Diary: Who's got Eric in a pickle?

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The Independent Online

Eric "Extra" Pickles finally got his man this week, when an internal investigation unmasked Mark Upton, a senior official in the Department for Communities and Local Government, as the "Naked Civil Servant" – a formerly anonymous tweeter of anti-Coalition banter.

However, I'm told Extra Pickles has another tormentor, who remains at large: the man or woman responsible for images of Doctor Who villains the Sontaran, which continue to mysteriously appear, pinned to various departmental walls and/or doors. Heaven knows why they find it so amusing.

* Alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson has been indulging in his favourite pastime again: baiting his future Conservative leadership rival George (né Gideon) Osborne from the pages of the Telegraph. In his column yesterday, the Mayor of London put forward the theory that Andy Murray – and other aspiring British tennis champs – would be more successful at Wimbledon were the Government to lower the 50 per cent tax rate. Murray's opponents, you see, are more incentivised to "run that extra half yard for the ball": not because they are professional sportsmen for whom winning is a psychological imperative, but because their countries are more generous to high-earners. Murray was knocked out by Rafa Nadal, whose game, Boris suggests, is enhanced by his country's lower top tax rate of 47 per cent. If only, you might well grumble, this country was as fiscally savvy as Spain.

* A torrent of entries is pouring into Independent Towers in response to my request for a slogan that the Mayor might wear on a T-shirt marking his re-election campaign. Boris's people are running a similar competition, the winner of which will be photographed with the Mayor as he sports their triumphant design. Early suggestions from the newsroom included: "Four More Yahs", "I 'Heart' BJ", "I Went to Liverpool and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt", and "Who's the Daddy?" – none of which I expect to meet the high standards demanded by the Mayor himself. However, I can promise to reward the reader who provides the best alternative slogan (before this Friday) with a bottle of champagne. In the meantime, here's another submission from the corner of the office known as the Armpit, where this column's staff of one resides: "Boris Relaxare Dicit!" (That's "Boris Says Relax". In Latin.)



* Tennis fans left bereft by the end of the Wimbledon championships should look ahead to next year, when they can enjoy a double helping: the tour returns to the All England Club just a few short weeks after Wimbledon to contest the 2012 Olympic tournament. I'm told the BBC's coverage of the event will be a "rationed down" version of its Wimbledon coverage, as the budget won't accommodate the Corporation's cluster of international pundits: McEnroe, Becker, Austin, Cash et al. I don't suppose there's any chance John Inverdale's too pricey as well, is there?



* Sad news from a former mayoral candidate, Baroness King of Bow, also known as "Oona", whose ill-starred campaign to become Labour's candidate in 2012 has left her somewhat out of pocket. "If you could find it in your heart to have a great night out with me, at a fundraising dinner on my behalf," she writes in an email to her friends and supporters, "you'd stop me wanting to top myself." Tickets for the dinner and champagne reception later this month at the Ministry of Sound (Oona's preferred nightspot) are going for as much as £150. Then again, the star guest on the big night will be none other than Ed Miliband. Reports suggest that any attempt to make small talk with the Labour leader will be met with a familiar, if baffling, response: "These strikes are wrong, at a time when negotiations are still going on. The Government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner..."

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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