Diary: Blessed in with a shout

News of the contest to become the next chancellor of Cambridge University has tended to focus on the David and Goliath battle between Lord Sainsbury and local shopkeeper Abdul Arain. But this unlikely face-off could be disrupted by the unexpected participation of the leading beard-wearer Brian Blessed. A Facebook campaign by students has resulted in the vocally endowed actor garnering the required 50 nominations to run – and, reports the Cambridge Tab, he has consented to his inclusion on the ballot. This is not the first time that marginally-less-hilarious-than-they-think undergraduates, made giddy by their eclectic DVD collections, have afforded Blessed the status of a campus folk hero. In January a motion was passed by York University's student union, mandating the institution to rename one of its study spaces "The Brian Blessed Centre for Quiet Study".

* A small victory for the Cuban-heeled Speaker of the House, John Bercow, who has finally forced Parliament's bookshop to stock his own biography: Bercow, Mr Speaker: Rowdy Living in the Tory Party by Bobby Friedman. The order means Mr Bercow's colleagues can pick up a copy without leaving Westminster, to use as they see fit. "Bookshops, particularly the parliamentary bookshop, shouldn't be censoring what people can read," Friedman told the Camden New Journal. "I'm grateful but not surprised that John helped to persuade them to do the right thing." The shop's reason for failing to stock the book was not that it considered 320 pages of Señor Bercow's life and times undeserving of its precious shelf space. Rather, they found the cover illustration "offensive" – perhaps because it includes a portrait of Mr Bercow's fragrant wife, Sally, who has a talent for rubbing the right people up the wrong way.



* Foreign Office staff have called in police over a series of minor thefts in their department. Among the missing items deemed significant enough to warrant the attention of the Old Bill were grapes, hair straighteners, a £7 tub of Vaseline, a £10 note, a "novelty rubber", two jars of chilli sauce and a packet of chewing gum (Wrigley's Spearmint flavour, allegedly). Whitehall sources confirmed that the gum did not belong to the Foreign Secretary, William Hague. The hair straighteners, we can surmise, weren't his either. As for the novelty rubber and the Vaseline, who knows?

* As this column noted last week, contemporary art impresario Dasha Zhukova and her wallflower beau, one Roman Abramovich, are famed for their impeccable taste. (Unlike their fellow oligarchs, who are still buying – can you bear it? – Andy Warhol!) But it seems to have deserted them at this year's Venice Biennale, where, reports suggest, the city's mayor has complained about the presence of their 377ft super-yacht, moored close to the Biennale Gardens – right in front of a famous view of the lagoon. Couldn't they afford a hotel (a whole one)? "There are so many beautiful places here," a Venetian café owner with strong PR instincts told The Observer. "Why do these people have to bring their houses with them?" Where else, Marco, do you suggest they throw their tasteful parties for their tasteful friends – among them Frank Lampard of Chelsea FC, to whom Abramovich reportedly plans to lend the yacht (including covered pool and 40-strong crew) as a tasteful venue for his marriage proposal to Christine Bleakley?



* Toby Young (educationalist, 47, Conservative with a large "C") says the Hay Festival is still a chastening experience for right-wingers, despite its sponsorship passing from The Guardian to The Telegraph. Crossing the festival site last week with his four young children, he was accosted by a woman yelling "for shame!", so incensed was she by the saturation media coverage of his West London Free School. Next, Young reports on his blog, he came across a young Big Issue vendor. "'Would you like to buy a copy of the Big Issue, Mr Young?' [he] asked ... 'No thanks.' 'I didn't think so,' he said. His tone combined chippiness and moral superiority in equal measure, a speciality of the Welsh. It's come to something when you're looked down upon by a tramp." There's probably a book in it, though, eh?

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'