Village life - Kevin Maguire serenades the Tories
Inscrutable faces all around, astonishing Tories and the side effects of Emily's yeast
Sky News's camera-ready political chief Adam Boulton reserved a few choice soundbites for an Admiralty House seminar of Whitehall disinformation commissars. After pep talks by the outgoing premier Tony Blair and Sir Humphrey (Gus O'Donnell), Big Adam gave his assessment of government-media relations. Nothing would improve, opined Boulton, until No 10 stopped lying and that won't happen until regime change in Downing Street. Cue roomful of inscrutable faces. I trust Boulton requested any fee to be deposited in advance.
The sound of singing is heard as Labour bootboys serenade louche Tories seeking high office yet unwilling to register past interests in drugs. Tearoom songsmiths pen a ditty to "Love is All Around" from Four Weddings and a Funeral. The number opens: "I feel it with my fingers/I snort it up my nose/ The drugs are all around me . . ." A music critic writes: it transforms Denis MacShane's shout of "Cannabis Cameron" into a well-wisher's message.
You learn astonishing things about Tories if you sup with the wrong people. Take the partner and parliamentary aide of the party vice-chair and Isle of Wight MP, Andrew Turner. Blue-stockinged Carole Dennett, for it be she, used to flog Militant outside Salisbury's Woolies. Trots are notorious for the length of their leaps, but this is the political equivalent of an Olympic triple-jump gold.
A brief foray out of the Westminster village to the shores of Lake Windermere for a Society of Editors talkathon to discuss if politicians don't need journalists to give them a bad name. My answer is obviously they don't, although we're delighted to help where we can. John Lloyd, a Blairite scribbler ex of this parish, appeals for hacks to show greater respect. He, I discover, has a weakness for authority. A CP tankie in younger days, Lloyd penned a piece defending Leonid Brezhnev and condemning Alexander Solzhenitsyn for publishing the Gulag Archipelago exposure of labour camps. In fairness, he no longer goes quite that far.
The BBC director general Mark Thompson and chairman Michael Grade enjoyed a brief tour of the Press Gallery during a parliamentary jaunt. Hovering at the door of Auntie's room, the duo declined to knock and instead beat a hasty retreat. Hopefully, they were anxious to avoid disrupting government-bashing hacks. Less sheepish is the Spectator's Peter Oborne. Tipping up at the BBC Millbank studios to shout at TV viewers, a tired Oborne inquired if there was a bed he could lie down on.
Political anorak Philip Cowley, in The Rebels, identifies Barbara Follett as an unlikely troublemaker. Whips blame the unexpected side effects of Emily's yeast for the rise of the socialite socialist in the rebels stakes.
Kevin Maguire is associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror