Diary - Mariella Frostrup

The media-ocracy have invented a new term, born of the events at the Barrymore party: "to Lubbock".

I have a friend who works for the Iraqi National Congress. He's very good at his job and, as a result, I've been brainwashed by anti-Saddam propaganda for a lot longer than most people outside the White House have. Even so, there are still certain questions I would like answered - so I'm thinking of trying to slip past Downing Street security in an effort to get to the PM. Even if I don't reach No 10, I think there's a chance of getting my foot in the door at No 11 and talking to Gordon Brown. The deafening silence from the Chancellor on the impending war ended with mumbled diplomatic assertions last Friday that he was behind the Prime Minister. I'm hoping that, at worst, Gordon and Sarah will take pity and invite me in for a cup of tea. Perhaps I might end up living in their spare bathroom? A bit like Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van, only I'd be The Lady in the Tub. Then I could hang out of the window in the mornings, in nothing but a towel, and shout things at him next door. Like: "Chemical weapons? You want to take a look in my bathroom cabinet!" or "If he's so bloody bad, how come it's taken you 14 years to notice?" or "Since when was Musharraf not a dangerous dictator with a nuclear arsenal at his disposal?" or "And then what?"


There is one thing we do have to thank Saddam for. People are actually talking about politics again. How refreshing to hear voices raised against George Bush instead of Darren Day. Is it coincidence that it's happening at a time when most of our politicians seem to have been eerily silenced? Parliament hasn't had a chance to debate the war, so it's up to punters in the pub to keep a sense of democratic possibility alive. This war against terrorism seems to have got us in a right muddle. Are the Saudi Arabians quantifiably nicer to women than the Taliban? Are the Iranians less evil now than they were when we armed Iraq to fight them? Didn't we go to war to reinstall a dictator in Kuwait? Our record in choosing friendly dictators doesn't bode well. The Shah of Iran and Pinochet, for starters. A war of words about who's the "evilest of them all" seems a bit Austin Powers. Particularly since who we like seems to be dependent on what they've done for us lately. We've started to speak the same intolerant, bigoted language of the hothead regimes of the Middle East. Right now, what we're hollering, loud and clear, in the absence of the UN, is that we are going to kick Saddam's ass because we don't like him and he scares us. That's not likely to breed new martyrs now, is it?


I say people have started debating politics, but perhaps that's just in Sussex, where I've been living for the past month. Saddam might be scary, but for sheer callowness, Notting Hillbillies are hard to beat. Those shocked at the BBC for attempting to publish a book by the (non-convicted) Barrymore should not read on. The media-ocracy have invented a new verb. To "Lubbock" - as in, "I've really Lubbocked myself with this mortgage". It's born of the events at the party that's giving Vanity Fair a run for its money as the do of the year. Thirteen people interviewed after that fateful night in Michael Barrymore's house were unable to explain how the deceased guest, Stuart Lubbock, sustained such hideous injuries to his rear-end. The only explanation, according to some Notting Hillbillies, was that they were self-inflicted using a sexual practice popular among aggressive gay men. Hence the birth of the new descriptive verb, a second generous contribution to the British language from those big brains in W11 who gave us "trustafarian" .

Have I just Barrymored my career with that story?

Oops, I've managed to miss Fashion Week again. What a shame. How on earth will I know what to wear next winter? Come to think of it, what should I be wearing this winter? Normally, I look to my friend and fellow NS diarist Alex James of pop band Blur, for fashion tips. The other day, he turned up for a cinema date in cashmere and leather pants. It was 100 degrees in the shade. When I quizzed him on the outfit, he admitted that he was currently residing at Claridge's, which enjoys its own weather system, thanks to its well-functioning air-con. Talk about living in a bubble.


In the Seventies and Eighties, I used to love a good boycott. I still feel a real glow of achievement when I look at the political changes in South Africa I provoked by abstaining from their garden produce. My latest venture is boycotting restaurants that serve shark fin soup. In the face of so much misery and suffering the world over, I've decided to come down on the side of the shark. Sharks get a bad press. They're also no strangers to injustice. They mistakenly kill about ten Homo sapiens a year; we murder ten million of them. As a result, this creature is well on its way to becoming an endangered species. This is not the result of anti-shark paranoia inspired by the Seventies flick Jaws. Rather, it's because shark is an essential ingredient of the Asian delicacy shark fin soup. I'm no veggie, but I draw the line at a dish that involves ripping off a part of an animal's body and then dropping it back into the water to die an agonising and very slow death. You can find out more about this revolting practice and how to end it by logging on to www.thesharktrust.com or www.biteback.com. Anyway, must dash. I'm off to buy a woolly bobble hat and a tent. Does anyone have directions to Baghdad Common?

This article first appeared in the 23 September 2002 issue of the New Statesman, No Go Britain