Diary

Of the many piteous spectacles from the Oklahoma bomb incident, one will surely stay in the hearts of CNN viewers who watched last Sunday's prayer service for the relatives of the 73 known dead. It was the abandoned teddy bears. They weren't the poignant lost toys of the dead children; they were provided for the occasion by the State of Oklahoma. Relatives of the grown-up dead were supplied with yellow roses as they entered the State Fair Arena. Parents of child victims, on the other hand, were given teddies to embrace, one for each child.

Of all the lachrymose, tactless, tasteless, gruesomely insensitive displays of emotional mismanagement, American-style, that were on display at the service, this took the biscuit - worse than having the country star Kurt Johnson sing "Tears in Heaven" (the song Eric Clapton wrote for his dead son, who fell out of a skyscraper window), even worse than having the congregation applaud the entrance of the rescue service's tracker dogs. As far as I could see, the teddy idea was to enable the cameras to identify the bereaved parents, like exhibits at a freak show, for the benefit of ghoulish viewers. Kindly disposed observers told me: "It was probably the governor of Oklahoma's wife's friends who thought it would be a nice touch." But as the arena emptied, the sight of so many chairs bearing discarded (thanks, but no thanks) teddies told its own eloquent story.

News of a shocking encounter reaches me about Brian Behan, third brother down in the notorious Dublin family of playwrights, songwriters, drinkers and blarney purveyors. Mr Behan has a new play on at the Brighton Festival (25 May at the Pavilion, if you're in the neighbourhood). It's called Halleluja, I'm a Bum, after the famous old American hobo folk song, and features a shiftless individual called Doran who joyfully embraces the temptations of indolence and sloth while managing to keep a jump ahead of a workaholic inspector from the DSS.

One of the play's many strenuous rants is about the House of Commons, an establishment for which Mr Behan, a staunch cradle republican, has little respect. At one point his alter ego opines that it's high time the Commons was privatised; that its members "could profitably be hung up as spare sperm-bags"; and the whole law-making enterprise closed down and replaced by "a reasonably honest computer".

Appearing on Southern Counties Radio to promote his masterwork, Behan found that one of his co-guests was the Tory MP for Spelthorne, David Wilshire. Not being one to miss an opportunity, he regaled Wilshire with Doran's views of the redundancy of Parliament. "For God's sake," said Wilshire, "What do you think we sit around doing all day?"

"Bonking yer secretaries," retorted Behan.

"That," said Wilshire, after a silence in which you could hear yoghurt curdle, "is a slur and a libel and I will sue both the BBC and you."

"You'll get feck-all out of me," snapped the unstoppable Behan, "me bein' an ould age pensioner ..."

I'm afraid the show disintegrated a little after that. Nice to know the old Brendan spirit lives on.

The last screenplay to be completed by Dennis Potter before he died was neither Karaoke nor Cold Lazarus, the two plays with which he famously hoped to join together the warring families of BBC and Channel 4. It was, or is, called White Clouds, and tells the story of a girl who is kidnapped by a psychopath while being led to believe she is taking part in an elopement. It will be directed for television by Rufus Sewell, the handsome actor last seen as Seth in Cold Comfort Farm.

Potter's capacity to wind up his collaborators continues from beyond the grave, it seems. White Clouds is based on the novel Cara Massimina by the award winning Verona-based writer Tim Parks. Leafing through the screenplay has not, however, been unmitigated joy for Parks, who couldn't help spotting that Potter had made one important adjustment. "He's completely changed the ending," he said. "In the original, the girl is killed because she refuses to co-operate with her kidnapper. In Potter's version she recovers and there's a dream sequence about losing her memory. I've got to persuade the director to drop the dream stuff."

Why? "Because otherwise," says Parks reasonably, "I won't be able to get the sequel filmed. The sequel's called Mimi's Ghost. It's going to be bloody inconvenient to hang a plot on the ghost of someone who's never died ..."

The junior villains in my part of south London are getting very enterprising. In front of me in the queue at Lloyds Bank this week, a deeply implausible teenage entrepreneur in a purple track suit was trying to open a bank account. No, he explained, he had no actual money, as such, to put in it at that very moment; he merely wanted to open it and would fill it with cash in due course. OK, said the sweetly co-operative teller, sign here. " 'Course I'll need to take out a few quid," the bank's newest investor explained, "just to tide me over, like." I'm afraid that's impossible, went on the teller, unless we have some details about the nature of your employment, date of monthly pay cheque and so forth ...

A hurried conversation followed between the track suit and his leather- clad friend. After a lot of nodding, the tracksuit returned. "Can't do that," he said. "The, er, nature of me employment means I 'ad to sign the Official Secrets Act. So I can't divulge no de'ails abou' it."

Extraordinary how the urgency of his financial needs seemed to evaporate, minutes later, as a burly security guard bore down on him.

Insider magazine was launched this morning with a champagne breakfast for 200 at Scott's in Mayfair. The brainchild of Tim Satchell - former sidekick of Nigel Dempster, quondam diarist on every paper in Fleet Street, unreconstructed sexist and chronic wearer of yellow socks - the new monthly gossip sheet is jointly sponsored by Time Out and John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, so its street credibility is high. "Radical chic on the outside," promises the chortling Satchell, "but pure metropolitan naughtiness on the inside." Hmmm. A cursory glance at the gossip on offer reveals an amusing story about the young Jonathan Aitken visiting his terrifying uncle Lord Beaverbrook, a good joke about the difference between John Birt of the BBC and Stalin of Russia, and several photos of unprepossessing- looking people at parties. Is it enough to shift 80,000 issues to gossip- starved metropolitan readers? Good luck, chaps.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
Sport
Tony Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in for his rematch with Nathan Cleverly
boxingGrudge match takes place on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson at PS1
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Female Support Workers / Carers - From £8.00 per hour

£8 - £12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: To assist a young family with the care ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines