The Feral Beast: How to play the Zadie Smith game

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The Independent Online

Zadie Smith hasn't been keen on Evening Standard hack Sebastian Shakespeare since his 2002 piece headlined: "We reveal what the famously guarded young author would rather you didn't know".

So pity Smith after one wag at her recent book-signing in New York asked for a dedication to Saskia Shakespeare. "That's an unusual name," she remarked, little knowing it was for Shakespeare's new-born. It's not the first time: another journo got her to sign a previous book "To Sebastian", again without saying it was for her nemesis. What larks.

The way to get ahead in journalism

Is there no stopping Kate Mansey? After nearly four years at the Sunday Mirror, the 2008 Young Journalist of the Year, now 29, is leaving to join The Sunday Times as a senior news reporter. A feature on young hacks earlier this year described how she started as a trainee on the Liverpool Echo, breaking into Fleet Street by doing weekend shifts. That must have gone down well with the infamously hard-working Sunday Times newsdesk.

Greener grass

And there's change at The Times, too: economics correspondent Gráinne Gilmore is leaving for pastures new. Word has it that the Cambridge-educated young spark may be leaving journalism altogether. We hope not.

Retiring Wogan's slimming advice

Terry Wogan complains that the BBC wastes money on staff and buildings. "It might be better if there was a bit of slimming down," he says. Odd, though, that he doesn't address the usual charge against the Beeb – over-inflated salaries. But then, Sir Terry didn't cut his £800,000 salary – he retired instead.

Dear Mary takes a stand

The Spectator 's etiquette expert, Mary Killen, was so appalled by comedian Frankie Boyle's show that she complained to Ofcom. "I did not want to hear 'm*****f*****' in my home, or see five ugly people having sex" she wrote. But their formulaic response, and complicated website, did not impress her. "Ofcom has made it as difficult as possible to lodge a complaint," she tells me.

Happy days

Singer Shaun Ryder was among the more improbable guests at the News International Christmas party last week. But it explains why News of the World readers can win copies of his album, and why The Times's Sarah Vine wrote a column sympathising with his underactive thyroid.

The last party people standing

It's a story of two Xmas parties: The Ritz, owned by Telegraph proprietors the Barclay Brothers, has not held its annual bash for the media. It's been moved to February, apparently. Meanwhile, staff of The London Paper, which ceased to exist last year, had a merry knees-up last week. There must be a cheery Crimbo moral there somewhere.