Diary: Prezza backs wrong Piers
Wednesday 19 January 2011
As if a 100-foot billboard of Piers Morgan in Times Square wasn't sufficiently sickly, the rookie CNN interviewer's marketing team yesterday dispatched large boxes of resolution-busting CNN/Morgan cupcakes to newspaper offices across London, no doubt hoping to secure favourable reviews for their man's first outing with Oprah. (I poked it down with tea, sipped from my similarly bizarre Sky News/Adam Boulton mug, received a day previously.) The cupcakes were as nothing, however, to the surprise one loyal reader of this column registered upon learning that former Deputy PM John Prescott had joined the smug one's cheerleading squad: Prescott, it seemed, was tweeting that he planned to stay up until 2am (Morgan's live transmission time), to pull a "Piers All-Nighter". Of course, when said reader rubbed his/her eyes, they realised that Prescott's links led, instead, to live footage of the filibustering House of Lords debate on the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill – also known as the "Peers' All-Nighter". Sleep has never seemed so inviting.
* David Davis, known for claiming the scalps of Labour home secretaries and taking their teeth home to turn into necklaces, teamed up with former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw (known for interminable sentences and emulsified sauces) to force a vote on prisoners' voting rights in the Commons.
What could possibly unite these two men, besides their contempt for this particular quirk of the European Convention on Human Rights? Their exercise regimes, perhaps. While ex-SAS man Davis had a climbing wall installed at his constituency home, Straw also claims to be a "gym addict" whose passion is "pumping iron". He memorably threatened to clock Ed "Bruiser" Balls in a cabinet meeting. Still, you'd fancy Davis in a fair fight – even his friends will tell you that Straw always lacked the killer instinct.
* In the absence of anyone willing to commission his stage tour with "Dr Gillian McKeith, PhD", let alone my notional sitcom Anyone But Lembit, celebrity diner and former member for Montgomeryshire Lembit Opik recently took to the high seas as a cruise-ship entertainer with Cunard. Having sailed to New York and back without a single fellow passenger seeing fit to prod him off the end of a plank, Lembit has called to inform me that the trip was a resounding success.
"Around 900 people turned up for my talk entitled 'I'm an ex-MP... Get Me Out Here', which was about my time in the jungle," the old glamour model-botherer explained. "When you consider there were around 2,000 people on the boat, that's almost half of the people coming to watch me. 650 even turned up for my talk on astronomy."
Remarkably, the ship still boasts its full compliment of lifejackets.
* Despite a welcome lull in the saturation media coverage of his West London Free School, Toby Young (journalist, 47, Conservative with a large "C") remains capable of bringing the worst out in even mild-mannered chaps. And it seems the ever-friendly Danny Boyle is one such chap. In a new book by Amy Raphael, Danny Boyle: In His Own Words, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire admits to having harboured murderous thoughts about the troublesome hack/headmaster.
Boyle was in the middle of a Q&A about Slumdog Millionaire with its screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and producer Christian Coulson. "That guy Toby Young was in the audience," the director recalls. "He got up and made a speech about how implausible the story was. I was about to stand up and call him a twat when Simon stopped me." Happily for everyone, Toby has been called much worse before now.
* More desperately subtle synergies at Dick Desmond's Daily Express, which yesterday carried a large cover image of its owner's OK! magazine not only on page one, but also on page three. The story in question was the first image of (close personal friend of this column) Sir Elton John and David Furnish with their baby son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John. "I'm ready to have a child and lavish my love on our son and not spoil him materially," said Elton. Frankly, I'm disappointed that he and David failed to come to me with the world exclusive. But hey, there's always Lembit.
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