|And finally... just a little
off the top
THINK of the qualities we look for in newsreaders someone
trustworthy, steadfast and reassuring in a crisis and the
chances are youll think of Sir Trevor MacDonald.
Sir Trevor MacDonald
Ossie Mehmet with customer Ed Grenby
The veteran ITN broadcaster retires today (Thursday) after 32 years
at the top of the game.
And I wasnt surprised to hear that the qualities that kept
him there follow through into his weekly routines.
Ossie Mehmet, the traditional Parkway barber who has trimmed my
beard since he set up shop in Camden Town nine months ago, has kept
Sir Trevors thatch and tache in top-top shape for rather
longer since the beginning of his career, in fact.
Today he will come in for a final trim, as he has once or twice
a week at Ossies previous shops in Holloway Road and the West
End since 1973 before heading down to Grays Inn Road
and presenting the evening news one last time.
Ossie told me their remarkable friendship had seen Sir Trevor invite
him along to awards evenings and them share a holiday in Las Vegas.
He said: Hes a real gentleman over the years
so many people have seen him and have come in and asked for an autograph
or a favour.
He always tells them just leave whatever you want done with
Ossie and I will see to it.
Later they always come back and say he did everything they
Their trip to Las Vegas was a hit too, he revealed.
He confided: Neither of us knew how to play blackjack but
the croupier was very helpful.
Trevor won $250 and he stopped. He said: Im not
going to let them have it back.
Ossies other customers are no slouches either they
include Dr Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett.
But Sir Trevor will always be Ossies favourite.
He said: He wont let me call him Sir but
every time he comes in he says: Good morning, Sir to
He worked so hard for so long; he deserves a rest now.
Rebel Roland has had enough
THERE are some grey-suited smart businessmen who look as if they
are naturally born to run the world.
The trouble with the avuncular Roland Muldoon (pictured)
with his goatee beard and felt hat is that he never looked
Thats what troubled the stiff, unimaginative London Arts Board.
They could never imagine that he was the chief executive
of the Hackney Empire. What they thought wouldnt have mattered,
if they hadnt controlled the purse strings which mean life
or death for Londons fringe theatres.
I met up with my old chum Roland and his wife Clare at the Empire
on Friday at a farewell party for the couple.
Ive had enough, Roland told me, after 20
years, I cannot do any more. As for the London Arts Board, they
could never believe I was a chief executive. Tell me, what is a
chief exec supposed to look like?
Still, Roland has managed to raise millions of pounds without
a great deal of support from the London Arts Board to restore
the theatre to its former Victorian glory.
Its been so ravishingly restored that it makes most West End
theatres look boringly provincial.
Now in his late 50s, Roland is setting out to create a new theatre
in Acton. Ever the rebel, as he stood on stage after the curtain
fell at the Empire on the panto Jack and the Beanstalk, to take
a well- deserved bow from an enraptured audience, did I imagine
that he raised his right arm in the old fashioned Spartacus-style
No wonder the London Arts Board could never understand the man!
The Reg and Jeremy show
EVEN that hardened politico, Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn tried
to get in on the act at the Red Rose comedy club on Sunday evening.
But he wasnt the only non-Jew to congratulate the fringe magazine,
the Jewish Socialist, on its 25th birthday.
The other was the accomplished black American stand-up comic, Reg
D Hunter (pictured), well-known on the comedy circuit.
He was sailing comfortably along, with jokes suggesting he was born
in Poland, until his risqué remarks about his sexual prowess
brought gasps from some feminists in the audience.
It was a kind of Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor act combined, replete
with four letter words, especially the C -word, but
he made the point that a word is only a word except, perhaps, when
the word is Nigger.
A packed audience at the Islington club, raised more than £1,000,
for a brave, pioneering magazine which is an enemy of Zionism while
being critical of anti-Semitism.
Support was also given by comics Ivor Dembina who compered
the show and a very, very funny Jeremy Hardy.
Daniels reaching for the stars
THE leafy streets of Hampstead have long boasted more than their
fair share of acting and directing talent.
But, I hear, it could be home to a producer to rival the glory days
of the Hollywood studio system, if Everyman Cinema owner Daniel
Broch gets his way.
The businessman, 37, has won over an initially sceptical Hampstead
cinema-going public since taking over the historic theatre in 1998.
Now he hopes to go the next step by backing upcoming directors and
His first foray sees Anthony Minghellas collaborator Cassius
Matthias directing a short, Trent to Rent, in and around
Camden this week.
If successful, Daniel told me: We plan to go on and make feature-length
He claimed not to have daydreamed about winning an Oscar, but joked:
Now Im just like Sam Warner, only better looking.
A meeting of minds for Cindy and Brian
HOW can one fail to admire a rebel like Brian Haw who has
camped outside Parliament for nearly four years in protest against
the Iraq war?
Libertarians have flocked to him. And on Monday he almost won
a human-rights award sponsored by the human rights body, Liberty.
The prize went to the Refugee Legal Centre but legal journalist
Marcel Berlins heaped praise on Haw for continuing to stick to
his principles despite harassment.
My picture shows Haw and the US peace campaigner Cindy Sheehan,
whose son was killed in Iraq.
Cindy visited him at his encampment on Sunday.
It is an honour to meet him, she told me.
Don't waste your finest on relatives
DO you enjoy or endure Christmas? It isnt only that were
bullied into spending money we havent got.