The Feral Beast: Who does Ed hate? Death stalks the Simpsons, a Radio 4 accent and Kinnock's paper trail
Sunday 06 October 2013
In the great pram-fight of Miliband vs the Mail, surely the question is not whether Ed's father hated Britain, but whether he does. The good news is that, according to Alexander Cockburn, Ed is incapable of hating anything.
For years, Cockburn worked on The Nation, where a young Miliband was once an intern. Before his death last year, the late journalist recalled having this conversation: "I asked the future leader what I asked all interns as a matter of form, 'Eddie, is your hate pure?' The man who first asked me that question was the late Jim Goode, editor of Penthouse … It was a good way of assaying interns. The feisty ones would respond excitedly: 'Yes, my hate is pure.' I put the question to Eddie Miliband. He gaped at me in shock like Gussie Fink-Nottle watching one of his newts vanish down the plug-hole in his bath. 'I … I … don't hate anyone, Alex,' he stammered. It's all you need to know."
Tony's missing tweets
Popular opinion has Geordie Greig to be the next editor of the Daily Mail. But have the chatterboxes overlooked an obvious contender? Step-forward Tony Gallagher, editor of The Daily Telegraph. Most of the time, Gallagher dispenses his opinions via Twitter, in finely tuned pensées of 140 characters or fewer.
But last week, during Miliband's row with the Mail, his Twitter account was unusually quiet. Instead, he saved his thoughts for a leader in yesterday's Telegraph, in which he issued an impassioned defence of the Mail and its practices. Paul Dacre will approve: he only ever gives opinions via leaders. Still, Telegraph readers won't be used to reading articles in praise of a rival.
Happily, elsewhere on the same page, the Telegraph was its usual self. A reader from Kent writes: "Not only do I push my chair in, I also stand up when a lady does and keep my jacket on throughout the meal."
Yellows in peril
Sideshow Bob has emerged as the favourite Simpsons character expected to be killed off in the new series. Speculation has been feverish after producers announced a character will expire in season 25, the first death since 2000. Bookies William Hill has slashed odds on Bob to 5/2, with Krusty the Clown, a heavy smoker, a close second at 9/1.
Bob, whose full name is Robert Underdunk Terwilliger, is voiced by Frasier actor Kelsey Grammer. He rose to prominence as Krusty's sidekick, but after years of abuse from the troubled clown, he tried to frame Krusty for armed robbery in Krusty Gets Busted. Bart Simpson foiled the plot, and Bob went to prison.
"Psychopathic Sideshow Bob has been backed in to favourite," says a William Hill spokesman. "There has also been a big gamble on Barney Gumble, [Homer's drinking partner]." Others are convinced it will be Rabbi Hyman Krustofski. Homer, meanwhile, appears quite safe at 200/1.
How to ruffle Rushdie
It's the spat that keeps on giving. Some weeks ago, the novelist Jonathan Franzen used an essay to express his "disappointment" that Salman Rushdie had succumbed to Twitter. Rushdie hit back – on Twitter of course – saying he was quite happy with his use of the medium, telling Franzen to "enjoy your ivory tower". Handbags!
But clearly Franzen's jibe that a heavyweight novelist "should know better" still rankles. Like a dog going back to its vomit, Salman has returned to the theme in an interview in Le Nouvel Observateur:
"I feel like I've been bitten by a mosquito. No, seriously, he's a very good writer. But I think he should mind his own business. Of course he has every right not to appreciate social networks. If he doesn't want to use Twitter, that's his affair. But let him not come and tell me what I ought to be doing!" Whatever happened to dignified silence?
When Jane Garvey joined Woman's Hour five years ago, she ruffled feathers by complaining that every programme on Radio 4 had a "massively middle-class bent". Now, she has clearly given up the fight, and admits to becoming posher through working at the BBC. "I think my voice has changed since I joined Radio 4," she says. "I think I've become a bit posher."
Garvey grew up in the northern suburbs of Liverpool, though she says she has never sounded Scouse. "I can put it on. I have the sort of voice that can pick up accents. Now I've picked up a sort of Radio 4 accent, really." Not quite what the new Salford-based Beeb is trying to achieve.
While the war over fracking rages in Sussex, a less high-profile eco-battle is churning in Wiltshire. This one is over proposals to build an anaerobic digester, a new source of renewable energy being championed by the Government.
Nat Rothschild was an early adopter, and now local landowner Brian Kingham is keen to build one on his estate. But locals are worried about the smell and increase in traffic. Now the villagers of Aldbourne have staged a play featuring a villain who, er, wants to build a digester. It features songs including "Frack me with your drilling rig" and it doesn't end well for the villain, Ivor Schott-Gunn (geddit?), who ends up being poisoned by caviar.
Kingham, meanwhile, is a jovial cove in red trousers, and owner of Reliance Security. As it happens, his firm was employed to protect workers building the Newbury bypass. It suffered a minor embarrassment when three security guards switched sides to join the anti-bypass protesters.
Out to lunch
Archivists at Churchill College Cambridge are used to tackling mammoth jobs. They have been left the papers of eminent politicians including John Major, Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.
But easily the most daunting task was cataloguing Neil Kinnock's papers, which comprised 937 boxes of mainly loose papers, in no particular order.
Librarian Katharine Thomson says it was so traumatic that "the sight of a box full of loose papers still makes me shiver". She writes: "My unfortunate colleagues got only too used to hearing wailing noises and indistinct cursing coming from my end of the room: eventually even I got tired of hearing myself mutter 'What is this doing here?' and settled for grinding my teeth every now and then."
Still, there was the occasional moment of levity. One note was found to read: "Don't let Hattersley go to lunch until we have had the vote."
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