Watching brief - Amanda Platell on what IDS said about her T-shirt

What IDS said about my T-shirt, praise for Andrew Marr, and the menace of Ali C

It was not meant to be rude. It's just that I didn't have time to go home and change before the lavish launch for William Hague's book on William Pitt the Younger at the Foreign Press Association. So I went in jeans and my pink "Crazy world ain't it?" T-shirt. It's a copy of one worn by Mick Jagger in the 1970s, and not intended as a comment on the current state of the Conservative Party. Honest. I wore it with stilettos and a pinstriped jacket, so at least I made an effort to fit in.

A glass of wine in, and Cecil Parkinson made his disapproval clear. That really hurt. Then a second body blow when a member of the front bench told me I was persona non grata with the current leadership for criticising Michael Howard.

Well, that puts me in the same club as virtually the entire Tory party, I replied, and stalked off with as much dignity as one can muster in four-inch heels.

Later, Iain Duncan Smith said that he admired my T-shirt and wished he'd had one to sum up his time as Tory leader. And what would that say? Shit happens, he replied. Indeed it did.

Andrew Marr's My Trade: a short history of British journalism should be required reading for any prospective student of journalism. If that doesn't put them off, nothing will. It is a brutally honest account of the David Montgomery/ Tony O'Reilly period of ownership of the Independents when Marr was editor and I was managing director. Marr says he's the ugliest man on TV and the Queen thinks he looks like Vladimir Putin. Not so. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the millions who behold possibly the best political editor on TV would disagree

with you, Mr Marr, and with you, Ma'am.

Talking of newspapers, one of the kindest men in Fleet Street has just hung up his bean-counter and retired from the Mirror. Colin Harrow had a distinguished career as the paper's deputy managing editor, and saw many of us come and go. During a bad patch, he offered me a saying I hadn't heard before: "If you stand by the banks of the river long enough, you will see the bodies of your enemies float by." After I was sacked, I said: "You forgot to tell me that I'd see my own body float by first."

Having listened to Andrew Rawnsley's Westminster Hour lately, I can reveal the real reason why the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Andrew Smith, walked before he was pushed: Smith is so soporific, he's the only man capable of putting the listener to sleep quicker than Rawnsley.

No one to bully, nothing to sex up, no careers to destroy: it's no wonder Alastair Campbell is bored. He says he is seeking a safe seat. "Some days I wonder if I'll ever do anything meaningful and worthwhile again," he adds. Yet his reason for leaving Downing Street - after his 24/7 schedule with Blair over the past decade - was to spend more time with his family. Isn't that a "worthwhile" thing to do? Campbell has also raised lots of money for his leukaemia charity. Isn't that "meaningful"? No, he is looking not for purpose in his life but for power, and God help us all if the man Greg Dyke recently called a "deranged, vindictive bastard" ever gets back into government.

Next Article