Steven Norris has a beef with Michael Portillo. Talking to the attractively named Conservative youth group cfuk at its Leicester University pow-wow earlier this week, Norris took a pop at London Transport - pretty rich considering his previous form as Transport Minister. "Their Spanish practices can stay in Ibiza. I don't want to know what goes on there - it's difficult enough being a heterosexual in the Tory party these days."

THE LUSTRE has faded from Glenda Jackson's Oscars - her mother polished the statuettes so vigorously that the glitter rubbed off. "They're just base metal underneath," says the London mayoral candidate. She now keeps the tarnished gongs in a box in her airing cupboard, "which is a perfect metaphor" she added.

A man telephoned his own obituary to his local paper on Friday, slashed his wrists early Saturday morning and lived to read Monday's headline about his abortive suicide. Julien Sans-Nom, a 33-year-old ambulance driver from La Rochelle, telephoned his girlfriend while drunk in the bathtub. She told his colleagues, and they arrived to find the man "in a pool of blood" - but alive. Julien told the French daily Liberation that he had felt obliged to go through with his Roman bath because he'd already phoned in the obituary. The lucky Lazarus celebrated his return to work this week with champagne and foie gras for his paramedic crew.

TALK RADIO is buzzing with the rumour that Kelvin MacKenzie has a sign at the bottom of his garden saying: "Where did it all go wrong"?

As talk of George W "Shrub" Bush's cocaine use continues to dog his campaign, Democrats are sporting bumper stickers: "Toot if you're backing Bush."

DIRTY DANCING? Does the preponderance of salsa-themed parties at this year's Labour confab mean that John and Pauline Prescott have to abandon their trad rock'n'roll jive?

Helen Mirren enjoyed a winning weekend in Manhattan: she flew in to collect an Emmy for her role in a TV series about Ayn Rand. But Mirren may well consider jetting away quickly. On Friday the city will be awash with hype about the 20th-anniversary re-release of a part she'd rather forget - in Bob Guccione's Caligula.

THE BBC has penetrated LWT's crack (or should that be cracked?) security at South Bank. Andrew Harrison of the Lab, LWT's production unit, found a leaflet on each desk this week. The flyers advertised an assistant producer's job, based in Wood Lane, on a forthcoming BBC documentary about the Italia Conti stage school.

So much for London bartenders, then. If the Lab is such a cool joint, how come their over-attitudinal bartenders were beaten out of at the TGI bartending awards this week by mixologists from Sale, Reading and Southampton? Big hat, no cattle.

STEFFI GRAF has been shopping for a boyfriend and she may have hit a winner - Andre Agassi. "It's a love match," says an on-the-ball boy who spotted them canoodling at a Tex-Mex restaurant this week.

A judge sentenced a 13-year-old youth to prison in the Midlands the other day. Yes, that is a little young for a custodial sentence. The boy's brief reminded Yerhonour that perhaps he'd strayed slightly from the sentencing guidelines? But the man in the bigwig was having none of it. "Down he goes," he insisted. It was resolved when the miscreant was returned from the big house with a note from the prison governor. It was pinned to the boy's coat...

OH, AND "A Labour of love bears a gift of joy." That's the schmooze; here's the news: this week's must-have stiffie is from Tony Blair, to honour London Fashion Week next Monday.

The dress code: "Fashionable." The word from Planet Fashion on that? "Excruciating." What will Tony wear? What will Cherie wear? Will Charles and Sarah be joining us? So stick around while the sticking's good...

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