NEWS MONKEY

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GORDON AND TONY SHOW. Talk Radio's hilarious new shock jocks, Gordon and Tony, brought their inimitable sense of fun to bear on the Budget last week. The whacky duo convulsed listeners with their crazy take on petrol prices (they want to make them the highest in Europe!) and by pretending to be a couple of old friends who live next door to each other. Let's hope there's plenty more craziness to come, and that rumours that they are considering solo careers aren't true!

BREAKFAST NEWS. Despite the Budget, the real big news of the week is that the 19-year-old lingerie model hired to be the new breakfast presenter on Channel 4 is a bit dumb. Apparently, The Big Breakfast's Kelly Brook has difficulty with big words, proper names and with making it seem as if she knows what she's talking about during interviews. What's the big deal? If this is true, then she's right where she belongs. We should be thankful she's not doing the BBC One O'Clock News - but give her time.

HILLARY HATES BILL. The Clinton marriage may be nearing its epilogue, as reports indicate that Hillary Clinton is no longer prepared to be in the same room as her husband without screaming at him. It would be extremely difficult to guess what happens when a wife who has stood by her powerful and charming husband through difficult times suddenly discovers that he may have once been a rapist, were it not for the fact that Channel 5 screened a very similar TV movie just last week. In the film, the wife leaves her husband and strikes out on her own with a renewed sense of pride and self- worth, and then sells her story. One hopes there isn't a copyright problem.

CITIZEN FAYED. After years of Mohamed Al Fayed pestering everyone for a British passport, the Home Office has at last granted full citizenship - to his brother. This ingenious compromise proves that the Home Office is no longer in the least concerned about the Fayeds' past or present legal troubles or a 1990 DTI report's ungallant attack on their integrity. If Jack Straw goes on to refuse Mohamed a passport, we'll know it's because he just doesn't like him.

TANGO CHARLIE. Sending members of the Royal Family into diplomatically touchy arenas proves they can be more than cuddly tourist attractions - a bit like sending monkeys into space. Prince Charles, armed only with his dancing shoes, his goofy charm and an inflammatory Foreign Office speech about the Falklands, wowed the Argentines to the point that some of them were calling for him to be tried as a war criminal. Imagine what would have happened if we'd sent Robin Cook. It would be an irony, indeed, if poor Prince Charles were to be arrested for the sinking of the Belgrano, while a certain someone is living it up in a big house here in Britain, namely Baroness Thatcher.

MONEY MAN. Few politicians are so bound up with the success of a particular currency that they can improve its worth just by leaving their jobs. But former German finance minister Oskar Lafontaine was clearly one of them: his resignation caused the flagging euro to rebound immediately. The Lafontaine Effect - the new name for what armchair economists previously called the Lamont Effect - proves that the timely departure of an unpopular minister can do more for the economy in the short term than years of prudent management could achieve. Of course, sacking someone like Robin Cook probably wouldn't have any effect on the pound or the euro. But so what?

TIM DOWLING

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