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Michael Portillo will pop up this week to reveal his sound of the century. Education Secretary David Blunkett has already participated in BBC Radio 5 Live's latest wheeze for their Breakfast Show, entries for which they intend to poll with their listeners. On Monday Mr Blunkett chose the industrial sound of Sheffield. In a live item tomorrow Mr Portillo is said to be going for the declaration of war in 1939. A sound which will have a particular resonance within the Tory party throughout the coming months.

MEMBERS OF the Scottish Parliament are jumping up and down - but not with anger, they are just trying to keep themselves warm. The parliament's temporary Edinburgh headquarters is proving to be of cold comfort to MSPs. "It's freezing," complained Scottish Nationalist member Tricia Marwick to the Edinburgh Evening News. "I was finding it difficult to work, it was so cold." Though concern is shared cross-party, the building's management will only provide heat if their officers, armed with thermometers, are satisfied the cause is deserving. "We check temperatures before we go spending taxpayers' money," said a spokesman. Perhaps it is time for Scotland to exercise its prerogative on tax?

Norman "Badger" Lamont's Christmas won't exactly be the merrier after the dismal sales of his autobiography, In Office. According to the book sales service, Whitaker's BookTrack, the former Chancellor has shifted less than 1,200 copies of his tiresome tome since its autumn publication. However, Norman appears to have no regrets on that score. Asked about material matters, he says: "Oh, I don't care about sales, all I care about is the truth."

ACTOR JAMES Woods still rues the day he missed out on the action with Quentin Tarantino. A breakdown in communication between Woods (most recently seen getting his teeth into John Carpenter's Vampires) and his agent prevented the actor from working on the classic Reservoir Dogs. When Tarantino later asked why he turned the opportunity down, Woods did a double take. Tarantino then explained: "Your agent said you wouldn't think of working for $50,000." Not surprisingly, Woods found himself some new representation pretty sharpish, telling them: "I want to read every script that's out there. If I ever hear of a script that you haven't already sent me, just know you're [expletive] fired."

Tom Aikens, the young chef who was forced to leave top West End restaurant Pied a Terre at the end of last week, has received some belated recognition. Aikens had to resign after reports that he branded a trainee chef with a hot knife, but both he and his restaurant were celebrated a few days later in the Saturday Guardian. Announcing that Pied a Terre had won the best restaurant category, The Guardian critic said: "If anything, Aikens is pushing even harder at the boundaries of what we accept as being possible."

CHELMSFORD IN Essex had an attack of the "postmodern trendies" last week with the opening of The Bar, which aims to bring the concept of the London lounge bar outside the M25. "We particularly want to ditch the image of groups of lads hanging around drinking pints for a more female- friendly approach," explained a spokesman before the crowds rushed in and tried out the waiting sofas.

One VIP invited to illuminate the opening of the new venue, described as "the first of its kind in Chelmsford", was local rocker and girl-power veteran Suzi Quatro. Luckily for the bar's credibility, Quatro had to cancel.

A large billboard advert for the West End store Liberty has been pasted on the hoarding outside Harrow Crown Court. The slogan will no doubt be of comfort to anyone facing a summons - it reads "Feel at Liberty".