If I had a pound for every time Ann Widdecombe has said in my presence that she’s never, ever, EVAH appear on Celebrity Big Brother, then I’d certainly have more money than the undoubtedly large fee which persuaded her to do it this year!
Between 2001 and 2010 our theatre show, A NIGHT WITH ANN WIDDECOMBE (arf, arf), toured more than 100 provincial theatres and part of it was her talking about her various TV show experiences. She did Celebrity Fit Club and a couple of other reality TV shows which I now can’t recall, but she was usually asked by an audience member if she’d do Strictly or Big Brother. She said she’d love to do Strictly, but not while she was an MP, but nothing could persuade her to go into the Big Brother house. Well, this year something did. In the opening episode, she said it was the fact that it was an all-women cast that persuaded her. I’m surprised her nose didn’t start growing long, as anyone who knows her knows that Ann is far happier in the company of men than women.

On Thursday night’s episode Ann admitted she snores, and wondered how other housemates would react to it. Rachel Johnson has already said she has a phobia of snoring, so that could be interesting! Seeing as Ann has mentioned it herself, I think I can reveal I have personal experience of Ann’s snoring. [Stop it at the back!]. When we’d drive to theatres all round the country she’d inevitably fall asleep in the passenger seat. Gradually her head would loll, back, her mouth would open and out would come some startling snoring noises. I could turn the music up as loud as I liked, but it had no effect. Even a dose of Meatload had no effect. The eruptions would continue. The only think that quelled them was a quick poke to her side. It did make me laugh, though! When she eventually woke up she’d always say: “I hope I didn’t snore”… “Absolutely not,” I replied…

I suspect Ann will surprise herself by the relationships she forms, unless she decides not to play the game and keep herself to herself. However, I’d be very surprised if she hits it off with former Coronation Street actress Amanda Barrie. There could be trouble ahead.

On Wednesday morning my new mobile phone was snatched out of my hand by a moped. I’d only had the wretched thing for six days. It happened so quickly it took a few seconds for my brain to compute what had happened. At first you feel a fool, then you feel angry. It was only when someone told me I’d been lucky I hadn’t had acid chucked at my face that I started to realise how serious it could have been. I have no hope of the perpetrators being apprehended or getting the phone back, although I suppose stranger things have happened.
I tweeted about the experience, of course, but certainly lived to regret it. The abuse I got was quite unbelievable. You’d have thought the natural human reaction would have been to react by sympathising or empathising. Some people did, but others took the view that I deserved it and it took me out of my “Norfolk bubble”. “Funniest thing I have read all day” said a black cab driver. Blocked. I mean, what kind of person reacts like that? Twitter is in many ways a fantastic invention, but boy does it bring out the worst in human nature.

Well Toby Young has had an interesting week, hasn’t he? I don’t know him well, but no one can doubt his commitment to improving educational standards. His achievements in setting up four free schools cannot be questioned, but he’s always been a figure the left love to hate. His appointment to the board of the Office for Students has caused massive offence to the likes of Owen Jones. Apparently it’s a disgrace for anyone on he right to be appointed to any public body and shows how biased “this Tory government” is. This conveniently ignores the fact that the new chair of the Office for Students is Sir Michael Barber, a Blairite if ever there was one. His critics also ignore the fact that he applied for the post – and was presumably interviewed for it.
Toby’s big problem is some of the things he’s tweeted in the past. There but for the grace of God… etc etc. If a 16 year old Kent youth crime commissioner is forced to resign over some unfortunate tweets she had made as a 13 year old is forced to resign, then some will say the same should apply in this case.
This is all part of a left-right culture war. The left – actually, I mean the hard left – are organising in a way we haven’t seen since the 1980s. The right will need to do the same. Wagons will need to be circled, defences dug. At the moment the broad right is a mess. If Toby Young is forced out, just watch who they will come for next. He certainly wouldn’t be the last.

The big story of this year, in my view, is going to be North Korea. I genuinely feat that there will be a military conflict between North Korea and the United States. The year hasn’t got off to a good start. Trump’s tweet about the size of his nuclear button was so childish as to almost be beyond belief. Wars break out when leaders indulge in hyped up rhetoric and when misunderstandings develop into something far worse. There is huge scope for this here. The one positive development was Kim Jong Un’s decision to reopen the hotline between Pyongyang and Seoul. Trump, meanwhile, went further off the rails later on the same day of the nuclear button tweet. He issued a statement in response to a story that Steve Bannon had told author Michael Wolff that the Trump campaign’s meeting with the Russians verged on the ‘treasonous’. Trump let rip, questioning Bannon’s sanity and denying he had ever been a person of influence. It’s worth reading the statement in full as it is testament to the fact that Trump is totally out of control and ignores any advice he is given to tone down his rhetoric. He may not listen to his political and media advisers, but let’s hope he listens to his Generals when they advise him not to press the nuclear button and take out North Korea.