Jamie boils over with fury at state of school meals

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The Independent Online

* Dinner ladies and Turkey Twizzlers beware: Jamie Oliver is back wielding a ladle in anger in Britain's school kitchens.

The chef's stomach-churning television crusade last year shamed school caterers with the unhealthy offerings, and forced ministers to talk about providing nutritious alternatives.

He flagged the Department for Education's reluctance to spend more than 45 pence a meal - a quarter of the cost of prison food - and the impact this had on children's classroom concentration and long-term health.

One year on, Oliver, above, says the Government's commitment to the project "is not good enough".

"It is so frustrating," he tells me at the GQ Men of the Year awards. "There has been progress - I don't want to knock the good work that's been done.

"But it is so slow, and we found places where the message has not even registered, where kids are still eating the same crap.

"There have been a lot of nice words on what they will do, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. It's the same old excuses and we're still waiting to see if the Government is taking this seriously. Our kids deserve better."

The Department for Education says it is spending £460m to ensure healthy meals in every school, every day. "It important that we concentrate on where school food is now, not where it was," says a spokesman, "Children returning to school this term will find canteens full of healthy food and drink."

Don't all rush at once!

* Is that the screech of a handbrake turn I hear?

Fans of the model and actress Kelly Brook may recall her television debut as a presenter on The Big Breakfast. Particularly how, after six months - and to the consternation of many male viewers - she was sacked, reportedly for her inability to read an autocue.

History is in the process of being rewritten, however.

Asked in a magazine interview if she has ever been laid off, Brook replies: "No, I've always quit before they could fire me."

Asked later what the biggest misconception about her is, she insists: "That I was fired off The Big Breakfast."

Strange. She has readily admitted the opposite before, just last year telling an interviewer: "Getting sacked removed all traces of ego that might have been lurking - and made me grow up."

Which was it?

* Sir Stirling Moss is said to be the greatest driver never to win the Formula One world championship.

A thrill, then, for racing fans to see the 76-year-old hurtle around the bends at the 1950s-style Goodwood Revival festival.

"This is a hell of a lot more exciting than Formula One is today," a grinning Moss tells me. "F1 may be fast and can be interesting but it is no longer exciting because there's less overtaking.

"Look at these 1950s cars - they are a thrill to drive or watch. You have the lead changing all of the time, no one quite sure who is going to win.

"And the fans come to the pits and touch the cars. Nowadays, Formula One drivers mostly fly in in their helicopters and live in their motor homes so the crowd can't get anywhere near them."

* A leaked Downing Street memo has revealed that our Prime Minister's remaining allies are drafting a "farewell tour" so he can "go with the crowds wanting more... the star who won't even play that last encore".

Stifle your sobs because he plans appearances on nice shows such as Blue Peter and Songs of Praise.

Might this be another embarrassing snub for the Prime Minister, however? The Songs of Praise choral gig is anything but a done deal.

"The guests we have on our programmes are a matter for the BBC - not for a third party to decide," sniffs a spokeswoman for the show.

"If we had a request from Tony Blair to appear we would consider that on its merits, the same as any other. It is absolutely not definite."

* Ding Ding! Watch out for spraying blood in the front-row seats, folks: two of Fleet Street's grande dames are nose to nose in the ring. Tuesday night's launch of Sandra Howard's novel Glass Houses erupted when the Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley cornered columnist Cristina Odone. Odone, pictured left, had unruffled Wadley's barnet by predicting "the end for the Evening Standard". Politicians and canapé waiters gaped in astonishment as the editor "hairdried" her critic. "It was very scary," reports Odone. "I looked around for support but everyone had backed away in fear." Says Wadley, right: "She should check her facts. It is unprofessional to publish tittle-tattle without speaking to me first." Rrrround two!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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