Pandora: It's all Greek to Boris
Thursday 03 April 2008
It is a bold move, given the stiff relations between Greece and Turkey and Boris Johnson's Ottoman heritage (the Tory London mayoral candidate's great-grandfather, Ali Kemal – who came to Britain 98 years ago – was a Turkish journalist and, briefly, interior minister). Tonight, Bozza will take to the airwaves of London Greek Radio for 20 minutes to address the Mediterranean nation's estimated 400,000-strong British diaspora.
The interview has been arranged by the station's Andrew Charalambous, a property tycoon and former Conservative parliamentary candidate. Presumably the new, baby-reined Boris will resist any "generalisations" liable to offend assorted natives, as he did with Papua New Guinea ("orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing"), Liverpool ("deeply unattractive psyche") and Portsmouth ("too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs").
The summit, the bus crash and a press man out of joint
Gordon Brown's visit to the Nato summit in Romania started badly for a sizeable chunk of the British delegation, thanks to a potentially serious road accident involving a minibus crammed full of standing Downing Street officials and journalists.
The Press Association's political editor Jon Smith, left, is believed to have broken his arm when buried by luggage and other passengers, including the Sky News political editor Adam Boulton, right.
Passengers said officials in Bucharest pushed a "dangerous" number into the small vehicle, forcing half of them to stand. They were being driven from the airport through the city's outskirts at 20mph when a car shot out before the minibus, forcing their driver to stamp on his brakes. Standing passengers flew through the air. The dapper Foreign Office press man James Roscoe helped Smith. Police led the pair off to hospital.
Several hacks criticised what they said was Downing Street's cavalier attitude to the safety of journalists on the PM's foreign trips.
"This is common: more than 20 of us were pushed into a vehicle designed for 10, max," says Boulton, who, upon the emergency stop, joined the "pile of bodies and luggage with poor old Jon at the bottom". "There is a culture of 'the travelling press are a nuisance so they go to the bottom of the list'," he added. "It is a culture which is slightly negligent."
Best wishes to Smith, who had just filed a story headlined "Brown braced for bumpy ride at summit". He was similarly injured and had a year off sick, when a bus crashed in China as he followed Tony Blair.
Keith hopes to take Fayed film to Cannes
The thought of Keith Allen beingunleashed on the French Riviera is slightly frightening. The rambunctious actor and former recreational pharmaceuticals frontiersman, pictured with his daughter Lily, plans to take to this year's Cannes Film Festival his new, feature-length documentary about Mohamed Al Fayed and the inquest into the deaths of Diana and Dodi.
However, with the jury retiring only yesterday, Allen faces a race to finish editing before the sunny cinematic extravaganza begins on 14 May. The dreadlocked controversialist Victor Lewis-Smith is the producer, through his company Associated-Rediffusion.
Lewis-Smith describes Allen's technique as "taking the temperature of Britain with an anal thermometer, then wiping it all over the screen". The Fuggin' Pharaoh (like Keith, a Fulham fan) approves of his style.
Snow dreams of Sinatra
The newsreader Jon Snow, whose father was the Bishop of Whitby, spent five becassocked years as a chorister beneath Winchester Cathedral's Gothic arches. "There were turkey feasts in the deanery and egg-and-spoon races with the clergy," he has recalled. He ought to begin furiously gargling in the shower; in seven weeks his mild tones will be tested.
Snow is the star attraction at a fundraiser for the New Horizon youth centre, to be held on 21 May at St Mary's Church in Euston, north London. As chairman of the charity, he has gamely volunteered to sing a solo.
"There is a danger to it, yes," he tells Pandora. "I am not a totally lost cause, but it has been rather a long time." Snow says he is veering towards Mitch Leigh's "The Impossible Dream" (from the 1965 musical Man Of La Mancha) or Frank Sinatra's "My Way".
* Tonight, the Stop the War Coalition will attempt to hijack Tony Blair's dreary-sounding talk at Westminster Cathedral about "Faith and Globalisation" by drowning him out with a "wall of sound". Brian Eno will be there, and apparently plans to record the din. Don't be surprised if you hear it sampled on a future U2 or Coldplay album.
* This weekend's Grand National has claimed its first victim. The tipster Angus Loughran, known as "Statto", has been axed from BBC coverage because of problems with his bank manager. Loughran is to meet bankruptcy officials on Monday after being declared insolvent over a £5,700 debt to the spread-betting company Sporting Index. "Angus has had some recent personal difficulties, which he is in the process of addressing," says a BBC spokesman. His place will be taken by snooker player John Parrott.
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