Diary: Far-flung Young has his say

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Diary would like to add to the saturation media coverage of father-of-four Toby Young (journalist, 46, Conservative with a large "C") and his mission to establish a "free school" in Acton, west London. It will teach Latin, apparently.

On Monday, the London Evening Standard ran a feature about Young and his fellow pushy parents to add to his own piece in the Telegraph last week and to previous articles (also by Young) in the Mail On Sunday, Sunday Express and Guardian, as well as his blogs for The Spectator. He even slipped a mention of the school into a restaurant review for The Independent On Sunday. Since April, Young has appeared on Newsnight, Any Questions?, This Week and The Politics Show to discuss his project (he was on Question Time, too, but it didn't come up). Are members of the public allowed to appear on the BBC this often without being employed by the BBC? "[The school] has taken over my life," Young told us in April. Must it take over ours as well?

* Karl "McCartney" [sic], the new Tory MP for Lincoln, has entered Parliament determined to deal with a pressing issue of historical prejudice. Forget immigration: why won't Hansard and other publications publish his name with his preferred superscript "c"? This is the subject of a recent email sent by McCartney to his fellow House of Commons MCs (including Esther McVey, John McDonnell and Pat McFadden), whom he invited to help him to "communicate a collective request for change". Narrow-mindedness has dogged McCartney since birth, he explains. "I have continually through my life, from school, through college and in the workplace, with my own political party and the returning officer where I stood for election, had to make a point of informing others that my name is spelt and should look a certain way." Unfortunately, the superscript "c" runs contrary to The Independent's in-house style rules (and those of most other national newspapers), so should he ever get around to being in them for any other reason than his name, Mr "McCartney" will have to get used to being plain old Mr McCartney.

* Just as Oasis split, release their obligatory (and not half-bad) greatest hits LP, and thus banish the last remaining ghosts of Britpop, Cast are coming back. Best known for their million-selling debut LP All Change (1995), the Scouse bandwagon-jumpers released the relatively successful Mother Nature Calls and Magic Hour, then faded into obscurity after foolishly naming their fourth album Beetroot in 2001. Cast's frontman John Power told the NME yesterday that it felt like a fine time to reform. Hints that his previous band, The La's, are also considering a comeback are cause for greater celebration.

* Last week we received an invitation to the launch ofthe book Hello, I'm Your Polish Neighbour by one Wiktor Moszczynski, which, we speculated, must be "a first-timer's guide to life, language and behaviour among the good people of Warsaw and Gdansk". This, it turns out, was mere lazy cultural stereotyping: Moszczynski tells us the book is, in fact, set in Ealing and Hammersmith, where he was once a borough councillor. Working titles Kiss me, I'm Polish and The Good, The Bad And The Polish were, he explains, discarded for being "too modest". We suspect this is an example of Polish humour. But that, too, may be lazy stereotyping.

* Officials with the UK Border Agency based in Nairobi seem to have lived up to their own lazy stereotype by employing a lazy stereotype as a reason for refusing a visa. Mohamed Olad Hassan, a Somali who has been the BBC World Service's English-language correspondent in Mogadishu since 2003, was prevented from visiting the UK last week to collect the Speaker Abbott award for services to press and democratic freedom. Hassan was chosen to receive the prize by senior parliamentarians, Speaker John Bercow and Tribune magazine. His travel plans were foiled by staff at the British High Commission in Nairobi, who refused him a visa and, Hassan told Tribune, "repeatedly asked me why I wanted asylum in the UK, which was very ridiculous". Quite.