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

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

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?

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower