Kitty Fisher was an eighteenth-century prostitute who, as children of all ages may remember, found Lucy Locket’s pocket.

She now has a fashionable London restaurant named after her in her old stomping ground of Shepherd’s Market. It is reputed to be David Cameron’s favourite place to dine unless he’s moved on.

Soon a sister establishment will open in Covent Garden called Cora Pearl. Cora was a courtesan who began and ended her career in the market but is celebrated as perhaps la plus grande horizontale of Paris’s Belle Époque.

Doubtless a Stormy Daniels burger bar is already under construction in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


The recent fiftieth anniversary of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood Speech (yes yes I know he didn’t say precisely those words) made me feel a bit long in the tooth. It prompted me to look back at a documentary I made to mark the twenty fifth anniversary, which had the advantage of an interview with Powell himself. The wily old man was well aware that the news cameras in 1968 did not catch his words “Like the Roman, I seem to see the river foaming with much blood”. I tried to coax them out of him but the best he would offer was to say them in Virgil’s original Latin.

I had forgotten Powell’s reply when I asked him if he was content to be remembered for that speech. And on this his prediction proved rather more reliable than his “racialist” analysis: he told me that he thought he would be remembered for getting Britain out of the European Community. In 1993. Spooky, huh?


Powell came to mind again this week when I interviewed Arron Banks, the founder of Leave.EU down the line from Belfast. Banks prides himself on being and outspoken “Bad Boy” and certainly tends to give more direct answers to questions than your average politician.

The Electoral Commission who fined Leave.UK £70,000 for breaking the rules? A politically motivated Blairite swamp.

Who paid for the campaign? “I did” and no he didn’t take any money from the Russians or hire Cambridge Analytica: “I might have if we’d been designated the official campaign.”

But Banks came over all coy when I asked if his presence in Northern Ireland for a DUP fundraiser meant he and his best pal Nigel Farage were considering joining the party of “No Surrender”. “You’ll have to ask Nigel”, he muttered. After breaking with the Conservatives and advocating a vote for Labour, Powell joined the Ulster Unionists and served as MP for South Down from 1974-1987. It kept him in the political spotlight and his interventions ranged well beyond Northern Irish affairs.

Farage, of course, has so far failed in his repeated efforts to become a Westminster MP. If the DUP are prepared to accommodate him it could be his best shot yet. But what a nightmare for Theresa May to have the former leader of UKIP playing an active role in the party that grudgingly keeps her in power.


In considering the current takeover bids for Sky, the Competition and Mergers Authority and politicians ranging from Kenneth Clarke to Ed Miliband have had much to say about what they consider to be the baleful political influence of Rupert Murdoch and his family.

It might come as a surprise to them to learn that the editors of both Britain’s leading left/liberal current affairs programmes are graduates of Sky News (where I also work): Ben De Pear at Channel 4 News and now Esme Wren, the new editor of the BBC’s Newsnight.

We bade farewell to Esme this week in a bar but it was still decorously done. A sweet tempered but determined woman – Esme negotiated vital access to increasingly evasive political leaders for election and referendum debates on behalf of all broadcasters, while bringing up two charming daughters as a single parent. Newsnight should be a doddle for her but good luck anyway.


Amidst all the sticks and stones being hurled justifiably at the so called FAANG companies which dominate the internet, there is something that can be said in favour of digital revolution. It has brought literacy back to life. I confess that fifteen years or so ago, I hardly ever wrote anything down. I spoke to people on the phone, there was no texting and a quick call was a lot easier than typing a memo. I reported live and, copying the great Martin Bell, I confess that I even used to “track” taped reports from the top of my head without first writing a script.

These days we all have to write on clicking keyboards. You can’t escape emails and young people don’t talk on the phone any more. We TV “gobs on a stick” are all expected to write for the internet, and new technology makes it much less onerous task than it used to be.

The written word is the new broadcasting – I’m honoured to be joining the advisory board of Reaction.