The Diary: Alistair Campbell; Costa Prize; Glynn Griffiths; André Rieu; Conspiracy Theories

The hurly-Burnley of a writer's life

Alastair Campbell the ex-director of communications for Tony Blair and latter-day novelist, has always been known for his high-energy reserves. So it came as no surprise when he told me that he wrote parts of his first novel, and his latest book, 'Maya', on his Blackberry while he was multi-tasking on his office exercise machine. "I also work a lot on the move," he adds. "For my first novel, 'All in the Mind', a key themes which I had had difficulties with came to me as I was driving to a Burnley game on the M1. I pulled over at a service station and wrote down the "suicide scene" on my BlackBerry. It didn't change in the finished book. I also work a lot on cars and planes, and I have no trouble writing on my BlackBerry." For 'Maya', he drove around west London, to be in the neighbourhood in which his book's protagonist is based. "I decided she lived in Little Venice so I'd sit in the car outside to watch things going on and write on the BlackBerry," he says. Flashes of inspiration often come on the motorway while driving North to watch Burney FC, he says.

Keep Costa's down

In previous years, guests to the Costa Prize for literature have been invited along to a four-course meal with wine, champagne and all the trimmings. This time, the party at Quaglino's in Green Park, was just as good but perhaps it was best to have eaten before you arrived, as there was a surprising absence of a sit-down meal. John Derkach, managing director of Costa, even apologised to his guests for the lack of a meal and advised them to enjoy the finger food. The Costa coffee flowed late into the night.

Glynn to be hung

Glynn Griffiths, a former photographer with 'The Independent', has won the prestigious Clifford Chance/University of the Arts, London Sculpture Award 2010 for his large-scale creations which will be hung by the University of the Arts (a constellation of venues including Central Saint Martins) at the law firm, Clifford Chance. After years as a photographer and picture editor, Griffiths, 59, decided to make a go of it, full time, after his work was accepted into the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 2007.

André adds to a string of successes

The Dutch violinist, André Rieu may not be a household name among British teenagers but he has taken the pop world by storm – he was at number six again in the pop music charts at the beginnnig of the week and since moved up in the midweek charts to number four, above Lady Gaga, and quickly closing in on the top three – Alicia Keys, Paolo Nutini and Florence and the Machine. It would be a triumph for the crossover appeal of classical music if he made the No 1 slot this weekend. The last violinist to have got to number three in the pop charts was Nigel Kennedy with The Four Seasons – over 20 years ago! Rieu's feat may be all the greater as an unknown violinist with an album of purely Strauss waltzes. We wait with baited breath until Sunday.

More off-the-wall conspiracies

For those readers whose bookshelves are filled with conspiracy theories on anything ranging from 9/11 to the death of David Kelly, Elvis Presley, Diana, Princess of Wales, the Ebola virus, swine flu, the disappearance of Shergar, Robert Maxwell etc, there is another tome to add to your outrageous collection. Jamie King's 'Conspiracy Theories' is out this month, and his book explores the mystery surrounding the death of Michael Jackson. "Did he fake his own death to escape financial ruin or was there foul play involved?" ask Summersdale, his publisher.

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Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)


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