Diary: A man in control of his media
Tuesday 01 March 2011
Anyone previously unbriefed as to whether Craig Oliver was a blue-sky-thinking Steve Hilton-alike or an Andy Coulson-esque attack dog has their answer courtesy of this compelling photograph of Oliver arriving for his first day at work. Number 10's new communications chief, or so his accessories would attest, is a fellow who gives good flow-chart. Let's start with the "Beats by [Dr] Dre" designer headphones, denoting a middle-aged man keen to convince passers-by that he was once deeply into hip-hop, and thus requires "cans" with superior bass quality in order to enjoy his old Public Enemy albums on the move.
Next, the iPad, preferred gadget of the media class fashion victim. The cycle helmet is crucial (green, youth-giving), yet clashes irreconcilably with the headphones – which would he have us believe he's just been using? Not both at once, surely. The Burberry-or-similar scarf is knotted in the accepted metrosexual style. The man-bag is not, sadly, Anya Hindmarch's new "Dylan Jones" man-bag – named after the Cameron cheerleader, GQ editor (and Independent columnist) – though I expect he's on the waiting list for one of those. Also, is it me, or does he look a bit like a chunky-era Gary Barlow?
* One's grandson's wedding day seems an odd moment to contemplate one's own death, but needs must, and Wills/Kate's nuptials are also, I'm told, a perfect opportunity to rehearse the Queen's funeral. Royal courtiers will execute a dry run of the event that dare not speak its name (and is, therefore, code-named "London Bridge") in tandem with the wedding in April. The Queen's funeral service will take place at Westminster Abbey, so those inevitable proceedings will one day follow a similar, if more sombre, route. "Rehearsals are held discreetly every year," says my man in the Lord Chamberlain's Office. "Going over the route, checking and updating the list of dignitaries who will attend, and keeping the plan fresh for when it is finally needed. There are always a few foreign leaders who fall off the perch or are replaced. Having them all in London at the same time for the wedding is ideal. The Queen is very pragmatic and knows all about it." Long live etc.
* The call has gone out for volunteers to man the Mayor of London's re-election campaign, but there's one member of the 2008 team unlikely to attend the so-called "Back Boris Boot Camp" this month. Last time around, I'm told, then-shadow Chancellor George (né Gideon) Osborne took it upon himself to "oversee" things, regaling Boris and the team with his wisdom in the art of electioneering. Given Boris reportedly regards each of his colleagues (including the Prime Minister) as inferior talents, it should come as no surprise that Gideon's lectures enjoyed fart-in-a-lift status. "Last time, Boris was just a candidate; now he's the Mayor," a brave, anonymous source from the Boris camp tells me. "Then he had to reluctantly endure [Gideon]'s interference, but if [Gideon] tries the same trick this time, he'll get a blunt response."
* Will the Back Boris Boot Camp be sufficient preparation for the battles ahead? The Mayor faces stiff opposition – from Ken Livingstone, yes, but also from this column's favourite Estonian (I know only the one) and erstwhile star of my notional sitcom Anyone But Lembit: glamour model-bothering ex-member for Montgomeryshire Lembit Opik. Still vainly chasing the Lib Dem nomination, Opik's latest gambit is an electoral ad entitled "Citizen Lem", which casts him in the same mould as Wolfie Smith of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front. "An unemployed dreamer," says Wikipedia of Wolfie, "whose plans fall through because of laziness and disorganisation". Well, no one would ever accuse Lembit of laziness.
* The Iranian regime, disappointed by the lack of attention lavished on it by the world's media recently, has resorted to desperate measures to recapture our attention from events in North Africa. Tehran has made a formal complaint to the International Olympic Committee, objecting to the design of the London 2012 logo. Quite right, you may think – it is pretty rubbish, after all. However, Mohammad Aliabadi, head of Iran's National Olympic Committee, claims the logo is not just rubbish, but racist too: the jagged "2012" lettering, he argues, looks like the word "Zion", and Iranian athletes may thus be obliged to boycott the event altogether. Children's charities remain supportive of the London Games, despite previous suggestions that the logo resembles Lisa Simpson (of The Simpsons) performing a sex act.
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