Over the years, the Diary has become a connoisseur of the embarrassing press release. We have learned to separate the chaff (ill-judged attempts at capturing the public's eye) from the wheat (exceptional and ground-breaking publicity whoreing). A vintage example of the latter arrived this week from Southwark council, headlined: "Southwark council asks pupils are you blingin' or mingin'?" Media representatives were invited to a photocall at which a "team of blingin' street enforcement and council officers in suits and glasses will arrive by limo at Peckham academy where they will present pupils with 'bling' merchandise for good behaviour towards the environment".
The merchandise turned out to be plastic key rings and dice, hardly the hallmark diamonds and gold celebrated by "bling" culture. The council also plans a "viral email campaign" to try to create "a culture of cool around responsible behaviour". We do hope this is blocked by the kids' virus checkers before more damage is done. Who needs Ali G to send up adults trying to fit in with "street culture" when the adults can do it on their own?