Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary

Surveillance without the bugs


With her bushbaby eyes and thrusting shoulder pads, Joan Collins has brought a sprinkle of glamour wherever she goes since the heady days of 'Dynasty'. This Christmas she has lent her finest Alexis Carrington voice to Marks & Spencer in a series of TV ads in which she pretends to pretend passing off M&S food as her own. As the images of mouthwatering morsels roll, we hear Joan telling us about her "delightful steak and ale pies" and "gorgeous mini roast beef Yorkshire puddings with horseradish crème fraîche". Delicious! The only thing is that Joan is a vegetarian. Your secret's safe with us, Joan.

Just over a month ago, life was looking bleak for Raj Persaud, the TV shrink who became a star after years of appearing on 'This Morning'. After being found guilty of plagiarism he was forced to quit his post as consultant at a leading London hospital. His income as a psychobabble rent-a-quote dropped too. But things are looking up. He has a book out in the new year – not a memoir, but a guide on how to be socially successful, complete with a witty title: 'Charm Offensive'. Charm is one thing he knows all about, so we trust his work will, this time, be all his own.

Top international architects have joined an escalating row after Israel's supreme court approved plans to plonk a Museum of Tolerance on to, er, an ancient Muslim cemetery. The idea is to promote tolerance but, not surprisingly, it's having the opposite effect. More than 40 architects, including Will Alsop, creator of the Peckham Library, have written a letter complaining about the proposed building. "All the architecture in the world cannot engender harmony on the basis of trampling over people's rights and history," they say. Curiously, Lord (Richard) Rogers, founder of the Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine campaign, has yet to make his own views known.

Gwyneth Paltrow is discovering the perils of being an eco-celeb. That champion of our feathered and furry friends Viva!, the Vegetarians International Voice for Animals, has got in a flap over Gwyneth's Thanksgiving turkey. "Gwyneth Paltrow has set her sights on this poor beleaguered bird," fumes Justin Kerswell, Viva!'s campaigns manager. It was only two weeks ago that Paltrow was forced to apologise to her eco-sensitive fans for promoting a fashion label that uses fur. Adds Kerswell: "Not only do millions die for Thanksgiving and Christmas, turkeys now have to contend with an actress whose green and ethical credentials are vanishing quicker than her Hollywood career." Ouch.

There wasn't much to laugh about in the Queen's Speech, but a small burst of comic relief ensued in the hands of recently appointed Scottish peer Lady Ford. She told of how, being new to the House, she once inadvertently sat on the Bishops' Bench. "I was sitting minding my own business late one evening when my error became manifest when the Right Reverend Prelate, who will remain nameless, sat down beside me. I immediately realised my error and apologised. He leant over and said conspiratorially, 'You will find on this Bench that if you wear a Laura Ashley nightdress you will fit in a lot better.' Ooh, vicar!

It was standing room only at the London School of Economics on Wednesday for an audience with Cherie Blair. An alumna of the school, Cherie was on top form, giving plenty for Tony to blush about. Recalling sharing a room with two other women when a student, she generated much tittering with her innuendo-laden observation that "I don't suppose you have three girls in a room in quite that way now". Some audience members were surprised at how easy a ride Cherie was given, prompting speculation the students had been hand picked. But I'm reassured no such rigging took place. The most probing questions came from LSE director Howard Davies. He even caught her fibbing when she denied having swapped the furniture between 10 and 11 Downing Street before moving in in 1997. "Oh yes you did – you stole Gordon's lamps. It's in the book," he snapped, quick as a flash. "Well, Gordon doesn't care about those sorts of things," she replied. Not a defence that would stand up in court, one feels.

React Now

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

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women-only train carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style