Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

It can see in the dark

Share
Related Topics

Following news that David Cameron's former press secretary George Eustice is off to feather his nest at Portland PR, I hear murmurings of possible changes in Tory high command. Hugh Powell, son of Margaret Thatcher's foreign policy adviser Charles, now Lord Powell, is being tipped for the role of chief of staff should Cameron win the election. Currently on a diplomatic posting to Afghanistan, where he's known as the Viceroy of Helmandshire, Hugh was godfather to the Camerons' late son Ivan. Although Dave's current chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, is highly competent, advising prime ministers is in Powell's blood — his uncle Jonathan was Tony Blair's chief-of-staff. "There is definitely a debate going on within high command," whispers a Westminster source. "Hugh's experience of foreign policy will be a big plus." This follows recent rumours that Dave's chief spin doctor, Andy Coulson, ex-editor of the
News of the World, could be tempted back to journalism.



•••

Distressing news among football's senior citizens. The other day Pele, once the world's greatest player, accused Maradona, ditto, who has had his share of drug problems, of being a bad example to children. Asked to comment, Maradona replied: "What do you want me to say? Pele lost his virginity with a man." This unseemly barb stems from a grubby old story about the 14-year-old Pele, which the peerless Brazilian says is completely without foundation. Naughty Diego.



•••

When opera-loving Norma Major was asked what she would miss most from life in office, she said sitting in the front row. "It's great – wherever you go, you sit in the front row. It'll be quite a shock, seeing the backs of people's heads again." So it was heartwarming to spot Norma and John in the front row of Così Fan Tutte at Wilton's Music Hall last Wednesday. But while Norma was enjoying that early-Nineties feeling all over again, John might have preferred a seat further back. The production by Diva Opera was in the round, so that for much of the evening the Majors had singers belting out arias inches from their faces. It might have suited the rest of the audience who struggled to concentrate when confronted by their former prime minister's canary yellow socks.



•••

As a distinguished portraitist, Humphrey Ocean RA has painted everyone from Philip Larkin to Paul McCartney. But while his paintings are held in high esteem, it seems his written work is not. Ocean was horrified that an article he had written for the Royal Academy magazine about the eccentric painter Jean Cooke had been rewritten. The RA has issued a grovelling apology: "These amendments altered the balance and tone of the piece. We apologise to Humphrey for our lack of sensitivity and offer readers the opportunity to read this piece unaltered on the RA website."



•••

The Pope has been sparking more controversy than usual, not least among the chatterati of the Catholic church. Congregants at the conservative Brompton Oratory fiddled nervously with their rosaries when Fr Julian Large used his sermon last Sunday to launch an attack against The Tablet magazine, calling the left-leaning weekly a "snivelling rag" and suggesting it was so poisonous you need gloves to read it. Assaults between left and right have been flying around the Catholic blogosphere, but some took exception to such a grenade being lobbed from the pulpit. Indeed, only the week before, Fr Ignatius Harrison, Provost at Brompton and Fr Julian's senior, had used his sermon to call for an end to the recent name-calling, and asked congregants to pray before picking up a pen. But who can blame Fr Julian for making a little mischief? He was, after all, a gossip columnist once upon a time.



•••

No sign of Taki at Charles Glass's glittering party to launch his book Americans in Paris in Holland Park last week. The Greek playboy and Spectator columnist is the number one fan of the dashing former war reporter, with whom he usually turns up to smart London parties. The two writers have in common a spell in captivity, Glass as a hostage in Beirut, Taki as a guest of Her Majesty's penitentiary. Despite Taki's no-show the two remain firm friends, Taki being represented by his daughter, interior decorator Lolla Theodoracopulos. Other high-octane guests included Rory Bremner, Lady Antonia Fraser and historian Antony Beevor.



•••

Aspiring young journalists turned out in force for a panel discussion on the future of journalism at Goldsmiths College, London, where speakers tackling the thorny subject included Radio 4's Steve Hewlett, David Leigh of The Guardian and Observer columnist Henry Porter. "As journalism undergoes widespread systemic change, have its practitioners retained their values and objectivity, or have many lost perspective along with power and position?" was one of the questions in hand. So it was good to hear Porter, also London editor of Vanity Fair, tell how he is personally keeping it real; Porter disclosed he pays a researcher in Wales £100 per week to trawl through the newspapers looking for ideas on his behalf. Isn't life grand?



m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The final instalment of our WW1 series

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
 

Simon Usborne: The more you watch pro cycling, the more you understand its social complexity

Simon Usborne
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice