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

Forever going to the palace

Share
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: francoism@parliament.uk. 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.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas