, as fellow piles-martyrs will agree) as 2010's Rear of the Year. Where this leaves Fiona's BBC colleague Huw Edwards is anyone's guess. Huw, who not only writes, edits and produces bulletins but operates the lights and cameras and does the make-up, is a highly competitive chap, and will take this with heavily clenched buttocks. At one point, back in February, he was odds- on favourite for Reading Out Loud Torso of the Year, but the bull-worker got lost in the post and it went instead to Gordon Honeycombe.

* In the same week that Steven Gerrard spoke the words, "You can't blame the keeper" (whose fault was it, to borrow from Fawlty? Henry Kissinger's?), who would have believed that another would-be English captain could contrive a more memorable quote? Hats off, then, to David Miliband, whose leadership campaign under the Blair Colonic Houseguest banner continues to impress. "It is," said Mili the Elder of the Dedward Twins (by four years; quite some labour), having pushed Diane Abbott over the line with his own nomination, "an important day for diversity." Important? It will live in glory forever. When the energy runs out in February 2014, people will huddle around camp fires beneath radiant stars singing, as they did once of Hector and Achilles, of how David propelled a candidate with whom he disagrees about everything, and regards as an irksome boil on his party's bum, into a race in which he knew she could not fail to finish a distant last; and celebrated this sublimely uncondescending act of affirmative action as if it were Obama's election.

Not, of course, that Diane will take umbrage. The exposure will no doubt bump up her telly fees and make her bankable on the after-dinner speaking circuit. At least it will if David fails to win. If he does, his passionate belief in "dialogue and debate" and his admiration for Diane will lead him to offer her a major shadow cabinet portfolio, probably education. And Diane's love of party will, needless to say, oblige her to accept, and jettison alternative sources of income. For that pair of hilarities, it's almost worth touching wood for a Mili the Elder victory. Almost.

* A charming choral moment on Thursday's Today programme, when Sarah Montague invited a blues singer to share a snatch of his work. "Oh, you better give me what I want little girl," he dirged, "or I won't come howlin' no more." A lovely line to explain to a curious six-year-old over the toast and marmite. Or as Sara put it, "That's marvellous!"

* I am distressed to find Boris Johnson attacking my friend Paul Dacre, the mannerly editor of the Daily Mail whose staff will have relished the paper's censorious coverage of a survey on public reaction to obscenities on the telly (though curiously no mention of how coarse languages play in the morning news conference). Boris described Paul's role on that ferociously independent-minded body the Press Complaints Commission, where he chairs the editor's code committee, as "like putting the regulation of door-to-door salesmen in the hands of the Boston Strangler". Bit harsh, yer worship, surely. Still, he did preface the remark with, "I'm sure he is a fine fellow in many ways ..." and so say all of us to that.

* As for the Mail's robust thoughts on President Obama and the oil spill, its main beef appears to be that the Prez likes to call that great and noble company British Petroleum. Isn't it just typical of these self- hating, bleeding heart, liberal lefty, NW Twee, lily-livered, traitorous, woolly minded ponces that they are so ashamed of their nationality they can barely bring themselves to use the word British at all? If they don't like it here, they know what they can do. In fact, I'll drive Paul to the airport myself.

* At the Spectator, where Boris was once a legendary hands-on editor in the Dacre style himself, a popular column is no more. Diary of a Notting Hill Tory, the droll spoof on Cameroonian cliquiness, has been discontinued, and the author behind the sobriquet Tamzin Lightwater unveiled as Melissa Kite. Let me make it clear that this has absolutely nothing to do with interference in Melissa's copy by current guv'nor Fraser Nelson. No Andrew Neil manqué would be so daft and pompous as to tinker with a well-liked satirical column in a magazine that has often thrived on mischievousness and iconoclastic wit, and may yet do so again, through paranoid concern about how it might play in the corridors of power. The very thought.

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