Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> diary

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Jeremy Paxman is described alternately as a Rottweiler or a horse. Yet the 'Newsnight' host is considered a heart-throb in Notting Hill where he frequents one of the more chic gyms down the road from his flat. But locals are advised to keep their distance. One swooning alpha mother recently ventured to mount the treadmill next to his, only to suffer a crushing humiliation minutes later. Misjudging the speed, she came crashing to the ground and found herself lying prone on the floor, cheek grinding against the whizzing conveyor belt. "That'll teach you to look at my calorie counter," said Paxo, calmly jogging on.

The Liechtenstein whistle-blower has prompted much nail-biting in Europe's other funny money havens. Residents of Monaco have been reassured their banking secrets will remain protected, but there is another growing cause for concern. The principality's ruler, Prince Albert, will celebrate his 50th birthday on Friday, and still remains a bachelor. Three years ago he acknowledged fatherhood of a French toddler, and in 2006 admitted being the father of a teenage girl in California. But he has yet to marry and produce a legitimate heir. Monégasques are said to approve of the prince's long-term girlfriend, South African ex-Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock, who, like Albert's late mother Grace Kelly, is blessed with striking good looks. But isn't it time he popped the question?

If Republican presidential candidate John McCain succeeds George Bush, the presidential palace could see an influx of modern art on its wall space. McCain's 23-year-old daughter Meghan feels the place needs sprucing up after her visit on Thursday. "It is everything people say it is and more," she writes on her so-called blogette. "Just truly, absolutely breathtaking. However, I do think it's in need of some modern art. I was an art history major after all and love everything Andy Warhol has done – there should be one in the White House."

Culture minister Margaret Hodge's insight-free assessment of the Proms seems hardly worthy of a rejoinder. But it's cheering to see an Early Day Motion has been tabled on the matter. In fact, there are two. Lindsay Hoyle (Lab, Chorley) demands "that this House notes that the Proms play a central role in the calendar of British cultural events", while Colin Challen (Lab, Morley and Rothwell) does likewise but also "humbly submits that it is not the job of Beethoven or Brahms, Vaughan Williams or Vivaldi, Glass or Gershwin to make people feel at ease, although they do". Hoyle has 31 supporters, Challen a mere 22. Come on chaps, rally round.

He trousers a six-figure salary from the BBC, and was the only person to charge a fee for 'Children in Need', but Terry Wogan is not averse to earning a little extra pocket money. The Radio 2 presenter's mellifluous voice can be heard on a radio advert for Mercedes-Benz. An interesting choice of brand to promote, as only two months ago Wogan was livid with Mercedes after his own car got a puncture and he was left waiting for six hours for help. "How can a reputable car company give their name to roadside assistance like this. Why not call it Cowboys R Us?" he raged at the time. So it's good to see Wogan and the cowboys have kissed and made up.

Red faces at Granada's Manchester studios, where the controversial Jeremy Kyle show is recorded. Such are the passions inflamed on the poor man's 'Jerry Springer Show' that audience members have been known to bring along missiles to hurl at guests. A clampdown on unruly behaviour has meant audiences are now subjected to searches and are put through metal detectors. But owing to a recent misunderstanding, a group of docile and utterly inoffensive Granada guests found themselves being subjected to these intrusive tests. It turned out they were not Jeremy Kyle punters at all, but supporters waiting for a recording of 'University Challenge'. Oops!

Former Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell is tipped to be in the running to replace Michael Martin should the Speaker be forced to step down. This wouldn't be the first time Ming has had his eye on the job – he was nominated after Betty Boothroyd gave up the post in 2000. And according to his autobiography, it was Tony Blair who scuppered his chances last time. "Word got out that Blair allegedly looked favourably on my candidacy, which probably damaged my chances." Let's hope Ming isn't cursed with Nick Clegg's backing this time round.

m.bell@independent.co.uk

Comments