Sindy: The IoS Diary

Proof of other intelligent life forms

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Griff Rhys Jones, making his first Edinburgh festival appearance in 37 years, renewed his attack on anglers, for whose benefit, he said, he would "talk slowly". His last visit was as part of the Cambridge Footlights.

Then, one of his fellow performers was Peter Fincham, at the piano. "And now he is the head of ITV. Isn't that an extraordinary move? He wasn't a great pianist. We used to say, you have to look out for the musicians. Playwright David Hare was also a piano player in Footlights, and Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, used to play the clarinet in Fincham's band. These musicians have done very much better for themselves than any of the stars making exhibitions of themselves."

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David Cameron got himself in a bit of a mess on GMTV the other day when trying to explain away his frontbencher Lord McColl's involvement in a network of private GPs set up by two hedge-fund managers. He referred to McColl as "Hugh", when his name is, in fact, Ian. But who was the Hugh McColl that Dave was thinking of? Wikipedia describes the likeliest candidate as a 74-year-old American banker and "a driving force behind the consolidation that characterises the commercial banking industry today". He is, says the sage of cyberspace, "vigorously competitive", keeps an "enemies list" and once threatened to "launch his missiles" at an acquisition candidate to push the deal forward. If he is a friend of Dave's, it's funny he's never mentioned him before.

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Hats off to England all-rounder Stuart Broad who did so much to turn round England cricket's fortunes on Friday at the Oval Test. Cricket commentators were quick to credit his proud father, Chris. And who would deny the former England batsman the chance to admire his son's performance? But let's not get carried away. Some would say Broad really owed his success to his mum, Carole – among them, the boy himself. "Dad and mum split up when I was four and so it's always been mum I've turned to first," Broad told Simon Hughes last year. "She's taken me to and from matches and given me valuable advice and kept me on an even keel. I see dad occasionally and we speak on the phone often and talk technical things. But it's my mum who is always there for me."

***

Much has been made of Sir Max Hastings's new book on Winston Churchill, but those who know him well expect a change in direction from the prolific historian. Some time ago he began writing a history of the Hastings family, and evidently a pattern of eccentricity emerged. (Hastings himself likes to say: "I have a reputation for capriciousness to maintain.") But it was agreed that the book should not be published while his mother, the distinguished writer Anne Scott-James, was still alive. Scott-James, with whom Hastings had an uneasy relationship, died aged 96 in May, and the final touches are being applied to the book. I am told that it is "one of the best things he has ever done".

***

Sienna Miller, has been talking to the Camden Gazette about her new role as The Baroness in the blockbuster film GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra. As with any movie franchise, action figures are a must, but there have been suggestions that Sienna doesn't like hers. She says gamely: "I love it – it's hilarious. It's really funny to have a doll. It's just that she looks a little bit ...", and she makes a cross-eyed expression. "But I've got very happy nieces and nephews when they get my doll." Aaaah.

***

President Obama has set etymologists' tongues wagging. What does "wee-weed up" mean? He used the term on Friday when discussing the mood in the US capital. "There's something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all wee-weed up." The linguist David Crystal tells me it means nothing to him, and the OED is unusually silent. The blogosphere, meanwhile, is very exercised. Is it to do with drinking too much coffee or excitable people in peeing their pants, was it the result of smoking too much marijuana, or could it be an African tribal reference to the special "dance in a trance" after a successful hunt? Any other offers?

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