Tuesday 21 February 1995
That Madonna should have exerted so much effort to come over here for last night's Brit Awards surely signals only one thing: that her career is in the doldrums. She was once so revered that the only Brit to gain access to her was the former newspaper editor Andrew Neil, who happily gave up his day job to sit crooning at her feet, Hello!-style, for a couple of weeks. But that's all over now. Instead, we hear about how much her various bits of clothing fetch in American auctions, how she is reduced to modelling for Versace and how she now gives interviews galore to tacky magazines. There's no new book, no film and no best-selling album. If only the same could be said for Andrew Neil ...
Brian Sewell, the art critic who became an overnight celebrity last year after publication of a letter signed by 25 art bigwigs calling for his resignation, is upset again. Zwemmer, Britain's leading group of art bookshops, is not stocking his latest book, The Reviews that Caused The Rumpus and Other Pieces. Sewell, I hear, suspects censorship. However, when I rang the Litchfield Street branch of Zwemmer, someone very charmingly told me it was merely out of stock. Strange, though, that a bookish local swears he's never seen it on the shelves there ...
Last week I met a miracle man: Paul Sherwood, a doctor specialising in "physical medicine" whom Michael Caine, Roger Moore and Biddy Cash, wife of the Tory Euro-sceptic Bill, all swear cured them of back pain after years of failure at others' hands. So what's so special about Dr Sherwood?
"I recommend people not to wear too many clothes," he says, deadpan, "and in my latest book, Asthma and Beyond, I recommend that we all eat food after its sell-by date. The body needs a bit of bacteria, you see."
Dr Sherwood proceeds to tell me what happens to people who do not take his advice - a famous example being the actor Peter Sellers. "I'd already cured him once ... but then didn't see him for a while," he explains. "Later I took one look and told him that unless he did as I told him he would be dead within 12 months. He didn't, and he was." Suffice to say, it was short shirtsleeves for me at the weekend ... but the mouldy chicken breast putrifying at the back of the fridge went straight into the dustbin.
I am delighted to be able to solve a mystery that has been puzzling Serena Sutcliffe, head of wine at Sotheby's. She has been perturbed by the complete inactivity of the security beagle at JFK Airport, New York.
"I wouldn't want to get the dog into trouble," said the solicitous Ms Sutcliffe, "but I don't understand it at all. Every time I pass it just walks around wagging its tail, taking no notice of anything. Frankly, I could do a better job of sniffing out drugs myself."
In the interests of international security, I called JFK. "Ah, the beagle," a spokeswoman giggled. "Yes, it's a common misconception - she's not actually used for sniffing out drugs but for sniffing out vegetables."
Latest backstage whisper at the Royal Opera House: flu jabs are to become compulsory following the dire depletion of the cast of Der Rosenkavalier. No sooner did a spokesman come on stage last week to declare jubilantly to the audience that for the first time the opera would be sung as cast, than a day later Aage Haugland, the bass singing Baron Ochs, fell ill.
A point of contention among the ailing opera crew, however, is why the ballet lot should remain fit and healthy. Hopes were raised momentarily when the principal dancer Jonathan Cope withdrew from a performance of Romeo and Juliet, only to be dashed when they were told the damage was muscular.
There were twitching lips at the What the Papers Say awards on Friday when the Scoop of the Year was awarded to the Sunday Times Insight team for their cash-for-questions revelation. Why? Because all those who worked on that story (which, if you remember, caused a certain amount of moral outrage since some of the journalists had disguised themselves as businessmen) have been "relocated" to other parts of the paper. Maurice Chittenden, who went up to receive the award, was not given an opportunity to speak on account of television timing difficulties. Any thoughts, I asked him, as to what he would have said, given the chance? "No," he replied. It must be that he doesn't want to be "relocated" again.
Last week's burglary at the Department of Transport did not cause anything like the internal stir it might have done, primarily because tongues there are wagging over a far more important matter: the proposed Americanisation of the staff canteen.
Traditionally, the DoT, like all other government departments, has had a subsidised canteen. "Mushy peas, frazzled sausages, baked beans - that kind of thing," a mole blithely informs me. But a few weeks ago a questionnaire was circulated to staff, asking them what they would prefer to eat once they move to their new premises in Greatminster, Horseferry Road, later this year.
"We could tick boxes beside Pizza Hut, Burger King, etc," says my mole. "We were amazed. It's the first time this kind of innovation has ever entered Westminster."
Sadly for lovers of the thick crust with extra cheese, Pizza Hut did not receive enough votes. But sufficient variety was requested for the powers that be to recommend a Yankee-style food mall. My mole is quite ecstatic at the thought. A brief look at his waistline, however, had a sobering effect. "I suppose,'' he moaned wistfully, "that we are all going to get very fat."
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
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