Diary: Mad about the girl

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The Independent Online

Glamorous Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks graced many a newspaper page yesterday after being hailed as a perfect physical role model by Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone.

"Christina Hendricks is absolutely fabulous," the Lib Dem politician gushed. "We need more of these role models. There is such a sensation when there is a curvy role model. It shouldn't be so unusual."

Sadly, having witnessed the undeniably enthusiastic coverage that greeted her remarks – namely several sizeable photographs of Hendricks in various broadsheets – Featherstone now complains that many commentators have missed the point.

"Oh, for goodness' sake!" she snaps. "Christina Hendricks is a fine-looking woman and it is great to see a curvy woman rather than a stick insect. But that was hardly the point of the article in the Sunday Times! However, the follow-on newspaper articles in other publications seem to focus only on Ms Hendricks."

I'm only too happy to help clear up any unfortunate confusion.

* Being the sensitive soul he is, no one should underestimate Conservative MP Rory Stewart's frustration at having to explain away unhelpful reports that he innocently suggested that some of his northern constituents were a "pretty primitive" bunch who held up their trousers with string.

The ex-soldier, who was elected MP for Penrith and the Border in May, found himself in hot water over the weekend and has been on a hasty charm offensive ever since.

Stewart, an Old Etonian, former diplomat and Harvard professor to boot, has been at pains to stress that he was merely attempting to debunk the ignorant London-based view that Cumbria is a "wealthy and comfortable" area that could afford government spending cuts. He does, however, humbly add for good measure that it was "extremely foolish" on his part.

Young Rory must be wondering just what he's allowed to say these days. Earlier this year his bayonet was fixed firmly in the direction of this very newspaper when one impertinent hack dared to report – despite his firmest warnings – that he'd been jokily comparing the Lib Dems to the Taliban.

* Back in those far-off days when he was cutting his showbiz teeth as the sinister Noel Edmonds' high-pitched sidekick, few would have dreamt that Keith Chegwin would be capable of becoming such a controversial figure in middle-age.

You may have seen that Cheggers has recently become embroiled in an unseemly row with the nation's comedy establishment after standing accused of nicking performers' gags and posting them on Twitter as his own.

I for one had naively presumed the old boy might be giving the troublesome one-liners a rest – but no! By yesterday he was back in cyberspace defiantly posting his fans no less than six new gags – (well, "new" is probably a bit of a stretch).

* News that George W Bush's former press secretary Dana Perino has been handed a teaching post by George Washington University is being met with predictable sniggers among her critics. Should students get restless they might have fun asking Perino about the Cuban Missile Crisis – the 38-year-old once admitted to having no idea about what all the fuss had been about all those years ago.

* While fearsome rock chick Courtney Love has never struck me as the kind of woman you could embarrass easily, it seems that band mates have succeeded in locating her weak spot.

Among the hell-raiser singer's more unlikely romantic conquests in recent years was one Steve Coogan, the man behind that national treasure of fictional broadcasting Alan Partridge. Despite the said liaison occurring some five years ago, Kurt Cobain's widow complains that she still isn't being allowed to forget it.

"I'm in a band with three Brits and it never, ever ends," sighs the star, who reveals that she still has to endure Partridge catchphrases on a regular basis while on the road. "It's 'Back of the net!' or 'Cashback!' or whatever," she says. "It's torture. I walked into the studio recently and they'd put up this giant poster of Alan Partridge on the wall. I was like 'You take that down, right now!'"