Matthew Bell: The IoS diary


Delegates at the Asian American Journalists Association's annual bean feast were delighted that Martin Bashir should deliver the after-dinner speech 10 days ago. But, alas, he struck a wrong note. "I'm happy to be in the midst of so many Asian babes," he announced, "In fact, I'm happy that the podium covers me from the waist down." Astonished audience members were then told that a speech should be "like a dress on a beautiful woman – long enough to cover the important parts and short enough to keep your interest – like my colleague Juju's". It was at this point they started to boo. His employer, US news channel ABC, was unimpressed, and Bashir has apologised. "Upon reflection, it was a tasteless remark that I now bitterly regret," he says.

He attained instant fame more than 20 years ago with 'My Beautiful Laundrette', the story of a gay romance set in London's Pakistani community, starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Now Hanif Kureishi is turning to one of his own novels for his latest screenplay: I understand he is adapting his second novel, 'The Black Album', for the screen. Stephen Frears, his friend and director of 'My Beautiful Laundrette', is said to have been interested, but is too busy.

A glorious week's racing at Goodwood, not least for up-and-coming English jockey Ryan Moore, who won three races on the first day. Less successful was Mountain Pride, the racehorse owned by Ian Cameron, father of Dave. It finished 6th in its race. Perhaps it was just as well. Images of Dave's father collecting the Tatler Summer Season Stakes £10,000 prize would not have helped the cause.

Kate Middleton has joined Prince William in Mustique for a holiday following his drugs-busting exploits with the Navy. One newspaper reported that on the flight from London to Barbados, Kate refused an upgrade to first class, and insisted the stewards call her Kate. This is odd – I'm told that for some time, Kate has been asking friends to address her by her full name, Catherine. Catherine is thought more fitting for a princess. And, in the meantime, it has the advantage of not rhyming with 'wait', which unkind folk say is all she does now.

Scientist Christopher Monckton, now Viscount Monckton, has been left reeling after his treatment by the American Physical Society. He was commissioned to write an essay outlining his theory that the impact of human-generated CO2 on global temperatures will be less than thought. Delighted with all 8,000 words, the editor duly included the piece in the newsletter 'Physics and Society'. But those in disagreement with Monckton have lodged such vociferous complaints that now a caveat has been appended to the piece on the journal's website, saying, "The following article has not undergone any scientific peer review. Its conclusions are in disagreement with the overwhelming opinion of the world scientific community." Monckton tells me: "It's extremely discourteous. It's also odd, as the journal's editors, both esteemed scientists, approved the article, so it has undergone a scientific peer review."

Last week I asked which female member of the Cabinet has a full-size Dalek stationed in her sitting room. Plenty of admirable guesses, with Hazel Blears apparently the most likely. The right answer is Cathy Ashton, Labour's Leader of the Lords. The Dalek was a present from her husband, Peter Kellner, President of pollsters YouGov.

Ping! An email from 'Guardian' editor Alan Rusbridger, following my story about the publication of Hugo Young's off-the-record conversations with the great and good. He reassures me that permission has been sought from every living person quoted in the book: "Where people stated they wished material to remain private we respected their wishes." Why didn't the book's editor, Ion Trewin, just say so when I rang?

A final word on Gordon Brown's supposed likeness to Heathcliff. Author and Brontë expert Wendy Bardsley suggests the Prime Minister has much more in common with Branwell Brontë, Emily's troubled brother. "His energy could concentrate to a pitch of white hot steel, leaving behind a trail of awesome ideas, sometimes malformed – conceived with brilliance but finally unsustainable." Not much is known about Branwell, except that he was dismissed from his job as clerk of Luddenden Foot station when there was found to be a deficit in the accounts, attributed largely to his incompetence. Perhaps there is something in it.

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