Diary: Nighy horses around

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The Independent Online

Another sorry tale of a frisky celebrity mounting something they shouldn't, I'm afraid. Bill Nighy, who has been in Cambridge since last month filming a new spy thriller, Page Eight, with Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes, was reprimanded by the local authorities after engaging in a spot of illicit horseplay. Cambridge University's scurrilous student newspaper The Tab alleges that, during a break in filming, the mischievous star, 61, spotted a sculpture of a horse in the grounds of Jesus College and decided to try straddling it, with a crew member filming his antics for posterity. Before he could get his leg over, however, he was chastised by an irate college porter, and so scuttled sheepishly away.

Mr Nighy was unavailable for comment, though my sources inform me that undergraduates caught attempting the same manoeuvre are banned from the university bar and formal hall for an entire term. These Hollywood types, eh? They think they can get away with anything.

* That old tease Andrew Neil enlivened the social networks of Westminster yesterday with his cheeky tweet that the "rumour mill" was "grinding" about a "Senior Lib Dem scandal". Those aware of the party's past brushes with tabloid notoriety will know it's time to turn to this column's favourite Estonian (I only know the one) for signs as to which of his former colleagues should expect a busy weekend – when Neil suggests the other shoe will drop. Lembit Opik, star of my notional sitcom Anyone But Lembit, is a trusty weather vane at times such as these. He steadfastly assured the world's media that Charles Kennedy would survive the coup that cost him the leadership. He subsequently served as Mark Oaten's campaign manager, and we all know how that turned out (though we may not care to recall). Finally, he switched allegiance to the star-cross'd Simon Hughes. And when The Telegraph came knocking for David Laws, it was Lembit who insisted there was no question of the then-Chief Secretary resigning. There's also, of course, the unfortunate tale of the shoplifting Cheeky Girl. Brillo's keeping schtum. Lembit, give us a clue!

* Still, whoever Lembit backs next can be safe in the knowledge that Lib Dems frequently find their way back from disgrace. The New Statesman suggests that Laws, for instance, is turning down any invitations beyond mid-March in anticipation of his return to government. Meanwhile, Mike Hancock MP, famously partial to attractive Russian personal assistants, is rebuilding his reputation in his role as chair of the Health and Social Care Standing Committee. Why, only the other day he won new friends by announcing to the committee that they would be allowed to drink coffee during sittings: a historic first for a Public Bill Committee.



* Like a two-footed tackler grinning innocently at the ref, Jamie Redknapp must have hoped he'd got away clean from the Sky sexism row. But mud sticks, and the ex-footballer has now been caught on camera advising (would you credit it?) his six-year-old son to, in the Keys/Gray vernacular, "smash it". The damning footage comes from a new ad for the Nintendo Wii, and Redknapp appears to be referring to a football-based videogame. But still, Jamie – not in front of the children.

* An unexpected winning bid at the Chinese for Labour Chinese New Year charity auction on Tuesday evening. Derek Simpson – former Joint General Secretary of the Unite union, and alleged member of the Awkward Squad – paid £450 for signed copies of Tony and Cherie Blair's memoirs, A Journey and Speaking For Myself. Who knew he was such a fan?



* Roger Daltrey, I'm frankly devastated to report, plans to give up rock singing. "I've probably got two or three years left," says the Who frontman, now 66. "I'll start painting then... I [already] do a bit of daubing in my spare time." Having observed the artistic endeavours of his fellow rockers Paul McCartney and Ronnie Wood, I can't say I'm on tenterhooks.



* BBC political editor Nick Robinson tells Today that Communities Secretary Eric "Extra" Pickles is "the sort of man who doesn't just cross the road for a political fight. He would sprint across a six-lane motorway..." Now that I'd like to see.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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