Diary: Sky's the metaphorical limit

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The Independent Online

When the thoroughly impartial Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, recently suggested that Rupert Murdoch had made British television "the envy of the world", I hope he'd taken into consideration the contributions of Kay Burley: Sky News anchor, erstwhile ice dancer and three-time recipient of What Satellite TV magazine's "Most Desirable Woman on TV" award. "Hurly" Burley, 50, is known for brutalising photographers, Peter Andre and a number of crucial news-based facts. She also, on this week's evidence, enjoys taking her proverbial wrecking ball to the English language. "By showing his cards, [Vince Cable] has shot himself in the foot," she declared on Tuesday, and on Wednesday tried three times to ask Deputy PM Nick "29 shags" Clegg, "Is [Cable] safe or is his coat on the shaky nail?" Clegg, as unfamiliar with the phrase as you or I, replied: "Sorry, I can't hear you." You might well ask whether, in reporting Mr Cable's travails, Ms Burley mightn't sympathise with a chap facing loud cries for his sacking. But she would probably tell you that's a whole other kettle of ball games.

* James Naughtie danced around it until four minutes to nine yesterday morning, but was finally obliged to mention the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, by his name if not his title. Hunt is, of course, taking over the BSkyB brief from Vince Cable. Sadly, neither the DCMS nor the BBC could confirm whether Naughtie Jim would get another crack at the Culture Secretary, who may be tied up spending a first Christmas at home with his seven-month-old: a son named (before the Today presenter's unfortunate intervention) Jack.

* Julian Assange – that other famed Today interviewee, beneficiary of embarrassing Cables and total Culture Secretary – has been of unexpected use to the Lib Dems, claims Lembit Opik, former member for Montgomeryshire. Opik, star of my notional sitcom Anyone But Lembit, called to discuss the WikiLeaks revelation that he'd described "29 Shags" Clegg as "thin-skinned" to the US ambassador. "I'm rather surprised that Nick hasn't picked up the phone and bothered to talk things through with me since the story broke," the old glamour model-botherer complains. "As a leader he should be keen on feedback." Opik went on to suggest that Assange, this column's new favourite narcissist (sorry, Rory), "is providing an essential means of communication between party members and the leader... It seems the only way Nick can get proper feedback internally these days is via WikiLeaks."

* Anthony Howard proved his prescience, I'm told, at one of his final engagements: a Christmas party thrown days before his death by The Tablet. Howard – a regular contributor to the Catholic Weekly, and Cardinal Hume's official biographer – used an aptly religious metaphor to give fellow guests his thoughts on the present Government. "The Coalition," he told them, "is going to hell in a handcart." Howard, if you believe that sort of thing, must be smiling down wryly now.

* A verbose voter from Penrith and The Border emails to bemoan the "antics" of local MP Rory Stewart: former soldier, adventurer, diplomat, academic, prince among men, man among princes, and still this column's second-favourite narcissist (Sorry, Lembit). "We would really like [Stewart] to concentrate on things other than his self-promotion," writes said constituent, who, I expect, holds his/her trousers up with twine. "Many in Penrith will always vote Conservative, even for a tupped Herdwick, albeit that Rory Stewart now says, inter alia, that he is 'pretty sure that he is a Tory' – a derogatory term... From his history, it appears that he is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, so hopefully will seek the Chiltern Hundreds asap!" Dear Sir/Madam, didn't you see Stewart dancing to Lady Gaga with 100 Santas in Penrith (That YouTube clip again: ind.pn/frueN4)? Your ingratitude is astonishing! Some people are never satisfied.

* Spotted adorning the wall of the Eurostar guichet at Gare du Nord in Paris – and in full view of many long-delayed passengers – a Christmas decoration bearing the imperative: "Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" Do the French do irony?