Diary: You must be joking, Stewart

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Comedian Stewart Lee is not amused by an online vote to find a "comedy god" among the past winners of (and nominees for) the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award and its predecessor, the Perrier. The poll to celebrate the award's 30th year is, Lee suggests in an email to its publicist Anna Arthur (seen by comedy website Chortle.co.uk), "the most shameful, inane thing I have seen in all the years I have been doing the [Edinburgh] Fringe." The awards have, he goes on, been criticised previously for the developing world policies of Perrier's parent company Nestlé, among other things. Moreover, "It is not possible for the outcome of this poll to have any credibility. How dare you proceed with this farcical, selfish idea?... Corporate whores. Morons. Illiterates... Your cynicism is breathtaking." And so on. This aversion to polls didn't stop Lee appearing as a talking head on the Channel 4 show, The 100 Greatest Stand-Ups (decided by public vote), then naming his 2008 stand-up tour accordingly: 41st Best Stand Up Ever.

* The Times chose to run the news of Lord Black's release on its front page yesterday, while The Guardian printed it on the first page of its Financial section. The Mail, meanwhile, went big on page 11 (using the now-famous "fancy dress" photo of Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel) and The Independent found a modest slot on page seven. Yet for some reason The Telegraph, of which Black was once owner, relegated the tale to a tiny news-in-brief slot on its world news pages. Even more curiously, a blog for the paper's website by Toby Young, entitled "Congratulations to Conrad Black on being granted bail", was removed early yesterday morning. Any idea why, Toby? "I honestly don't know." Can you tell me what it said? "Erm... It's actually kind of a bad time." I asked the Telegraph's press office, too, but they haven't got back to me yet.

* Happily, Diary has a web-savvy chum who soon salvaged said blog entry from something called a "cache". Young, it seems, is a fan of Lord Black ("Good luck, Conrad. I hope you knock your persecutors into a cocked hat.") because the disgraced magnate once backed him in a battle with former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans. In 1998, Young wrote a critical piece for The Spectator – then under Black's ownership – about Evans's departure as president of Random House. Evans threatened legal action, though he eventually backed down. Young has discussed the imbroglio previously (I Googled it), so I can't imagine why the Telegraph chose to delete the blog. But perhaps it's down to the new revelation that, asked whether he would support young Young in the event of a potentially costly libel suit, Black allegedly replied: "Damn right I will ... Harold Evans is a fucking Communist."

* News arrives of a football match earlier this week between the Conservative Party and a combined Football League/Sport England team at Barnet FC's surprisingly plush training ground. The Tories, however, only managed to muster eight party workers and backbenchers for their team, meaning their rivals had to lend them players to make up the numbers. Luckily they're used to that sort of arrangement, and the Tory coalition team went on to win on penalties. I can only assume Jeremy Hunt, the minister responsible for sport, was too busy picking out paintings for his office walls (as I reported yesterday) to attend.

* The BBC has been given the go-ahead from MI5 and Westminster Council to build a US embassy-style concrete and steel barrier around Broadcasting House, to protect the building from vehicular terrorist attacks. Perhaps the Beeb ought to be more worried about attacks on the licence fee from Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt (he also does sport) – especially as the scheme is going to cost the Corporation a reported £5m.

* Another eye-catching Daily Express front page splash yesterday: "CANCER ALERT IN HOUSE CLEANERS: Using polish can double risk of breast tumours." Surely they meant "Polish"?