Londoner's Diary: Woody Johnson to soothe the UK-US pain

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Could our inflamed relations with the United States use some gentle Johnson & Johnson baby oil? In troubled times, we might need a little diplomacy. So a timely arrival — and a first concrete date in the schedule — from our new American Ambassador, Woody Johnson.

So upstanding they named him twice, Johnson was nominated to the post by Donald Trump in June, approved by the Senate at the beginning of this month, and sworn in at the Oval office by Vice President Mike Pence on Monday. He has already confirmed his first scheduled appearance: invitations have gone out for a dinner for the Pilgrims Society — an Anglo-American body promoting transatlantic goodwill — at Middle Temple Hall in September.

“We are delighted that the new American Ambassador to the Court of St James has accepted our invitation to give his first formal address to the Pilgrims,” the letter to members reads, also stating, rather obviously, that Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson IV is the great-grandson of Robert Wood Johnson I, who founded the Johnson & Johnson brand that fills up your bathroom cabinet. “In addressing the Pilgrims, he follows his predecessors in a tradition going back over one hundred years.” Johnson is likely to return the favour by hosting the Pilgrims himself: previous ambassadors have thrown receptions for the organisation at their Winfield House residence in Regent’s Park. 

It will be a pretty tough act to follow: Matthew Barzun, our last ambassador, was a beloved fixture in London society, throwing legendary parties attended by such stars as Taylor Swift, Kate Beckinsale and Cate Blanchett. Will they be as keen to show up for Trump’s man in London? 

Is the writing on the wall for Postman Pat? Yesterday, the Royal Mail unveiled its new fleet of electric vans, which have a wider view to help drivers keep an eye on cyclists and pedestrians. Tech magazine Wired notes that the vehicles will be “autonomous-ready”, using the same technology as self-driving cars. Hopefully Royal Mail will resist cutting Pat and the rest of the workforce. Jess the Cat included. 

Channel 4’s Jon Snow loses his identity

You know nothing: Jon Snow (Getty Images)

It’s not easy being the second-most famous person with your name. Yesterday Channel 4 broadcaster Jon Snow gave the annual MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival and voiced his resentment at having lower viewing figures than the Game of Thrones character played by Kit Harington. “I was thinking back to what I’d done over the years, and I had to consult Google,” he said. “I was appalled to discover that other fellow with the same spelling had hogged the first 50 entries, where once I was supreme. Winter sure has come for that bastard!” Who knows, Snow senior might be on top again soon: in Game of Thrones, one’s hold on power is often precarious. 

Quote of the Day

‘I didn’t want her eyes to fall on my perfect baby’

Harriet Harman tells Peter Hennessey for Radio 4 why she once hid in a room with her young child when she saw Margaret Thatcher approaching

Nicola swerves questions on CBB Sarah

Designer and muse: Henry Holland and Nicola Roberts (Getty Images)

Corona brought the spirit of its beach homeland to The Shard last night, inviting guests to watch the sun go down from the altitudinous spot. Actress Kara Tointon and fashion designer Henry Holland were among the throng, with Holland announcing that it was his first time. “I’ve never been taken up The Shard,” he said. “Nor have I taken anyone up The Shard. So I was so pleased to accept the invitation.”

He attended with Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts, who received questions about what she thought of her former band mate Sarah Harding’s antics on Celebrity Big Brother. Roberts kept shtum. 

Clever marketing at yesterday’s first night for Loot, the revival of the Joe Orton play set in a funeral parlour. A quick flick through the programme led our eyes to a large advert from Evershed Bros, the funeral directors, advertising their six London offices. In the play, a couple of young thieves remove a dead body from a coffin and replace it with the loot of the title. We imagine such things wouldn’t happen at Evershed Bros.

The souped-up Chancellor

Pass the potatoes: Angela Merkel (Getty Images)

An unexpected expedition into the unknown: Angela Merkel’s kitchen. The long-serving German Chancellor is a formidable figure on the world stage, but it seems that she is also a dab hand in the kitchen.

Yesterday Bunte magazine ran an interview with Merkel, in which she talks through her method for making a personal favourite: potato soup. “I always pound the potatoes myself with a masher, rather than using a machine,” she said. “That way there are still little lumps left at the end.”

The soup is, apparently, one of Merkel’s specialities. Guests have also singled out her beef loaf, and her plum cake is famous. 

Jeremy Corbyn will be pleased to hear that she even grows the potatoes herself. The Labour leader has a beloved allotment plot in his constituency, but Merkel settles for her own garden. This year is set for a bumper crop. 

“They’re looking good,” she says. “But I haven’t started harvesting them yet.” 

Tweet of the Day

“Migration figures ‘far lower than thought.’ Lucky we got this accurate data or we might have made an historic mistake”

J K Rowling responds to the results of a review of UK immigration which found that most foreign students go home after university.

Rip-off of the day: a letter to The Spectator from a recent BA passenger asked if they were justified in their shock when they were charged double for a strong cup of tea “as they sold it by the tea bag”.

Manhattan welcomes Brooklyn

Start spreading the news: Brooklyn Beckham is in New York to start a new course at Parsons School of Design, but his old man David just couldn’t let him go without one final selfie. “Exciting times and hard work coming for this little man,” he wrote as they walked down a Manhattan street. 

Jay-walkers: Brooklyn and David Beckham (@davidbeckham)

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