Diary: They should move 'Extra' Pickles to the MoD

Communities Secretary Eric "Extra" Pickles has doubtless been described as Churchillian before now, for his considerable size if not his statesmanship. Yet even the great former Prime Minister would be impressed by the number of wars his Conservative descendant has declared, fought and/or finished. Yesterday, Extra called a ceasefire in what he described as "Whitehall's War on the Motorist". In December, he hailed the end of the non-existent "War on Christmas" (his words). He even produced a series of YouTube clips during the general election entitled "Eric Pickles' War Room briefings". Meanwhile, the media has accused Extra of "declaring war" on – among other things – town halls, "street clutter", "council non-jobs" and "bossy bollards". Two questions: should Extra be moved to the MoD (with all that military experience, he's clearly wasted at DCLG)? And could we declare war on the use of "war on ... "?

* Before decamping to the slopes for Christmas, I reported that the FA was far from fond of Labour's DCMS man, Ivan Lewis. In fact, I suggested, it considers him something of a Culture Secretary. "One of the best things about that Hunt," said my FA official of the Government's Jeremy Rhyming-Slang, "is that he's not Ivan Lewis". I'm happy to note today, however, that the surprise appointment of David Bernstein (at the expense of David Dein) as the new FA boss bodes well for Lewis. The pair have been friendly ever since Bernstein's stint as chairman at Manchester City, the club of which Lewis is a fervent supporter. "[Bernstein is] one of the few chairmen in football who when he left the fans were devastated," Lewis said of the news, though I expect the departure of current chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak would have a not dissimilar effect.



* An early contender for quote-maker of the year must be Times columnist David Aaronovitch, who raised a typically schoolmarmish chuckle from Sarah Montague while describing his shameful adoration for The Archers on the Today programme: "It's a mild congenital abnormality, liking The Archers," Aaronovitch confessed. "A bit like having a third nipple, but maybe slightly more harmful." Accurate as they are, I shan't be repeating Aaronovitch's words to my elderly Archers-loving grandmother.



* The honourable member for Rhondda, renowned self-portraitist Chris Bryant, is also developing something of a reputation as a poet. (In that he writes poetry; not that it's any good.) Until now, Bryant was best known for calling Sky News anchor Kay "Hurly" Burley "a bit dim"; for accusing George (né Gideon) Osborne of homophobia; and for taking a semi-nude photograph of himself, which he later posted on a dating website. In 2011, however, I well expect the Shadow Minister for Political and Constitutional Reform to win fame for his entertaining verse. (Entertainingly rubbish, that is.) Bryant's latest, published on the Labour Uncut blog, is "What Did You Expect?", a New Year ode about the weather; his "tribal", "venal" and "vain" colleagues; and the nice thank-you letter he received from his niece for her Christmas gift. I would reproduce the whole thing here, but fortunately I've run out of space.

Faulks's novel idea for the BBC

The writer's ego is a notoriously fragile thing, but you'd expect a leading novelist to enjoy seeing his name in lights. Not so Sebastian Faulks, formerly of this parish, whose new series for BBC2, Faulks on Fiction, is to be the highlight of the corporation's "Novel Season" this spring. The four-part documentary will recount the history of the British novel through its characters: heroes, villains, lovers and snobs.

The accompanying book of the same name, however, has caused its author some consternation. As he explains in its acknowledgments: "The title of this book is not my fault. A high-up person at the BBC decreed that the series should be so-called because this year's craze is for having the presenter's name in the title. My choice – and not just because it was my wife's idea – was for Novel People and I hope it may be possible to reprint the book at some future date under that preferable title." Who was this dastardly BBC executive? And might I suggest a compromise: Sebastian's Folks?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones