Diary: Cheesy quip is hardly mature

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The Independent Online

Cheesemaker and erstwhile bassist Alex James, formerly of this parish, and now of Kingham in the county of Oxfordshire, wrote in his September column for Esquire magazine (published at the beginning of August, because that's how magazines work) that readers fed up with French cheeses ought to "try a block of good cheddar layered with some of Heinz's finest [ketchup]". Strange advice, you might say, though it began to make more sense last week, when James announced that he was launching a range of flavoured "family" cheeses for Asda, including curry, sweet chilli and – whaddyaknow? – tomato ketchup flavour. "The cheese equivalent of spam, flecked with fat," opined one Independent taster. Quite a comedown for the reluctant Chipping Norton Settee, who once sold cheese to Alan Rusbridger at the Daylesford Organic farm shop.

* As this column has often noted, total and utter banker Sir Fred Goodwin was forced to vacate his Edinburgh home, a villa in the Grange, after it was targeted by egg-throwers and daubers of leftist graffiti in 2009. He moved, with his wife, to a £3.5m mansion in the glamour suburb of Colinton, a 2.3-acre property complete with floodlit tennis court. The home was later augmented by The Shred's half-million-pound refurbishment, which included an estimated £100,000 of extra security: spiked electronic gates, motion-activated CCTV and so on. None of this, sadly, was enough to ward off trouble, for The Shred's neighbours soon complained about his hedges, demanding that he trim the 25ft leylandii. Now, reports Scotland on Sunday, friends are saying the Goodwins' marriage is all but over, after news of The Shred's affair with a former RBS colleague became public knowledge. Hence Sir Fred has reportedly been forced to slink back to the Grange with his tail between his legs, leaving his wife Joyce to contemplate her future in the Colinton mansion's calming Japanese garden. One hopes the egg-throwers will leave Sir Fred to his thoughts at this difficult time.

* On the subject of allegedly troubled marriages, nowhere are the travails of the House of Bercow more eagerly chronicled than in the pages of the Daily Mail and its sister title. The Mail on Sunday claimed divorce had "been discussed" after Sally Bercow announced she had taken her husband on a "dirty weekend" to persuade him of the merits of her participation in Celebrity Big Brother: The Richard Desmond Years. The claims of a rift have since been vigorously denied. And yet, not 12 hours had passed before the paper's website was suggesting that Señor Bercow, the Cuban-heeled Commons Speaker, would be further "embarrassed" by his wife's televised claims that he occasionally performs household chores. None of the above, I'm sure, has anything to do with the fact that Señor Bercow recently described the Mail as a "sexist, racist, bigoted comic cartoon strip".

* An email from Oxford historian Richard O Smith, author of Oxford Student Pranks – A History of Mischief & Mayhem, arrives following yesterday's coverage, in this column, of historical Bullingdon Club high jinks. During the 1890s, 400 panes of glass were smashed by posh yobs in the quad of Christ Church College; 17 Buller men were sent down. "The Christ Church incident," Smith explains, "was prompted by a bet of one guinea to see who could break the most windows. Upon being sent down, one prominent Buller simply informed the Dean his father was a nobleman in parliament and would ensure they were all back in college by Monday morning. He did inform his father, and none of them were ever allowed back. Ha!" Of course, no such punishment was ever meted out to the anonymous young chap with the "shock of white-blonde hair" who lobbed a flowerpot through a restaurant window in Boris and Dave's day.

Good news for Dave, despite having to cut short yet another of his five holidays: an editorial in Beijing newspaper Global Times praises the PM for taking "bold measures" by discussing an authoritarian clampdown on social networks after the recent civil unrest. Given that Global Times belongs to the People's Daily, said to be a mouthpiece for the Communist Party, this surely bodes well for future relations between Britain and the Asian superpower.