Diary

Share
How to needle the commissioners

LORD O'HAGAN, the jolly MEP for Devon, is about as Euro-friendly a Tory as you'll find. Though he sometimes has a funny way of showing it. Charles O'Hagan's current game is pestering the commissioners over their plans to poke their noses into yet more corners of our daily lives where they have no business. Problem is the corners are places where the EC has hitherto shown no interest in nose-poking. O'Hagan's most recent approach concerned plans to harmonise the length of pine needles on Christmas trees. Previously he has demanded information on plans to introduce standard sizes of keyholes, to put Jacques Delors' head on EC stamps, and on the vexed matter of whether caber-tossing breaches EC health and safety regulations. The pine needle question is, he says, a genuine response to a concerned constituent's query - 'although I admit that some of the questions I am asking the commission are ones I have dreamt up'. But, by awakening these fears, don't you just send more people into the embrace of the Europhobes? Not at all: O'Hagan insists that his questions are helpful. 'The commission loves it: my questions help to clear up some of the ludicrous ideas in the public's minds.' Commissioners are, however, becoming short with O'Hagan. Martin Bangemann, the industry commissioner, recently answered an O'Hagan query about the existence of plans to standardise the size and design of garden gnomes with a flat 'No]'

WHILE BBC high-ups have been locked in conference with their accountants, it is good to learn that Liz Forgan, newly arrived from Channel 4 to run Radio 4, has been keeping herself busy learning her trade on a humble radio editing course.

Phoney war

AND, while the EC plans to harmonise MEPs' mental states, five German psychology students have been trying to test whether their compatriots really are the biddable conformists everyone makes out. According to Der Spiegel, they stuck signs saying 'Men only' and 'Women only' on two adjacent telephone boxes in Trier, Rheinland. They were disappointed to find that, of the sample of 69 people, 75 per cent of the men and all but one of the women used the designated box. The one rebellious woman turned out to be French. She was heard muttering: 'Only the Germans would think of this.' Still, in Britain someone would doubtless have vandalised both telephones and run off with the cash boxes.

IS THAT Kenneth Baker playing himself in Channel 4's dramatisation of the birth of the poll tax, to be screened next Wednesday? No, though it looks remarkably like him. It is in fact ITN's political editor, Michael Brunson, a dead ringer for the former Home Secretary after a load of Brylcreem had been applied to his head. Told of this, Mr Baker says - incomprehensibly - 'Pearls before swine]'

Beating a path

WE ALL know that the child victim of violence becomes, all too often, the adult perpetrator of it. Take Case K, a man prominent, though not wholly successful, in public life. Early in his career he took to threatening his opponents during debates in public places ('Step outside]', he would say). He used to boast that at a conference in Brighton he once 'beat the shit' out of a member of his party in a toilet. Now we learn that when he was a 12-year-old schoolboy in Wales, a gang of older boys would daily hit K on the train to school with a leather strap: 'I was subject to the tradition of being held down and hit with the wooden knot at the end - 40, 50, 60 times.' All because he was 'tubby and ginger'. The bullying only stopped after 'I hit back, literally'. In most cases the talents K learnt fending off those school bullies have been useful. But not always. Two years ago he had a late-night fracas at his Ealing home and ended up flat on his back in a hedge, his feet indelicately flailing in the air.

A NEW title from the US publisher Loompanics offers help in these troubled times. Sell Yourself to Science: the Complete Guide to Selling Your Organs, Body Fluids, Bodily Functions and Being a Human Guinea Pig seems a snip at dollars 16.95.

A DAY LIKE THIS

4 March 1892 Alice James dictates on her deathbed the final entry in her journal: 'I am being ground slowly on the grim grindstone of physical pain, and on two nights I had almost asked for K's lethal dose. I feel sure that it can't be possible but that the bewildered little hammer that keeps me going will very shortly see the decency of ending his distracted career; however this may be, physical pain, however great, ends in itself and falls away like dry husks from the mind, whilst moral discords and nervous horrors sear the soul. These last, Katharine has completely under the control of her rhythmic hand, so I go no longer in dread. Oh, the wonderful moment when I felt myself floated for the first time in the deep sea of divine cessation, and saw all the dear old mysteries and miracles vanish into vapour]'

React Now

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

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Hilary Mantel in 2003 - years before she released a short story, in which she fantasised about the death of Margaret Thatcher  

In what universe is Hilary Mantel's imaginary assassination of Margret Thatcher worthy of police investigation?

Matthew Norman
Noddy Holder must be glad he wrote 'Merry Xmas Everybody' as he'll earn £800,000 this year from royalties.  

Noddy Holder: A true rock ’n’ roll hero, and a role model for sensible people everywhere

Rosie Millard
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam