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

One-man show on the fringe

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.

React Now

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

HR Advisor - East Anglia - Field-based

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: To be considered for this position you will n...

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home