Lord Patten was in pugnacious mood at a lobby journalist’s lunch yesterday.
Facing up to questions from a semi-soused Westminster press pack about what could euphemistically be called a “difficult” tenure as chair of the BBC Trust, he repeatedly praised the corporation’s move to Salford. But he admitted it wasn’t an easy sell to staff accustomed to doing business safely within the comforting embrace of the M25.
“There’s a tendency in some people to think that they haven’t heard of paninis north of Watford,” he said.
To Axegrinder, a Panini is a fondly remembered sticker album (his own 1987 version of which will forever be associated with a gaping hole where Nigel Spackman should have been). But younger, more urbane colleagues have pointed out that’s it Italian for ‘bacon roll’.
Patten also retaliated to comments attributed to the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, John Whittingdale, that he was beginning to look old.
“I’m no George Clooney,” said the former governor of Hong Kong. “But John’s not exactly George Clooney himself.”