Diary: And whales might fly
Thursday 25 August 2011
The redoubtable Joan Collins OBE complains on Twitter of "an extremely irresponsible headline in AOL quoting me falsely that I said 'fat people are orca sized oafs'... I NEVER said that, this why the press have a dishonest reputation". Collins does reportedly allude to "Orca-sized oafs from Planet Girth" in her new book, The World According to Joan, but I haven't read it, so perhaps she is merely referring to a small minority of fat people. Nevertheless, she told the Daily Mail: "I certainly don't admire [fat people]. They are digging their graves with their own teeth. I think to be terribly overweight is incredibly unhealthy. And how do they get into a tiny lavatory on a plane? I feel sorry for them, I do."
* Total and utter banker Sir Fred Goodwin, as this column reported on Tuesday, has (allegedly) been forced by marital difficulties to vacate his luxury Edinburgh home – £3.5m, 2.3 acres, 25ft leylandii – and return to his villa in The Grange, which in 2009 was targeted with bricks, eggs and leftist graffiti. Said (alleged) marital difficulties were (allegedly) caused by the Shred's illicit affair with a former colleague. Now, notes Prospect magazine, yet more details have been revealed about the culture of unreasonable behaviour that he fostered at RBS. Masters Of Nothing, a new book about the financial crisis by Tory MPs Matthew Hancock and Nadhim Zahawi, claims that the bank's "catering staff were threatened with disciplinary action in an email entitled 'Rogue Biscuits', after someone had the audacity to include pink wafers in the executives' afternoon tea". And when a window cleaner tumbled from a ladder in the Shred's office, breaking a small model aeroplane, colleagues were said to be more concerned about Sir Fred's snapped toy than about the window cleaner's health and safety. According to Peter de Vink, MD of Edinburgh Financial & General Holdings, RBS employees "were absolutely terrified of him". Well, most of them were.
* Perhaps mindful of the dangers involved in making ill-judged jokes about Hitler and/or Ratko Mladic, Ken Livingstone predicts a relatively sensible retirement for himself, should he lose out on the London mayoralty at next year's election. If he doesn't win, Ken tells Total Politics, "I'm going to write a book about my gardening experience in London, and set up a small business to put gardens in for people who want small, manageable wildlife [newts, for instance?]. And I'd stand again for the council for the Zoological Society of London. I was vice-president for two years of London Zoo – I loved that. And we must get another dog." Animals are, of course, more trusting than human Londoners, and less ready to take offence. Also, they don't vote.
* Much confusion about how to search on Google for sightings of the deposed Libyan dictator. The UK press and broadcasters, including this newspaper, spell the Colonel's surname "Gaddafi". The US media, however, are undecided: The New York Times uses "Qaddafi", the LA Times "Kadafi", and The Wall Street Journal "Gadhafi". Meanwhile, governmental sources such as the White House, Downing Street and William Hague's Twitter feed prefer "Qadhafi". A call to the Foreign Office for official advice is inconclusive: "I suppose the media spells it 'Gaddafi' so people can read it easier," says a spokesman with grammar even more dubious than mine. "'Q' in Arabic is pronounced as a hard 'G', so 'Qadhafi' is the more accurate translation." The question was further vexed yesterday afternoon, when rebels found what appeared to be the despot's passport among his abandoned belongings (presumably scuppering his chances of fleeing across the border to Chad). In the passport, the Colonel's name is spelled "Gathafi".
* New York's Gawker blog has a compelling theory for the cause of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rocked the US eastern seaboard on Tuesday: It was a "Boobquake". To explain: in April 2010, Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi, a leading Iranian cleric, claimed that women who dressed provocatively were to blame for seismic shifts in the Earth's crust. "When promiscuity spreads," HKS said in a YouTube sermon, "earthquakes increase". Incensed American women declared the following Monday "Boobquake" day, and dressed scantily to disprove the theory. A gentle quake troubled Taiwan that morning, but Indiana-based Boobquake founder Jen McCreight claimed it didn't count as it wasn't in her time zone. However, this week's tectonic wobbles add some weight to HKS's claim: Sunday was America's national "Go Topless Day", for which a large number of women got their boobs out (absolutely not for the lads, but for themselves) in Central Park.
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