Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (19/12/10)

Never afraid to walk into a blizzard

Share
Related Topics

He is the saviour of transparent journalism – though he is far too modest to tell you himself. But even John Pilger isn't as objective as you might expect. When he's not raising money for Julian Assange's bail money, he presides over judging the Martha Gellhorn Prize, an annual gong in memory of the throaty foreign correspondent. Last year, Pilger was keen to award the prize to Assange, even though entrants must submit two long articles of 1,500 words or more to qualify, and Assange is not known for his journalism. Other judges disagreed, and The Independent's Johaan Hari won. Now, I'm told, he is even more resolved that Assange should win, though fellow judges are yet to be convinced. As it happens, they were due to meet at Pilger's house yesterday morning, but cancelled because of the snow. Mysteriously, he also lost all power at his home. Let's hope the dark forces persecuting Assange haven't turned on Pilger.

Doesn't the timing of Tom Baldwin's appointment as Ed Miliband's chief spinner tell you everything about the train crash that lies ahead? For it came in the week that a senior Labour MP called for hard drugs to be legalised – including cocaine, a stimulant with which Baldwin is alleged to have more than a passing acquaintance. Bob Ainsworth's surprise outburst caused Miliband much embarrassment, and he was forced to rush out a statement distancing himself from the controversial position. How will anyone take Miliband's next statement on drug use seriously, now that "Snorter" Baldwin is in charge?

Alarming news for the posh but poor users of the London Library, the rarefied St James's Square club, which appears set to lose its charitable status. Members have been told that they will no longer be able to claim Gift Aid on their membership, a sign that the library's long-running battle to maintain its charitable status has been lost. The news will be a blow to less well-off members struggling to cope with a massive price hike in the annual fee, which rose from £210 to £375 in 2008. The controversial fee move was spearheaded by the playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, but was vigorous opposed by other members, including Bamber Gascoigne. Part of the library's appeal has always been that it provides a haven for up-and-coming writers in central London. The latest newsletter tries to sugar the pill by announcing that members are entitled to free use of Blacks, the private members' club, between 11am and 6pm. But apart from being a 20-minute walk away, the louche Soho club is unlikely to hold much appeal for the hard-working writers who actually use the library to get away from all that.

Model Charlie Gilmour, stepson of Pink Floyd guitarist David, was the surprise face of the student riots. But Dad's £80m fortune is an unfortunate distraction from Charlie's otherwise impeccable revolutionary credentials. As a tabloid "special investigation" – it was more a rifle through Who's Who – "revealed", his biological father, the poet Heathcote Williams, founded the Albion Free State in the 1970s, when squatters staked out a corner of Notting Hill and named it a utopian country, free from government control. And his mother, Polly Samson, is the daughter of one-time communists. In her poetic new book, Perfect Lives, a character even writes of taking her infant son to protests . "Having Angus in his pushchair made me feel historic, like Demeter charged with a flaming torch." To the manner born, then.

His acting roles have included Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Ian Brady in Longford, and Captain Haddock in the forthcoming Tintin film. But Andy Serkis has clearly set his children's sights on High Art. The Serkis family were among a star-spangled audience at the English National Ballet's new Nutcracker on Wednesday, rubbing shoulders with Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and Jerry Hall, who had three Jagger children in tow. While some snipers wondered why so many slebs had attended the Swarovski-sponsored performance, at which crystal-filled goodie bags were doled out afterwards, the three young Serkis children showed genuine appreciation. "This is SO much better than last year" announced one, knowledgeably. And he was right.

Will it never end? Ever since James Naughtie accidentally called the Culture Secretary the c-word live on air, presenters of the Today programme have been stumbling all over the place. Naughtie referred to WikiLeaks as Wikilikes, then yesterday Sarah Montague called Guardian critic Nicholas Lezard a literary cricket. To be fair, they were discussing how he is having to stay up all night to listen to the Ashes. He must have been too tired to notice.

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: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping child abuse taking place right now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower