Media Diary: Lembit-watchers had advance warning of Laws's downfall

Poignant and depressing though David Laws' resignation on Saturday night certainly was, at least it was less a shock than it might have been. The pre-emptive warning came on Saturday afternoon when a former colleague waded into the debate with a contribution headlined: "Opik: No question of Laws resigning". Ah well – we Lembit-watchers thought on seeing this – that's that for the ascetic member for Yeovil. It was Lembit who insisted Charles Kennedy would survive until the moment he resigned; Lembit who then became Mark Oaten's campaign manager (quite an accolade given that he was the only Lib Dem MP to back him); and Lembit, the seer of seers, who then switched allegiance to Simon Hughes. The sadness is that had Lembit only clung on his Montgomeryshire seat on 6 May he'd have been in line to replace Danny Alexander as Scottish Secretary ... and might from there have replicated the Alexander book by swiftly ascending to Cheek Secretary to the Treasury. But now what for the asteroid paranoiac? Lembit, it seems, has been hired by a gambling syndicate to go through the cards in difficult handicaps. His job, as you may have guessed, will be to tip all but one of the field.

Renaissance man

For the first instalment of derivative feature Half A Day In The Life, we turn to Stephen Fry. A week ago, my fellow darts-obsessive was Sky Sports's guest at Wembley Arena, making an impressive commentary-box debut alongside the great Sid Waddell before presenting Phil "The Taylor" Power with the Premier League trophy, and bashfully glorying in the freshly minted crowd chant, "Stephen Fry, My Lord, Stephen Fry" (to the tune of "Kumbaya"). Within 12 hours, Stephen was on Tuesday's Today, meanwhile, discussing his mixed feelings about Richard Wagner, about which he made a BBC4 documentary.

In fact, the two interests are less incompatible than they might seem. It was only after watching his friend Helmut Jookhiller lose the Bavarian Proto-Nazi Open final after his match dart bounced out off the metallic circle bit around the bull that Wagner came up with the name Ring Cycle.

And Big Cliff Lazarenko once took the part of Wotan at Glyndebourbe, of course, to some critical acclaim. Even so, Stephen's was the finest display of renaissance manhood since Leonardo designed the submarine, painted Mona Lisa and invented spaghetti carbonara all on the same Tuscan morning.

Dave and darts

Incidentally, darts has a still more glittering celeb fan opportunity. David Cameron is another lover of arrows. As viewers of C4's When Boris Met Dave will recall, it was watching rank outsider Keith Deller win the 1983 world title that instilled the underdog stoicism that later saw him come for nowhere to steal the Tory leadership from David Davis. If PDC darts chairman Barry Hearn isn't peppering No 10 with invitations to the World Championship final in the New Year, he'd be daft. And Mr Hearn is not daft.

Amis et amis

Mr Deller was also an inspiration for Martin Amis, who modeled anti-hero Keith Talent on the lairy Suffolk chucker. However, it's to Amis Père that Paul Johnson turns his attention in his new memoir serialised in the Daily Mail. Although he generally approved of Kingsley, Paul identifies him as "not a normal man", and on this he speaks with authority. Lovers of the sleb confessional will richly enjoy a book in which the ribald octogenarian, better than ever in his anecdotage, drops names as Bomber Harris dropped bombs on Dresden. I don't wish to spoil the fun, so this intro to one of so many hilarious reminiscences must suffice. "Comedian Frankie Howerd was sitting opposite me at a dinner given by newspaper owner Robert Maxwell ..." Perhaps next week we will dip into some recollections that didn't make the Mail cut ... the night at Tallulah Bankhead's, perhaps, when Paul reduced Scott Fitzgerald to helpless giggles by lecturing Flaubert on the inadequacy of his prose.

Kangaroo court

For Andrew Wakefield, all is not lost. There were concerns that Melanie Phillips, quiet for too long about the MMR-autism link she championed, would never return to the scene of that triumph. Yet within a day of Mr Wakefield being struck off, Mad Mel blogged a piece headlined "A travesty, and a tragedy", dismissing the General Medical Council hearing as a "risible kangaroo court" (well they did rather rush to judgment; the enquiry didn't begin until 2007). She hopes eventually to reveal "the full story of how this sinister travesty was accomplished". Holding of the breath is not, as GMC cardio-vascular guidelines suggest, recommended. But MM remains game as a kipper, and you have to love the crop-haired dumpling for that.

The outsiders

An educational detail causes a shift in the market on the new BBC political editor (even if Nick Robinson suggests he's going nowhere). News that Nick's deputy James Landale attended Eton at just the time Boris was meeting Dave sees him installed as 9-4 favourite, ahead of Jon Sopel and Cher on 8-1. Sid Waddell, Martha Kearney, Laura Kuenssberg and Metal Mickey are bracketed on 18-1, but Adam Boulton has drifted out to 33s on rumours he's been expelled from his anger management course after a scrap with fellow student James "Buster" Murdoch. William Hill offers this intriguing bet. You can have 20-1 about Mr Landale sharing the job with Matt Frei, the Beeb's star man in the US, who went to Westminster. As for Lembit Opik, he was seen in a Newcastle Ladbroke's on Friday lumping a monkey on the late Walter Kronkite.

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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran