Diary: Parsons' purple patch

You needn't be a veteran Prince-watcher to presume that a man who briefly changed his name to a symbol might be given to grand pronouncements. Such as, for example, the 52-year-old's transparently misguided assertion in this Tuesday's
Daily Mirror that the internet is "completely over".

This was, of course, Prince's way of explaining the decision to give away his new LP, 20TEN, exclusively with Saturday's edition of said tabloid newspaper, rather than sell it via iTunes. Diary was tempted to take this as proof that Prince's pop career, while far from "completely over", was no longer "completely under" either.

But it seems we were mistaken, because that hip old gunslinger Tony Parsons has listened to a sneak preview of the record, and called it – gadzooks– "his best album for 23 years!" It's as good, in fact, "as his all-time classics like Purple Rain and 1999."

And where did Parsons choose to make this Prince-worthy grand pronouncement? In the pages of the Daily Mirror, naturally.

* How many prime-time chatshows does one television channel need? Jonathan Ross has joined ITV to present a prime-time weekend chatshow on ITV1, earning somewhat less than his reported £6m BBC salary. The channel would like to retain (prime-time weekend chatshow) Piers Morgan's Life Stories despite its presenter's growing US success. And Paul O'Grady, who controversially left Channel 4 to sign with ITV last year, was also slated to host a, erm, prime-time weekend chatshow. "Paul's show starts this year," an ITV spokesman explained. "It's a one-year deal for this year. Jonathan's is for 2011 and 2012." So, Paul will be leaving after a year? "Well, it's a one-year contract at the moment, but there's nothing to say he won't also be around after that. A wide variety of shows can co-exist on ITV1. There are plenty of days in the week." Not so many in the weekend, though.

* Perhaps no constituency better condensed the tensions between Lib-Con coalition partners-to-be than West Worcestershire, previously held by Sir Michael Spicer, who cheerily used taxpayer's money to maintain his helipad. Nick Clegg visited West Worcs in the week before the election, and was settling down for a tipple at the Nag's Head pub in Malvern when Dr Ken Pollock, hot-tempered chairman of the local Conservative Association, allegedly "lunged" in his direction. Pollock was exercised about a leaflet published by the local Lib Dem candidate – who later lost comfortably to Spicer's Tory successor – but he was dragged away by police before he could discuss the matter with Clegg. Another local Tory activist emailed supporters to encourage them to pose as "aggravated residents" during the Lib Dem leader's visit. Happily, the Worcester News reports that the local Tory party has decided no action need be taken against Pollock or the anonymous emailer. Thus the pure-white new politics bleaches another inconvenient little stain.

* The Queen is now the proud owner of a Blackberry 9700: a gift from its manufacturers, RIM, whose Ontario facility she toured this week. The company claims Her Majesty is "a fan of the Canadian Smartphone". Buckingham Palace refused to corroborate the rumour. We asked Apple if they'd given the Queen an iPhone 4, but they didn't get back to us. But given Apple's rumoured stinginess with freebies, we expect the Queen will have to queue like everyone else.

* Diary understands that Toby Young (journalist, 46, Conservative with a large "C") has joined the race to succeed David Goodhart as editor of Prospect magazine. How will he pin down a full-time day job while trying to set up his cherished "free school" in Acton, and maintain his mammoth PR offensive on its behalf? "Well," Toby told us, "my hope is that the free school will be open in September of next year, so the workload associated with setting it up will begin to tail off." So you are applying for the Prospect gig, then? "I was asked by someone connected with the magazine if I would like to apply," Toby confirms. "I was very flattered. But then he quickly added that he'd called dozens of people and invited them all to apply."

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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