Diary: The other Westminster coalition
Friday 18 March 2011
Despite Coalition tensions, there's still no sign of discord between the Cleggerons. Sam Cameron and Miriam Clegg made a convincing show of sisterhood after No 10's International Women's Day reception on Tuesday. The pair were later spotted together in the stalls at Wyndham's Theatre for a performance of Clybourne Park, named Best New Play at this week's Olivier Awards. Both, I'm told, laughed heartily at the show's most risqué (and least sisterly) joke: "Why is a white woman like a tampon?" asks one character. I'll let you Google the punchline.
* This column has already noted the response of eternally youthful ITV political editor Tom Bradby to Andrew Marr's estimated £600,000 BBC salary; Bradby's lengthy Twitter monologue on the subject ended with an only mildly convincing: "No, I am not jealous." Now, however, news of another envy-green political broadcaster, somewhat closer to home. I'm reliably informed that the BBC's Nick Robinson – once the holder of Bradby's current office – was more than a little miffed to find his wage packet eclipsed by that of his predecessor as political editor. Meanwhile, the Corporation has cooked up a lucrative new contract to retain David Dimbleby's services as Question Time host, a job for which Robinson might reasonably consider himself qualified. "It would be fair to say," one of his BBC colleagues assures me, "that Nick has been feeling a little undervalued of late."
* The Foreign Office has been rather busy recently, what with Japan, Libya, Bahrain and the ongoing search for the Foreign Secretary's mojo. As a result, I hear, the folks at King Charles Street have taken the unprecedented step of calling in retired civil servants to take up the slack. With this information in hand, I naturally rang the FCO press office to find out exactly how many retirees have been dragged from their armchairs to help out, and what their upper age limit might be. Sadly, they hadn't got back to me at time of writing – but I quite understand: they are snowed under, bless 'em. (And apparently Doris, 83, is still learning how to use email.)
* All due respect to Doris: this is no time for a novice. That said, the FCO's newest big-shot was introduced to the Queen at Buckingham Palace this week. Diplomat Iain Lindsay, a first-time ambassador, declares on the Foreign Office website that he's "thrilled" to be taking up his post "at such an exciting time". And where's he off to, exactly? The Kingdom of Bahrain. Hold on to your hat, Iain.
* So not all publicity is good publicity, after all. Jim Davidson, the un-PC middle-aged comic whose close friends include billiards player John Virgo and a Jamaican chap named Chalky White, generated plenty of press for Stand Up And Be Counted, his debut play about an un-PC, middle-aged comic. Unfortunately, the media coverage did not translate into ticket sales, and Davidson has been forced to pull the show after touring to just four of a planned 12 cities. The poor response was, Davidson claimed, the fault of the "economic climate", not of the crappy reviews and the fact that everyone's a little bored, frankly, of hearing him whinge on about his antediluvian material being misunderstood. He remains in talks, the public will be indifferent to learn, with "several West End producers" about bringing the play to London.
* Reader Clive Needle rightly rebukes me for mocking the notion of a "thinker in residence" at the government of South Australia – a post now held by John McTernan, ex-adviser to Tony Blair. One occupant of the role, writes Clive, "helped initiate a groundbreaking approach of helping all government departments take health and wellbeing more seriously." I suppose it'd be childish of me to find amusement in said thinker's name: Professor Ilona Kickbusch?
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