Diary: Gibson's star on the rise

The accomplished controversialist Lars von Trier may endure a few sleepless nights in the next month: Denmark is starved of darkness at this time of year, after all. But he can rest easy in the knowledge that his exile from the Cannes Film Festival – quite apart from garnering him countless precious column inches – will likely lapse in due course.

Von Trier's crime was to suggest in jest (allegedly) that he identified with Hitler, causing Cannes organisers to brand him a "persona non grata". Just along the Croisette, however, Mel Gibson – whose previous pronouncements include: "Fucking Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world" – was enjoying a standing ovation. Ah, the fickle French.

* So Sir Fred Goodwin, whom I can now freely identify as a "banker" without fear of legal repercussions, enjoyed more in his role at RBS than simply the bulging wage packet. Luckily for the Shred, he had ample time to prepare for a day such as this.

As this column reported last year, Sir Fred moved from his freely vandalisable home in Edinburgh Grange to a new £3.5m property in upmarket Colindale, which, much to his neighbours' chagrin, was surrounded by paparazzo-unfriendly, 25-foot leylandii. The state-of-the-art security system, the tennis court and the fountain in the driveway proved insufficient, however: as part of a half-million-pound refurb, an estimated £100,000 was spent on extra security – including spiked electronic gates and motion-activated CCTV.

Add a ton or two of tinned food to the larder, and it's the ideal home in which to survive a nuclear war, a plague of zombies, or even the lifting of a super-injunction. Moreover, the property contains a calming Japanese garden, where I imagine the Shred will be spending some hours in quiet reflection.

* On the subject of marital bliss, Jeffrey Archer (whose new novel, Only Time Will Tell, is in airports now) recounts a recent touching scene in The Spectator: "I look across the breakfast table at the first Mrs Archer and smile," the good Lord writes. "I've made some stupid mistakes in my life, but I will not be writing the next book to pay for the second Mrs Archer." Among those mistakes was, you'll recall, a nocturnal tryst with one-time mistress Sally Farmiloe in a Mayfair car park. Readers will be glad to learn that the car – a classic "Margrave" Mini, former owner: one J Archer – is still on the market. As this column reported in October, the 1988 model Mini is on sale from Leatherhead-based Mini specialists Wood & Pickett for less than £10,000. Despite the allure of its fully reclining seats, no buyer has yet come forward. Lord Archer's heartfelt piece continues: "To hell with the cynics and belittlers, I tell my wife before turning the light out." Quite right, too.

* Chastity campaigner and comedy MP Nadine Dorries has taken issue with Andrew Neil's innocent use of the phrase "madder than a box of Nadine Dorries" on last week's edition of This Week. Neil, she claims, is "throwing bits of rancid meat to the handful of left-wing inhabitants of the Twitter sewer who watch his programme." The thought of Andrew Neil pandering to the left seems outlandish enough, but she goes on, describing her adversary as "an overweight, orange, toupée-wearing has been". Given that Ms Dorries' blog is an estimated 70 per cent fiction, surely only one of those adjectives can be considered reliable. I'll go with "toupée-wearing".

* Archbishop Nichols, Ann Widdecombe and a crack squad of angry Catholics have lost their battle to retain the name of a pub behind Westminster Cathedral. The Cardinal was named after Cardinal Manning, a churchman who supported a strike by dock workers in the late 19th century, but the Samuel Smith Brewery is rechristening the establishment "The Windsor Castle" when it reopens in a fortnight's time. Nichols had said changing the pub's name removed a reminder of Manning's good works. Fellow Catholics pointed out that Manning preached temperance – so naming a pub after him wasn't the most appropriate way to honour his memory.


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