Diary: The reality is that Ali's bagged another top gig


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The Independent Online

In that ever widening Venn Diagram intersect where reality TV and occupational therapy meet, we meet Alastair Campbell – yet again. Fresh from "teaching politics" at Jamie Oliver's pretend school, Ali has signed up for First Love, a Sky Arts series in which celebs are coached to perform publicly on the favourite instrument from their youth. This is not what the smuttier among you may think (we leave the sub-Carry On muck to David Cameron, later in this column; Ali's status as top-ranked onanist will remain metaphorical). He will be tutored on his beloved bagpipes, which featured as an unlikely seduction tool in his Forum soft porn oeuvre long ago. The Sunday Times hints that he will play the pipes of peace at a gig on Bob Dylan's forthcoming UK tour. However, judging by the series producer's tactical deployment, in less than 45 characters, of the phrase "it's very early days", this theory bears the same relation to the truth as the dossier Ali in no way sexed up. If, as assumed, he ends up performing Flower of Scotland for mystified fellow Burnley fans during half time at Turf Moor, this is not to denigrate the project. It is essential that Ali is kept busy with harmless pursuits. If this is his outpatient's equivalent of weaving a pot plant holder from macramé in the high security ward support group, Sky Arts is to be applauded. Aren't acts of charity like this what the Big Society is all about?

* Very touching, meanwhile, to find the BS inventor apologising so sincerely for anything he said that may have offended the ladies, though the Andrea Dworkin of Downing St still denies deliberately taunting Nadine Dorries with his PMQs reference to her being "frustrated". Nadine originally thought this such spiteful innuendo that she rushed from the chamber in disgust. On her blog, coincidentally, Nadine quotes criticism of Lib Dem president Tim Farron – himself a recent victim of nasty, unfounded sexual gossip – for abstaining on her abortion amendment. This she headlines "Outed". You see how easy it is, Nadine, to seem smuttily malicious while intending nothing of the kind?

* Still with lamentable confusion, let there be no misinterpreting Neville Thurlbeck's pledge to keep "a dignified silence" over his sacking as News of the World chief reporter, until he meets his ex-employers "face to face in a public tribunal", as a threat. News International, know this: there is no point offering Neville £1m, or even £2m, to abandon his unfair dismissal claim and keep schtum. After all his years spent exposing hypocrisy in your employ, he is too addicted to publicising the truth to be silenced by a fortune. The very thought of it.

* Not since Fox News and the "Ground Zero mosque" has a media outlet worked as valiantly to conflate a scandal as the Daily Mail group has with the BBC fatwah against BC and AD. Even Mad Mel Phillips struggled to confect the outrage. So thank the Lord for George Carey. The erstwhile Primate of All England appeared in yesterday's Mail on Sunday with his undercassocks in a frightful twist, and justly so. Let the persecutors of Christians ban calendrical initials today, and tomorrow they'll be making the bishops live in slightly smaller palaces. As the Rev George Hargreaves, leader of the Christian Party and author of X Factor mentor Sinitta's popular hymn So Macho, explained on BBC1 yesterday, this is just how Nazi Germany started.

* Dr Carey's timely sermon reminds us that his old post – in which he was lauded as history's most comically overpromoted cleric since Father Abraham was made Cardinal of Smurfland – will need filling next year. Recalling that the Anglican church likes to alternate the Archbishopric of Canterbury between intellectual atheists/agnostics, such as outgoing Rowan Williams, and believers like his predecessor Dr Carey, John Sentamu is duly installed as your odds-on 8-11 favourite.

* Surveillance: Murdoch-tormenting minx Louise Mensch standing slightly aimlessly outside a Japanese restaurant in King Street, Hammersmith before taking to the passenger seat of a Range Rover. Over the weekend, the Tory MP for Corby was forced into a non-denial denial after being ungallantly asked about cosmetic surgery. All we can say on this evidence, admittedly at dusk, is hats off to the surgeon.