Diary: Some fitting words from the unwitting Fox


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The Independent Online

Have a tissue handy: there's a melancholy footnote to the Liam Fox affair. The last interview that the now ex-Defence Secretary gave before WerrittyGate was to Total Politics magazine. And, flavoured with a squirt of bitter irony, it's only just about to arrive on the newsstands. Fox first blames the "rabid imagination" of the media for confecting his rivalry with David Cameron, with whom he used to play a friendly game of tennis every week. (Dave tended to win, but only because "he's taller and he's left-handed".) Of his time at Defence, Fox says: "Leadership is about making the right decision and following it through. I wouldn't have been a good doctor if I said, 'I know what the correct treatment is, but I'm not going to recommend it because it's unpleasant.' That would be unethical. So why don't the same judgements apply to politics?" (Why not, indeed?) And finally, Fox's favourite quote – from Tennyson's "In Memoriam": "So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be." Something to go on the gravestone.

* Not since my peerless stablemate Matthew Norman was (almost) sued for a bad review of Shepherd's have London's fine diners seen such an overheated feud as the one boiling between esteemed Sunday Times critic AA Gill and esteemed chef Jason Atherton. In May, Gill gave Atherton's Pollen Street Social a damning write-up: "derivative", "vain", "rude", "honestly, seriously, utterly uneatable with human teeth" (the onglet steak, that is) and so on. He savaged the food, the decor and, indeed, the "concept". Atherton, a Gordon Ramsay protégé, is understandably peeved, rounding on the reviewer in the latest edition of drinks industry magazine Harpers Wine & Spirit. Gill, says Atherton, "called me egotistical. I'll take my name off the menus providing he takes his name off his articles and takes his picture out of the paper, stops talking about himself and focuses on what he is supposed to be doing, which is giving readers information about the restaurant. But he won't do that because he's got more ego than me... How can a recovering alcoholic do restaurant reviews? It's like sending a recovering drug addict to review a hospital. I've got no respect for him." Gill will be devastated, I'm sure.

* With Christmas approaching, bookshops are replete with comic memoirs. Last week's non-fiction hardback chart had Lee Evans at number two, Alan Partridge at seven, James Corden at eight and Peter Kay at 16. Next week, no doubt, Rob Brydon will join them. So spare a thought (or, indeed, £18.99) for comedian and ex-presenter of The One Show Jason Manford, whose own autobiography, Brung Up Proper, came out on 29 September, publishing's "Super Thursday". At the time of writing, it languishes at number 1,431 in the Amazon charts. A flop comedy memoir is a rarity, and presumably the book was commissioned before Manford's exit from The One Show, under a cloud, last November. On a more positive note, he still has loyal fans. His trio of Amazon reviewers gave the book glowing, five-star thumbs-up. "Unputdownable," writes one. "Very very funny," opines another. "Once it's in your hands you won't want to put it down," claims the last. "Brung Up Proper is the must-read of the year!"

* Surprising news for those who feared/hoped they'd seen the last of Lembit Opik: he's been sighted at the SNP conference. After his failure to secure the Lib Dem mayoral nomination, Lem told me, "It has been suggested that I should seek the SNP nomination for London mayor... Let's face it, there's probably more Scots in London than Lib Dem voters these days." Opik, an optimist by nature, was born in Northern Ireland to Estonian parents, and represented a Welsh constituency as an MP. Anything's possible, I suppose.

* Another report from the double-Ferrari world of Tamara Ecclestone: after Bernie threatened to sue if she called her haircare range Formula 1, she chose the name "Uno" instead. Are the makers of the popular card game Uno aware of this?