Editor-At-Large: I'm spring-cleaning my brain, so those celebrities must go

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A glorious Easter weekend is a perfect opportunity to do some spring-cleaning. Not the kind requiring a vacuum cleaner, but a far less strenuous undertaking involving no more exercise than sitting in a chair in the sun and doing a spot of contemplation. Scientists have been trying to work out why, as we get older, our memories appear to stop working. It certainly drives me bonkers – I spend ages trying to remember the name of a bore who worked for me 10 years ago. Or where I put that recipe for slow-cooked shoulder of lamb. Or why my reading glasses vanish every two hours. The list is endless. We waste hours rifling through the messy Rolodex in our heads, trying to put it into some sort of coherent order, trying to retrieve all sorts of lost information, that will suddenly pop back into circulation ages after you actually needed them.

Every day we seem to get fresh evidence that a growing number of us could be suffering from early-onset dementia – which means that each time I forget anything, I worry that I'm one step nearer the care home. Truth is, if I were suffering from dementia, I wouldn't necessarily know. New scientific research indicates that as we get older our brains get cluttered up with too much information, and we aren't good enough at getting rid of the useless stuff in our brains, which affects our ability to add in and correctly file new material. Scientists say the answer is to "spring-clean" our minds, remove extraneous material, and free up whole lobes so that they are free to store new data.

This got me thinking: having just spent a week walking in the glorious Sibillini Mountains in Umbria, an unspoilt landscape without a crisp packet or discarded can of Coke in sight, my mind was free of all distractions. Every day I followed my guide up narrow paths, pausing only to get my breath and admire the spectacular views. Instead of watching mind-rotting telly, I took pictures of plants and flowers and looked at them again in my hotel room with a glass of the local vino. Chatting was minimal – the steep gradient took care of that.

On my return to the UK it only took a 10-minute perusal of the newspapers and a couple of BBC bulletins to realise that nothing important happened in that week that I need to store in my memory. Kate Middleton has bought some knickers. There is still fighting in Libya. The question of David Cameron's morning suit has been and gone. The cast of The Archers are still droning on about Gardeners' Question Time.

Viscount Cowdray, one of the richest toffs in the UK, has decided to do some spring-cleaning – he's selling the family home for £25m as well as a Gainsborough and the family silver, which could bring in another £10.3m. He said: "I'm not hugely attracted to things." Of course not – it's easy to give stuff up and downsize when you're worth several hundred million quid. Why should you miss a Gainsborough or two, or the odd wine cooler? Viscount Cowdray has obviously read about mental spring-cleaning and decided he did not need to remember what exactly was in his 44,000 square feet of stately home.

BBC news editors certainly need to do some re-aligning of their priorities. The lunchtime news on the day after my return was devoted to "celebrity injunctions". Of course, there is an important principle of law at stake here. Laws should be framed in parliament, not ad hoc by a bunch of judges. The poor should have the same opportunity to be protected by legislation as the rich. But one word I plan to spring-clean out of my mind this Easter is "celebrity", followed by "professional footballer" and "well-known actor". I don't care who is bonking whom, or who has photographed what bit of someone else.

This exercise should free up a little nook in my brain so I can remember the names of the plants and birds I photographed in Italy. I plan to spend the rest of the holiday mentally deleting a whole lot more detritus, starting with the words Simon Cowell and Ed Balls.

Happy Easter!

Absolutely fabulous return of Eddy and Pats

Joanna Lumley has revealed that Jennifer Saunders will be writing a new series of Absolutely Fabulous, and filming will start this summer. Joy of joys! From the moment it burst on to the screen in 1992, Ab Fab was a hit, quickly transferring from BBC2 to the main channel, with audiences of up to 10 million.

Comedy is full of male double acts, which makes the global success of Eddy and Patsy so remarkable – the show has been sold everywhere, from Serbia and Brazil to New Zealand and the USA. Fans can act out whole episodes. I can't remember all the words of "The Lord is my Shepherd...", but I can slip into Patsy mode at the drop of a hat.

The only question is, why only three more episodes? There's no shortage of targets, and Jennifer is a brilliant satirist. Take obsessive dieting: in one show Patsy was said to have not eaten more than a crisp since in 1973. Saffy fell in love with New Labour and worshipped Cherie Blair. Mother (the fantastic June Whitfield) went a bit senile but no one noticed.

With a glamorous new royal, the well-connected Sam Cam at No10, and chaos in the coalition, surely Eddy should be moving from fashion PR to trendy causes like ethical living? I can't wait.

Welcome to Mirthless & Serious

Marks & Spencer prides itself on representing core British values (a bit like Ab Fab) but doesn't seem to possess one of our unique attributes – a well-developed sense of humour.

When the Ann Summers chain decided to parody the M&S meal deal ads by offering S & M Squeal Deals, which featured erotic lingerie as the main course along with a sex toy as the side order, bosses at the UK's favourite knicker store stepped in and demanded the cheeky ads be stopped. Ann Summers' chief executive, Jacqueline Gold, claimed "imitation was the greatest form of flattery" – but she soon apologised after M&S threatened legal action. But then look at M&S's latest ads featuring women in summer prints. Can no one get Twiggy to smile?

What a gay day for a wedding

I hadn't thought of Kate Middleton as a gay icon, but now I stand corrected. According to one of our most talented novelists, Sarah Waters,the author of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, Kate is going to be as popular with lesbians as Diana was with gay men.

She told a reporter that Kate Middleton would soon be considered an "icon" to lesbians everywhere as "she has an earthy quality which they will like". As my friend Paul O'Grady once put it, she'll be a Dikon.

I doubt we'll be hearing any remarks like Sarah's during the BBC coverage of the Big Event – in their rainbow array of presenters, have they managed to find one to cover the event from a gay perspective? Is Evan Davis available?