Diary: Not so sociable after all

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The Independent Online

Sometimes readers, it really is a case of enough is enough! Ever proud to come to the aid of a troubled damsel in distress, High Street Ken would like to inform all those impolite fools out there that Jemima Khan no longer wishes to be insultingly referred to as a "socialite". Over to you Jemima: "Calling me 'a socialite' is such a lazy way for journalists to undermine me," she announces with admirable restraint, before going on to point out: "I rarely go out, I write, have worked for charities my entire adult life and I campaign on issues that I believe in." Having highlighted Jemima's obvious distress, High Street Ken is suddenly indulging in what is perhaps an overdue spot of soul-searching. In short, it's made me realise that it's all too easy for celebrated social commentators like my good self to unfairly label our hardworking public figures whenever the mood takes us. So I will think on before next flippantly referring to the "idiot" Lembit Opik, the "bonkers" Heather Mills and, indeed, the "charming" Andrew Lloyd Webber.

* While not yet a political historian of note, I would wager this week marked the first time a Leader of the Opposition has been called "Basil Brush" by a serving British Prime Minister. What's more, prior to popping in for a chinwag with his party's 1922 Committee, I hear Dave was quick to assure curious hacks assembled in the corridor that the whole "Basil episode" at PMQs had been nothing short of unrehearsed comic inspiration on his part. Basically, when Little Ted Miliband unwisely said the word "airbrush" from across the Dispatch Box, something in our leader's brain said "go for the Basil line, you'll have them in stitches!". Or, is he covering up the fact he knew just how much this could wound young Ed, still rumoured to have unresolved puppet-based issues of his own? Dave certainly cemented his credentials as a child of the seventies – he grew up watching Basil accompanied by "Mr Derek", played by Derek Fowlds of Yes Minister fame. But where does this all end? Can anyone even mention Hull to him without having Rod Hull flippantly fired back at them?

* Australia, you've got a nerve, you really have. While I'll resist pointing out all your best cricketers have retired, there are times when a proud patriot such as I has to draw the line. Not only has one of your unseemly lot seen fit to take advantage of a fine English Rose at a time when she was at her most vulnerable, your press dare to gleefully describe our very own Hugh Grant as her "love cheat ex". While Hugh did indeed briefly pay the price for asking a kindly American woman directions when he first made it in Hollywood, it's a bit rich digging all that up now!

Surely a case of pots and kettles Australia, judging by the recent behaviour of your own so-called "national treasure"? Fortunately, I can assure you that Mr Grant rises above such insults with cheerful dignity. Can the same be said for the man you call "Horny Warnie"? I rest my case.

* While appreciating I may be a little early tapping into the potential Jack Straw nostalgia boom, it's good to see the wily old operator hasn't lost any of that famous fire in his belly. Following the controversial sacking of manager Big Sam Allardyce from Jack's beloved Blackburn Rovers, fellow fans hoping to see their MP take the new club's owners to task probably should have known better. While going as far as to say he's "uneasy" about Allardyce's surprise departure, ol' Jack knows which side his bread's buttered. "The club has new owners," he tells the Lancashire Telegraph. "I wish them well and will do anything I can do to help – as I have already offered." He then helpfully adds: "I just hope their plan works." As plenty of Labour colleagues would point out, this is one political veteran who has never liked to hedge his bets.

* Finally, for those of you at Westminster City Council who appear to have objected to being called "bloodthirsty Satanists" in this column yesterday, I never said all of you were. So sensitive!

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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