The Feral Beast: Bin Laden toppled as top Gooner

Playful, but with sharp claws

Matthew Bell
Saturday 12 May 2012 22:46

It came to be well known, among Manchester United fans at least, that they had an ally in the Elysee Palace: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy is United fan, and I assume he'll be quaffing a couple of pints of pastis down at his local this afternoon with Carla for the game against City.

Unkind souls found something fitting in his choice of team, given that one of Sarko's nicknames in France was "Nike-olas" after his love for labels, the US and money-values in general. Plus, Nike manufacture United's shirts.

So what is one to make of the fact that his successor, François Hollande is an Arsenal fan? The well-housed socialist was caught sporting a fetching Arsenal top and beaming with pride in the company of Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny, a native of Naves, just north of Hollande's fiefdom in Tulle.

Hollande himself is a centre forward – and was still turning out for the Assembly's Socialist team as recently as last spring.

The news makes Hollande Arsenal's highest profile Gooner since the late Osama Bin Laden.

Time for Perry to tend her own garden?

Claire Perry, MP for Devizes, has made a lot of noise about protecting children from the internet, backing a campaign that calls for users to be asked to "opt in" to see online pornography. But while the publicity-shy Tory has been trotting round various Westminster studios, children in her constituency are being neglected.

Ofsted has just issued a damning report into Wiltshire council for failing vulnerable children. They found there were "serious significant shortcoming" in 17 out of 92 randomly selected child protection cases, and branded the overall effectiveness of care "inadequate".

Residents hoping to learn what their MP plans to do about it duly turned to her column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald. Would she call on the £130,000-a-year council official responsible, Carolyn Godfrey, to resign? No. Instead, she told all about her japes campaigning for Boris Johnson's re-election as London mayor – clearly vital for the folk of Wiltshire.

Some have struggled to take Perry seriously since her maiden speech, about the need for affordable rural housing while she was selling a £2m mansion. But when it comes to standards in public life, Perry is no exemplar: she was forced to apologise to John Bercow after a debate last year, after being heard saying "What have I got to do to be called by the Speaker? Give him a blow job?"

Cliff and Gyles: Voices of youth

On the subject of filth, Michael Cockerell examines Lord Longford's crusade against pornography in his new documentary, The Lost World of the Seventies, screened tonight. Cockrell describes the Seventies as "a place that seems distant in some ways but curiously familiar in other ways".

Judging by the Longford campaign, it feels like a millennium away: setting up a committee, Lord Porn recruited various members of the great and good, including a bishop, an archbishop and a rabbi. Casting around for young people, he alighted on Cliff Richard and Gyles Brandreth.

"Brandreth was just down from Oxford where he'd been a publicity-hungry president of the Union," says Cockrell.

And what of Sir Cliff? He was happy "to help combat immorality... and the sort of permissive so-called society". A fine pair of edgy young things!

New chapter in Osborne family chronicles

While George Osborne becomes increasingly conspicuous by his absence, his wife is busy writing about sex. Frances Osborne appears in the latest issue of Vogue to tell us all about the sexual shenanigans of aristos between the wars, ahead of her new novel, out in June.

She's the second member of the Chancellor's family to cause him potential embarrassment in as many months. In April, his father, Sir Peter Osborne, gave an extraordinary interview with the FT's "How To Spend It" supplement, revealing his love of Mustique and £19,000 Fornasetti cabinets.

In a handy reminder of how cosy life is at the top, we learn that Frances was styled for this shoot by Emily Sheffield, Vogue's deputy editor, and half-sister of Samantha Cameron. We're also told Frances was photographed at The Dorchester, and wears a dress by Paul Smith and shoes by Jimmy Choo. But we're not told the prices, as per usual Vogue practice. A half-hearted bid to spare some blushes?

Dressing down for Rebekah's fashion critics

Mariella Frostrup has made a surprise leap to Rebekah Brooks's defence over the crucial issue of her dress. Giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry, the ex-Sun editor appeared in a demure black "Marcie" shift dress – price £475 – which features contrasting white cuffs and collars. Some have interpreted the choice as a conscious attempt to appear like an innocent girl, "a picture of Puritan-style innocence", as the Daily Express put it. Among them are the writer Zoe Williams and the lawyer Charlotte Harris, who said the dress was "Salem-like". But Mariella is outraged, calling Harris's remarks "puerile and offensive", and saying that "Brooks should face the same interrogation as her male colleagues, not one that includes clothes and hair in list of crimes". Indeed: my fashion advisers inform me that cuffs and collars are in this season, so Rebekah was just on trend.

If anyone can Rock the Oscars, I can

The US comedian Chris Rock infuriated Oscar officials when he hosted the 2005 ceremony, calling it "idiotic". He also said that Jude Law was a poor man's Tom Cruise, telling film-makers: "If you want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law, wait!"

Now, he is hoping to be asked back. Speaking from the red carpet at the UK premiere of 2 Days in New York, he told the Beast he had heard rumours that Cascade Brown, a little-known British actress, was being tipped as next year's host. "If she co-hosts it, then wow, that'd be great. Would I be up for presenting next year's Oscars with her? Yeah, I'd do it!"

If true, it would be an extraordinary break for Brown, as her credits to date include stints in The Bill and Holby City. And somehow we don't think Rock has been forgiven: he was also quoted saying no straight man ever watched the Oscars.

Porl's Cure for band nostalgia

Fans of soft-Goth band The Cure may be shocked to learn that guitarist Porl Thompson is selling his instruments. One of the original members, he has left and rejoined the band several times, most recently in 2005.

However, Porl did not appear in last year's tour, and it was assumed he was busy with other projects. But now I can reveal that Omega Auctions of Stockport will be disposing of his band-related artefacts, including guitars, stage clothing and original artwork on Saturday.

Omega has a reputation for selling band-a-bilia: it recently sold one of John Lennon's teeth for £23,000.

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