Government and Civil Service course', defend their decision thus: 'The book gives great insight into the workings of government - we prescribe it, as well as other books, to give a general awareness.' Whether all of Mr Clark's observations - such as the reference to Jenny, his private secretary at Employment, as 'sexually, tightly controlled', and to Rose, his diary secretary at Trade, whose mouth he described as 'cupidic like a Tintoretto', constitute a strictly necessary insight is, arguably, open to debate. Mr Clark, however, has no such qualms. He was ecstatic when I informed him. 'It's the highest honour I could possibly have asked for,' he told me. 'I'm absolutely delighted.' A pause. 'Civil servants will undoubtedly cherish certain passages in the book.'
Something arguably far more perturbing than the issue of cross-channel funding with ITV has hit Channel 4. Clive Anderson's entire TV wardrobe has been stolen. Anderson, who, is deemed far too important to wear his own suits for his chat show Clive Anderson Talks Back, has 25 designer costumes stored in a West End warehouse. On Sunday the whole lot went missing, but since no one can remember whether the labels were Armani, Hackett or Savile Row, the chances of recovering them seem negligible. More worrying, however, for Channel 4 is the fact that Anderson's new series starts on Friday. 'We've got to get him on a shopping trip before then,' groaned a spokesman.
One doubtlessly particularly grateful for the recent five per cent pay rise bestowed upon MPs is Simon Hughes, Lib Dem member for Southwark and Bermondsey. Already legendary for employing an unusually large office team of seven, (most MPs restrict themselves to two or three), he is now, much to the astonishment of colleagues, bringing in an eighth - a management consultant to organise them all. No doubt the recruitment will hit Hughes' pocket hard - he already spends at least pounds 10,000 of his salary on staff in addition to the parliamentary allowance - he seemed remarkably unperturbed by this when I spoke to him.
'The new singing and dancing team will be in place next month,' he quipped, adding carefully, 'no sackings are intended.'
Every author has his or her own method of beating writer's block, but few seem quite so threatening to others as that of Clare Rayner's enfant, Jay. At last week's launch of his new novel, The Marble Kiss, young Rayner confided that he had written most of the thing in the nude - al fresco. 'I would leave my isolated villa and stroll into the Tuscan hills,' he explains, hastily adding that he had not, at any point during his nudist rambles, startled any unsupecting fellow naturalists.
There has been a further change to the curious domestic arrangements of film actress Elizabeth Hurley, also known as the girlfriend of Hugh Grant. Miss Hurley surprised many people a few weeks ago by moving out of her LA apartment to cohabit with Bill Cash's son, William, a journalist best remembered for throwing up all over a newly decorated bedroom belonging to American author, Jay McInerney. It seems Cash Jnr's sense of personal hygiene has not improved much since then: I gather that Miss Hurley has moved out already, and is seeking a new abode on these shores. Her dog, meanwhile, is safely ensconced, away from Mr Cash, in quarantine.
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