Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (12/02/12)

Aka Snugglepussums Smoochytoes

Share

Hippy farmer Hector Christie is causing headaches for his fellow Old Etonian David Cameron, pointing out that the PM is at odds with his Environment minister on GM crops. "I spoke to David Cameron and he said the Conservative Party was against GM," Christie tells me. Tory MP Caroline Spelman, however, has said she is in favour of GM food. Christie is the heir to Glyndebourne, though he chose not to inherit the opera house, leaving it instead to his younger brother, Gus. He was in London on Friday to demonstrate against the National Farmers Union's decision to back GM crops. "It's quite reasonable," he said. "We want to know what the government line is, and why the National Farmers Union, which supports GM, has an office in Defra?" Christie was a minor telly star last year, when he appeared on Country House Rescue, allowing bossyboots Ruth Watson to tell him how to run his 6,000-acre Devon estate, Tapeley Park. Meanwhile, over at Glyndebourne, Gus and his opera singer wife, Danielle De Niese, have erected a massive wind turbine, much to Hector's eco approval. "I'm pretty thrilled," he beams, dismissing those who think it's a blot on the Sussex Downs.

Best known for playing Ricky in EastEnders, Sid Owen has said that his only ambition is to have a stab at Hollywood. Now he appears to be doing just that. As I can reveal, he caught a plane to Los Angeles last week. And if he's hoping to hang out with a ritzier set than the Albert Square stars, things are already off to a good start: also on British Airways Flight 269 on Thursday was U2 guitarist The Edge, heading to LA for today's Grammy Awards. My man sipping a Bloody Mary tells me that while Owen was in premium economy, The Edge sat 10 metres ahead in business class (though not first). Both wore regulatory celeb-wear: Ricky in dark glasses, and The Edge a baseball cap, which remained fastened to his scalp throughout the 11-hour flight (though he was asked to remove it at passport control). And did the two meet? "They bumped into each other in the loo," yells my man down the line from the tarmac. Owen failed to observe celebrity hierarchy, attempting to instigate a chat with one from a higher "list" than his own. "Alright?" he ventured. Answer came there none. Good luck in Hollywood, Ricky.

News that the BBC killed off a promising Newsnight investigation into Jimmy Savile's alleged improprieties with teenage girls raises the question: at what level was that decision made? Mark Thompson, the BBC's director-general, was collared at a party before Christmas by an angry employee, who told him the investigation had been axed, which Thompson didn't know. What is intriguing is whether the DG was scandalised, as you'd expect, by the thought of the popular DJ having such tendencies, or maybe by the muzzling of the corporation's journalism. So what inquiries did he make? We don't know. Strangely the BBC press office refuses to say.

Harry Redknapp may not have diddled HMRC out of any money, but he's a hard-nosed competitor. Labour's Andy Burnham has recalled the time he played ping pong with Redknapp and the Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, back in 2009. He was with Gordon Brown, then prime minister, who insisted he would play, too, making it a double match of Westminster versus Footy. "I said to Gordon, don't worry, I'll just play table tennis with Harry and you stand and watch," says Burnham, "but Gordon wanted to play. As you know [with Gordon's sight being impaired], racket sports might not be the best." Indeed, Scudamore claims that Redknapp, being highly competitive, kept hitting the ball to Gordon's side, which Burnham corroborates. "It's true," he sighs. "I'd serve and then Harry would straight hit back to Gordon."

As Boris Johnson ponders how on earth he can beat Ken Livingstone in the London mayoral election, I bring reassuring news from Steve Norris, who knows just how he feels. The one-time minister of transport stood as the Tory candidate against Livingstone in 2000 and 2004, but lost disastrously both times. It didn't help that the former MP had acquired the nickname "Nobber", on account of revelations that he had had five mistresses, the fifth of which became his second wife. Now he has popped up in the pages of French Property News, speaking about the joys of owning a house in the south-west of France with his current wife, Emma, and their 13-year-old son. He is, he tells us, blissfully happy, nipping down there every weekend. And there's no danger of him making a return to politics or to his old saucy ways. Not least since he now lives in Condom.

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

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
SEEN graffiti Wonder Woman  

Warner Bros’ bold stance on Wonder Woman opens the door for Hollywood evolution

Matthew James
 

Errors & Omissions: moderate, iconic royals are a shoe-in for a pedantic kicking

Guy Keleny
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us