Diary: Bell rings well for Paul

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The Independent Online

Having ably steered the Paul McCartney publicity machine in recent years, there's little sign of the former Beatle's media man Stuart Bell putting a foot wrong. With Sir Paul having parted company with his last long-term PR lackey, Geoff Baker, back in 2004 following a fall-out, Bell has proved a valuable ally – credited, not least, with ensuring that the songwriter emerged smelling of roses after his divorce from the helpfully bonkers Heather Mills. Perhaps not surprisingly, Bell's occasional online column about life with Saint Macca, charmingly entitled For Whom The Bell Tells, is never in danger of going off-message. "Here in the newsroom we've now read literally thousands of amazing live reviews of our man and his band and we're convinced that no other artist in the world receives such mind-boggling write-ups," we're informed. "It's simply unprecedented," he adds. With McCartney now reportedly due to make an inevitably cringeworthy cameo on the hip young drama Glee, dare Bell tell his elderly client it's a rubbish idea?

* Northern contender Andy Burnham has been at pains to play the cloth cap card during the Labour leadership contest, albeit with seemingly limited reward.

The former Health Secretary, who made a point of nailing his regional colours to the mast by insisting on running his campaign from Manchester rather than Westminster, goes all misty-eyed when he recalls how he landed the Labour nomination for his Leigh constituency back in 2001. Burnham, who is keen to stress he never enjoyed the perks of being part of the New Labour establishment, humbly explains: "I lived back at home with my Mum and Dad and basically worked on it for a year." (Imagining the old Hovis ad music at this point is optional.) Not everyone in local party circles is helpful enough to concur with this recollection. "I reckon he could be talking bollocks," suggests one local Labour official. "Back then Andy was a special adviser to the Culture Secretary, Chris Smith. Of course he was popping up here, but from memory he was based in this neck of the woods for about three months rather than the whole year. I'll still vote for him, though."

* David Cameron's balding, greying barnet is a cause for concern over at the Daily Mail – although hardly for the first time. "Look what a few weeks in No 10 has done to him," read yesterday's headline, before we were told: "Mr Cameron's dark locks appear to be more liberally chequered with streaks of silver than when he entered office. Adding insult to injury, the 43-year-old is also grappling with a growing bald patch." The Mail has, in fact, been officially on Dave bald-watch for over two years. Having rumbled him in early 2008, readers were then assured that this explained his suspicious "enthusiasm for experimenting with different hairstyles over the last few months".

* "You're a miserable pipsqueak of a man, Gove!" Not my words readers, but instead the moving oratory of one Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East. The former Brownite enforcer's outburst was recently directed at the Schools Secretary, Michael Gove, in the Commons after the latter's mishandling of the classroom building programme. Yesterday, Watson attended a one-to-one meeting with the Tory politician. Disappointingly, I'm told he kept the name-calling to a minimum.

* When actors get involved in a political row you can be sure they haven't just leapt on some kind of bandwagon, but have instead considered the matter in a measured and well-researched fashion. Yet news that 50 of our leading thespians, including Bill Nighy, Pete Postlethwaite and Emily Blunt, had put their names to a letter in The Daily Telegraph opposing government plans to scrap the UK Film Council, didn't impress everyone. Director and producer Chris Atkins suggested on Radio 4's Today programme that the council's traditional anxiety to "tick all the boxes" led to only his worst efforts ever receiving funding – not least, he explained, a tale of "Asian lesbians making curry in Glasgow". Initially I suspected a degree of exaggeration on Mr Atkins' part – but have since been pointed towards his 2006 effort, Nina's Heavenly Delights, should I require proof.