I'VE WRITTEN ANOTHER BOOK
Birds do it, bees do it, even Russell Brand does it
Russell Brand is a smug git, isn't he? But he talks sense about drugs. In fashionable Notting Hill circles, they say that no dinner party is complete without some E, cocaine or cannabis (just don't try lighting up a cigar). I am sure that the working men of Barnsley are no different, relaxing sociably with a fix of heroin after they complete an all-night shift at the local tripe factory. (Most of my readers are from London, and will not have heard of Barnsley, but it is a northern town. Lancashire, I think. Tripe is a delicacy much enjoyed by people who use Twitter.)
I talked to Paul Bearer, my local undertaker, and he confirmed my impressions. "Of the under-21s who are brought in dead to our establishment, over 90% had been taking drugs." Again, we may be making a hasty generalization here, but I think this figure is typical of the population as a whole.
In my new book I'm in a fix, I discuss Brand's other addictions, including the much-publicised Sachs addiction.
Obviously Sachs in moderation cannot harm you, and often, when I am feeling depressed, I relieve my spirits by telephoning the man who brought us "Manuel"; when he answers, I wittily reply "I speak Eenglish. I leaarn it from a boook," "No, eet ees no a rat, eet is a filigree Siberian hamster," or "I know nar-theeng!" in a cod-Spanish accent. Then I burst out laughing and put the receiver down. The last time I did this I heard Mr Sachs saying "Oh, it's just that crazy man from the Telegraph again," so I knew he was as amused by the joke as I was.
But of course Brand, in collaboration with that other supposedly cutting-edge wit, Jonathan Ross, found that he could not control his Sachs-drive. Please buy my book, and I'll tell you more.
There's no one like Dame Teksako Itchipowda
I've just discovered a promising young composer called Franz Schubert, who will probably be new to most readers. Here's his photo.
The legendary Dame Teksako Itchipowda performed his last three piano sonatas at the Southbank Centre on Monday ("piano" is a technical term used by some musicians to refer to one of those big instruments with a lid that lifts up. My friend Stephen Hough also plays one, but frankly he's not very good at Schubert). Dame Teksako is a neighbour of mine, and I often follow her into the supermarket, playing excerpts from Schubert sonatas to her on my piano-accordion, while she hunts for her essential supplies of baked beans and toilet rolls. She pretends not to recognise me, of course, but I expect she is secretly flattered to be adored by a Telegraph journalist.
There's an unfinished chapter about Schubert in my latest book, The Fish (a reference to his famous trout quintet, which he also arranged for a double bass: that's also some sort of fish, I believe). It's a little-known fact that it was Schubert's addiction to haddock that killed him.
What might have been
I realised yesterday that we are approaching the first anniversary of the death of a prominent member of Al-Qaeda. Osama Bin Laden and I were at school together; he was one of the most gifted
intellectuals I’ve ever met. Alas, he was unable to discipline his
brilliant mind, while also lacking the social skills to mingle with
ordinary people. He could orate, dazzlingly, on the Koran, the novels of Barbara Cartland, or the Thomas the Tank Engine canon. Moreover, he loved founding unusual sectarian groups, such as the “Tory Islamic Nudists" and the "Jihadists for Geoffrey Howe," which today have only a handful of members.
Osama was a much-misunderstood individual. I tried to convert him to Catholicism, but he confessed that he could never accept the idea of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary; also, he did not think that women should be allowed into church with the men. How history might have been different if we could only have agreed on these minor theological details.
I don't have much about Osama in my latest book, The Fez, but I do discuss in detail the question why so many people are addicted to silly hats.
For many years, Alastair Campbell has been referred to as a "spin-doctor," but does he really deserve this title? I have been unable to find any evidence that he obtained a Ph.D. from a reputable university, or even from the London School of Egomaniacs. My editor asks me to point out that you wouldn't get Conservatives deceiving people in this way.
Indeed, leading intellectuals such as Richard Chartres tell me that they are very worried about this proliferation of undeserved "Doctor" titles. Here's another example.
Did you spot that sinister-looking chap with the glasses in the picture above? He calls himself "Doc," and is a senior executive for the Disney Corporation. I spoke to his P.A., a Mr Dopey, who refused to provide any proof of his boss's qualifications. Do you think that "Doc" is lining himself up as a possible candidate for Rowan Williams's job? I hope that someone will warn Her Majesty.
In my new book "Jim'll fix it" I write a hard-hitting chapter about how people can be addicted to qualifications - whether it be a B.Sc., an M.A., or a Ph.D. My conclusion: they're killing themselves by degrees. I thank you.