Matthew Bell: Ths IoS Diary (10/01/10)

So that's where all the grit is...

Share
Related Topics

This time last year rumours were swirling about Simon Schama and his friendship with top literary agent Caroline Michel; these were finally laid to rest with denials of any impropriety all round. Now the 64-year-old married historian has revealed his crush on actress Charlotte Rampling in embarrassing detail. In a "frank and revealing interview" in
Harper's Bazaar, Schama drools over the glamorous star like an ill-mannered puppy, starting by describing her body as "a thing of beauty" that "turned men into warm puddles on the floor". He goes on to describe their meeting, in a restaurant booth, "she doing her cat impersonation, me the floppy terrier who just wants to woof and play". On he goes, slobbering and fawning, until finally the interview is over and she tells him she has time to kill before going to the theatre, and his imagination runs amok. "'What am I going to do to pass the time?' she teases, giving me the full-on charm. I am speechless." Down boy!

Intriguing to note that a senior Ministry of Defence official has now admitted to the Iraq Inquiry that there was a deal (he calls it an 'understanding') under which the British troops pulled out of central Basra in exchange for a quiet life and the release of dozens of Shia prisoners, as revealed 18 months ago in the IoS. (The result of the deal, according to one senior soldier, was that "lawlessness took over".) Can we expect a similar admission from Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, who wrote, rather curiously: "There was no 'deal' that left Basra prey to militias"? We're all ears, Sir Jock.

Some good news emerges from the world of big-name scientists after the sacking of Baroness Greenfield from the Royal Institution. Over at the Royal Society – quite what the difference is between them is one of those remaining unsolved problems – Lord Rees, president and also the Astronomer Royal, has cause for celebration after being chosen as this year's Reith lecturer. The honour is bestowed by the BBC on only the most eminent thinkers, which have included the philosopher Bertrand Russell and architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner. The Reith lectures are broadcast in June, and are aimed at "advancing public understanding and debate about significant issues of contemporary interest." Ah yes, those old, forgotten Reithian values.

As the nation awaits the start of Monty Don's new Channel 4 series My Dream Farm in 10 days' time, locals near his own farm in Wales – who have generally welcomed Don's arrival – are expressing wry amusement at the presence of the cameras. Don's sheep and cattle, it has been noticed, are immaculate in their blackness. "They are far superior to anything else you see in the valley," says my mole over the five-bar gate. "They are glossy and well-fed, and don't look remotely like the rough-looking animals you get round here." Camera! Lights! Spray-on mud! Action!

News of Tory spin-doctor Steve Hilton's criminal record is thought to have been leaked by someone with a grudge. But might it not have been an official leak? Mad as it sounds, last week was a good time to bury bad PR, coming right after the story about Hilton's emails, which shadow cabinet ministers say are irritating and patronising. The incident at Birmingham New Street, in which Hilton was arrested and cautioned after verbally abusing a ticket inspector, happened 16 months ago, so it's odd for it to have emerged now. It would only have been known about by Hilton and Andy Coulson, who was with Hilton at the time, and perhaps it was deemed better to get it out in the open before the election. If only Andy would reveal his own skeletons.

Election campaigning is getting under way months before polling day, but Tory party chairman Eric Pickles already appears to be using slightly desperate measures. His latest round-robin email has as its subject: "RE: What do you want to ask me about the NHS?" As everyone knows, an email headed 'RE' is a reply to a previous email, but I don't recall ever sending Mr Pickles an email about the NHS. This tactic of tricking recipients into opening emails by making them think it is a response to one they sent is increasingly used by spammers and Viagra-mongers. Is this another of Steve Hilton's cool new directives?

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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas