Diary: Latest fall elevates Opik to Eddie the Eagle status

  • @andymcsmith

In the 1980s, there was a skier called Eddie the Eagle, who tried so hard and failed so often that the nation took to him as a heroic British failure. That suggests that there is hope yet for the former Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik.

Since losing his seat in 2010, Mr Opik has struggled to stay in the public eye, with each episode bringing failure in its wake. Once he was famous for stepping out with a woman barely half his age, the "Cheeky Girl" Gabriela Irimia, but the relationship ended in acrimony.

He tried stand-up comedy, the only role he has ever found in which no one laughed at him.

He appeared on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, but was the second contestant eliminated.

His latest disaster is the saddest yet. In April, Lembit stepped into the wrestling ring, dressed in a suit, with a professional wrestler called Kurt Callous. Later, he unwisely accused Mr Callous of cheating. Over the weekend, our hero went back into the ring, more suitably dressed, for a second bout with Mr Callous. The crowd in Welshpool watched the stick-like ex-politician being swung through the air and hurled on the canvas. As he lay in pain, the crowd shouted for more, but the compere pleaded for humanity until paramedics carried Opik off on a stretcher.

Does the Queen not recognise gays?

"Is the Queen homophobic?" asks an email from the gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell.

He complains that "Not once in her 60-year reign has the Queen publicly acknowledged the existence of the gay community – or gay members of her own royal family ... The words 'gay' and 'lesbian' have never publicly passed her lips."

A search of the monarch's official website to see if the Queen really is so queen-averse does throw up a reference to the word "gay". In 2005, the Queen awarded the Royal Victorian Order to the head of ceremony at the Cabinet office, Mrs Patricia Gay Warren Catto. Hardly counts.

Shape of things in state schools

We read and hear a lot of complaints about state education, especially in inner London, so I would like to record this snippet from the jubilee celebrations in Catford.

A magician was performing for a group of primary and pre-school age children. For one of his tricks he produced a four-sided box, open at the top and bottom, which he showed to the kids. "It's square," he announced. Unprompted, they shouted back: "It's a cuboid!"

The effect of Tom Watson

Tom Watson is "a self-publicist who makes me sick", said a dissenter in the crowd who went to hear the Labour MP and scourge of the Murdoch press at the Hay Festival.

To which Watson replied: "I'm just sorry that you've spent £7 to make yourself sick."

Councillor pays for lawnmower tax

Matthew Pollard, a Conservative parish councillor from Ellistown and Battleflat, in Leicestershire, is a public-spirited fellow.

He was chairing a sub-committee which said that the parish needed a new lawnmower, and he proposed they buy one. From him. For £850. And when the deal was complete, he decided that the lawnmower could not be handed over until the parish had paid a £1 storage charge a day. To him.

Other councillors protested, and Cllr Pollard landed a three-month suspension from office. He appealed, claiming that the penalty was too harsh. Magistrates ruled that it was too lenient, and doubled the length of his suspension. "This is a joke. I will consult a solicitor. I have done nothing wrong," he told the Leicester Mercury.