Diary: Milestone on the long road to recognising Alan Turing


The centenary of the birth of that brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, the man who broke the Germans' Enigma code, is less than a month away, with no sign that the thousands who have supported calls for him to be given a free pardon will get their way. Turing underwent chemical castration to avoid being imprisoned for being gay.

The reason that he has not been pardoned is that, technically, he was guilty of what at the time was a criminal offence.

However, as a small gesture towards the memory of someone who achieved so much, the council in Turing's old home town of Wilmslow, in Cheshire, is proposing to name a new road Turing Drive. Wilmslow is where he committed suicide by eating a poisoned apple, at the age of 41.

Please Oliver can we have some more?

There is something profoundly lovable about the Cabinet minster, Oliver Letwin, who once had to be hidden from view during a general election campaign because of his unfortunate predilection for blurting out the truth.

This week, a colleague was leaving the Commons and overheard Letwin's reply to someone who asked how he was getting on. "Oh, I'm fine," he said. "The world is collapsing, but it's not of our doing."

The princess and the queue

My scout who mingled with the many hundreds of guests at the Diamond Jubilee garden party tells me that watching the movements of the crowd was like seeing a moving league table of royal popularity. Kate Middleton was permanently hidden behind a crush of guests anxious to meet her, but around Princess Anne there hung a little group of just five people.

Poor old Anne. She was second in line for the throne 60 years ago, but now she is ninth, overtaken by younger brothers and nephews and nieces because she is a woman, and yet in all those years in the public life, unlike her brothers, she has never really done anything wrong.

Thanks for putting us straight, Boris

Yesterday I reported on confusion surrounding Boris Johnson's recruitment of his ex-wife, Allegra Mostyn-Owen, to his 'Muslim Engagement Task Force.' (Her second husband is Muslim).

The Mayor has since been on LBC's Nick Ferrari Breakfast Show to explain. "At the moment, we're generally reviewing our plans for engagement with all communities and we'll be seeing what we can do to, er, engage with communities across London. We're having a look at it and I'm not disposed to comment further on who is or who isn't going to be involved," he explained.

He added: "As yet, there is no Muslim Engagement Task Force and I hesitate to say that it's – what's the word I want – umm, an exaggeration..."

So, that clears that up.

Truro: where land of comedy ends

When you hear someone say "I like a joke as much as the next person" you just know they are being heavy and humourless. Andy Hamilton, a panellist on last week's edition of Have I Got News for You has been reported to the BBC Trust and the Equalities Commission because, on being asked "What caused confusion in Truro?", he replied: "Well, they're Cornish aren't they? They'll always be confused in Truro."

Dan Rogerson, Lib Dem MP for North Cornwall, did not watch the programme, but has complained on behalf of constituents who did. "I like a joke as much as the next person," said he.

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