New best friends

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The Independent Online
Tara Palmer-Tomkinson's new best friend earlier this year was Mandy Smith ("we had such a laugh discussing my disastrous love life"), but last month the breathless columnist had some new new best friends, Sir David Frost and his wife - they'd given her a ride in their taxi. Jaci Stephen of the Mail has had, on my count, seven New Best Friends so far this year. What is going on here? The answer is simple: school's out. These jolly girls are having a spiffing time, which is why they're still talking the language of the dormfeast. Tara is plainly the wider-eyed of the two - note that Jaci gives the words capitals to show she's only teasing. But what a laugh! Both writers have hit just the style for a diary column, a mixture of old and new, my best friend being an in-phrase with nice echoes from the St Monica's of the 1930s.

Other diarists adopt a more formal pose. For the Standard's man a singer is a warbler, Prince Harry is a young shaver, and a book is a tome. People in the Telegraph's Peterborough column may deem rather than think, while in neither column do people say much. Instead they confide, whisper, sigh, or when upset, growl. Where have we seen this sort of thing before? Where else if not in Sapper's Bulldog Drummond, that classic of 1920?

We're back in the days of shilling fiction. It all helps to give the doings of our celebs a romantic tinge, make them nearer the "fair women and brave men" of the poem. It's not easy to sustain while making it clear that all the time you're in the swim. William Hickey of the Express, who calls cigarettes gaspers and uses words like erstwhile, knows it's modish to call one's lover one's squeeze.

He recently attempted the best of both worlds by calling singer Maggie Moon "James Hewitt's erstwhile squeeze", but somehow it didn't quite work.