Nigella’s bunions

I read in the Telegraph today that Nigella Lawson lost weight after an operation on her bunions. She couldn’t hobble to the fridge so easily, apparently.

I would have thought, with her vast wealth, that she could have paid someone to hobble on her behalf.

 But I am beginning to realise, watching Cameron and Osborne make an omnishambles of the Budget, that the very rich don’t always behave in an entirely sensible manner.


Makeovers aren’t always straightforward. Kensington Palace has just been refurbished, for £12 million.  But it now appears that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have to share with Prince Harry. I imagine it’s a royal nod to cost-cutting  –  a gesture to ‘we’re all in this together’. Let’s hope there’s no friction.

James Cameron’s film Titanic has also had a makeover. It’s now in 3D. But Kate Winslet said at the premiere last night, ‘It’s weird. It is like being forced to go through a photo album of your former self for three-and-a-half hours solidly.’ Which doesn’t sound much fun.



A very large age gap

The BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson (who looks so like the late Eric Morecambe) reports that Nigel Lawson burst out singing at his 80th birthday celebrations.

How lovely that must have been.

Perhaps, as an ex-Chancellor, Lawson felt relieved that he wouldn’t have to deliver the Budget on Wednesday. Perhaps he thought again about his daughter’s extreme wealth. Or perhaps he was tempted to share his joy. 

The Mail on Sunday this week reported that the 80-year-old is in the thick of a new romance with Tina Jennings, 43  – which is, as the paper helpfully pointed out,  a 37-year age gap.

That made me stop and think. It would be the same as me going out with a four-year-old.

What, apart from a love of chocolate, would we possibly have in common?

The Diamond Jubilee

The Queen is marking her Diamond Jubilee with a series of visits throughout the UK. Sadly, she will not be visiting Fitton itself. But the official website makes fascinating reading. During her reign she has sat for 129 portraits, attended 35 Royal Variety performances, and introduced a new breed of dog known as the ‘dorgi’ (a corgi/dachshund cross). No one can say that she doesn’t put duty before pleasure.


The fashion for tattoos

Sergei Polunin  –  the young Ukranian (likened to Nureyev) who has just left the Royal Ballet  –   is a great fan of James Dean. He has a tattoo of him on his shoulder. I don’t really understand this fashion for tattoos. I have always admired David Attenborough, but have never considered having him etched on my ankle.

Charlotte Church vs News of the World

Poor Charlotte Church.  In a statement outside the Royal Courts of Justice, commenting on the way she had been pursued by the News of the World, she said, ‘In my opinion, they are not truly sorry, only sorry they got caught.’

Unfortunately, this is not unusual. Most five-year-olds told off for bad behaviour would happily repeat the misdemeanour if circumstances allowed. I won’t go into details. I’ll just say Rocky the goldfish, pearl earrings and half a packet of granulated sugar.

Robin’s art

Robin, as you know, is extraordinarily artistic. In view of his recent delight in the colour purple, I have temporarily covered the off-white sofa in thick plastic sheeting. Here is his recent portrait of the television presenter Gok Wan. I think. It might possibly be me.

MPs welcome

Labour MP Eric Joyce has been charged with assault after a late-night fracas at a bar in the House of Commons. I think we must feel a little sorry for MPs. Nobody likes them any more. In the wake of all those scandals about duckponds and sex videos, they are as popular as traffic wardens. Perhaps their misery and frustration is bubbling to the surface and spilling out in random acts of violence.

It doesn’t help having to spend time in London on a regular basis. Having lived in the capital myself, I do know how crowds and traffic can pull nerves taut, like violin strings.

I would like to extend a warm invitation to stressed-out MPs to spend time in the delightfully rural environs of Fitton.

A walk in the country can calm the most turbulent of spirits.

Creative free expression

Rowan Atkinson is in the papers. He’s 57. He says the BBC shouldn’t have to employ middle-aged women as TV presenters if they don’t want to because it’s an attack on ‘creative free expression’.

Personally, I always get a little worried when people start defending bad behaviour on the grounds of creative free expression. It feels a little dated. Like rock stars throwing furniture out of London hotels.

Literature, art and music are littered with examples of sex-obsessed drunken bankrupts who spread misery, discord and mayhem wherever they went before dying horribly early of syphilis or cirrhosis of the liver.

But while we celebrate the art they produced, we can’t help but be horrified by the attendant misdemeanours.  When I look at Van Gogh’s painting of sunflowers, for example, I try to forget that he chopped off his ear because he was obsessed with a prostitute. I don’t like to remember that Shelley was a drug addict or that Dickens found fidelity impossible.

So if the BBC, in creatively expressing its dislike of grey hair and wrinkles on any TV presenter who happens to be a woman, believes that bad behaviour goes hand in hand with artistic endeavour, I would beg to disagree.

The BBC must uphold standards. It must be above reproach. Like Marks and Spencer.

Call the midwife

The BBC, I understand, has just had a hit with the television series Call The Midwife. (It was narrated by Vanessa Redgrave, which is surprising. I didn’t think she did popular TV.)

The series showed midwives bicycling round London’s East End in the 1950s, with comedienne Miranda Hart delivering babies single-handedly.

I think there is a danger that we can become a little misty-eyed about childbirth. Certainly when I was pregnant with Robin, I imagined labour as warm baths and scented candles with the odd mobile call from David (who was often, in those days, away on business).

But the whole affair, as it turned out, was far less dignified. There was a shortage of staff the night I staggered into the labour ward.  I seem to remember standing by the nurses’ station bellowing like a cow while a junior midwife threatened me with pethidine.

They say, don’t they, that the only important thing is a healthy baby.

Clearly, safe delivery of the child is of paramount importance.

But the health of the mother sometimes gets overlooked.

Personally I think that any woman with more stitches than a darned sock who feels, post-delivery, that she has been involved in a road traffic accident which has irreparably crushed all her vital organs is, perhaps, entitled to feel slightly aggrieved.  

No one expects labour to be trouble-free. But there should be enough hospital staff to look after the woman who is going through it, especially for the first time.

These days, it’s not so much ‘Call The Midwife’ as Call-the-midwife-and-keep-your-fingers-crossed-that-someone-turns-up.

Adele’s new billet

I read in the Daily Mail newspaper that the singer Adele is now living in a ten-bedroomed mansion in West Sussex. While I wish her joy of her swimming pools, ballroom and marble washbasins, I am shocked to discover that she is merely renting. She may be only 23, but someone should take her aside and explain that property ownership is key  – not only because of its investment potential but also because you will otherwise be excluded from all sensible conversation round the dinner table.

The marriage of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie

While picking up my dry-cleaning in the high street recently, I came across a ‘celebrity magazine’ that informed me that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are to marry in a ‘spiritual ceremony’.

I am, of course, as romantic as the next person. But I was shocked to discover that the couple already have six children from a variety of different sources.

Building up a family is, of course, extremely time-consuming, and it would be charitable to suggest that Brad and Angelina have simply been too busy to tie the knot before.

But I am distressed by yet another example of the modern trend for not doing things in the correct order.

Even politicians haven’t got the hang of this. Personally, for example, I would have found out right at the beginning whether anyone liked my new framework for the NHS before I hung my government on it.