Diary: Gaultier's gripe with Gauls

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The Independent Online

We Brits may think of them as a nation of protesters, but Jean Paul Gaultier is unimpressed by the Aids activism of his fellow Frenchmen (and women). "The French don't do enough for anything like Aids," he told me. "The UK and USA are far more pro-active and principled; you stand up for what you believe in. The French are so superficial – there's no following through with action what we promise with words." (The designer, 58, had kind words for his friend Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, whom he's advising on her role as ambassador for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But she's Italian.)

Gaultier's partner, Francis Menuge, died of an Aids-related illness in 1990, and he was speaking at the Grey Goose Character and Cocktails party for the Elton John Aids Foundation Winter Ball – for which he designed everything from the bar to the cocktails. "It wasn't me alone," Gaultier explained. "I had a great team, and luckily we were working in a country that isn't on strike." Not yet, Jean Paul, not yet.

* More from the melancholy political afterlife of former future Labour leader Miliband (D), who revealed in the Mail on Sunday that his painting of 13 naked women prancing jauntily across his sitting room wall help him to "look on the bright side of life". While his brother Miliband (E) takes the PM to task over the EU budget, Miliband (D) has been facing up, finally, to the power of the banks. Specifically, the local branch of HSBC in East Street, Whitburn – the only branch between South Shields and Sunderland – which HSBC bosses plan to close in January due to its decreasing popularity. It's "a devastating blow to shopkeepers and residents", constituency MP Miliband (D) told The Shields Gazette. He's working with local councillors to try to change the banking giant's mind. It's a David (don't-call-me-Dave) and Goliath tale.

* No takers so far for Lord Archer's historic "Margrave" Mini, I hear. Mini specialists Wood and Pickett are offering the little car with the big story on eBay for less than £10,000, but have yet to find a buyer despite attracting a great deal of interest – not least from this column. It was, after all, the vehicle supposedly used for a late-night assignation in a Mayfair car park between Lord Archer – né Jeffrey – and his mistress, Sally Farmiloe (its leather Recaro Seats are fully-reclining). The pair's affair allegedly began in 1996, the same year Archer had the Mini re-fitted. "He wanted something that looked like a Mini on the outside," explains Wood and Pickett's Michael Standring, "but felt like a Bentley on the inside".

* Alastair Campbell has revealed why he keeps the two loves of his life apart (and no, this won't be a Tony Blair joke.) The ex-spinner refuses to take his partner of 30 years, Fiona Millar, to watch his beloved Burnley FC play: "I banned her after she came a few times, and never saw us win," he blogs. "I decided there had to be a link. The ban was imposed hurriedly during a match as we trailed one-nil to Huddersfield. I said, 'I know this is not rational, but do you think you could leave and go shopping or something?' Frankly, I think she was relieved. This is, after all, someone who once asked me whether there was an interval, and used to wonder why the teams swapped shirts at half time, aka the interval, not realising they actually swapped ends. And when she left the ground that day we equalised within three minutes."

* More devastating news for the only man in Hollywood who's less popular than Mel Gibson this week. Charlie Sheen, last seen angrily pacing a New York hotel room in the altogether while a porn star cowered behind the bathroom door, must now confront the news that Josef Fritzl is a huge fan of Two and a Half Men. In his first interview since he was convicted, Austria's most notorious prisoner revealed that he spends much of his jail-time watching the television show that has turned Sheen into the world's highest-paid, least-liked sitcom star. Sheen is due to begin work on a new series today. One hopes Fritzl's endorsement will ensure it's the last.