Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (29/08/10)

One-man show on the fringe

Share
Related Topics

Even the cosiest alliances don't last for ever, so BP has bid adieu to Sir Jeremy Greenstock as a special adviser. The former ambassador to the UN, and Tony Blair's eyes on the ground in Iraq, was awarded the handsomely paid post in 2004 by Lord Browne, when he was still chairman. He thought Jezza's top contacts and knowledge of the Middle East would suit the oil giant rather well. Now that BP finds itself tightening its belt, after losing £11bn in the last quarter, every penny counts. A spokesman confirms his departure, saying his contract had come to its natural end in April: "There is nothing unusual about this. His contract would have been on a one-year rolling basis." Intriguingly, BP is keeping the services of senior ex-MI6 man Sir Mark Allen, who also joined BP in 2004. Why so? "Jeremy only came in one day a week, whereas Mark's work is more extensive. Jeremy was brought in by somebody who has now left the company." Nothing to do with Allen's experience oiling wheels in Libya post-Lockerbie, then.

So farewell to Lord Glenconner, the 83-year-old friend of Princess Margaret and owner of Mustique – who bought the island as a swamp in 1958 and turned it into a millionaire's playground. The death on Friday of the peer formerly known as Colin Tennant comes only eight months after a shock discover: he had a 54-year-old lovechild, London psychotherapist Joshua Bowler. Already the father of five children, Lord Glenconner was apparently delighted by the revelation in January, after Bowler requested a paternity test, which came back positive. Poignantly, the new-found son had idolised Glenconner, working for him on Mustique as a sports coach for 18 months after leaving school, neither knowing each other's true identity. Like many large families in which one or two members die young, the Tennants are said to be "cursed", but there is nothing suspicious about the peer's death. The intrigue will lie in his will.

The ghost of disgraced former Brown aide Damian McBride continues to haunt civil servants at the Treasury. Since George Osborne's team moved in, one staff member has been puzzled to find colleagues answering his calls with a uniformly timid "Hee-elloo?" It turns out he has been given McBride's number, whose name still flashes up on the phone's display. So bad are the memories of the lobster-faced shouter that the more nervous in the press office are still ignoring calls from that number, letting them go straight through to voicemail.

Why wouldn't £413,000 p.a. BBC exec Caroline Thomson accept that it was a mistake to double the director-general's salary – from £400,000 in Greg Dyke's day to the whopping £834,000 Mark Thompson is on now? In her best management-speak, Thomson dodged around Justin Webb's perfectly polite questions on the Today programme yesterday, trotting out the usual line about the BBC needing to attract talent from the commercial sector. "So the BBC is better run since these huge salaries started to be paid?" probed Justin. "I think the BBC has benefited a lot," Thomson countered. She makes James Murdoch sound reasonable.

Happy news from the Edinburgh Literary Festival, where feuding authors Allan Massie and Philip Kerr have kissed and made up after a magnificent ding-dong earlier this summer. Kerr had used the comments section of Amazon to write an 813-word demolition of Massie's latest book, describing it as a "turkey". "When I pay 20 quid for a 'nuanced' history of the Stuarts, I don't expect to be served up a slab of cheesy prose from a crappy old novel," he wrote. But he admitted he had not been entirely dispassionate: Massie had written a less than positive review of one of Kerr's books, for the second time. Edinburgh-born Kerr was talking about his novel on Friday, when he revealed that he and Massie had patched things up. Aw.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is getting heavy with anyone who tries to use the Face-brand, by trying to trademark the word. This follows his attempts to claim the word "book", after he launched a legal action last week against Teachbook, a social networking site for teachers. He says it is "riding on the coat-tails of the fame and enormous goodwill of the Facebook trademark". Not to mention the threat to its £21bn estimated value.

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

Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 Teacher Required in Grays

£21000 - £40000 per annum + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Key Stage 2 tea...

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£120 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: The Humanities Department of this ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Music Teacher

£120 - £180 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: Newham Position: Music Start dat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Are multinationals really eclipsing nation states? Don’t bet on it

Boyd Tonkin
A residential tower block in an area of Southwark with a high concentration of social housing  

We desperately need to solve our housing crisis, but rent controls are not the answer

Mira Bar Hillel
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
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
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
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
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
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
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
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