Andy McSmith's Diary: Death-wish cyclists, mooning children and a debate about litter


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Indy Politics

There has been some agonising in London about why six cyclists were killed on the roads in the space of less than two weeks. To this discussion, Lord James of Blackheath has made his distinctive contribution. His experience is that cyclists are “longing” to be run over. He told the House of Lords, during a debate on litter: “I have seen cyclists put their cycles up against the central reservation... and defy you to run them down while they photograph you doing it. This is what they are longing for.”

It is not the only odd experience to have befallen Lord James while at the wheel. Another occurred on three successive Saturdays after he had persuaded his wife to join him at the rugby in Twickenham. “She was horrified at the sight of the school buses coming down the road full of children indulging in a pastime which is, I believe, called mooning,” he told his fellow peers. “I am not going to explain it to your Lordships because we are in mixed company, but the sight of some 40 children mooning simultaneously is not a pretty one.”

This story throws up several questions. 1) What has it got to do with litter, the matter under debate? 2) Why were hordes of children being driven around in school bus on three Saturday afternoons? 3) How is it that nobody apart from Lord James spotted the line-up of 40 bare bottoms pressed against the windows of a bus as it flashed along a busy road?

Lord James was made a life peer after he had advised Michael Howard on how to cut public spending. He is 75.

Textor’s ‘tacky’ tweet

Mark Textor, business partner of David Cameron’s election strategist Lynton Crosby, has come close to causing a full-scale diplomatic incident between Australia – his and Crosby’s native country – and Indonesia.

Relations have been tense enough since it emerged that Australia has been spying on Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Foreign Minister, Marty Natalegawa.

Textor, who has worked for Boris Johnson and is now a senior adviser to Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has denied that he had Natalegawa in mind when he tweeted: “Apology demanded from Australia by a bloke who looks like a 1970s Pilipino [sic] porn star and has ethics to match.”

The tweet was front- page news in Indonesia. Mr Abbott admitted in Parliament that it was “tacky.” Mr Textor said on Australian radio that he was not referring to anyone in particular. And he tweeted: “Apologies to my Indonesian friends – frustrated by media-driven divisions – Twitter is indeed no place for diplomacy.”

Questionable performance

The Conservative Party assembled a team of their top brains to participate in the annual press gallery quiz in Parliament on Wednesday night. They misspelt Ronald Reagan, did not know the correct answer to a question about John Major’s seminal 1992 party political broadcast, and came bottom. To be precise, they shared last place with Sky News, the noisiest member of whose team was the star newscaster, Kay Burley. The team from the Financial Times, did OK, though they appeared to think that Leo Tolstoy wrote Pride and Prejudice. (They claimed not to have heard the question properly). Congratulations to the Lib Dems who walked off with the trophy.