Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (16/05/10)

Forever going to the palace

Related Topics

A busy time for domestic staff at No 10, who are elbow-deep in soap suds ahead of the Camerons' move. A team of French polishers has come in to repair the many antique wooden desks, which have suffered from three years of mobile phones flying through the air. According to my man with the Pledge, there is one piece of furniture in particular, an oval table in a room overlooking Horse Guards Parade, next to the war room, which is thought to have been used by Gordon Brown, and is covered in scratches and gouges where it has clearly been stabbed by a pen. Happily, the Civil Service's French polishers are permanently on standby. No, really.

This time last year the BBC's Middle East correspondent, Jeremy Bowen, was reprimanded for making apparently anti-Israeli remarks. Now he is in a pickle once again for describing the current tension between the US and Israel as "enjoyable". In an article on the BBC news website he wrote that: "It has been an unusual and enjoyable new experience to be able to look on as the Israelis argued with their most important ally." Uh oh – the Israeli lobby is not happy about that. So Bowen has rushed out a correction, blaming an editing glitch, declaring he meant to say it had been enjoyable for the Palestinians, not for him. Oh, no, of course not – not at all enjoyable.

As the pressure mounts for Roman Polanski to be extradited, supporters of the disgraced director are saying he is too depressed to face charges. Two members of the French Academy visited Polanski last week and declared, "He is in danger.... We are really worried for him." Then Frédéric Mitterrand, the minister of culture, weighed in, saying, "I am worried for his health", and the online intellectual review La règle du jeu talked of "signs of serious depression which demand an immediate liberation [from the process]". Last week a British actress claimed to have been raped by Polanski in Paris in 1982, five years after the crime for which he is wanted was committed in Los Angeles. If he is ill we hope he has the luck of Ernest Saunders, one of the Guinness Four who was released from prison after claiming he had Alzheimer's, an untreatable disease. He later made a miraculous recovery.

Why did the New Statesman go to print a day early? The current issue of Jason Cowley's left-wing weekly came out on Wednesday – instead of the usual Thursday – and is full of history-in-the-making articles calling for Clegg to side with Brown. "Nick Clegg teeters on the tightrope of power," thunders a double-page editorial, and Mehdi Hasan's politics column pleads embarrassingly: "Don't betray us, Nick." Had the mag come out as normal, 24 hours later, they would have known the result, but it looks like Cowley thought they could sway Clegg in his decision-making by coming out early. Bless!

We're delighted that Mark Francois, the Conservative MP for Rayleigh, was re-elected, for no reason other than that his email address amuses us: The former shadow minister for Europe is not ashamed of seeming to support General Franco, even if it made communications with his Spanish counterparts tricky. Besides, says Edward McMillan-Scott, a friend and the vice-president of the European Parliament, "Mark is a Conservative nationalist, just like the common definition of General Franco."

Harold Pinter might have been a crotchety old fella but he did look after his wives. When Vivien Merchant came home from filming Alfie with a black eye, Pinter went ballistic, according to the film's director, Lewis Gilbert, in his autobiography. Merchant had asked Michael Caine to slap her for real during a scene, so she could give a bigger reaction, he recalls. "The morning after we filmed, the phone rang. It was Pinter. He wanted to know what the hell we were up to, because his wife had a black eye and an almighty bruise across her face. Hadn't Michael Caine heard of acting, he said. Slaps are to be faked!" Touching, but Pinter would later forget his manners when he heartlessly tossed Merchant aside for Lady Antonia Fraser.

React Now

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

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam