Diary: Bigmouth strikes again

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The Independent Online

Slight stand-up Simon Amstell has again turned his lashing tongue to the abuse of a music-based national treasure.

Not Preston, who once strode from the set of Never Mind the Buzzcocks when his then-wife Chantelle's memoirs were read aloud by then-host Amstell, but stoic tenor Russell Watson, double brain-tumour survivor. As Amstell's interview on BBC Breakfast concluded yesterday, the comic cried: "Got to get Russell on with his tumour!... He sings better now." Watson later spoke sombrely of his life-threatening illness. Amstell admitted he suffers sleepless nights after making such cruel remarks on air, but this time he can at least comfort himself with a disapproving article on the Daily Mail website, and a few more sales of his new DVD.

* The Tories may fear for government unity, after politicians from other European coalitions counselled Nick "29 shags" Clegg and co to treat their parliamentary partnership "like a marriage". Lousewies van der Laan, former leader of the Dutch Social Liberal Democrats, who wrote the paper in question, must be unaware of the Lib Dems' chequered relationship with said sacred institution. Should the party, say, observe the marital template of a former leader: Chuck Kennedy (estranged), Paddy Ashdown (bonked the secretary) or Jeremy Thorpe (cleared of conspiracy to murder his alleged gay lover)? Or should it defer to the example of one-time leadership hopefuls: baldish Mark Oaten (whose extramarital activities remain unsuitable for a family newspaper) or Chris Huhne, who insisted pre-election that "family matters to me so much" before, post-election, deselecting his wife for an aide? "Everything you need to know about coalition politics," Van der Laan's paper claims, "you already know from your marriage." Dangerous advice.

* Marriage never mixed with glamour-model-bothering Lembit Opik, whose engagements to a weather girl and a Cheeky Girl both ended before reaching the altar. The aforementioned Cheeky Girl, Gabriela Irimia, has dealt a blow to his bid for the Lib Dem London mayoral nomination. "Politics was his life, but it stressed him out so much," she said of the ex-member for Montgomeryshire. "Showbiz suits him better." Irimia also described the Estonian stand-up, now languishing in a jungle television jail, as a "painfully intense" lover. Given his apparent conviction that all publicity is good publicity, it would come as little surprise to learn a sex tape was in the offing. Just don't leak it to me, Lembit.



* More from the melancholy political afterlife of Miliband (D). As his brother returned to Westminster yesterday, with plans for "profound changes" to the party they love more than each other, the elder Miliband also had official duties. "South Shields now has its first Morrisons," he tweeted, with all the cheer he could muster. "I opened it this morning." His remaining aides no doubt prised the scissors from his grip as soon as the ribbon was cut.

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