Diary: Huhne's half-time break – from 26-year marriage


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The Independent Online

It is, of course, none of our business how or when Vicky Pryce was told by her husband, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, that their 26-year marriage was over, except that she chose to share the story with the nation yesterday – and there is something grimly fascinating about it.

We now know that it happened on a Saturday afternoon. Ms Pryce was upstairs watching a World Cup match, while downstairs, her husband took a call from the News of the World, who had tracked his movements as he travelled with his lover, Carina Trimingham, to his Eastleigh constituency for an overnight tryst, while Ms Pryce was at home in London.

"It was half time, and I came down to have something to eat," she told the BBC's World at One programme. "My husband told me that he had been found out by the press for having an affair, and that he was about to make a statement before they exposed him, which he went and did. I discovered it just like that.

"In a few minutes I learnt that our marriage had come to an end. He went to the study and wrote the statement, and then went to the gym. That was that."

This was on 19 June 2010, so the match she was watching must have been Ghana versus Australia, or Japan versus the Netherlands. The Cameroon-Denmark match did not kick off until that evening.

In a previous interview Ms Pryce offered another colourful detail. Her husband told her they had "30 minutes to kill the story" – which she has used as the title of a book about the affair.

Ms Pryce also told the BBC that she has ambitions to be a Liberal Democrat MP. This could be a forlorn hope, because there will not be many winnable Lib Dem seats on offer in 2015, given their current sorry standing in the polls, which her husband's antics have contributed to.

Did you hear the one about Hitler?

The American author Mike Godwin is credited with founding the rule that the first person in a discussion to make an analogy with the Nazis has lost the argument. But Alan Craig, a former councillor in the London borough of Newham and leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance, seems to think this idle, offensive way of making a point is terribly clever.

Why else would he publish a diatribe on gay rights headed "Confronting the Gaystapo", replete with Nazi analogies – "Gay-rights storm troopers", "the pink jack boot" "Oberkommandos from Stonewall and OutRage!" and many more – even casting David Cameron as Neville Chamberlain, whose "Munich moment" was over same-sex marriage?

This nasty piece of writing was printed in the Church of England Newspaper, one of the world's oldest Anglican papers, though not an official voice of the church. Its editor, Colin Blakely, tells me: "The article was published while I was on holiday. If I had seen it prior to publication, I would have asked for the language to be toned down, although the policy issues are ones that many in the church are debating."

The ugly sisters? Not any more

When the Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie appeared dolled up at the royal wedding in May, it was cruelly remarked upon that they resembled the ugly sisters from the Disney version of Cinderella. Following an outcry, a planned pantomime at the Lighthouse Theatre in Kettering, Northamptonshire has backed down from a decision to feature two ugly sisters called Beatrice and Eugenie. They will still cast the former Tory MP Neil Hamilton – famed for accepting cash in brown envelopes – as Baron Hardup, and his wife, Christine, as the Fairy Godmother.

The grinch that lies about Christmas

The Daily Mail "clarifications & corrections" column is shaping up to be the best part of the newspaper. Yesterday's began with the words "we stated in an article on 26 September that Christmas has been renamed Winterval" – before admitting that the story was junk.

They could have added that it was not the first time they had run this story. It appeared in the Mail on 4 January this year, three times in 2010, once in 2009, twice in 2008, four times in 2007, 11 times in 2006 and eight times in 2005. While 2004 was a sort of Winterval gap year, the story appeared twice in 2003, once in 2002, once in 2001, and four times in 2000, after its debut on 9 November 1998. That is exactly 40 times in all.

Interviewed in the Mail in 2006, David Cameron answered those non-existent people who would scrap Christmas. "It's ridiculous pretending we have to call it Winterval," he declared.

All this because 13 years ago, Birmingham Council organised a run of events, taking in Christmas and New Year, called Winterval.