Diary: Read it and sleep...

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The Independent Online

When Tony Blair published his memoir, I was able to fill at least half a column with his celebrity anecdotes, which featured such notables as Madonna, Duran Duran and Bono, whom Blair suggested would be a better PM than Gordon Brown.

He'd certainly make a more scintillating autobiographer. Try as I might, I'm unable to bring you any celebrity scoops via the index of Brown's newly published tome Beyond the Crash. The entry for Andy Murray on page 96 records merely the tennis player's voluntary pay reduction from his sponsors, RBS.

Perhaps Brown recounts an amusing dinner party encounter with the literary luminary Niall Ferguson, I thought, turning to page 193. Instead, this: "If I understand their position correctly, Professor Niall Ferguson and others suggest there is no difference between a 'consolidation strategy based on growth' and a 'credible fiscal adjustment plan'." As for the single mention of "iPod" (p145), which I dared to hope might reveal which Arctic Monkeys track featured in Brown's on-the-go playlist during the G20 summit: "The export value of the iPod was $150 in 2006."

* Only in the UK, claims Old Harrovian James Blunt, is he considered posh. "Playing in South America, Europe or Australia," Blunt plummily informed the Western Daily Press, "nobody has said: 'Oh my God, you've got a posh voice. You don't deserve to feel anything or write songs of any great meaning'."

Blunt, you'll recall, has produced such deeply meaningful hits as "You're Beautiful", "I Really Want You" and "Stay the Night". But I fear his complaint is misplaced: a recent survey by The Word magazine found that 60 per cent of chart rock and pop acts are now officially posh, including Lily Allen, Chris Martin, Florence Welch and Laura Marling, none of whom seem to feel similarly persecuted. James Blunt: a bit of a Culture Secretary?

* Splendid news from Australia: 45-year-old Lembit Opik is not, after all, engaged to his 21-year-old girlfriend Merily McGivern. Instead, the widely disseminated snaps of the couple in a jewellery store were nothing but (I should've guessed) a publicity stunt. "We just created a bit of mischief with photographers because they were following us everywhere," says the former member for Montgomeryshire. "We did look at rings, but wedding bells aren't ringing yet." All of which bodes well for the production schedule of my proposed sitcom, Anyone But Lembit – the pitch is in the post to ITV2 – in which Lembit plays himself, attempting to persuade the Lib Dems to name him as their London mayoral candidate, while the party leadership searches frantically for a more popular alternative (Week Three: Peaches Geldof).

Opik also says he was sad, upon exiting the jungle, to hear Jenny Éclair had described him as a total Culture Secretary minutes after they met. Normally it takes people a week or two.



* The Guardian has apologised to Simply Red's Mick Hucknall for an editing error that grossly underestimated his historical swordsmanship. Last week the paper reported that, during a three-year period in the mid-1980s, the ginger Culture Secretary enjoyed sexual intercourse with approximately 1,000 women. (Whether they enjoyed it is another matter.) But the number, soon widely reported, was, in fact, "meant to be more than 1,000 a year", revealed yesterday's Corrections column, "based on [Hucknall's] estimate of an average of three such encounters a day". Hucknall, who publicly apologised to his 3,000-plus partners, said he'd been "living the dream". Now we all endure the nightmares.



* On the subject of irksome redheads, no sooner had Hazel Blears been elected chair of the Social Action Forum – Labour's less-than-snappy answer to the Big Society – than she placed an advertisement for an unpaid staff position in her parliamentary office. Encouraging the voluntary sector is, of course, very Big Soc. However, "reasonable expenses [ahem] will be refunded".

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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