Editor-At-Large: A little flattery and fame, and men think they're irresistible

Share
Related Topics

This season's panto star isn't Pamela Anderson, Joan Collins or even Nigel Havers – but the middle-aged bloke in the rakish hat, Mr Twinkletoes, Vince Cable. I laughed when I read the transcripts of the little chat he had with two attractive young women in his constituency office in Richmond. The gullible Mr Cable didn't realise that Holly and Heidi, two giggling twenty-something young mums anxious for an in-depth chat about party politics, were under- cover reporters from the horrid Daily Telegraph, intent on persuading him to confide what he secretly thought about having to work with the nasty Tories.

There are no surprises in the ensuing revelations – just confirmation of what many of us suspected: that working with people you hadn't even planned on getting engaged to, let alone sharing a bed with, is difficult. Every day, you have to bite your lip and pretend to the outside world (i.e. the media) that your shotgun marriage is working reasonably well and you're all chums. Deep down, you harbour seething resentment that although you're a popular guy and a big cheese in your party, in this marriage you are firmly in the back seat.

Mr Cable won our hearts with his appearance on Desert Island Discs, when he talked of his love for his first wife, his inter-racial marriage, and his passion for ballroom dancing. We forgot the other bit of his personality – the Machiavellian streak that took him to the top in the oil industry and made him a force to be reckoned with in the Lib Dems. We were captivated by the nice side of Mr Cable, love-blind to his shortcomings. In politics, he stands out as a character, like Ken Clarke.

Both "seem" like ordinary people. But, of course, they're not. To spend your working day wheeling and dealing in the minutiae of government requires a very focused mentality and a streak of ruthlessness. And Mr Cable is a very vain man – why else would he agree to appear on a BBC reality television show over Christmas, dancing? His £10,000 fee will go to charity – hardly justification for making an exhibition of yourself. Does his prancing about in prime time make us feel happier about the coalition's failure to regulate banks and bonuses or its cack-handed handling of tuition fees?

The problem for Mr Cable is that he's mixed up the daily grind of political compromise with self-promotion. During the run-up to the election he was curiously silent – when I shared a platform with him in the last Question Time before polling day he was reticent, and seemed very tired. Perhaps he sensed that the outcome would not be easy to live with. Now he's got a ministerial role, but it requires humility and patience – not necessarily his strong points. Mr Cable told the Daily Telegraph undercover agents that working with the coalition was like "fighting a war" but he had an ultimate "nuclear option" which would bring down the Government – his resignation. When exposed in the hard light of day this assertion seems like wishful thinking, a vanity promise.

Four other Lib Dems, including care minister Paul Burstow fell for the Telegraph totties – all men of a certain age. What does that tell you about their egos? Mr Burstow says he's embarrassed by his remark that David Cameron wasn't to be trusted. He should be more embarrassed that he was so indiscreet and unprofessional when flattered by the attentions of two young women he'd never met.

Another victim of his own vanity is Julian Assange, who tells us he "enjoys" female company, that groupies pursue him, that he can't see anything wrong in serial shagging with no strings attached. Now he's signed a huge deal for his autobiography, which will undoubtedly be a bestseller.

Mr Assange, like Vince Cable, has an inflated idea of his role in the global scheme of things – he imagines he's on a mission to shine light on murky goings-on in banking and global affairs. Most of WikiLeaks' "revelations" have been disappointing, banal bits of titillating gossip confirming preconceived ideas we already had about Gaddafi, Berlusconi and co. Mr Assange is basking in the spotlight – and, like Mr Cable, the more we know about his over-inflated sense of self-worth, the less we find him impressive.

The politics of pudding make me sick

The latest battle in US politics is being fought over the humble dessert. Yanks love big sticky puddings, from pecan pie to chocolate brownies with massive scoops of ice cream. Michelle Obama has been a spokeswoman for Let's Move, a healthy eating campaign aimed at reducing high levels of child obesity, and has told her two daughters that "dessert is not a right".

Sarah Palin, currently starring in her own reality television programme, was quick to pounce on dessert-denial, implying it was anti-American not to eat a disgusting concoction called "s'mores", made on the campfire with roasted marshmallows, chocolates and crackers. Palin says the First Lady doesn't trust families to decide what their children should eat, implying that diet is a personal matter and not something moms need any lectures on. Celebrities and presidents' wives never seem concerned about whether they are qualified to offer advice. Gwyneth Paltrow is about to launch her first cookery book, and a sneak preview on the internet tells us that Gwynnie considers cooking one of the main passions in her life.

Why anyone would want to cook pasta, risotto or a quick family casserole because a rich movie star has put her name to a recipe, is completely beyond me. She says, "The stove is the epicentre of my house." You can bet it's not the kind of cooker we can afford.

The best babies are born at Christmas

My birthday is at Christmas, which is fine. I never mind, but this snowy December, gathering any group of friends together to eat, drink and be merry is proving difficult.

Usually, I celebrate in the village hall, with pass the parcel and musical chairs. This time, it will be a small dinner in the local pub. The good thing about Christmas birthdays is that they get swept up into the general festive warmth.

I'm grateful that anyone remembers – even if my birthday gets a mention on the local radio station, followed by a naff record. There are no secrets when you're 64 – just the growing realisation that every year fewer people say, "You don't look your age."

Ambridge teeters on the brink

The Archers celebrates its 60th anniversary on 1 January, and its all-powerful editor Vanessa Whitburn, promises events that "will really shake Ambridge to the core".

I'm not sure that I want my new year ruined – and there has been no hint of an impending disaster in recent episodes. We Archers fans like to wallow in long-drawn-out nastiness. We don't like nasty shocks, but nail-biting cliff-hangers, such as whether Ruth would consummate her affair with the cow hand (she didn't).

Please, please, can we have a few hints? I'm now listening to each episode avidly for clues. Will Jack recover from dementia? Not very likely.

Will Matt marry Lilian? Even less likely. Is runaway bride Alice expecting twins? Possibly.

The suspense is unbearable.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

A happy ending for celebrity memoirs

Katy Guest
William Hague with his former special adviser, Christopher Myers  

Who needs special advisers? We all do

John Rentoul
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick