Diary: Seconds out – Brian vs Elvis
Thursday 12 May 2011
The last time Brian Wilson threw a punch, he tells GQ.com, was in 1976. "At Elvis! He knew karate, right, so as soon as I raised my hand he [chopped] it out of my way. It was in a recording studio in Los Angeles," explains the former Beach Boy, in London this week to appear on Later With Jools Holland. "He had a really long burgundy cape on and kept calling everyone 'Duke'." The memory is sweeter for the knowledge that both men were in questionable shape in 1976, thanks to hamburgers and a combined drug intake to rival any East European weightlifting team.
* Much exaggerated talk of Women's Hour presenter Jenni Murray being the worse for wear at the Sony Radio Awards. The old gal was certainly standing without assistance when I asked her if she had any professional regrets. The one person she'd wanted desperately to interview, Murray told me enthusiastically – with nary a word slurred – was "a country and western singer best known for recording 'Stand By Your Man'. She was about to come over [to the UK], but then she died two weeks before her trip, so I missed her. It was the heartbreak of my career. Now, why can't I remember her name?" ( It was Tammy Wynette. We got there in the end.)
* A sad day for the English language: Simon Heffer – conservative columnist (small/large "c"), scourge of sloppy grammar and associate editor of the Daily Telegraph – is leaving the paper after a quarter century of loyal service. Heffer, distraught staff were informed yesterday, is departing "to pursue a role in journalism and broadcasting that will allow him to complete a major literary project while developing his academic interests". The venerable carrot-top joined the Telegraph in 1986 and, 10 short years at the Mail aside, has been there ever since. Hefferites were shocked when he was overlooked for the deputy editor's role in 2009. Despite taking a sabbatical to write his middlingly-received guide to English grammar and usage – Strictly English: the Correct Way to Write... and Why it Matters (I haven't read it. Can you tell?), Heffer has spent the past year managing the estimable organ's graduate scheme and defending the integrity of its style book. A new edition of said style book will be published this autumn, and made available to the Telegraph-reading public for the first time. Fitting tribute to its fiercest advocate.
* Jeremy Hunt's promised crackdown on social networks, in the wake of the super-injunction furore, will do little to halt the spread of a compelling new viral advertisement for Sunderland's Duvet and Pillow Warehouse (They sell duvets and pillows from a warehouse, or so it is alleged). The ad's star is a cheerful man with substantial eyebrows named Charles "Charlie" Hunt. Hunt (C), the company's chief executive and clearly a born performer, is also Hunt (J)'s brother.
* Yesterday, this column carried a report on deposed Sheffield Council leader (and future Liberal Democrat peer, probably) Paul Scriven – once the star of his own viral ad, for the city's Mercure hotel.
Continuing our series on council leaders and their favourite hotels, we come to Cllr Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham's Tory group, which last week bucked the national trend by losing six seats and being overtaken by Labour. Birmingham voters were perhaps wary of his insistence that, in these austere times, the council had to "do more for less".
Whitby, local reports suggest, has been in hiding since election day. Might he be holed up at Birmingham's Regency Hyatt Hotel, where he last year rented two king-size rooms to "create a suite" for himself for the duration of the Conservative Party Conference (despite living four miles away, and employing the services of a chauffeur)?
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