Tory totty Louise Bagshawe MP gave new meaning to the phrase "in-house publicity" by garnering a series of plugs for her book Passion in the Commons this summer. I can now exclusively reveal the plot of her as-yet-untitled next novel, which also follows Desire (2010), Glitz (2008), Glamour (2007) and Sparkles (2006).
"It's a girl's riches-to-rags-to-riches story," the Conservative cutie told me. "She pulls herself up by her bootstraps: a great Thatcherite idea that I imbibed with my mother's milk. It's the Jeffrey Archer-esque sort of novel I always loved." Blimey. The tale, she went on, is that of "a trophy wife who marries for money, finds it's a huge mistake and divorces her rich husband... Then she falls for another rich bloke."
The recently divorced Bagshawe said that while "every heroine is an idealised version of oneself", she shan't be writing any political fiction, as she likes all her colleagues far too much. "One thing [being in Parliament] cures you of," she insisted, "is cynicism." At this point, unfortunately, I began choking on a Hob Nob and was forced to cut short our conversation.
* Dave, PM wants us all to be happy. Unless, that is, one is short, fat, Scottish or extravagantly-bottomed, in which case he prefers to laugh and point like a giddy Etonian giving an acne-afflicted classmate a wedgie with his jockstrap. At boarding school, calling the bossy head prefect a dwarf is considered character-building. In Westminster, the PM applying the same insult to the pint-sized Speaker is, surely, barefaced discrimination. (Chancellor Gideon, like the baddie's giggling sidekicks in The Karate Kid, recently made a size-based crack at the expense of diminutive French President Nicholas Sarkozy.) Dave has also joked in public about ginger Treasury Sec Danny Alexander's kilt, Eric "Extra" Pickles's weight and the circumference of Ken Clarke's considerable rear end. Not everyone can afford Matt Roberts as their personal trainer, Prime Minister. For shame.
* In an uncharacteristic act of publicity-avoidance, glamour model-bothering Lembit Opik allegedly advised his mother Liivi, 70, not to talk to journalists before he entered the jungle to confront such creepy-crawlies as "Dr" Gillian McKeith. The Leicester Mercury, however, secured the interview that nobody wanted.
"There is nothing he will not do," says Liivi of her stand-up (comedian) son, who yesterday suffered a non-fatal snakebite during a bushtucker trial. "He is like Action Man." Asked how Lembit, 45, had won the affections of his girlfriend Merily, 21, and other assorted cheeky and/or weather girls, Liivi replied: "People are so shallow sometimes. Maybe, just maybe, he managed to attract these partners because of his lovely personality?" Beats me.
* While his rival corporate creature Aleksandr Orlov is the bookies' favourite for Christmas bestseller with his memoir A Simples Life, Churchill the dog is returning to the stage in a production of the classic panto Dick Whittington, with Joan Collins and Christopher Biggins. (A step up from the canine's 2009 co-stars, Leslie Grantham and Linda Lusardi.) Crucially, I'm told, his cheaper car insurance-flogging masters have, for the first time, permitted him to expand his vocal repertoire from his signature: "Oh, yes," and "Oh, no," to "Oh, yes it is," and "Oh, no it isn't." I do hope none of this guff actually persuades people to switch insurance providers.
* Roger Helmer, Tory MEP for the East Midlands, tweets: "Philip Lawrence's killer Chindamo has been arrested over a violent robbery. Wouldn't have happened if we'd hanged him first time round." Well, you can't fault his logic, I suppose.
* Johnny Borrell performed a set last night at London's Cuckoo Club, I'm reliably informed. So sensitive is the singer, however, that I've been asked nicely by the club's publicists not to mention the name of the band for which he normally sings. This anonymous band are, of course, portmanteau-named purveyors of such indie MOR classics as "America" – the same band whose drummer recently departed, complaining that Borrell didn't like people to know anyone else contributed to the songwriting. You know, that band.