People: Stephen Bates

Duchess of York | Rev Ian Paisley | Dana | Archbishop Sean Brady | Ming Campbell | Sir Cliff Richard | Jon Snow | Augustine 'Jay Jay' Okocha | Piyush 'Bobby' Jindal | Richard Dawkins | Roberta McCain | John McCain | Mitt Romney

As 2007 fades into a hazy memory, the people column has a few awards of its own to offer. Last year's award for selfless humility goes to Sarah, Duchess of York, for an interview with Sky News: "I put myself in the shoes of someone who is on the 10th floor and her heating has broken ... well, if she picks up her newspaper, she doesn't want to see a bad-tempered princess pouting or running down the street hiding: no, she wants to see someone who is very fortunate, smiling back at her. The other day Beatrice said to me: 'Mummy, I am really angry with you!' I said: 'Oh, my gosh, quite right, why, what did I do?' She said: 'I wish sometimes you didn't have self-doubt'."

Most unexpected admission: the Rev Ian Paisley's claim that he has been a secret fan of the Irish Catholic singer Rosemary Scallon, better known as Dana, since first hearing her "on the wireless" in 1969. But will Paisley invite Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh to Stormont to celebrate his elevation to become the third Irish cardinal?

Age shall not wither award: As Ming Campbell stepped down from the Lib Dem leadership for being too old, Sir Cliff Richard - six months older - announced plans for his 50th anniversary tour this year.

Diplomatic service award: Jon Snow, after being deluged by hostile emails from anti-abortion campaigners when he agreed to chair a conference organised by the Marie Stopes organisation: "Fuck them, they're fascists." It was all the more annoying as he'd already cancelled the engagement.

Unlikeliest divine intervention: Augustine "Jay Jay" Okocha, Nigerian soccer international, on his transfer from Bolton to Hull City: "I always ask God if it's his will and, if so, then let it be. That's the message I got and that's why I am here at Hull."

Least likely to receive an honorary fellowship: Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, new Republican governor of Louisiana, formerly a Rhodes scholar at New College, Oxford, where Richard Dawkins is a fellow. Jindal says he believes in intelligent design rather than evolution.

Most embarrassing mother: Roberta McCain, 95, mom of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain - himself 71 - who accompanied her son on the campaign trail until she made rude remarks about Mormonism, the faith of rival candidate Mitt Romney. "Well, I was asked the question," she said. "I know my mother is certainly in favour of Mormons," McCain insisted.

stephen.bates@theguardian.com

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Stephen Bates

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