Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (25/04/10)

Like a phoenix from the ashes

Share
Related Topics

Amy Winehouse can expect a warm welcome when she moves in to her £2.5m townhouse in Camden, north London. Her next-door neighbour will be the leading genetics scientist Professor Steve Jones, who is on standby to lend her a cup of sugar. "I shall be interested to meet her," he tells me from his lab. The five-bedroom house was previously the home of comedian Arabella Weir, author of
Does My Bum Look Big In This?, and according to the prof was also once inhabited by Archbishop Makarios, who led the bid for Cypriot independence. Being a dedicated atheist, Jones says Winehouse will be an improvement on the bish, but does he not dread a paparazzi invasion? "No. I get them already."

Can we ever know too much about Nick Clegg? My latest discovery is his preference for Alsatian dogs. The choice of breed goes back to his mother's childhood, part of which she spent in a Japanese prisoner camp. Hermance van den Wall Blake, who is Dutch, was interned in Jakarta in the Dutch East Indies with her mother, and they only had the guards' Alsatians for company. Having befriended them as a child, the future Mrs Clegg Snr always kept them in later life. If we were a right-wing newspaper, this would explain everything that is wrong with the Lib Dem leader.

The campaign to encourage people to give their vote to people in Bangladesh or Afghanistan has run into a spot of bother with the Electoral Commission. Give Your Vote!, as Brian Brady explains on page 7, argues that uninterested Britons should give their votes to those in countries affected by British foreign policy or climate change as "an act of solidarity with those who do not have a say in the decisions that affect them". But after members of the public queried its legitimacy, the campaigners have had to make some modifications. While the thrust is legal, voters are asked to take a picture of their ballot papers to show how they voted. But this is verboten and the commission has had to quietly tap them on the shoulder.

Lynn Barber had her memoirs, An Education, turned into a memorable film. Now Telegraph journalist Byron Rogers is having the same treatment. The one-time speech-writer to the Prince of Wales is having his acclaimed book, Me, adapted by Hugh Bonneville, who played a young John Bayley in the film Iris. Rogers has been described as "a historian of the quirky and forgotten, of people and places other journalists don't even know exist or ignore if they do". But there was one thing the self-effacing Welshman wanted to clear up before giving the project the green light – sex. Would there be any in the movie? he telephoned to ask. "Yes," mumbled Bonneville. "Do I perform well?" demanded Byron. "Well, not exactly. No," admitted Bonneville. "That's all right then," said Byron, and replaced the receiver.

You might have thought a majority of 52 per cent would be enough to allow Labour MP Chris Bryant to relax, but the poor chap is clearly fretting. Tweeting to mark Shakespeare's birthday on Friday, the MP for Rhondda chose a line from Richard II, "His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last", clearly a reference to Cleggmania. We suggest he takes a tip from Malvolio: "Be not afraid of greatness."

Horace de Vere Cole is famous for having practised one of Cambridge's most successful pranks when, in 1905, he dressed up as the Sultan of Zanzibar and tricked the town mayor Algernon Campkin into giving him an honorary tour of the city. Afterwards Cole told the press, causing lasting humiliation to Campkin, and Cole became a lifelong practical joker. Now Campkin appears to have exacted revenge more than a century later by sabotaging the launch of a new Cole biography. Author Martyn Downer was astonished when the fire alarm went off and lasted the full two hours of the party. The venue, Waterstones in Cambridge, had to be abandoned, and staff said it had never gone off before. Spooky.

In a story last week about the Manic Street Preachers, I called Richey Edwards the lead singer. He was, as any fule kno, the rhythm guitarist. My thanks to readers who pointed out this clanger.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Education Editor: This shocking abuse of teachers should be taken seriously

Richard Garner
Brand loyalty: businessmen Stuart Rose (pictured with David Cameron at the Conservative conference in 2010) was among the signatories  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?