Tony Blair’s mastery of the art of not answering questions appeared momentarily threatened by the imminence of lunch on Tuesday.
Winding up his largely somnolent hour-long monthly press conference, the prime minister was asked to explain why he was resigning this year. “It’s almost one o’clock,” he protested. “Erm, I think I’ve said all I want to say on this subject. You’ve always got to watch out for these [questions] around this time, in case you start answering them,” he continued, giving away one of his little secrets.
Blair had already endeared himself to the media by revealing the meeting meant he had been forced to read the papers that morning – “an inspiring and uplifting experience for me”.
All gas, no action
And if Blair’s press conference was just hot air, so, it seems, is the much-trumpeted agreement between him and Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s governator.
The two declared last year that the golden state would be joining Europe’s emission trading system. But, thanks to a question from Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP, we now know that Blair hasn’t helped California to apply. “No request for the initiation of a formal process has been made by the United Kingdom,” confirmed Stavros Dimas, the European environment commissioner.
Curse of Cameron?
Only last week David Cameron popped over to Bavaria to meet Edmund Stoiber, its veteran centre-right premier. Now Stoiber is talking of quitting. Is there a Cameron kiss of death?
Perhaps it was facing Cameron in the Commons that put Blair in the retiring mood. If so, Nicolas Sarkozy might suggest a meeting between Cameron and Jacques Chirac, just to put an end to any lingering ideas he might have. And, no doubt, Cameron’s jaunt to Scotland tomorrow will finish off that 300-year union we celebrated so enthusiastically on Tuesday.
What a whopper
When it comes to whoppers, you expect the Advertising Standards Authority to question rather than request them. However, the watchdog has been to Burger King to buy the “Double Whopper Sandwich”.
Alerted to a television advertisement for the burger, the ASA decided to assess whether the ad’s side-on shots were likely to mislead viewers as to the burger’s actual size. The ASA team found the Double Whopper was not as whopping as it looked on the TV and banned the ad from being re-shown.
Presumably, viewers who had recently purchased 40in widescreen TVs or who just sit too close to the set were particularly at risk. Fittingly, the advertising agency involved is called Crispin, Porter and Bogusky.
Immortality of a sort
Hard to suppress a chuckle on hearing that the last of the “eight immortals” of the Chinese Communist Party, Bo Yibo, has died aged 98. The eight were, of course, immortal in a different sense.
With perfect timing, a study arrives from Professor Andrew Oswald and Matthew Rablen of Warwick University entitled Mortality and Immortality. They checked the dates of winners of Nobel prizes for physics and chemistry between 1901 and 1950 to calculate how the social status gained by “walking across that platform in Stockholm”, as Oswald puts it, affected life span. By comparing the 135 winners with the 389 who were nominated but not chosen, they reckon winning added two years to their lives.
The giant-panda keepers at Thailand’s Chiang Mai Zoo – who want their pandas to do what all zoos want their pandas to do – have decided their male panda has a weight problem.
Chuang Chuang weighs nearly 24 stone, about six stone more than his partner Lin Hui. The head vet at the zoo thinks Chuang Chuang’s weight is (ahem) deterring Lin Hui and has put him on a diet. So Chuang Chuang no longer eats shoots and leaves...just the leaves.