Why I can’t get away from Harry Redknapp

Some people are inescapable fixtures in the cultural ether I nearly fell out of my chair the other day when I got an email from a barrister friend who is so contemptuous of popular culture he rarely, if ever, watches television – and he probably isn’t sure what Twitter is either. “Sorry to hear you cannot make the 28th,” he wrote, “no doubt you have to go off and interview Tulissa (sic) about her bejazzelling, or some such.” How on earth had Tulisa — at least he had the decency to Read more [...]

‘You’re all dead anyway…’

It is important to have people like Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary around who can say the unsayable Apart from in bad turbulence, when I would still much rather be somewhere else, I am OK with flying these days. But I used to have a problem with it and would have various rituals that helped me cope, such as keeping my feet flat on the floor, pointing straight ahead. For those who can’t relate to aerophobia (yes, it has a name) it is to do with ceding control of your life to someone else (the pilot). Read more [...]

David Cameron may not think so but a hat is a powerful tool of expression

Boris Johnson has been wearing hats like they are going out of fashion, which they are. According to Nick Robinson’s new book, Live From Downing Street, when David Cameron went off for his hug-a-husky photo-opportunity to the Norwegian glaciers in 2006, he refused to wear a hat, even though it was -25C. The reason for this masochistic obstinacy? Well, it seems he was mindful of the PR mistake his predecessor William Hague made when he was photographed wearing one as he went down a log slide at Read more [...]

Colm Tóibín: you have to be a terrible monster to write

With a mind as formidable as his features, Colm Tóibín is now firmly a part of Ireland’s literary landscape. It’s both a blessing and a curse. ‘Listen,” Colm Tóibín says. I listen, though there is nothing to hear. “And it gets even quieter at night,” he adds, “because nearly all the properties around here are used as offices.” We are standing in the upstairs study of his four-storey Georgian house in Dublin, the place where he does his writing in a hard-backed rattan chair, Read more [...]

Perhaps Fiona Phillips should reflect on where her appalling education actually got her

The television presenter launched into a furious rant when she went back to her old school to address the pupils Oh to have been a bluebottle on the wall when the television presenter Fiona Phillips went back to her old school in Southampton to give a rousing speech to the pupils. The headmistress was no doubt beaming with pride as this successful Old Girl made her way to the podium and tapped the microphone. And how her jaw must have dropped when, instead of reminiscing fondly about her alma mater, Read more [...]

Colin Powell on why he doesn’t regret a thing

Reagan and Bush trusted him. Bill Clinton feared him. Opponents of the war in Iraq blamed him. But why didn’t Colin Powell seize power when he had the chance? Having read that General Colin Powell insists on punctuality, I arrive an hour before my appointment at his office – which is in a leafy part of Washington DC – planning to find a quiet corner to go through my notes as I wait. There is no one else around but, as I’m entering the building, a silver sports car roars up: a brand new, six-litre Read more [...]

Mitt Romney: And I owe it all to… Dad

Mitt Romney has a good luck ritual that involves writing 'Dad' on a piece of paper. What other secret, success-bringing gimmicks there are out there? Mitt Romney has revealed the secret of his new-found popularity, or rather his wife has. Before he starts to speak at a podium he always writes down a single word on the paper in front of him: “Dad”. Touching, isn’t it? So touching, it almost allows you to forget that he is a Mormon. And it is certainly an improvement on Sarah Palin’s autocue, Read more [...]