Mark E Smith, frontman and last remaining original member of The Fall, was always an angry young man. Now that he's approximately 60 years older than any other member of his band, he remains a reliably curmudgeonly interviewee. Complaining of The Fall's continuing popularity with festival crowds, Smith told the Australian magazine Brag that attending such events obliged him to mingle with too many "ass lickers" for his liking. Among the aforementioned "ass lickers", he revealed, were Mumford and Sons: those banjo-strumming, chart-topping exponents of the genre sadly known as nu-folk.
"We were playing a festival in Dublin the other week," Smith recalled. "There was this other group, like, warming up in the next sort of chalet, and they were terrible. I said, 'Shut them [blasted chaps] up!' And they were still warming up, so I threw a bottle at them. The band said, 'That's the Sons of Mumford' or something. 'They're No 5 in the charts!' I just thought they were a load of retarded Irish folk singers."
* Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Bedfordshire, has made the humbling confession that "70 per cent" of her official blog is fictitious. She told an investigation into her Commons expenses that she "[relied] heavily on poetic licence and frequently [replaced] one place name/event/ fact with another" so as to demonstrate a commitment to her constituency, which she visits rather less than the blog led voters to believe. One wonders which of Nadine's more barmy blog posts will now be exposed as codswallop. Was her patio furniture really destroyed by angry vandals during the expenses scandal? Were MPs really suicidal? Her newest entry is predictably barbed: "I suppose if any of my blog were truly fiction," she backtracks, "I could call myself a journalist." I suppose if I pointed out a flying pig to a passing voter, I could call myself a politician.
* Gordon Brown has been avoiding the Commons to work, one assumes, on his mildly anticipated book Beyond the Crash. It isn't out until December (one for the kids' Christmas stockings) but became available for pre-order on Amazon this week. As if being offered in a cheap deal alongside Tony Blair's memoir weren't indignity enough, the Amazon entry also features a list of "tags customers associate with this product". If you're, say, Jonathan Franzen, said tags are along the lines of "family saga" or "American dream". Mr Brown, however, is stuck with "pissed the economy up the wall" and "one-eyed Scottish idiot". Brown can take a crumb of comfort from news that his predecessor's book is tagged "worst Prime Minister ever" 88 times, his only 54. So far.
* The ex-PM's reputation is also done no favours by Hannah Rothschild's new Peter Mandelson documentary, The Real PM?, in which Mandy enumerates his friend's character flaws. The real PM seems especially irked by the ex-PM's inability to straighten his tie for the cameras. Not a problem for Mandy, among whose flaws one might reasonably count vanity. Rothschild's last documentary subject was Nicky Haslam. Both men's reaction upon first seeing their films was the same, she told the audience at a recent screening: "God, I look fat!"
* Joe Cooke, the bow tie-favouring treasurer of the Oxford University Conservative Association, corresponds to correct me on a couple of points. My description of him as "bow tie-favouring" is out of date. "That was a fashion trend adopted between November 2009 and March 2010," he explains, "I've not sported one for a while." Moreover, Cooke's weekly lunches feature no quails' eggs or champagne, as a Facebook message to friends suggested (must've been ironic, after all). "I couldn't afford such extravagance," he writes. "Sainsbury's Cava at £4.25 a bottle is all that is available, alongside tea (the marginal cost of which is almost zero), sandwiches (which I make myself), and scones (25 pence each from Maud Halstead at Magdalen College, Oxford). Perhaps if the last Labour government had shown such frugality, they would realise that you can provide the same services at point-of-use, through innovation and planning, for less." Hack journalism, Joe. My apologies.