In reporting Bill Clinton's visit to Vietnam, the BBC's diplomatic correspondent declared that what the Vietnamese needed was "more economic growth". The question begged: why send a reporter all the way to Hanoi when the British ambassador would have happily propagated this line?
''Listen, kiddo, good news," began my agent in an unexpectedly excited voice. These days, he sounds barely civil when we speak: in marketing terms, a female client recovering from childbirth is about as useful as a grounded Concorde.
Robin Cook's ill-tempered attack on Gordon Brown - leaked authoritatively to the Sunday Torygraph, whatever the Foreign Secretary says by way of denial - is causing a bit of a stir.
For two years, I worked as the Daily Telegraph's television critic. I had to stay inside all day, glued to my armchair and the box.
Once a new art form is invented and established, an infrastructure develops to maintain it: a college to train people to do it, buildings dedicated to it, professional guilds, awards, grants. But, like anything else, art forms can become defunct.
I once toyed with being a sports journalist. I couldn't quite penetrate the cricket mafia, but I got one or two pieces on athletics in the Sunday Times. Then came the biggie: an assignment to follow two black players who had burst on to the scene at Millwall.
The hunt is on for the mole who leaked "minutes" of the 1997 Cabinet meeting that gave the go-ahead for the disastrous Dome.
I was walking down the King's Road the other day, past window displays of silver lycra bodices and tight black leather jeans, and wondering who would dare expose their midriff and thighs so blatantly, when the answers materialised beside me.
Poor Paula Yates - her death has been on my mind a lot recently. First, because I met her; and second, because I'm beginning to realise that we occupy the same space in the mind of some journalists.
Profile - Patricia Holland celebrates a career documenting real life
I begin a new series with Channel 4 in the next couple of days. It is titled Freedom and will be broadcast as three one-hour documentaries next year.
When I was an avid reader of Biggles, in the late Sixties, I used to try to calculate Biggles's age, because I wanted to know if it was possible that he was still alive.
Brian Lara has been named in the deep scandal that has engulfed cricket. The Indians have suspended those named in the investigation; the Pakistanis, less eager, have fined some of their players.
It is difficult to forget the courage of Helen Jeffries speaking on television about her 14-year-old daughter Zoe, who lay stricken beside her with vCJD and died a few days later. She accurately described Zoe's imminent death as murder.
DC Kevin Shapland, the co-ordinator for the Metropolitan Police's community safety units, got in touch with me after I wrote an article on the improvements in local police attitudes to assaults on and abuse of women. He wanted to enlist my help to "support" his force's latest "initiatives".
Nobody begrudges Peter Mandelson his new personal spin-doctor. He is Peter "Rough" Diamond, a 23-old-public relations chappie associated with Progress or one of those other ersatz new Labour publications, although I don't expect he will be ringing me very often.
I don't usually pay compliments to my wife, Nicci Gerrard, in this column. That's an understatement. I never have. Not once. But last weekend, she achieved something that deserves acknowledgement.
The woman in black stands, stiff and stony-faced, fixing her charges with a glare that reduces them to jelly. "John," she barks "you are the weakest link.
When I was on holiday last week, I finished a book. Not writing one, unfortunately, but reading one. My copy of Balzac's Lost Illusions looks in a wrecked state, as befitting a book that has been taken on holiday three times before being finished.
For some time now, I have been making comments on the black middle classes. They are becoming more and more vociferous and demanding, but are not as influential as they would like to be.
He is our tree hugger in chief, a self-righteous prophet who now finds himself at the centre of thin
Giving birth - the deep, tearing contractions and the eventual screaming, bloody act of creation - has ceased to terrify me. Nothing can be as disturbing as the prospect of appearing on Have I Got News for You.
If you really want to know what's going on, don't bother with spin-doctors and political advisers. They are usually too young and too stupid. Instead, talk to the Whitehall pool of drivers or Westminster bar staff.
We're all atheists now, the Archbishop of Canterbury tells us.
It dawned on me this week - as I clapped and cheered well-known bands, shoulder to shoulder with Chrissie Hynde and Annie Lennox - that I now share the Millbank tendency's fear that tape recorders lurk everywhere except the Groucho Club.
Look, you will just have to be understanding about this, because sport is a no-have-been-there area for me. But it goes something like this. The government is setting up a body to look after the interests of football fans.
History repeats itself, the ancient Greek historian Thucydides wrote. And a recent biography of an 18th-century Russian general bears this out.
I was at a New Statesman-sponsored meeting at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, yet another attempt to make good the hugely flawed Runnymede Trust report on the future of multi-ethnic Britain.
Pro-Europe pro-green and pro-life, he is the last of the Tory wets. He is also a star to watch. Dami
Richard Falk, professor of international relations at Cornell, once wrote that western foreign policy was formulated "through a self-righteous, one-way moral/legal screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted politic