Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (26/09/10)

Too powerful for Forbes

Share
Related Topics

Maggie Smith Peter Hall, Charles Dance, Penelope Wilton – it would be quicker to say who wasn't there – were among the luvvies at the opening night of Krapp's Last Tape. But by the time everyone had tried to be the last one in, the play was more than 10 minutes behind schedule, and the critics were getting bored. One, thought to be from the Daily Express, began shouting "come on!" and "get on wivvit!" and a slow handclap broke out. Afterwards, with everyone posing to be snapped, it took just as long to leave. Since Beckett's surrealist masterpiece only lasts 50 minutes, could this be the first known occasion of a play taking longer to arrive at and leave than to watch?

Nicholas Parsons, the lovable voice of Just a Minute, can't charm everyone he meets. In his catchily titled new book, With Just a Touch of Hesitation, Repetition and Deviation: My Life in Comedy, he recalls asking a member of the public for a lift during the Edinburgh Festival in August. "'Could you be very kind?' I said. 'My taxi didn't arrive, and I am due on stage in 10 minutes. Would you be really generous and give me a lift up the hill?' He looked at me intently and said, 'Are you one of those celebrities?' I said, 'Yes, I suppose you could call me that.' 'Well,' he said, 'there are too many of you bastards in the city at this time of year' – and sped off."

Can we ever trust the internet again? As TripAdvisor faces legal action over bogus reviews, news reaches me that someone has been going round the web pretending to be, er, Theresa May. A woman in the Home Secretary's constituency of Maidenhead thought she might have more success scuppering a proposal to build a takeaway if she posed as May. She lodged the phoney objection with the council, which posted her comments on the online planning portal. They were taken down before a decision was made, but the incident has alarmed councillors welcoming online comments from the public. May has expressed concern, though a spokesman sniffed that it was "fairly obvious" the comments weren't hers.

Stan Madeley is the Henry Root de nos jours, having written bogus letters to dozens of unwitting celebrities and organisations. A compilation of his greatest hits reveals the Daily Mail's splendid "Answers to correspondents" section – the page that invites readers to answer difficult questions – was among his victims. Madeley's response to the question, "What is the fate of the nation's liposuction fat?", is vintage: "My wife Sandra has run a liposuction clinic for 25 years. In the early days I was involved in the disposal of the fat... we would often sell liposuction fat as a heavy lubricant for marine use. Nautical friends claimed that human fat was the best way to grease their prop shafts. We have also sold our fat for the manufacture of bowler hats and as an ingredient in loam."

Red faces at the BBC website, after editors were forced to repost a video from its Athens correspondent, Malcolm Brabant, having removed it after receiving complaints from Greek government supporters. Martin Bell has weighed in to condemn the BBC's spinelessness in not sticking up for its foreign correspondents. The footage showed demonstrators at a rally throwing shoes, but was claimed to have been faked. Shoe-throwing is a sensitive issue in Greece. So perhaps it wasn't a good idea to make Christos Papoutsis home secretary – papoutsis means shoemaker in Greek.

Dragons' Den is so over, at least according to one leading businesswoman. Michelle Mone, owner of Ultimo bras, the biggest knicker firm in Britain, once turned down a chance to be on the show's panel because she was not rich enough. But now that she has the readies she's lost interest. "I was asked to join way back in the first series," she says, "but back then I didn't have the sort of money you need to invest. But it's lost its sparkle. It needs a complete overhaul. It needs to recreate itself." Besides, she adds, she doesn't much rate the other panellists except Theo Paphitis and Peter Jones.

Another day, another launch of a pointless magazine. The latest comes from an unlikely source, Eric Pickles, one of our favourite Tories. It's called Elected and is all about how to "share best practice and innovation", a sort of how-to guide for anyone spending public money, or how-not-to these days. It sounds suspiciously like one of those money-wasting council magazines that the Tories are supposed to be clamping down on, and is owned by something called the Social Equity Group. Uh-oh, don't say it's publicly funded? "No, we're a private venture," says a spokesman, reassuringly. "It's a business like anything else. We're just trying to do some good." Phew!

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

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste