Diary: The sheen's coming off fast
While my once troublesome drinking companion Charlie Sheen has been at pains to assure us all he's "winning" in recent days, it seems Old Father Time is suddenly having a good laugh at his expense. Much like my good self, Sheen's youthful looks have long been at odds with a life of high-profile decadence. Yet, ever since it emerged he was swapping a lucrative career on a top US sitcom for a new vocation as the world's best village idiot, it's been hard not to notice that this once seemingly ageless handsome rogue (45) is looking increasingly frayed at the edges by the day. While one theory doing the rounds suggests his terminated contract with CBS included an all-important "eternal youth" guarantee, the now "sober" Sheen's recent brag that he out-drugged Keith Richards could come back to haunt him – if Charlie keeps ageing at this rate, there's every chance he too could be up for playing Johnny Depp's dishevelled on-screen Dad before the year's out. It's certainly not for me to suggest a hasty return to the vodka and Colombian marching powder.
* It would be fair to conclude that we've come some way since that dashing young leader of the Lib Dems was being hailed as "more popular than Winston Churchill" during last year's election campaign. Indeed, in those far-off barmy days when the all-important phrase "I agree with Nick" proved an ideal chat-up line for those of us cynical enough to use it, I'm sure forward-thinking party bosses felt they were playing a blinder by cunningly scheduling the Lib Dems' spring conference this year to be in Cleggover's backyard of Sheffield.
What better way to celebrate all those months on than seeing a beaming Saint Nick riding back into the welcoming bosom of his South Yorkshire homeland?
And now, of course, comes the snag: "This weekend is going to be a bloody nightmare!" shrieks one panicked local party stalwart. "In between the planned protests from unions, students and general trouble-makers, we're told the entire public transport infrastructure could come under unbearable pressure. Even Winston Churchill got abuse when he came here." Still, he wasn't as popular as this bloke.
* Yesterday saw the Daily Mail website go all nostalgic with a picture-led spread on Adolf Hitler's wife, Eva Braun. Rare photos included Frau Hitler "blacking up" as Al Jolson – along with some wholesome swimwear shots which, I'm sure, were warmly met in certain corners of Middle England. Loyal readers were quick to make their feelings known in the comments section as a healthy debate gathered momentum. While more alarmist types were "chilled to the bone" and "feeling quite sick", Eva was hailed elsewhere as the "ultimate groupie". One correspondent calmly added: "Ah ha! Hitler's girlfriend blacked up! That should have the old PC Brigade foaming at the mouth!"
* My betting career hasn't been without its setbacks, but I still know unflattering odds when I see them. So when the charming girls behind the Foxy Bingo Celebrity Mum of the Year shortlist informed me that Her Majesty is languishing at 16-1, I knew it was time to walk away. My hunch is a certain "trade envoy" is to blame!
* Labour MP – and, I'm reliably assured, future world leader – Chuka Ummuna, is known to be blessed with his own sense of destiny. Yesterday's article by Dan Hodges in Labour Uncut proved suitably measured when assessing the great man's talents. After daring to mention the "unthinkable"(?) day when Little Ted ceases to be Labour leader, Hodges was quick to place Chuka among the contenders. "Chuka is not an MP," he stated, before helpfully adding: "He is a concept. A lifestyle choice." And with that, finally, I understood.
* I've been around long enough to know you insult a national treasure at your peril, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that my description of excitable Sky political hack Jon Craig as a "mad old parrot" yesterday has been met with steely defiance by the great man himself. "I see High Street Ken's Diary in The Independent calls me a 'mad old parrot' who's 'regularly squawking' at embattled government ministers," he writes, before sensitively adding "Old?". Of course, what I meant to say is that the esteemed Mr Craig is, in fact, a middle-aged mad old parrot. My apologies.
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