Joy Lo Dico: The IoS Diary

A small disagreement between friends

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Have Lord Mandelson's impeccably preened feathers been ruffled? News reaches me that the Business Secretary and effective deputy PM had an hour-long impassioned argument with his good friend Roger Liddle, a former aide of Tony Blair and now head of the pair's Policy Network think-tank. It seems the exchange brought both parties to their feet. The two, it appears, were at loggerheads over the recent attack by Financial Services Authority chairman Adair Turner on the excesses of the City. Liddle, son of a railwayman, backed Turner, while Lord Mandelson thought his proposals would be bad for British business. Lord Mandelson's friendship with Liddle is as deep and long as the rift between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. The two co-wrote the famous, (or infamous if you hang with Gordon Brown) Blairite manifesto,
The Blair Revolution, and Liddle was recently appointed by Lord Mandelson to head an advisory committee on new industry, jobs and skills. My source tells me that Lord Mandelson got the upper hand in the argument. But he would say that.

And what of Lord Turner? He was on holiday in Biarritz while the whole row blew up 10 days ago after an interview he gave to Prospect magazine. But let us not accuse Turner of indulgence at a time of great financial angst. Speaking at the launch of Robert Skidelsky's new book, Keynes: The Return of the Master, Turner summed up his holiday. "I read Robert's book on a beach last week. It was a tremendously stimulating day – a day of great intellectual excitement." No doubt Skidelsky's book is a fine read, but had they run out of John Grisham at the airport?

Trouble for former Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman? Rumours reach us that her forthcoming biography It All Counts has hit the buffers and may be pulled by her publisher, Headline, after difficulties between both parties. The publishers would not return our calls while Carol said: "You will have to talk to Headline." No explicit reason as to why the promised "no-holds-barred" biography may have been junked has emerged. But a source tells me that despite her beaming smile on television screens Vorderman proved "challenging" to work with. The book is thought to have been worth around £1m and was due out this autumn. But without Vorderman revealing juicy details it would be worth a lot less.

A ringing endorsement of John Humphrys' Twitter Luddism from fellow Today presenter Evan Davis. Humphrys tried twittering this week to mockery from listeners. But Davis, formerly BBC economics editor, reckons Humphrys has taken the right attitude. "I've only tweeted once," he told me. "It was about two months ago and it said something to the effect of 'I've got 140 characters but nothing to say.' I'm not sure Twitter is going to work. If it's permanent, no need to hurry to join, and if not, there's no need to worry."

William Shawcross has a hot scoop on his hands with the forthcoming, and very long-awaited, biography of the late Queen Mother. The Queen has granted Shawcross, a biographer not known for his searing critiques, access to all of the Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons correspondence. But Her Majesty and Co have stipulated that Shawcross may not hawk chapters around the world's press. He's just going to have rely on the book being a bestseller.

Douglas Coupland is back with a new book, Generation A, but the writer is evidently fed up with endless examination of the concept of Generation X, the title of his break- through 1991 novel. At a London dinner last week to celebrate his new book, Coupland explained to intellectual speculators that "If you like Talking Heads, you're in Generation X, it's as simple as that." The forthcoming Generation A is about a near future in which bees are extinct. Will that generation be defined as those who have jam on their toast?

Finally for technophobes, a high-level discussion about the new Mac operating system as conducted on Facebook. "I seem to be the only person in the world who doesn't want a snow leopard. Or actually know what one is," says one. A friend replies: "The man in the apple store specifically told me not to get a snow leopard." "Well that's cos you were clearly in a greengrocer's, silly," said the first Facebooker. "You won't find any snow leopards in there."

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