Diary: The paper with teeth

Matthew Norman
Monday 22 November 2010 01:00 GMT
(David Sandison)

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* The News of the World seemed both inspired and confused on the octogenarian dental front. The paper collects Headline of the Week for "Gum And Get It", and Backhanded Compliment of the Decade for this contradictory reference: "Sheila, who looks a lot younger than she is and still has nearly all her own teeth ..." Genius.

* Still with family matters, I am shocked to discover my wife did not attend Marlborough School. Can anyone confirm this is now prima facie grounds for divorce?

* Lovers of the unusual, rejoice! Within days Melanie Phillips will make a public apology. In July 2008, Mad Mel lifted and embellished a mistake from the neocon website, Harry's Place, regarding Mohammad Sawalha, a Palestinian-born British man whom Al Jazeera had mis-transcribed referring to "evil/ noxious" Jews at a rally. In fact, as Arabic experts later confirmed to High Court superstar Tugendhat, he referred to the "Jewish lobby". Al Jazeera corrected it instantly, and Harry's Place later, yet MM magisterially ignored requests for a simple correction until a trial was imminent, when she caved. This unwonted arrogance has presented a six-figure bill for damages and costs to The Spectator, which at the time of writing continues to host her deliciously deranged blog.

* The Labour civil war develops more quickly than anticipated, with Little Ed under attack from both sides of the factional divide. Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, the Terry and June of opposition, are said to be plotting from the Brownite left to remove him within two years. From the Blairite right, David leaks he isn't done with the sibling squabble, while Mandy attacks Little Ed for placing him in a sheltered home (metaphorically; no one suggests he's Sheila's pimp). Brownite die-hards and Blairite ultras are united solely by their contempt for Little Ed. He needs an Alastair Campbell figure at once. Without an effective media minder, he will be written off as a short-term seat-warmer by the spring.

* We end on a jollier familial note by removing the hat to Julian Fellowes. Not for the peerage but over a new family member. On behalf of the Guild of Gossips, warmest congrats to his cousin Marina Hyde, once the Guardian's diarist, and her husband Kieren Clifton on the birth of Cosmo on Saturday morning after what his mother describes as "a relaxing 59-hour labour". This column shares Marina's passion for punctuality, and trusts this was the last deadline Cosmo will miss.

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