Stanley is the grandfather of my close friend Hailey, but he is also our "honorary grandad". He has been adopted by all of Hailey's friends over the decades, and his cheerful brand of loyalty and support disproves the adage that "blood is thicker than water".
The last time I saw Koo Stark, she was talking about the size of her post-pregnancy breasts to a captivated businessman. It was at one of our weekly New Statesman lunches, and the rest of the table stared on, mesmerised, as Koo prattled about lactating bosoms and post-partum libido.
Three Christmases ago, I got myself in quite a stew in a sharp confrontation with the black leaders of anti-racism, who were backed by the entire editorial team of the recently launched black weekly the New Nation.
The young people who have had the courage to take to the streets on every continent, and were among the 20,000 protesters at Gothenburg, should take satisfaction from the panic of new right politicians like Blair and Berlusconi.
The unwritten story behind Robin Cook's defenestration from a high window in the Foreign Office lies in Washington. Quite simply, the Americans do not like Cook, and they told Blair to get rid of him.
Sebastian is from Poland. He paints posh homes for a pittance, but he doesn't like to complain. We are in a friend's kitchen on the day of the election, both involved in tasks that we loathe and, as it turns out, that we are not very good at.
Everyone who criticises the United Nations sanctions on Iraq is called an apologist for Saddam Hussein, so I should say straightaway that Saddam is a bastard.
Before the election, the editor of the New Statesman invited me, among many others, to state my voting intentions. I did not think it important, so I held my fire. In Brixton, where I live, an area largely home to working-class Caribbeans, not voting is taken for granted.
He was once portrayed as dictatorial, obsessed, almost demented. But Blair's new appointment could p
''Like me, like me," plead the eyes of the wannabe MPs on the hustings platform, but we are an ungrateful, bitter electorate, trained by the tabloids to confuse venting our spleens for animated discussion.
Later this month, Kofi Annan, the secretary general of the United Nations, is due to receive an honorary degree from the University of Oxford.
Elation joined ecstasy on new Labour's banned list on election night. Staff at Millbank were so petrified of anyone outside seeing any signs of joy at the outcome, they put films of silver paper over the windows. And it was grim faces all round for staff on check-in duty for the press pen.
As we near polling day, in the family-oriented suburbs of north London, some nice mummies and daddies display ever more radical tendencies. Take last weekend. At the Crouch End Festival, the massed ranks of the moderately wealthy were eating ice cream and pushing prams in the sunshine.
There are certain words and phrases that gloriously defy reality. "Tory moderate" or "British tennis champion", for example, are expressions that should only ever be used in jest. It is almost guaranteed that I will start to giggle when I hear "Channel 5" and "news" said in the same breath.
The William Hague bus is an altogether more subdued experience than life with new Labour.
As-salaam aleikum, readers. This Muslim greeting should make it clear that we are returning to Oldham and the issues at large there.
School sure has changed since I pulled up my knee-high navy socks for the last time 16 years ago. Stephen Twigg, the MP who ousted Michael Portillo so gloriously in 1997, gave a Q&A session at his old school in Southgate last week, and I went along to get a taste of the election atmosphere.
The issue of the 13 teenagers, all black, who died in a fire at New Cross, south-east London, 20 years ago, keeps coming back. I have received a third letter from the police, inviting me to their offices to be interviewed.
<em>Election 2001</em> - He is prone to impotent rage but, when he has an idea, it becomes new Labou
The singular achievement of Tony Blair and his new right movement is the convergence of British parliamentary politics into two almost identical factions.
On the Blair battle bus for a day, and what an illuminating experience. So far from pushing protesters forward to create incidents with the Great Helmsman, as alleged by Margaret McDonagh, the Labour Party general secretary, the media are cabin'd, cribb'd and confin'd.
''And what do you think of old people?" asked the producer of the live afternoon show on ITV. The four co-presenters, myself included, looked thoughtfully at our hands for a moment and searched for a fitting soundbite that would stagger the audience without offending or annoying anyone.
In making my most recent series for Channel 4, White Tribe, I visited Oldham. I later wrote my New Statesman column (28 June 1999) on the town, expressing how it was very divided along racial lines, "and dangerously so".
All penises are at least eight inches, and nobody is ever bald: welcome to the gay men's online dati
Recently, I was visited by canvassers. The friendly face appearing over a clipboard asked of my voting intentions.
Judging by their behaviour, the androids (Tony Booth's phrase, not mine) in Millbank actually believe that Labour could lose the election. Here is the evidence.
The grand old man of Tory politics has pronounced his party dead. BBC News 24's Nick Robinson persuaded Sir Edward Heath to give a valedictory interview after five decades in parliament.
''How much would it take for you to strip, Lauren?" asked Edwina Currie during her Radio 5 chat show, with what she imagined was a wicked sharpness in her voice. I sat and pulled a face at the other end of the phone line before I answered, because the question is getting really tired.
My Italian cousin, visiting from Milan, was livid: the Economist was a dirty little rag, she screeched. The Financial Times was a waste of paper.