Sunday file 24/11/13: Hobbits, unsolved mysteries and friends reunited

Posting here on Sunday nights, bits and pieces, tweets and links that didn’t make a full post during the week.

* IF you are trapped in a tiresome argument with a friend, from which you seek a swift exit, here’s a tip. Look your chum in the eye and say: Oh yes, but that’s what the hobbits would have said. While they stand their looking puzzled, make your excuses and leave. Now, I’m not enough of a Tolkien buff to know whether being on the same side of the argument as a hobbit is a good or a bad thing, but Maajid Nawaz, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn, perfectly demonstrated this disarming technique earlier this week. He had been challenged on his interventionist stance on Syria. His hustings appearances should be interesting.

* IT was party time for Highgate’s Labour members on Thursday night with a fund-raiser at the Monsoon curry house in York Rise. The star act apparently was Ed Miliband’s wife Justine, whose sparkling repartee, when she got up to speak, had insiders texting from the scene remarks about ‘she is more charismatic than him’. And: ‘we should use her more’.

* THE Politician’s Wife actress Juliet Stevenson, who once joined marchers down the Holloway Road to save the Whittington Hospital, sounds almost envious of Glenda Jackson’s switch from the stage to politics. Although she does not lay down a manifesto of her own in a profile interview with the Telegraph published earlier this week, she does say she yearns to be working on things that make a difference and does not fancy spending the rest of her days playing other people. Of Jackson’s seamless switch, Stevenson was effusive: “She was at the height of her powers. She could do anything. It was too easy. She was so bright and so hungry. She was impatient with acting. She wanted to do something that was a real challenge to all those qualities she had – passion, intelligence, political engagement, a desire to be in the world with her sleeves rolled up. I was very young but I could feel it. I could smell it.” And breathe…

image* THE idea that north London’s political groups are simply a nursery a hatching lab if you will, for future MPs loses no traction with this picture of friends reunited snapped at a Labour event in midweek. Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s Hampstead and Kilburn candidate, hooks up with Luciana Berger, who was a council candidate in Somers Town for about two seconds before she headed to Liverpool Wavertree and became an MP there. The third face is Lucy Rigby, the former Islington councillor hoping to score in Lincoln at the next general election.

* HAS Philippe Sands QC been concealing important information about a long, unsolved Hampstead mystery: who burned down the Great Hall at the UCS private school back in the 1970s? In an interview Compass, the school’s student newspaper, he tells interviewer, um, Emil Sands: “We think we know, but if I shared it with you, I would have to silence you. I remember, a few weeks before the great fire, there was an incident in one of my classes, where burning hair was smelt around the school.” Re-open the files, inspector.

* LEADING Labour faces from London have been told not to tweet about the hacking trial at the Old Bailey in a legal email from on high . The memo says, signed off by general secretary Iain McNicol and shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry, read: “Please avoid posting any tweets or  internet postings which comment in any way on the trial.”  So, although it is highly inoffensive, I shan’t reproduce the tweet below, from the council leader Twitter feed that keeps Lib Dem councillor Paul Braithwaite so annoyed, on these pages… Just in case.


* MEANWHILE… a poem.

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