Cook, singer, lifestyle guru and occasional actress Gwyneth Paltrow is reportedly in talks to produce her own food magazine, meaning fans of her charming blog Goop may now be able to read about her maple-brined turkey, banana pancakes and subsequent bowel movements (aided, she reveals, by drinking half a cup of castor oil) in printed form.
* Thanks to an irresistible combination of Kate Middleton and Colin Firth, this column's "no royals" policy has been showing cracks of late. And there'll be no let-up in the Windsors' ubiquity, I've learned, as Prince Charles himself is to grace our screens this year with his BBC4 documentary on the subject of Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918), the composer of "Jerusalem". Parry is loved by the Prince, and BBC sources inform me the film was his pet project: it took three years to organise and was directed by John Bridcut (who also made a 2008 film about the heir to the throne). Charles, however had "a big say" in the narrative and how it was shot. Those familiar with the Prince's views on architecture will not be surprised by his musical tastes. "I like music that makes me feel better," he claims in the film, thus dismissing a good 50 per cent of all music. Parry, he goes on, "has a kind of domestic grandeur, do you know what I mean?" A bit like Elbow, then?
* More from Sky News anchor Kay Burley's novel First Ladies. In the interests of getting an approving quote onto the cover of the second edition, I can report that it paints a compellingly plausible portrait of a Prime Minister with a voracious sexual appetite, and of the media-based females queueing up to satisfy it. My suspension of disbelief was disrupted, however, by a passage on page 243, in which Ben Watson, the PM's "uber spin doctor", storms into Millbank, where the news channels have their Westminster studios, to defend his boss on live TV. "Thankfully," Burley writes, "his old mate Adam Boulton [of Sky News] had managed to talk him down before he did anything stupid and they'd headed for lunch instead." The idea of the pugnacious Boulton placating a spin doctor is surely the stuff of fantasy (just ask Alastair Campbell). That said, the bit about him going for lunch certainly rings true.
* Lib Dem peer Shirley Williams might never have entered politics had she not narrowly lost a role in National Velvet to the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor. And female politicians of her generation, Williams tells tonight's In Confidence on Sky Arts, "were brewed from a tougher bone than the present lot – they have much too easily accepted things like being called 'Blair's Babes'." Not that she's much impressed by the men. "My father made me think... the giants of politics were very giant indeed," she says. "I know better now: there are some giants in politics, but there are a lot of dwarves too, and there are quite a lot of dwarves who think they're giants and, forgive me for saying this, but they're almost all men."
* Crispin Mount, this column's Cotswold correspondent, reports the Tory-led District Council remains defiant following claims it spent £19,000 on a "motivational magician" while facing budget cuts of £1.4m. According to The Cotswold Journal, the "Even Better Place To Work Programme" is run by Magic Circle member Shay McConnon, who offered a refund if the council felt its members' wellbeing was not significantly improved. The dogged Crispin intercepted an email to members from council chief exec David Neudegg defending the course. "Mr McConnon was employed as a respected training provider," he insists, "not as a magician – he occasionally uses magic tricks to emphasise learning points."Reuse content