Diary: Open and honest politicians? Nah...

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The Independent Online
How different, how very different, from the home lives of our own dear politicians, I am tempted to remark, on getting a sneak preview of an in-depth interview with the American civil rights movement leader and former aspirant Democrat presidential candidate, Jesse Jackson (left), and his wife Jackie, which will appear in the New Yorker magazine next week.

Musing proudly on his five children Jackson pere declares: "What we got comin' along here is gonna be the Kennedy family of black America."

But it is the reminiscences of Jackson mere that intrigue me more. Jackie recalls that when they met at a black college in North Carolina, his first words to her were: "Hey girl, I'm gonna marry you." If that sounded unoriginally like a pop song, he later followed them up with the more radical line, says Jackie, "that he was gonna introduce me to sex". This he did, taking her to a black brothel (black people being barred from many motels in the early Sixties).

She gets her belated revenge in the New Yorker interview, saying: "I acted as if I had done this before. Until we finished. And I said: 'Why did we do that? I got nothing from that. I think it's a waste of time.' Jesse could only stare at me in astonishment."

Mrs Jackson remains forthright today. Of her husband's rumoured infidelities she says: "Of course I know what happens out there. I'm no dummy. I happen to like him more than I love him. Love is so temporary and emotional."

Love among the novelists

Not so in Britain. Yesterday was the annual Romantic Novel of the Year awards. The winner was Rosamund Pilcher, who earned pounds 4m last year alone. Her book, Coming Home, offers examples of fin de siecle romantic fiction, with the chaps the guardians of moral virtue. Here is a typical moment:

" 'No, don't go...' And she added, as though he needed any encouragement, 'it's a double bed. There's masses of space. I'll be all right if you stay. Please stop.' Torn between desire and his own inbred good sense, Jeremy hesitated. Eventually, 'Is that a good idea?' he asked."

Westminster in denial

All Britain, you might think, acknowledges the possibility of a Labour government in the not-too-distant future. Not so, however, on Westminster City Council. The good taxpayers of the London borough will be interested to learn that pounds 48,000 of their money goes, each year, to the Advocacy Group, a political lobbyist outfit. Its job is exclusively to make contact with the big guns of Parliament.

Those taxpayers will also be interested to learn, next, the outcome of a recent review of the lobbyists' performance. And what contact, I asked, had they made with senior Labour Party figures? Er, came the answer, well, none.

Censored porridge

What exactly could have been on the TV to prompt Michael Howard into depriving long-term prisoners of their battery-operated televisions? Looking up the schedules for Tuesday, when he trumpeted his announcement, I see on all channels "A Party Political Broadcast By The Labour Party".

Rockers' revenge

How many rock concerts have there been in Hyde Park? At the internationally broadcast press launch to announce this summer's concert with The Who, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton, a civil servant from the Department of National Heritage ("the expert") said this would be the fourth, following the Rolling Stones, Blind Faith and Queen.

The expert is wrong. Eagle Eye himself once saw a long-forgotten group called Grand Funk Railroad played off the stage by the support act, Humble Pie, fronted by the late Steve Marriott (above). Others remember Pink Floyd playing there in 1968. Readers of a certain vintage may be able to help Virginia Bottomley's department get its facts right. Better still, her civil servants could concentrate on other things.

It doesn't happen that way in the movies

The problems of celebrities on the public highway continue. Yesterday I reported how Sir Cliff Richard was mobbed on a bus. Now I see that in America William Shatner, alias Captain Kirk of Star Trek, was stranded when his car broke down. He tells in an interview how he stopped a passing female motorist. In an effort to gain her confidence he pulled celebrity status and declared: "I'm Captain Kirk." "Oh yeah?" she laughed; and sticking her middle finger out of the car window, she added as she drove away: "Well beam this up!"

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