Diary: Hadid banks on Obama

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Iraqi-born starchitect Zaha Hadid says she's happy with the Obama administration's hands-off approach to rebuilding her country of origin. "Architecture is all about nation-building," she told me, "and I think Obama is leaving the Iraqi people to it. It's a delicate issue; one really needs to rebuild society and the confidence of the nation before mending the objects." Perhaps the Prez is wary of negotiating too closely with the famously fearsome Hadid, who was speaking at the Women of the Year Awards lunch, having made time in her busy schedule to pick up an Outstanding Achievement Award. Born in Baghdad in 1950, Hadid lives and works in England and has not returned to Iraq for 30 years. That will soon change, however: her firm is preparing a concept design for the new HQ of the Central Bank of Iraq. "I'm curious to go back," she said. "It must have changed a lot. I remember a very beautiful city, with rivers that you'd think had flowed for thousands of years. That timelessness, that sense of history, is very powerful."

* You'd have to be a shameless publicity-seeker, a sucker for punishment, the former MP for Montgomeryshire – or all of the above – to want to be the Lib Dems' London mayoral candidate. Which may explain why so few suitable candidates have put themselves forward for the thankless task. The party hoped to have someone in place by December, but admitted yesterday that the field was so small, they'd had to postpone the process. I'm told a handful of candidates underwent the formal selection procedure conducted by the Lib Dem London Executive. But only one of them fulfilled the necessary requirements. Who was it, I asked a party spokesman. "You can probably guess," he replied. Luckily for the Lib Dem leadership, which I suspect would rather not be represented by a glamour model-bothering stand-up comic, the rules stipulate that the shortlist must contain at least two people, at least one of whom must be female. Thus they're obliged to reopen nominations, perhaps extending the race for as much as a year. Plenty of time to find an alternative to the co-author of the Xenophobe's Guide to the Estonians.

* No word yet on whether keen hedger Sir Fred Goodwin has agreed to prune his leylandii. As previously noted, the 25-foot trees surrounding the Shred's new £3.5m mansion in Colindale have been bothering his neighbours, who've summoned him to a local association meeting to face their demands for cutbacks. (He's used to that sort of thing.) I thought I'd find a sympathetic ear on the side of the head of private equity boss Jon Moulton, whose own leylandii at his former home in Kent were allegedly cut down by an angry villager, but no such luck: "Fred was always known for wanting his to be bigger than everyone else's," said Moulton when I rang. Should he be forced to shed his evergreens, Sir Fred can console himself with his well-appointed new home's other features, which include a tennis court, a fountain and a calming Japanese garden, all safe from vindictive anti-capitalists thanks to the state-of-the-art security system. More on this story as it develops.

* Hallowe'en is almost upon us. But while latex likenesses of Messrs Bush and Blair used to make popular costumes, the new PM and his peers are deemed so bland and inconsequential that not a single Cameron mask is yet in circulation. "There's little demand for Cameron or Miliband masks," said Emma Angel of Angels Fancy Dress, the UK's oldest costume shop. "The Coalition has made manufacturers wary of committing to production." Things could always change after that other autumnal horror, the Comprehensive Spending Review.

* Recognition is a rarity for this generation. Lyme Regis resident Glenn Willis spotted Miliband (D) eating breakfast at the local Town Mill Bakery last week. "You know how it is when your brain tells you that you know someone, but you don't know who it is," Willis told Bridport News. "I thought he was just someone I know from town." Only after chatting to the former future Labour leader for some time did he realise who it was. "I smiled and said, 'It's been a stressful few weeks for you, hasn't it?' The talk just turned to the weather then."