The occasionally earnest and high-minded quality newspapers are not above a good, juicy gossip piece as illustrated this week with an intriguing article this week in Oliver Duff’s ‘Pandora’ column in The Independent.
Duff told readers: “As the political career of Menzies Campbell enters its tea-time years, the former Lib Dem leader will not relinquish an old grudge. Sir Ming is, for the moment, courting the foam-mouthed goons of Her Majesty’s Press Corps while he carries out promotional duties for his recently released autobiography.
“Last week, the Daily Mail planned a big interview plugging the book, only to have it cancelled at the last moment when Ming discovered his inquisitor was to be the paper’s ambrosial scribe, Petronella Wyatt, who notably became entangled in extended editorial congress with Boris Johnson.
“’I set up the interview with Ming and his wife (Elspeth) because she is very straight-talking and I thought she might say more than is in this boring book of his,’ Petsy explains.
“‘I was to go to Scotland and had the tickets booked when he said he didn’t want to see me. Apparently, he didn’t realise I was doing the interview and didn’t like the last interview I had done with him. All I did (then) was mention he had a Corby trouser press, and ask him to show me his sock suspenders.’
“Sir Ming seems to have blown away Petsy on that occasion two years ago; the former Olympian was ‘a Thirties dandy’ with ‘fine, if rather hairless calves’, she said, joking about his ‘dropped balls’ and telling him: ‘I imagine sleeping with you would be a bit like sleeping with the Pope.’