The Feral Beast: Monty Don's moans, love and loot, Korean cuisine and Foot and footie

Monty Don has become something of a Marmite figure among gardeners, not least on social media. We recently pointed out some of his howlers, and the blogosphere is full of comments calling him "arrogant" and "condescending".

Now Monty has hit back, dedicating a column to attacking social media. Writing in the new edition of Gardener's World magazine, he says: "From those that we love and admire we can take correction, but when it comes – often loudly and rudely – from strangers... then it seems more civilised to turn off." Rather pompously, he adds: "Life is too short to be hectored, especially about something that I do for love."

Hang on a minute: he's not paid for his columns and TV appearances in love, but with a hefty BBC salary. Monty has toppled two much-loved presenters from Gardener's World. Shouldn't he listen to his critics, rather than switch them off?

Masterpiece mystery

When the writer Nicholas Shakespeare found a box of letters belonging to his late aunt, he unravelled the mystery of how she spent the war (plenty of sex and a spell in Besançon). The result is his new book, Priscilla. But there's an even bigger mystery waiting to be cleared up.

Priscilla's German lover in occupied France was responsible, in August 1944, for smuggling 200 of Goering's stolen masterpieces into Spain. Shakespeare claims that, for a while, there was a catalogue circulating in Madrid offering for sale works by Goya and Rembrandt. "It's thought the canvases ended up in the vaults of the Japanese embassy in Madrid, from where they vanished," he tells me. "They have not been seen since." Misterioso!

Cabbage diet

Links were forged with South Korea last week with a lavish state visit to London of the country's first female president, Park Geun-hye. Prince William took time out of fatherhood to attend a ceremony launching a new Korean war memorial in London, and the Queen hosted a state banquet. It all coincided with the opening of the eighth Korean film festival in London.

But nobody has done more to show loyalty to Korean culture than the food writer Gizzi Erskine, co-presenter of Channel 4's Cook Yourself Thin. I gather she has named her cat Kimchi, after the Korean national dish. Traditional preparation methods involve fermenting cabbages underground for months. I'm sure it tastes delicious.

Shaken and stirred

Roger Moore was widely considered among the less impressive presenters of Have I Got News for You when he made his debut last year. The 86-year-old Bond actor was lambasted afterwards, with viewers describing the show "uncomfortable" and "painful" to watch. Now he says it was because he couldn't read his lines. "I didn't enjoy it at all," he told an audience in London last week. "I couldn't see the monitor, because it was too far away. I was completely out of my depth." That's never stopped him before.

Having a ball

Neil Kinnock made a well-received indiscretion while speaking at a literary festival on Monday. He told a tale of how Michael Foot, the former Labour leader, once carried out a one-man pitch invasion of a football match, when his beloved Plymouth Argyle scored away during a match against Tottenham.

"Naturally the police picked him up and took him out," Kinnock noted. "He talked them round during half-time, and went back in through a different part of the ground in the second half."

Funny that Lord Kinnock didn't think to mention his own overexuberance at a recent football match. The Labour peer had to be removed by stewards at Craven Cottage last month, when Cardiff took the lead over Fulham. He was sitting among the Fulham fans, who didn't take kindly to his "vociferous" cheering. "I don't think I went wild," he said at the time. "But I did express great joy, standing up, there's no doubt at all about that."

Tea and symphony

Soprano Natalie Coyle made her debut singing for England before yesterday's rugby league world cup match against Fiji. The 25-year-old rising star tells me she was so nervous about fluffing the words to the national anthem that she had them pasted all over her house.

"I've been staring them in my bedroom and in the shower for weeks, every time I wash my hair," she says. "I think I must have sung the national anthem about a million billion times."

Does she have a favourite line? "I'm looking forward to the last one, as then it'll all be over. Then I'm going to have a cup of tea." That's the spirit!

'Scoop' Cole

The late John Cole was admired for his impartial reporting and refusal to get drawn into political gossip. But the BBC correspondent was capable of the occasional bitchy put-down.

In his memoirs, As It Seemed to Me, he tells the story of how he landed his first big scoop, aged only 21, by interviewing the then prime minister Clement Attlee as he returned from holiday in County Sligo. He recalls standing on the border and looking on as the Attlees, unrecognised by customs officials, were forced to open the suitcases in the boot of their car to make sure they weren't importing nylon stockings or worse. "There was no police escort," he writes. "The biggest danger to the British Prime Minister was from his wife, who had a reputation as an eccentric driver."

Dictionary corner

Of the five members of Take That, Robbie Williams was always the thinking fan's choice, having branched out with his own brand of slightly classier pop. So it comes as a slight disappointment to discover he had no idea what he was singing about.

Speaking on a new series of Mastertapes, to be aired on Radio 4 this week, he says of his hit number "Let Me Entertain You": "I didn't even know what those words meant. I didn't know what an effigy was, what empathy was. I just know they were words and they rhymed." Couldn't he have, like, looked them up? "I have no aspirations to be a windswept interesting intellectual," he bristles. Just as well.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

E150/2014 - English Language Checker (Grade B3)

On Application: Council of Europe: The European Court of Human Rights’s judgme...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?