Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Note

Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Note

Article excerpt

A single unnamed source telephones to offer a further smear against the Today programme's Andrew Gilligan. A fortnight ago, readers will remember, this column reprinted without so much as the courtesy of a check-call the allegation that Mr Gilligan, in his days as a reporter for the Sunday Telegraph, had in a fit of pique assaulted a colleague's treasured haircut with a pair of office scissors. This week it is the turn of 'Crispgate' to emerge blinking into the light. 'Gillie' is remembered by colleagues on the paper as an essentially nocturnal creature, whose only visible means of subsistence was 'a staggering intake of crisps and fizzy pop'. In one of the dark watches of the night, he stumbled to the canteen in search of more crisps and pop, and, finding the canteen unattended, liberated one or more packets of crisps with the intention of paying for them when next there was a staff member to operate the till. His good intentions were misconstrued. CCTV footage formed the centre of an inquisition into the loss of the crisps such as would make Lord Hutton blench. His punishment was a year's 'banishment' to the magazine section. Should the Hutton inquiry recommend a transfer to Woman's Hour, Mr Gilligan will likely receive it with a stoical sense of deja vu.

Strolling, as I am apt to, feather-footed through west London's fashionable Leamington Road Villas, I spot a conundrum. Apparently abandoned, by the side of the road, alone and unloved, is a Toyota Supra - its parking permit lately expired after weeks of motionlessness. Its personalised number plate reads J11HED. On the back plate, in small letters below the registration number, is inscribed 'intifada', and, on the front, 'Allahu akbar'. Whether this is the Lost Toyota of Osama bin Laden, or the Latest Stunt of Aaron Barschak, only time - and the vigilant anti-terrorists of the Kensington and Chelsea parking authorities - will show.

The infallible sign that the Silly Season is upon us - apart from the annual Evening Standard front page discovering, as if for the first time, that temperatures in the London Underground are so high you wouldn't be allowed to transport cattle in its carriages - is the annual article in every other newspaper, tut-tutting about the silliness of what passes for news in the Silly Season. This is, as they say, post-modernism gone mad. Why complain about it? Plagues of big animals (baby-eating frogs, gigantic French wasps, etc.); public transport catastrophes; gay vicars; talented gcrbils; speeches by John Prescott; and the annual discovery that young women look good in swimsuits... all of these are, aren't they, infinitely preferable to the blast of boredom and hatred that is the daily news all the rest of the year round?

Proof positive that the feel-good factor has not left the economy. According to the Times, 'Britain imports more than 50 million tonnes of foie gras each year, mostly from France.' That's a shade under a tonne for every man, woman and child in the country.

Richard Desmond didn't get where he is today by passing up business opportunities. When a camera crew from the independent production company 3BM turned up at the Blackfriars headquarters of his Express Newspapers, hoping to film some general views of his offices for their documentary The Real Richard Desmond, they were bewildered to find themselves mobbed by men carrying placards advertising Mr Desmond's useless newspapers, who sought - on management's instructions, they explained - to insinuate themselves into every camera shot. …

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