Diary: Cuts affect celebrities too
Wednesday 04 May 2011
Tony Blair and Fergie doubtless bridled at news that Guy Ritchie had made the royal wedding guest list ahead of them, but – his friendship with the happy couple aside – Ritchie is an expert in the trials of married life, and amply qualified to advise Kate and Wills on the way to wedded bliss. Not only did dear Guy nobly spend eight years putting up with Madonna, but he also, it has been claimed, made a significant physical sacrifice to satisfy his Kabbalah-observing former wife. According to New York magazine, Karen Berg, a spiritual adviser to Madonna at New York's Kabbalah Centre, claims the star "keeps a kosher home, she observes Shabbat, she circumcised her son and had her [ex-] husband circumcised". Adult circumcision is a painful procedure with a surprisingly lengthy recovery period, and may go some way to explaining Ritchie's sometime fondness for sweatpants.
* Like the irate suburban schoolteacher that he so closely resembles, Energy Secretary, putative Lib Dem leadership contender and sower of Cabinet unrest Chris Huhne is the non-digital embodiment of Godwin's Law: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." Huhne – who reportedly confronted Dave and Gideon in Cabinet about the scurrilous claims made by their "No to AV" campaign – continues to compare those claims to the propaganda of Joseph Goebbels. In a 2009 Conference speech condemning the Tories' far-right friends in the European Parliament, Huhne mentioned Cameron in the same breath as the Waffen SS. Another section of said speech, excised before Huhne could deliver it, described William Hague as a "skinhead". The Nazi-themed slur was replaced, my hasty research suggests, by a less controversial observation: "You can tell a lot about a party by the company it keeps." Too true.
* London's theatre critics are accustomed to insults from their rival reviewers, but it's a rare thing to be named and shamed by an actor – admitting that one reads one's reviews isn't the done thing in Theatreland. Still, that hasn't stopped Lynda Bellingham, Loose Woman and erstwhile Oxo Mum, who has the Mail's 2008 review of Calendar Girls etched deep into her memory. The offending writer, she recalls, was Quentin Letts (2010 British Press Awards "Critic of the Year", no less), who compared her floral costume and "spherical" physique to that of the late King of Tonga. "This from a man who is less than rake-thin himself," Bellingham complains. "I've been doing the show for two years... whenever I run off and do the quick change into my flower costume, Quentin Letts appears in my mind's eye. Fortunately, I do not have enough respect for his knowledge of theatre for his review to upset me." As she notes, Letts has very thick skin, so I expect he's unruffled by her taunts.
* While Osama bin Laden's death is a welcome distraction from that birth certificate business, President Obama's latest triumph will just encourage yet more nations to claim him as their own. The President is due to touch down in Dublin later this month, and while movie star Anthony O'Banderas and footballer Christian O'Ronaldo have yet to acknowledge their true ancestry, the Republic's tireless genealogists have turned up undeniable proof of Obama's Irish roots: the President's great-great-great-great-grandfather was born in Moneygall, County Offaly. Local band Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys composed a song in his honour, with which residents plan to welcome him to the town for his promised pint of Guinness: "O'Leary, O'Meara, O'Hare and O'Hara, No One's as Irish as Barack O'Bama. From the Lakes of Killarney to old Connemara, No One's as Irish as Barack O'Bama."
* Good news from the BBC: John Humphrys, unless he's a No campaign sleeper agent, is as baffled by proposed changes to the voting system as you are. Interviewing the PM, the venerable Today man made no less than three factual errors while discussing AV and the referendum. (John, I know your pain.) Such confusion is also taking its toll on MPs. Labour's Sadiq Khan laments, "Every Sunday I go knocking on doors... We can do a street in 45 minutes and I can meet most people on the street. Doing a referendum canvas you can spend four hours doing one street because you have to explain at every door what the voting systems are."
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