Diary: The Broads love Julian

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The Independent Online

Passing what Julian Assange supposedly describes as his "masculinity test" sounds tough, but Vaughan Smith, former soldier and founder of the Frontline Club, is one of a handful of Assange associates to have done so. (Ian Hislop, Daniel Domscheit-Berg and The New York Times all appear to have failed.)

Smith, still playing host to Assange at his Norfolk home, Ellingham Hall, after more than six months, has granted an interview to Tatler, in which he confirms that his guest is, indeed, "human, just like you and me". Or, at least, "I've seen a human side of him. I remember seeing him on his way to the police station, and I saw him worried by that." Sounds like conclusive proof, I'd say.

Actually, Norfolk enjoys the dubious honour of being the sort of place where Julian Assange fits in. The county's yeomanry have even sent him gifts: books, clothes and, er, fishing rods. "Norfolk is a place where you really have to be for 25 years before people accept you," Smith says. "But Julian was accepted in 25 days." Let's just wait until he leaks the squire's tax returns, the milkman's mobile phone transcripts and that unsavoury late-night CCTV footage from the local battery farm. See if he's accepted then.

* News that Iran is threatening to boycott the London Olympics – because its government is convinced the 2012 logo looks a bit like the word "Zion" – bodes almost as badly for alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson as it does for the opticians of Tehran. Johnson's main rival for the mayoralty, Labour's Ken Livingstone, was until recently an employee of the Iranian regime, as the host of a programme on Press TV, its English-language cable channel. Were he to persuade his cross little ex-boss, beige-loving President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, to reconsider, such a coup would surely bolster his electoral chances, the mayoral vote being a mere two-and-a-half months before the Games. (Loyalty obliges me to mention that Lembit Opik, still convinced of his own mayoral potential, was also until recently a Press TV presenter. But given his inability to secure even the Lib Dem nomination, despite being the only candidate, I don't hold out much hope for his power to persuade the Islamic Republic of anything much.)



* Boris and Ken rarely see eye-to-eye, but an interview with Johnson in the latest issue of Total Politics does reveals one thing the pair have in common: both name The Godfather as their favourite film. As Michael Corleone might say, "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." Livingstone was famed for referencing the Coppola classic to his staff at City Hall, and once hailed it (during his moustache period) as "a much more honest account of how politicians operate than any of the self-justifying rubbish spewed out in political biographies". Boris rather dilutes his choice of The Godfather, I should note, by saying it's a toss-up between that and Dodgeball.



* Some of the Chilean miners immortalised as "The 33", whose underground ordeal has now been recorded in a book of the same name by journalist Jonathan Franklin, are to return to work in the next month. Just last week, Franklin confirms, the group hired the William Morris Endeavour talent agency run by super-agent Ari Emanuel to represent them. "This is huge," the author tells me. "They now have a really good chance of getting a film deal." But a previous story suggesting Brad Pitt was interested in producing such a film was untrue, as was news that all 33 would earn $1m apiece from the deal. "Anyone working in Hollywood says they're unlikely to get more than a million-and-a-half between all of them." Still, beats working down the pit, eh? Oh.



* To the Madame Tussauds 250th anniversary bash, where the great, the good and some other people gathered to enjoy the company of lifeless celebrities, and a few waxworks! (Tell a lie: there were no celebrities.) My intrepid source informs me that the statue with the longest queue of people waiting to have their photo taken alongside it was not Prince William or Lady Gaga, but Colonel Gaddafi. The room of "world leaders" where the Mad Dog of the Middle East resides also features Robert Mugabe, Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, George W Bush and Tony Blair. A waxy Gordon Brown was hidden away in a back room for the evening, though for once, given the unsavoury company, he may be rather glad of that.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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