Genius moments: November 2008

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Some mothers do hate 'em

Not strictly a moment from this year – the outburst in question took place in the early-1990s – but nonetheless one too piquant to pass over. On the publication last month of his book It's a PC World, the Today programme presenter Ed Stourton recalled a conversation with the Queen Mother about the European Union: "'It will never work, you know... It will never work with all those Huns, wops and dagos...' The words were delivered with the eyes on maximum tiara-strength twinkle, but I am afraid I froze. The nation's favourite grandmother was, I thought, in fact a ghastly old bigot."

To Mandy, with love

You can't accuse The Spectator of lacking a sense of humour: it played host to a meeting between Tory front-bencher George Osborne and Peter Mandelson, the Government business secretary – the first meeting since a spat between the pair that was prompted by a summer holiday they shared in Corfu. Osborne had leaked details of Mandelson being not-too-positive about Gordon Brown to the press. In response, a friend of Mandelson's dropped Osborne in the soup by claiming the Tory had used the trip as a chance to court party donations from a Russian billionaire. Osborne was presenting Mandelson with the Political Newcomer of the Year prize at the magazine's annual awards. "You know how it is, the only other English guy at the resort – you swap stories about work, how it is back home and you think you are never going to see them again," Osborne quipped as he handed over the gong.

Till Second Life do us part

They met in an internet chatroom in 2003 and celebrated their marriage in 2005 by throwing a "wedding" in the online world Second Life – so it made some sort of sense that the marriage of Amy Taylor and David Pollard should fall apart in cyberspace. Earlier this year, Amy caught David "cuddling a woman on a sofa in [Second Life]... I demanded to look at his chat history."(She had previously found her husband dozing at his keyboard while his online avatar Dave Barmy was having sex with an online call girl.) Dave had no answer, and their divorce was finalised a few weeks later. Still, Amy no doubt took a crumb of comfort from the fact that the Second Life courts had managed to process their online divorce months earlier, in May.

Rick Astley: bigger than the Beatles

The geeky internet joke that is "rickrolling", whereby recordings of the 1987 number one hit "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley are played at public events or via internet links as a prank, reached a climax at the MTV Europe Music Awards. "Rickrollers" hijacked a popular vote at the awards to name Astley "Best Act Ever" ahead of acts including U2, Britney Spears and the Beatles. The retired singer, who is 42, was not at the ceremony to collect his award. "I'm really happy with the life I've got. I'll just leave it at that," he told The Independent on Sunday.

Get the picture?

Credit crunch-beating gesture to warm the cockles of your aching heart! The street artist Adam Neate and a team spent a Friday leaving 1,000 of his screenprints on the streets of London, to be taken by anyone who found them. Within hours several of the prints were on eBay. "It has always been a dream of mine to do a show around the whole of London," the 30-year-old said. "I want everybody to be able to see it, but once the pieces are out there I don't mind what happens to them."

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