Diary: No treats for the Cabinet
Wednesday 09 March 2011
Sarah Vine – Times columnist, domestic goddess and wife of the Education Secretary, Michael Gove – is, as her readers will be aware, a keen baker. Last week, I'm very reliably informed, she produced a particularly large batch of flapjacks and, unable to feed them to her family fast enough, gave them to her husband as a treat for his hungry cabinet colleagues. Pickles, Clarke et al, she surely concluded, are classic flapjack-lovers. Gove dutifully transported the tasty snacks to Downing Street in a Tupperware container. On his way to the Cabinet Room, however, he was detained by that day's security detail, who informed him, in no uncertain terms, that the Tupperware – not to mention the flapjacks within – was a security risk, and would have to stay with them. So Gove went to Cabinet empty-handed, and Ken Clarke's tea went unaccompanied. But who, we might well ask, ate all the flapjacks?
* To mark International Women's Day, this newspaper carried glowing profiles of three great women by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, including an ode to Aung San Suu Kyi. The Guardian named the Burmese pro-democracy leader the world's most inspiring woman (closely followed by Margaret Thatcher and Maya Angelou). Sadly, however, Ms Suu Kyi was ineligible for the Metro readers' poll to pick the most influential woman to live or work in London in the past 100 years. Which is, surely, why the vote was topped by Leona Lewis, winner of the third series of The X Factor. Lewis garnered a remarkable 77 per cent of the vote; Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts took second place with just 4.88 per cent. Emmeline Pankhurst (who he?) managed a measly 1.78 per cent. The result, presumably skewed by some Leona Fanclub Facebook group or other, caused such a torrent of unsisterly online abuse that I almost suspect the paper of publishing it deliberately to attract web hits from irate commenters, and snide remarks from other journalists. A rousing success on both counts, then. Happy Day After International Women's Day!
* The Prime Minister's tummy-tickling appearance on last night's edition of The One Show, during which Alex Jones and Strictly runner-up Matt Baker stopped short of feeding him pancakes drizzled in syrup (but only just) was, at last, something for which the PM could thank his embattled new spinner, Craig Oliver – hired for his alleged broadcast news nous, and another recent victim of Downing Street's strict security regime. The hapless Oliver (who, to his credit, has provided me with an item per day since he took over last week) was hand-picked for the role by his predecessor, Andy Coulson, and then, as this column previously noted, personally recommended by his ex-BBC comrade Nick Robinson – which speaks volumes for both men's sense of humour. Robinson blogged of Oliver's appointment that, "He wants to be able to look back and say that he was more than a mere spectator as history unfolded." A few more blunders and Oliver may indeed become part of history – though, as he's been making my job so much easier, I do hope not.
* More cause for levity at Labour HQ, I'm told, where staffers stumbled across a new entry on the LinkedIn profile of their former colleague John McTernan, Tony Blair's one-time political secretary and now (or so that online CV attests) "Thinker in Residence at [the] Government of South Australia". As one Labour apparatchik reflected, this is "possibly the wankiest job title I have ever heard". Yet more troubling, I'd say, is the fact that South Australia has to hire in its thinkers from elsewhere.
* Gourmet news: Mark Hix is cooking for Richard Caring again. Hix, ex-chef director of Caring's Caprice Holdings (and – ahem – food writer for The Independent), left to start his own restaurant group three years ago. But, as one of the chefs cooking for leukaemia charity Leuka's guests at its annual fund-raising dinner on Monday, he was a lot in the evening's auction. Along with the likes of Pierre Koffman and Richard Corrigan, he offered to cook a meal at the home of the highest bidder. The highest bidder was, of course, Caring, who paid £14,000 to savour his ex-employee's cooking again. The night's biggest payout, however, was £26,000 – for Rainer Becker of Zuma. The event raised £431,000 in all.
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