COMMONWEALTH LEADERS may well settle down on Saturday to watch the Scotland vs England game during their summit in South Africa. If so they will be following Tony Blair's lead. The PM's spin doctor Alastair Campbell told journalists in Downing Street yesterday that a South African broadcaster had bought the rights to the crucial European Championship qualifier and that the summit retreat would be kitted out with the necessary TV sets. It is still unclear whether the summit can be timetabled around the match. But the real question is: whom will Edinburgh-born Blair be supporting? Asked this question on BBC Radio 5 Live this week, the PM was unconvincing. Perhaps a focus group could help Tony with his hard choice.
The secret of Weidenfeld and Nicolson's success during their 50 years in publishing may owe something to the advice they have received during that time. One of the earliest pointers came from a fellow-publisher, Jonathan Cape, during a lunch at Claridge's the day before W&N's 1949 launch. "As a publisher your profits will only come from your economies," he opined grandiosely, before ordering the most expensive lunch Claridge's had to offer. "If memory serves me correctly," mused Nigel Nicolson, at the company's anniversary celebrations this week, "we paid."
"THE IMPORTANT thing is not what my book says about me," says the former gangster Alfred "Stubby" Piles, of his book Diabolical Liberties. "What really matters is what it says about all you toerags who buy it." Perhaps introspective readers will find food for thought in Piles's description of the Kray Twins' gangland murder of Jack "The Hat" McVitie. "I had bits of Jack's brains all over my pork scratchings," Stubby tells next month's GQ, "But Ronnie immediately bought me a pint of brown ale and Campari and lemonade for my lady friend. Different class. The twins were different class."
It's only the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame - but Black Sabbath don't like it. Ozzy Osbourne's reformed rockers have a chance to join the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac in the elite hall, having been nominated this year along with Aerosmith, Queen and Eric Clapton. But the lead singer and bat-snacker Ozzy says: "Just take our name off the list. Save the ink and forget about us. The nomination is meaningless because it's voted on by a supposed elite of the industry and the media, who've never bought an album or concert ticket in their lives." At least, not to one of your gigs, Ozzy.
KEN LIVINGSTONE, a lifelong fan of Doctor Who, will doubtless be delighted at the prospect of an entire evening devoted to the show this weekend, as will Tony Blair, who is said to have "loved" it as a kid. But, as if to underline their deep ideological divisions, the pair can't even agree on which was the best of the Time Lord's incarnations; Ken favours Patrick Troughton and the PM prefers Jon Pertwee.
Bob Hoskins may often be cast as a hard man but he says his method of acting owes it all to women. On the eve of the release of his latest film, Felicia's Journey, in which he plays a serial killer, Hoskins says: I learnt to act by watching women. Drama is about personal, private moments. It's about being honest about the way you feel about things. Men don't have that sort of honesty."