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Archives for November 2012

When Harry met Annie

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Anne Diamond's Blog Administrator | 09:04 UK time, Friday, 30 November 2012

Harold Evans and Anne Diamond

Been very busy in the last 24 hours debating the Leveson report.

My son, who is keen on journalism, came along with me from tv studio to tv studio - and I was proud to be able to introduce him to a long line-up of household names, including Alastair Stewart and Jon Snow at ITN and Diane Abbott, Lords Boateng and Hunt and the new Culture Minister, Maria Miller. Then we went onto a particularly legendary lineup last night on the BBC's This Week, what with David Frost, Michael Portillo, Alastair Campbell, Andrew Neil and the legendary former editor of The Sunday Times, the unexpectedly cuddly Harold Evans!

Leveson: My personal view.

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Anne Diamond | 14:00 UK time, Thursday, 29 November 2012

lord justice leveson

is that, at last we have a way forward, to regaining a press of which we can be proud. In my view, we broadcast journalists have always been able to flourish and produce high quality journalism under the codes of conduct enforced by Ofcom or the BBC Board of Governors, or more lately the Trust. It's the way we've always had to work, and I have never come across a broadcast journo who's complained of interference.

Yes, we moan about 'compliance' from time to time - but that's mostly a whinge about red tape and forms rather than journalistic interference.

The big stories still get through.

And when they don't, there's an almighty furore (witness Newsnight) and heads roll.

Trouble is, the press is not going to accept this willingly. They will still call it 'state control' and press 'gagging' though it clearly isn't.

Don't go down any dark alleys!

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Anne Diamond | 13:26 UK time, Wednesday, 21 November 2012

grand piano

Been researching tips for Christmas shopping on a budget. Tomorrow I'll be going through them with my consumer panel.

I was reading one of the more obvious tips on one of my favourite money websites - they say that it's not too late to sell something to get a bit of spare cash for Christmas. The quickest way is probably to put it onto one of the big auction websites. But seller and buyer beware - there are safety tips you should remember!

It reminded me of the time I got a bit carried away (not having done my eBay homework correctly) and bid on three baby grand pianos. I fancied one as a birthday pressie to myself.

But obviously, I had to go and see these pianos first before I forked out. Two were from dealers. No problem, they had shops to go see. But one was a private sale at a remote farmhouse in deepest darkest Oxfordshire. I found myself driving, and then walking down a dark country lane, and knocking on a door being answered by an unknown man.
I was on my own, utterly defenceless, in the middle of nowhere. Loved the piano. Man was a respectable human being. But I shook all the way home at my silliness for putting myself in such a vulnerable position.

If you're going to buy or flog something on an auction website in the next few weeks, then be sensible about picking things up in person, or inviting strangers to your house to view items for sale.

The typing tip that made a fortune...

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Anne Diamond | 14:38 UK time, Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Today we were marking the demise of the typewriter - with the news that the last ever typewriter in the UK rolled off a production line in Wales. (It was the electric CM-1000, built by Brother, were until recently being shipped to the United States - where some legal firms prefer not to use computer hard drives.)

Inevitably that got us talking about typewriting 'things' like the fact that the keys could all jam together if you pressed more than one simultaneously, how dirty your fingers got whilst struggling to fit new ribbons or dealing with carbon paper - and oh yes, the wonderful Tipp-Ex.

Got me doing a quick bit of research - was it an urban myth that it was invented by the mother of one of The Monkees?

No, it's almost absolutely true.

Mike Nesmith's mum was a typist who invented Liquid Paper, the earliest of correction fluids. She sold it to the Gillette company - and it's still one of the leading brands of correction fluid used in the USA. It made her a 50 million dollar fortune!

Can't believe it's 20 years....

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Anne Diamond | 13:05 UK time, Monday, 19 November 2012

...since the Queen's Annus Horribilis.

In other words, it's twenty years since the Windsor Castle Fire. The Chief Fire Officer at the time was on holiday, and so missed the whole thing. He later sent the crew a postcard that simply read: "I leave you alone for five minutes....!"

Tomorrow I'm hearing the full story from the perspective of the firefighters who were there, and who even had to let down the pressure in the tyres of the fire engines so the appliances could fit under and between the turrets and gates of the castle!

No Downton to look forward to..

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Anne Diamond | 12:52 UK time, Monday, 12 November 2012

I always watch Downton Abbey on a Monday afternooon. I get home from work, curl up on the sofa with a mug of soup and enjoy a lovely hour's escapism.

No way does "I'm A Celeb" fill the void.

A friend has lent me his boxed set of ER - with something like fifteen years' worth of viewing. So I've already started rejoicing in a very young George Clooney in his white coat, in the role that made his name.

Not a bad way to spend a chilly grey afternoon, eh?

Lest we forget...

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Anne Diamond | 13:32 UK time, Thursday, 8 November 2012

pupils at wellington college being addressed by the master

It's Remembrance Sunday this weekend.

Today, 707 pupils at Wellington College lay down, as if dead, in the school's Quad, poignantly remembering the 707 pupils of Wellington who died in the Great War. Many of them left school to go straight into the war, and died within weeks.

Wellington always does Remembrance big. This year, they are devoting over a week to Remembrance events, holding ceremonies, services and tributes from Sunday 6 November to Sunday 13 November. This year, there was also eight performances of Journey's End, directed by Dr Anthony Seldon, the Master (headmaster). They also did five candlelit presentations. As the ceremony progressed, the candles were blown out one by one, leaving the room in darkness.

It must have been heartbreaking.

Dr Seldon, reckons the Great War is larger in the public mind than it ever was.

"With three years to go before the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1, what continues to surprise me is that the more World War 1 recedes in memory, the more powerful it becomes in the mind." he says on the school website. "Twenty five years ago, it seemed like the Trenches were about to disappear back into the mud. Now, the Trenches are alive with students and adult visitors. I can only imagine how much more busy still the Trenches will be as the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the war approaches."

This time the disease has picked a man who'll fight back.

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Anne Diamond | 15:56 UK time, Wednesday, 7 November 2012


So says Alex Flynn, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease and is trying to run, kayak, cycle and climb ten million metres throughout the world, to raise awareness and a million pounds in funds for research.

He's an incredibly brave young man (only 40) who's determined to make a difference, The Difference to all of those who suffer from this debilitating, painful, often embarassing and insidious condition.

Alex has just completed a super-marathon, biking and running from America's West Coast to the Statue of Liberty in the East.

Now he's off to Greece for the first of what he reckons is another 25 marathons until he clocks up the millionth metre.

Follow his progress here.


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Anne Diamond | 14:28 UK time, Tuesday, 6 November 2012

...How mathematics turns up again and again in wonderful patterns within the natural world. My guest today, Marcus du Sautoy, professor of maths at Oxford and someone who has devoted many years to promoting popular maths on radio and tv in programmes like School of Hard Sums and Mind Games.

Today he was explaining the wonder of the Fibonacci numbers, and why bees are so clever to choose hexagons as their storage compartments within the honeycomb. What? You want me to elucidate? Sorry - you'll have to listen again!
And what of the amazing number 42?

To those who love The HitchHiker's Guide To The Galaxy, you'll know that 42 is The Answer... The Answer to The Question: what is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?

Author Douglas Adams was always adamant that he simply plucked the number out of the air - but mathematicians are nowadays seeing that 42 is anything but an ordinary, or random, number. Its properties could be the key to the wonder of Primes.

Okay, I can't go further than that. You'll have to listen again, again.

But did you know, for instance, that:

(a) Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert died aged 42; they had 42 grandchildren and their great-grandson, Edward VIII, abdicated at the age of 42.

(b) The world's first book printed with movable type is the Gutenberg Bible which has 42 lines per page.

(c) On page 42 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry discovers he's a wizard.

(d) Lord Lucan's last known location was outside 42 Norman Road, Newhaven, East Sussex.

and finally:

(e)Titanic was travelling at a speed equivalent to 42km/hour when it collided with an iceberg.

Oooh - one more - how about this one?

The result of the most famous game in English football - the world cup final of 1966 - was 4-2


What would YOU do with £150m..?

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Anne Diamond | 14:30 UK time, Monday, 5 November 2012

tewenty pound notes

Very few of us have to consider this conundrum. But my guest today, Dame Stephanie Shirley, has that very concern. She made her fortune in IT, realising very early on (back in the 60s) that there was money to be made in marketing software - while everyone else was giving it away free with computer hardware.

Ultimately she made £150m. But it didn't exactly buy her happiness. Life, with all its highs and lows, challenges and tragedies, happened to her anyway. Her only child, son Giles, was born with autism and sadly died without ever having what the rest of us might call a fulfilled life. However, his plight spurred on his mum to devote her energies and her millions to autism research and support.

Her memoirs are entitled 'Let IT Go' - and are available, not as a book, but as an e-book. If you want to discover more about her life and times, from her entering the UK just before the war as one of the children on the Kindertransport, right through to spending millions on others, you'll have to download it!

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