Sindy: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (15/08/10)

Kicking for his country, regardless of age
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The Independent Online

Should the people of Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, be bracing themselves for a VIP visit? Telegraph columnist Charles Moore has had to clarify his remarks in The Spectator about the town. Moore said he found a recent visit there "extraordinarily depressing", saying that in one part he saw "nothing that displayed any sign of talent, originality, workmanship, beauty or local pride". South-west Wiltshire MP Andrew Murrison and many others were unamused, and Moore has been invited back to see a better side of the town. "I'm glad to hear people are proud of their town," says Moore. "But I think it's important for people in the locality to see how other people will see it... I bear no ill will to the town of Trowbridge at all." But will he revisit the town? Er, maybe not. Murrison has given him an opt-out, saying: "If he fears being lynched by those he has maligned, he can have a chat with me in the safety of the Commons." Moore's response? "I would be delighted to meet Mr Murrison," says Moore. I'd take that as a no.

Before the International Book Festival opened yesterday in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, one of the authors attending, Peter Mandelson, went to see some comedy at the nearby Stand club. Clearly he's not aware that its founder is Tommy Sheppard, a former scion of the Glasgow Labour Party, who was made redundant by Mandelson's old chum Tony Blair because his left-wing views offended New Labour sensibilities. Sheppard used the money to establish the Stand and tells me: "I'm thinking of renaming it the Blair Memorial Club – only he won't be welcome."

The eager chatter among theatregoers continues as to who and what will feature during Trevor Nunn's season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. He is thought to fancy having a go at The Tempest, and would like to cast Jeremy Irons as Prospero. Irons has said in the past that he would like to take on the role some time, but so far it has eluded him. So, Jeremy, is it a runner this time? Irons's agent admits they have had discussions and that there are a couple of things Trevor wants to do with Jeremy, and " The Tempest is one of them." So that's a yes? "It's a possibility but not a certainty," I'm told.

In case you were wondering who is in charge while Dave is off in Cornwall on holiday, you are not alone. Nick Clegg must be wondering too. Traditionally, Downing Street's practice – vigorously endorsed since May – has been to say: "The PM is always in charge," even when on holiday. But early on Friday afternoon, its website talked of when Clegg "takes over" while Cameron is on hols. Then, a couple of hours later, all references to taking over had been removed. So what will Nick be doing for the rest of the month while there's no one to make the tea for? All facetious references to him manning the phone ("Press one to complain about education policy") or diverting calls to the West Country ("Barack, that's a nice name, just putting you through...") are to be resisted.

As the season begins, you may like a glimpse of just how infantile professional footballers are off the field as well as on it. "I get calls from Premier League and Football League sides all concerned that certain players are under-performing due to games addiction," says sports psychotherapist Steve Pope in the latest FourFourTwo magazine. "Some players would take them up to the hotel rooms and play them until 2am on the eve of a match, dramatically affecting their sleep patterns as well as depleting essential stores of endorphins and hormones, integral to match fitness." Pope says he has known top-level players have their Play Stations taken off them. The game the players find most addictive, says Pope, is Modern Warfare 2.

Health minister Anne Milton, who caught the nation's eye the other day with her (aborted) plan to scrap free school milk for the under-fives, seems to be on a retro kick. In her latest attempt to evoke unpopular past Tory policies, her department prepared a press release extolling the virtues of "getting on your bike", which a greybeard stopped at the last minute. Back to Basics, anyone? She'll be saying there's no such thing as the Big Society next.

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