Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (01/05/11)

Morning dress worn as standard

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The BBC said he was too "20th century" to present the royal wedding, but David Dimbleby has, I can reveal, got over the insult, and loved watching Friday's event. The veteran news presenter was reported to be sulking, after BBC execs snubbed him in favour of Huw Edwards. But he tells me he did watch the nuptials from home, and "very much enjoyed it". Speaking from his farmhouse, the 72-year-old host of Question Time said he was taking advantage of the time off by relaxing with his family. "I'm doing Greek verbs with my son," he said. Dimbleby has three adult children by his first wife, Josceline, the cookery writer, and a 12-year-old son by his second wife, Belinda Giles, who will be taking his Common Entrance exams this summer. They live in a fashionable corner of Sussex, where my man on the cocktail circuit says they haven't been seen out much lately, stoking suspicions he is in a sulk. I am happy to confirm he is not.

At last, some good news for Conrad Black. The disgraced former Telegraph proprietor has sold his white elephant of a villa on Palm Beach for £15m, more than twice what he paid for it in 1997. He and his wife Barbara Amiel have been struggling to flog the sprawling porticoed mansion for years, but finally secured a deal with a family from California on Thursday. Black, who has served two years of a six-and-a-half-year sentence, is currently out of prison on $2m bail awaiting resentencing next month. A condition of his release is that he can't return to Canada while on bail, though once he is sentenced it's possible he may be ordered to leave America. Here's hoping they come back to Britain.

As a graduate of art history, the Duchess of Cambridge will be well up on her iconography. So what did she make of the Bishop of London's allusion to the patient and encouraging Saint Catherine of Siena in his sermon? While the royal wedding did indeed fall on St Catherine's feast day, 29 April is hallowed because Catherine died on that date, at the age of 33, after a long and mysterious illness. As with many saints, there's a gruesome tale attached to her demise: her head was removed from her body and smuggled from Rome to Siena, a story popular with 15th-century painters. The young couple already have Diana haunting their marriage; they don't need any more ghosts.

What next for Paul Mealor? Until last week he was a relatively unheard of composer from North Wales. Now, after the royal couple chose his setting of "Ubi Caritas" as an anthem at their wedding, he's likely to find himself propelled into classical music stardom. This was what happened to John Tavener, who was also quite obscure until his "Song for Athene" was sung at Diana's funeral in 1997. He went on to win a Mercury music prize nomination that year, along with the Spice Girls and Primal Scream. Music critic Michael White says Mealor's piece is "not terribly original, but well put together and effective". He also points out that "Crimond", the tune most often used for Psalm 23 "The Lord is my Shepherd...", has not been around for ever, as many assume, but was a little-known Scottish melody until the Queen had it at her wedding in 1947. Expect to hear the name Paul Mealor a lot more.

Kate Bush has given a rare interview to mark the release of her new album, Director's Cut. But she managed to give so little away in yesterday's Times that the piece ended up revealing more about the interviewer than the interviewee. Will Hodgkinson, brother of our columnist Tom, landed the scoop, but could only squeeze out a couple of lines about the album before she wound things up. Still, it made a good read, not least as we learnt how, aged 7, Will became spellbound by the kooky warbler: "An extremely beautiful, witch-like woman appeared, staring directly out of the television and, seemingly, straight at me. With her wild, possessed eyes, halo of raven-black hair, heart-shaped face and cat-like voice, she was like nothing seen or heard before. She was scary, yet confusingly, compellingly sexy." Calm down, dear!

Is Alan Rusbridger hoping for a knighthood? I only ask because The Guardian, traditionally a republican newspaper, seemed to forget itself with its wall-to-wall coverage of the royal wedding. This wouldn't be so ludicrous had the paper not announced on 1 April that it was putting away the cynicism and "hair-shirt tendency of the left" by marking the royal wedding with a live blog. Apart from the gags about "recalling correspondents from north Africa... to focus on palace matters" and producing "attractive commemorative crockery", it turns out it wasn't an April fool after all.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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