Diary: Jackie Wilson says... Amis is OK
It's a while since Martin Amis wrote a novel of any great renown, but media types remain intent on sniffing out controversy in the poor chap's every utterance. So it was that last week he landed himself in a literary version of the Sky sexism row, with the Keysian contention that he'd only write a children's book if he had "a serious brain injury". Children's authors rushed to condemn him. "Arrogant twaddle," said Lucy Coats. "If he looked at the talent in children's literature he might change his mind," said Anthony Horowitz. "If I gave him £100 to write a children's book I bet he'd do a good one," agreed Roger McGough. Yet Amis has an ally in Jacqueline Wilson, creator of Tracy Beaker, who was today named the most borrowed author of the past 10 years in British libraries. "He's a very committed dad," she tells me. "When one of his daughters was younger, Martin and his wife queued up to get my book signed for her. He was sweet and charming and he's committed to making sure children are brought up reading children's books. He just likes to make dramatic statements." You'd think, with all this publicity, that he might sell a few more books.
* Dreamy Zac Goldsmith, the millionaire MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, seemed more chuffed to be named Most Fanciable MP 2011 than his joint title-holder Chuka Umunna, of nearby Streatham. Neither Umunna nor his alleged girlfriend, women's winner Luciana Berger, saw fit to give a statement on their triumph. But Goldsmith, 36, told reporters: "I'm sure voters in Richmond and Kingston will be thrilled to hear that I'm making good progress as their new MP." Sadly, Zac's Valentine's Day victory has not translated into Bieber-like web fever. A signed photo of the blond bombshell is selling on eBay for the modest starting price of £1.99, but has so far failed to attract a single bidder. (A signed Beckham shirt? £2,359.99.)
* Spare a thought for Elisa Roche, showbusiness editor of The Daily Express, whose copy appears as if dictated to her directly by her boss: philanthropist and pornographer, Richard Desmond. On Tuesday, brand synergy specialist Elisa penned 250 spectacularly optimistic words on the launch of OK! TV on Channel 5 (described by another critic as "colossally vapid"). The hand of Desmond was perhaps evident in her description of the programme's "patriotic red, white and blue studio"; in the accompanying picture, of a grinning Desmond sitting in said studio alongside the show's hosts; and in the fact that Desmond owns the Express, OK! and Channel 5. Yesterday, Elisa led a report with news that "Stephen Fry urged his Twitter followers – more than two million of them – to tune in to Channel 5." The Channel 5 documentary Fry had referred to was in a worthy cause: the Starlight Children's Foundation. Yet the other such cause to appear in Fry's Twitter feed on the same day (a BBC Comic Relief iPhone app) went curiously unmentioned. Desmond is, of course, renowned for his charity work, as well as for Asian Babes. Sadly, that knighthood's still in the post.
* US blogs carry news that James Van Der Beek, formerly of Dawson's Creek, will play "himself" in a new sitcom entitled Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23. With Matt LeBlanc also playing "himself" in the disappointing comedy Episodes, Gawker.com has implored the television industry: "Let's cool it with the washed-up actors playing themselves thing." And the Yanks think they have it bad: Channel 4's next hot sitcom Rick and Peter is to feature, as himself, "T4 presenter Rick Edwards".
* Crispin Mount, this column's amateur Cotswold correspondent, took a personal interest in the Coalition's abandoned forest sell-off, he informs me. Crispin's wife Evadne, who probably exists, has just returned from a visit to relatives in the Forest of Dean, where she learnt that local MP Mark Harper was forced to run for his life after a public meeting about the policy turned nasty. Harper, whose fat 11,064 majority suddenly looked a lot slimmer, was pelted with eggs by locals shouting (Crispin alleges): "Run, rabbit, run!" The chastened MP fled in a police van, which ran over a protester's foot in the melée. "He should have known better," says Crispin. "The clue's in his constituency's name. But then again, as Minister for Constitutional Affairs perhaps he knows that the Forest of Dean constituency will shortly be renamed 'Teak Furniture'."
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