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?

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home