Matthew Bell: The IoS diary


If he can survive until then, Gordon Brown will be praying for a miracle at the Labour Party conference, starting this Saturday. But he's not taking any chances. First things first – keep the awkward squad at bay. Climate campaigners Joss Garman and Anita Goldsmith were astonished to receive letters last week saying they are banned from attending. The Greenpeace activists have been told their applications for accreditation have been refused on security grounds. "They've rejected it because I've got a criminal record," says Garman, who was once arrested for breaking into an airbase in a protest over Iraq. "Who else will be banned? Are they letting Peter Hain in? He's got a criminal record."

With all those early starts and an eight-year-old son to raise, it's a marvel 'Today' presenter John Humphrys has any energy for a social life. How encouraging then to hear he is no less active than the next 65-year-old journalist. Although rarely seen out in public, reports reach me of a revival in his friendship with 'Observer' columnist Catherine Bennett. The two were spotted out dining à deux last year, although sightings had dropped off until recently. Bennett, once married to Lord Sackville, has not always been a fan of Humph's. In a 'Guardian' piece about the inadequacies of the 'Today' presenters in 1996, she singled Humphrys out as "disgraceful". But that was then, this is now.

It's a victory for Noel Gallagher. After the disastrous choice of hip-hopper Jay-Z to headline Glastonbury this summer, which the Oasis singer described as "wrong", Michael Eavis is taking Glasto back to its indie roots for 2009. A West Country mole tells me the Foo Fighters were spotted emerging from Eavis's Zummerzet farmhouse recently, and I gather they have been signed to headline the Friday night. The American band, a spin-off of Nirvana following Kurt Cobain's death, should help prevent a repeat of the nation's collective shrug when tickets went on sale this year.

Marmite minister Hazel Blears – loved and loathed in equal measure – may rue not winning the Labour deputy leadership, but she is proud of the power she does have. Speaking at a Local Government Association conference on Wednesday, Blears boasted that it was thanks to her that the Cabinet met in Birmingham on Monday. The unusual step – a Cabinet hasn't met outside London since 1921 – drew whingeing from some ministerial colleagues, who thought it a gimmick. But Blears is unabashed. "It was all my fault," she beamed. Words seldom heard in Westminster.

News that Rav Singh, chief gossip columnist of the 'News of the World', is stepping down will have corks popping among hounded celebs worldwide. But perhaps they shouldn't celebrate too soon. Singh may be about to join their ranks as potential fodder for his old column. I'm told he has been in talks with Simon Cowell, he of the high trousers, about the possibility of becoming a judge on the next series of 'Britain's Got Talent'. Watch this space.

Who needs Robert De Niro anyway? After the Hollywood tough guy flounced off the set of Mel Gibson's film 'Edge of Darkness' last week, Gibson wasted little time in finding a replacement, and is reported to have lined up Hackney-born actor Ray Winstone. De Niro abandoned Gibson's project, a cinematic version of the 1980s BBC drama, after only two days on set due to "creative differences". Now Winstone, a one-time amateur boxer, is slipping straight into De Niro's character. A former colleague of Winstone tells me he is unlikely to succumb to any queeny strops.

Recalling the events of 9/11 seven years ago, music critic Caitlin Moran has one previously undocumented memory. "I seem to remember the only journalist the 'Guardian' had in New York at the time was Charlie Porter, their fashion correspondent and a very dear friend of mine, who suddenly had to file a news piece. Because it was Fashion Week, and it was all he had taken, he had to write his piece wearing a pale pink silk jumpsuit, spats and a multi-coloured, knitted Roman centurion's helmet."

Three weeks ago I revealed how the trustees of Charleston, the former Sussex retreat of the Bloomsbury set, had infuriated neighbours by hosting a spate of raucous weddings in the grounds. Now the trustees have reversed their decision and are ceasing to hire it out, despite having provisional bookings for next summer. "It's such a relief," sighs a neighbour. "We hadn't had so much noise on the Downs since the Battle of Britain."

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'