Diary: BBC embraces airport chaos

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The Independent Online

As the BBC News channel broadcasts round-the-clock coverage of aspiring travellers bedding down on Heathrow's floors, it does seems a mite insensitive of the corporation to celebrate its latest potential hit by converting the lobby of TV Centre into an airline terminal. The reception at White City is now, I'm told, decked out like a check-in desk for the fictional airline flylo, which features in the latest creation from David Walliams and Matt Lucas: 'Come Fly With Me', a new mockumentary which is scheduled for take-off on Christmas Day.

The themed décor includes luggage measuring baskets,security regulation notices and – horror of horrors – life-size posters of Walliams as flylo's Stelios-like boss, boasting of being "Almost Too Cheap: The UK's 8th-favourite low-cost airline".

And all this, a mere 10 miles from Heathrow. How crass! How inconsiderate! I've already emailed Ofcom. I hope you'll do the same.

* "The world is a very ungrateful place," mused the (allegedly) messianic Julian Assange, 39, as he sat alone in solitary confinement at Her Majesty's pleasure. That being the case, Assange told John Humphrys on Radio 4 yesterday, he took to pondering: "Why should I continue to suffer simply to try and do some good in the world? If the world is so viciously against it, why don't I just go off and... write some books?" And write a book he shall: Assange's memoir is to be printed in the UK next year by Canongate, also President Obama's publisher. Does the White House know? And will Assange, I wonder, decide to pen his autobiography in the third person? For that is how he conducted part of his interview with The Times, suggesting, "someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison". While in Wandsworth nick, this column's new favourite narcissist (sorry, Rory) recalled, a prison guard gave him a card that read: "I only have two heroes in the world: Dr [Martin Luther] King, and you." That, Assange speculated, "is representative of 50 per cent of people". Presumably the other 50 per cent can accommodate only one hero at the top of their lists. Julian Assange, or Martin Luther King? It's a tough call.

* Christmas came early to Downing Street on Monday, when a pair of reindeer grazed in the Prime Minister's garden to entertain the families of British troops. Dave insisted on descending to the lawn to enjoy the festive fun – despite the protestations of senior civil servants, who suggested somewhat forcefully that he might have more important things to concentrate on, such as the small matter of snow-induced chaos nationwide, or his crisis talks with the strike-prone unions. It was, Dave said later, as he relished his little seasonal scheduling triumph, "one of those 'who actually runs this country?' moments". The slumbering thousands at Heathrow have been asking a similar question.

* Dave's snickering sidekick, Chancellor George – né Gideon – Osborne also got a little too carried away with the Christmas spirit at yesterday's Treasury questions, when renowned Labour self-portraitist Chris Bryant asked him whether he planned to play "Prince Charming" in the parliamentary panto. Gideon displayed his razor-sharp Bullingdon wit by retorting: "At least I'm not the pantomime dame!" Ex-vicar Bryant, best known for posting pictures of himself in his underpants on a gay dating website, promptly accused the Chancellor of homophobia. And this the morning after the launch of ParliOut, a Westminster group for gay politicians. Not exactly celebrated for his tact, is Gideon.

* The aforementioned ParliOut launch was hosted by Speaker John Bercow and his wife, but the fragrant Sally, she of the tiresome ironic hash-tags, later found herself in the eye of a Twitter storm. The Daily Mail's (gay) political columnist Andrew Pierce, it emerged, was disinvited from the event at the Bercow residence with just four hours' notice. Nigel Evans, the newly out-and-proud Deputy Speaker, had issued the party invitations. Upon seeing the guest list, however, the Bercows vetoed Pierce due to his frequent and "gratuitously insulting" – her words – print descriptions of Mrs Bercow. Among them: "swivel-eyed", "inane", "offensive", "lame", "witless", "self-obsessed", "juvenile" and "a liability".

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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