Watching brief - Amanda Platell has doubts about Rod Liddle

I don't have a lot of company in this, but I have always rather liked Rod Liddle. Sadly, it has beco

The publishing mistake of the week must surely be Rod ("All men are bastards, especially me") Liddle. His magnificently honest interview in the Daily Telegraph spawned no end of spin-offs, especially after he indelicately described his new squeeze, Alicia Monckton, who used to be a secretary, as looking like Keira Knightley.

Little did he know as he posed (fully clothed, thankfully) on a clearly post-coital four-poster bed (are we practising for Hello! magazine, Rod?) that his wife, Rachel Royce, was demonstrating her excellent writing skills for the same day's Daily Mail. His headline: "Men always want other women". Hers: "My cheating husband Rod, ten bags of manure and me the bunny boiler. As for The Slapper . . . she's welcome to him."

Let me tell you a thing or two about women, Rod. When a husband dumps his wife and two kids for someone young enough to be his daughter, she does not like to read, just weeks later, about how much you love her. That is cruel and inhumane, even if you are trying to flog your latest book.

I don't have a lot of company in this, but I've always rather liked Liddle. Sadly, it is now impossible to defend his actions without sounding utterly ridiculous.

Ed Balls, the former chief adviser to Gordon Brown and now parliamentary candidate for Normanton, sounded like a right tit strutting his stuff on the day of the Comprehensive Spending Review. It's one thing holding your own in the company of friends, however distinguished, but quite another to do early-morning battle with John Humphrys on the Today programme.

Within a minute, Humphrys had adopted his "I can't be cruel to puppies" voice. It was embarrassingly bad. If Balls had wanted to see how it's done, he could have turned over to BBC's Breakfast to

watch the Tories' newly elected candidate for Surrey Heath, Michael Gove. He's a class act. To get that polished on television, you need lots of practice. May I suggest, Mr Balls, that you do not start the process on the Today programme.

Seldom does the media sisterhood sing in such harmony as it did over the Parlour case. Feminists were outdoing each other to condemn Karen Parlour, a wife of six years' standing, who had won a greed-breaking decision at the appeal court entitling her to 37 per cent of her ex-husband's future earnings (up to £1.8m), on top of a £250,000 lump sum, £406,000 per year and two houses, plus maintenance for their three children which alone is almost one and a half times the national average salary.

No one put the argument more succinctly than Jenni Murray of Radio 4's Woman's Hour, writing in the Daily Mail. It would be one thing, she said, had the Parlours been together for 25 years and he had walked out. The decision was bad for women and bad for marriage.

Anne Diamond was a lone voice defending Karen Parlour, but now everything she writes is so laced with her own disappointments.

Even the red tops disapproved. In the Sunday Mirror, Carole Malone branded her a "greedy little Parlour maid" and Ulrika Jonsson in the News of the World described it as "one small step for Karen Parlour, one giant backward leap for womankind".

And if one required proof as to the character of this self-styled little footie wife who shops in the high street and who only did it for her children, and her children's children, you had only to read the nausea-inducing interviews she gave at the weekend.

"Dis weren't revenge," she said. "Ah'd give all dat money away if Ah could 'ave my Ray back." I suspect, Karen, that a reconciliation is now unlikely.

After the ignominy for Bill Clinton of being beaten to the number one spot on the bestseller list by Gazza (whose autobiography outsold the former president's by two to one), Clinton threw himself on the mercy of those author-makers, Richard and Judy. Just appearing on their show is guaranteed to make any writer's sales skyrocket. But after all the hype and publicity, fancy an abusive, unfaithful chancer beating . . . well, an abusive, unfaithful chancer to the top spot.

The recently divorced Jemima Khan was overheard at David Frost's summer party being asked: "On a scale of one to ten, how much of that stuff about you and Hugh Grant was rubbish?" She sweetly replied: "About eight," which my male friend took to be a complete denial. He was alone in doing so.

I didn't say it wouldn't last: I said it shouldn't last. Ann Widdecombe's agony column for the Guardian has bitten the dust, and not a moment too soon for most readers. Miss Widdecombe is a talented writer and astute political commentator, but even her staunchest admirers would not claim that personal relationships were her strong suit.