Diary: Brown's concerted effort is not music to everyone's ears


Gordon Brown is on a restless search for new ways to make himself useful and save the world, but his latest scheme is not looking like a winner.

Speaking at an education conference in Doha yesterday, the former prime minister let on that he has been talking with Simon Fuller, creator of Pop Idol and American Idol, and with Kevin Wall, of Live Earth, about whether they could organise a concert that would do for education what Live Aid has done for poverty.

Speaking of the need to "force the pace" of education in some of the world's poorest countries, Mr Brown said: "We must use every form of mass media and every form of entertainment. I have asked Kevin Wall, who did Live Earth, and Simon Fuller, who has been involved with American Idol, 'How do we organise events around the world that are global events that can raise the profile of education?'"

Messrs Fuller and Brown have been in contact for years. The former prime minister paid tribute to Fuller in The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year when he was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But the latest idea to emerge from their friendship did not impress Elizabeth King, the education director of the World Bank. She told The Independent: "We have our own funding mechanisms. We have one for the poorest countries which gives either zero-interest loans or straight grants to the poorest countries. The other one is for the richer countries. Those are the instruments we have that we use. We are not putting funds into other funding mechanisms."

Mr Brown also suggested: "We should now create a global fund for education in the same way that we have a global fund for health that has made enormous advances in tuberculosis and HIV Aids and, of course, in polio and malaria. That would allow people in the private sector and the public sector, philanthropic [people] and people in charities and private companies to affiliate."

That did not go down well with Ms King either. "A global fund cannot be as big as the resources that countries themselves spend on education, except probably for the poorest and smallest countries," she said. "A global fund? Why take it away from countries and put it in a place that is not under the direct control of countries?"


The perils of playing Churchill

Playing great men can be hazardous to your health, to judge from an interview with the actor Robert Hardy, above, who turned 86 at the weekend, in Country Life magazine. Describing one of several occasions when he played Winston Churchill, he said: "I'd only just recovered from cancer and there I was smoking three cigars each performance, eight times a week."


Throwaway remark on refuse

The good people of Enfield, in north London, have taken to recycling with exemplary enthusiasm, says Councillor Chris Bond, the local cabinet member for the environment, though he adds: "I'd urge them to think long and hard about whether it's really suitable to put a blow-up doll in their recycling."

Among the other items that have turned up in green wheelie bins which should not be there were vibrators, used sanitary towels, an urn containing ashes, and a box of live maggots. One wrong item missed by the staff can set the council back £1,000 in landfill charges.


Peers told of spiritual side

Witches and sacrificial goats are two subjects that would seem tangential to government policy for the welfare state, and yet Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, mentioned both as peers debated the Health and Social Care Bill.

His Reverence objected to the term "physical and mental illness", which recurs in the Bill. Illness, he said, "can be physical or mental, but it can also be spiritual."

To illustrate the point, he told a tale from his days as a young vicar, when he was informed of a "presence" in a house in his south London parish which had a young girl frozen with terror for about three weeks, leaving a doctor, a psychiatrist and a psychologist baffled. The young priest went to investigate.

"I asked how the girl had got into that difficult state. Somebody said that they had been to a witches' coven where a goat had been sacrificed and the young girl was absolutely petrified that she would be sacrificed next," he revealed.

Dr Sentamu said a prayer, anointed the girl with oil, and lit a candle. The next day, he had a call to say that she had recovered the power of speech.

"That was not mental or physical illness; there was something in her spirit that needed to be set free," he concluded.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness