The Feral Beast: Trophy Tories, Bongo man clangers, missing moggies and model English
Sunday 11 August 2013
The awkward squad within the Tory party has found a figurehead in Peter Cruddas. He's the former party treasurer who last week won a libel case over allegations he charged people to meet the Prime Minister. David Cameron was forced to make a grovelling apology after making him "feel like an outcast". Now, some mischievous Tories are organising a party in Cruddas's honour, where he will be presented with a trophy. Sources are remaining tight-lipped about who will attend, but the date of 17 September has been earmarked, before party conference. "It looks like deliberate shit-stirring by the anti-Cameronites," says my man on his sunlounger. "It will be revealing to see who comes." One of Cruddas's most prominent supporters is the former Tory donor Lord Ashcroft, who cheerfully tweeted yesterday that party membership had slipped to under 100,000. Cruddas was lunching with Ashcroft when Cameron made his apology. They were seen at the super-spiffy Hôtel du Cap on the Côte d'Azur. Ashcroft was once a fan of Dave's but has clearly changed his mind lately. His office did not return my calls.
Contrary to popular assumption, Godfrey Bloom is not a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, but the real-life Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. He spent much of last week refusing to apologise for saying that Britain was sending millions in aid to Bongo Bongo Land. It's not the first time the Bloom show has been in town. Last year, he was accused by Sarah Veale of the TUC of saying: "Women should not go to work but should stay at home and clean behind the fridge." The comment was allegedly made on Women's Hour, but Bloom vigorously denied it. So incensed was he that he offered to give £1,000 to a charity of her choice if she could produce the recording. What he actually said, in 2004, was that he wanted to deal with women's issues because "I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough". Which is obviously not at all sexist.
Best Foot forward
A campaign to commemorate Michael Foot, one-time leader of the Labour Party, with an elaborate monument has scaled back its plans. Residents of Plymouth, where Foot was MP for 10 years, had intended to erect a granite monolith, costing £60,000. The grandiose scheme would involve a giant piece of Cornish granite inscribed with a quotation by the renowned orator, set in a "Surface of Memories", made of local stone paving, with yet more words etched into it. Now they've decided on a bench. Campaigner Peter Jones said it would be more fitting, as Foot was a modest man who liked to sit and read. But it won't be any old bench but "a beautiful, bespoke bench, carved from West Country granite", he says. "We hope it will inspire many people to spend some time reading, or merely reflecting as they gaze out to sea." It will cost a mere £22,000.
Very cool cat
Readers anxious to learn the fate of Alexei Sayle's missing cat, Wilf Mbanga, as reported in The Diary two weeks ago, will be pleased to hear he has been found. The long-haired mog, who bears a striking resemblance to the exiled Zimbabwean journalist, was found by a Kuwaiti family some streets away from Sayle's London home. In a bizarre twist, it now emerges the maine coon previously belonged to Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys. The Camden New Journal, which originally broke the story, reveals the cat had originally turned up as a stray in Humphrys' garden, who gave him to Sayle, a friend. The best part of the story has been the real Wilf Mbanga's involvement. He was said to be "tickled pink" on learning that the comedian had named his cat after him, and has now told the paper: "I am delighted Wilf Mbanga has been found. Even in times of distress, we need to laugh at ourselves." Surely a contender for scoop of the year.
When a Cambridge chaplain was accused of blasphemy for having a sticker in her car that reads WTFWJD?, the Church of England's top brass chose not to comment. For those still struggling, the abbreviation stands for What The F*** Would Jesus Do? Rowan Williams, ex-archbishop and now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, is away on holiday, so avoided getting dragged into the row. Only John Beer, the Archdeacon of Cambridge, dared to speak out in defence of the Rev Alice Goodman, who is the wife of the poet Geoffrey Hill, "Christianity has a long tradition of open debate," he told The Times. Indeed so. The next day, his wife Susan wrote to the paper and had her say. "I thought the comments by my husband, the Ven John Beer, in the absence of the bishop, archbishop, and ex-archbishop … were very wise. But, then, in our house, WTFWJD stands for What The Fuck Would John Do?"
My grammar and I...
Kate Moss recently revealed she is such a grammar snob that she doesn't do text messages. "Capital letters, commas – everything has to be perfect," explained the supermodel. "I can't stand it otherwise. So it takes too long so I just call instead." What then of the other Kate Mosse, novelist, former publisher and graduate of New College, Oxford? Yesterday she was quoted saying: "My children are no longer permanently based at home with my husband and I." As any Croydon schoolgirl could tell you, the children, and not Mr and Mrs Mosse, are the subject of that sentence, so what she meant to say was "my husband and me". We can only hope she was misquoted.
One of the early hits of the Edinburgh Fringe is a one-man show called The Only Way Is Downton. Yes, you guessed it: it's a mash-up of Downton Abbey with The Only Way Is Essex, with all 32 characters played by comedian Luke Kempner. What Julian Fellowes makes of it remains unknown, but Elizabeth McGovern, who plays Cora Crawley, may give her verdict. She arrives in Edinburgh with her band, Sadie and the Hotheads, on Saturday. "We have invited her, and she has been in social media contact with the performer," producer James Seabright tells me. "We hope she will come and see the show, and give him a mark for his Cora." What lawks!
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