Diary: Anna in from the cold

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Nobody since Gorbachev has done as much to heat up relations between East and West as Anna Chapman, the saucy spy who last week stripped to her undies for the cover of Maxim's Russian edition. And Gorbachev's family, it turns out, is aware of Ms Chapman's work. "My husband reads Maxim," Gorbachev's fashion journalist granddaughter Anastasia told me yesterday, "so I'm used to seeing the magazine around the house."

Recently married Anastasia was in London to announce details of a charity gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate her grandfather's 80th birthday in March 2011. She and her sister Ksenia plan to emulate the former Soviet leader by "uniting the West and East" in an evening featuring such giants of the 1990s as John Major and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Anastasia agreed Ms Chapman had made a substantial impact on Russia's relations with the rest of the world – why not invite her to the bash, too? Readers of Maxim UK would be exceedingly grateful.

* The Prime Minister was quick to praise his favourite online grocery service, Ocado, at PMQs yesterday. Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher gave him the opportunity, mentioning the jobs the company has created in his constituency, and the support of Ocado's chief exec Tim Steiner for Coalition cuts.

Business leaders such as Steiner, Dave replied eagerly, "support what the Government is doing... and I am happy to congratulate the person running Ocado, not least because I am one of their customers". Chancellor George (né Gideon) Osborne, kept uncharacteristically quiet, perhaps thinking about the other person running Ocado: Steiner's co-founder, and Gideon's former Bullingdon Club buddy, Jason Gissing. Curiously, Gissing's name went unmentioned.

* Graham Brady, strident chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, made an enemy of the Tory leader in 2007, when he resigned his shadow minister post over the Old Etonian's anti-grammar school stance. Relations worsened when Dave tried to have ministers attend the committee's weekly meetings.

On Tuesday, however, a rapprochement between the two camps: Education Secretary and close Cameroon Michael Gove attended Brady's annual "Friends of Grammar Schools" bash in the Commons. During his speech, Brady called on Gove to go yet further in expanding selective education choices for parents, along the grammar school model. Gove, ever the diplomat, laid the blame for his reticence at the door of – who else? – his Coalition partners. "My foot is hovering over the pedal," he assured the assembled revellers. "But I'll have to see what my co-driver Nick Clegg has to say."

* What must one do to be transformed from a Sir to a Lord, Alan Sugar was asked at the Apple Store in Covent Garden, during an event this week to mark the release of his memoirs. "I didn't have to do anything," he said. "Other people recognise your ability." He doesn't always recognise theirs, though, as he demonstrated while listing his political patrons: "Chancellors of the Exchequer and prime ministers, Lady Thatcher, er... Wossisface..." Sir John Major, suggested his interlocutor Adrian Chiles. "John Major," Lord Sugar agreed. "He made a big impression on me."

* And so to another Lord: Baron Butler of Brockwell, who yesterday asked the Lords (do they call that a "Butler inquiry"?) whether it would be possible to install a "Boris Bike" stand closer to Parliament, around which there's an odd dearth of docking stations.

During his investigation into WMD, Lord Butler was often pictured arriving at the House on his stately bicycle. And it appears the 72-year-old peer is yet to hang up his trouser-clips. Barclays Bike subscribers, he says, "include my wife and myself. I am a keen cyclist... [But] the nearest docking station to Parliament is in Smith Square, the best part of 10 minutes' walk from the House." If he can negotiate London traffic on two wheels, surely the spry Old Harrovian can handle a short stroll?

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

Comments