Diary: Ghoulish warnings for a Tory heartland

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The Independent Online

A soon-to-be eminent Tory is trying to scare the living daylights out of the good people of Odell, a village in North Bedfordshire. This ancient settlement used to be dominated by the Alston family, of Odell Castle, one of whom, Sir Rowland, according to a Victorian myth, sold his soul to the devil. One version of the story has Sir Rowland scuttling out of the manor house and leaping on to the devil's black stallion, hoping to get away – which did him no good, because the Prince of Darkness can outrun any horse.

This scary tale was posted on the net at the weekend with a warning that his ghost may yet "come back to terrify the good folk of Odell and once again bring hell to earth".

The author of this warning is Rupert Matthews, an expert on the paranormal, who once ran a course at the International Metaphysical University of West Virginia, about ghosts, UFOs, aliens, the Loch Ness monster and other occurrences. He is also an active Conservative, praised by the Chief Whip, Patrick McLoughlin, as "an experienced and long-standing campaigner" and by the Tory MEP Daniel Hannan as "an energetic patriot".

The voters of the East Midlands may not know it, but they have chosen this ghoul hunter as their next MEP. The incumbent, Roger Helmer, is quitting on 31 December. Mr Matthews, who was the closest Tory runner-up in the 2009 Euro election, will be automatically shoehorned into his seat. If there are phantoms in the corridors of the Brussels bureaucracy, we shall soon hear about them.

* That old rocker Pete Townshend has given an interview to Mojo magazine in which he explains the grim lyrics he wrote for The Who's 1973 album, Quadrophenia. It was the fault of the Prime Minister of the day, Edward Heath. "We had the three-day week going on while we were recording it," Townshend said. "And Edward Heath out on his sailing boat, winning races, living in a beautiful house in Salisbury – not getting what was going on with the working classes, no sense of connection at all. I think essentially he was a very good man, Ted Heath – but I remember the frustration, going, 'Fuck, we're paying 98 per cent tax', and not being allowed to record."

But you were paying 98 per cent tax because you were in a rock star's income bracket, Pete, which didn't relate much to "what was going on with the working classes" either. Yet it's good to know the old guitarist is still feisty, 46 years after penning the lyrics of "My Generation" with that famous line: "Hope I die before I get old."

* When Richard Desmond bought the Daily Express 10 years ago, the managing director of Associated Newspapers, which owns the Daily Mail, negotiated a truce under which the Mail would not to call Desmond a "pornographer" in return for the Express not mentioning that the Mail's proprietor, Lord Rothermere, had an illegitimate son. That truce is looking ragged. Giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry, the Mail's editor, Paul Dacre, described Desmond as "a businessman who'd made his money from porn" and implied he was not fit to own a newspaper or TV channel. Interviewed in The Guardian yesterday, Desmond described Dacre as a "miserable fat git", while the Daily Mail's diarist, Peter McKay, laid a series of charges against Desmond "the porn tycoon". This could run and run.

* Mystery surrounds the person who arranged that Lynton Crosby, the Australian whiz kid who is running Boris Johnson's re-election campaign for London Mayor, should have a pass that allowed him to roam freely around City Hall. Originally, the press were told that an "admin officer" had "mistakenly" requested a pass. Then, after an FOI request from the blogger Adam Bienkow, an email emerged which said that "the Mayor would like Lynton Crosby to be issued with a security pass". But a statement from City Hall yesterday said it was Boris's former chief of staff, Sir Simon Milton, who made the request and "the Mayor himself was never involved". One thing is sure: Sir Simon won't mind having the finger pointed at him. He died young, from leukaemia, last April.

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