Diary: Novel approach to fashion

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The Independent Online

Rappers who act, actors who paint, writers who design fashion lines: here at the Diary, we always appreciate a renaissance man. Hence our delight at learning that Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, has created a summer range for the Canadian clothing brand Roots. One of the chapter headings in his 1991 novel reads "Shopping is Not Creating", but the RootsxDouglasCoupland collection is all part of an ongoing artistic mission, the 48-year-old writer-designer explains, to "explore a new way of seeing Canada". The items in the line look more wearable than they sound: the "Coupland Gesture Beaver T-Shirt" and "Glowing Beaver Lines Tee", for instance, are colourful but inoffensive garments. "Summer isn't really a silhouette-creating season", Coupland told the Toronto Star (a statement that may have baffled us at the Diary, but certainly earned Coupland the respect of this newspaper's fashion department). He would, however, be keen to "do some knits" should the collaboration last until autumn/winter.

* Prison doesn't work too well after all, or so suggests the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke. But might he merely be shielding Whitehall residents from sharing the prison showers? In response to a written question, Clarke revealed that thefts and lost property from Her Majesty's Prison Service in the last 12 months totalled more than £250,000, so HM Prisons are – shocker – vulnerable to criminality. Less spectacular, but perhaps more surprising, was Clarke's disclosure of 232 thefts or losses within his own department, including 13 missing PCs, 78 laptops and 23 BlackBerrys. Oh, and 14 items of "removable electronic media", such as CDs or USB sticks. If you have them, and especially if they contain sensitive information, do email us at the above address.

* Never let it be said the Conservatives exempt themselves from cost-cuts. It seems a leaflet used by Tory candidate Theresa Smith during the general election campaign has been resurrected for today's by-election in Bloxwich West. Featured in the list of reasons to vote for Smith is "investment in schools", but anyone with eyes can see that the first two words of the sentence, "£200 million", have been redacted with not-quite-black-enough ink. The leaflet appears in a gleeful blog by Labour MP Tom Watson, who recently described the Education Secretary Michael Gove as (what was it again?) "a miserable pipsqueak of a man" – for his bungled cuts to the schools budget.

* Another day, another Mel Gibson tape. A new snippet of the star haranguing his ex has been leaked online, in which he allegedly adds to his previous, barely printable insults with the epithet "wetback". Diary wonders what a filmmaker has to do to turn Whoopi Goldberg against him. Roman Polanski ( Chinatown) had unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, fled the country, then boasted about it to an interviewer. Whoopi told her fellow presenters on US TV's The View that, well, it wasn't "rape-rape". On top of that racist, misogynist tirade, Gibson ( Braveheart) is being investigated for alleged domestic violence. Whoopi explained: "You can say [Mel]'s being a bonehead, but I can't sit and say that he's a racist." "Bonehead" doesn't quite feel adequate to us. But then The View is daytime television.

* On Tuesday we heard from Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Lib Dem opposition leader on the Cotswold District Council (37 Tories, five Lib Dems, two Independents), who told us that, thanks to his obstructive Tory rivals, coalition tensions remain in his 'hood, and we should report it. We insinuated, we admit, that Mr Hodgkinson might be a bit of an attention-seeker. So his ally, one Crispin Mount, has emailed to demand some balance to our coverage. Hodgkinson, he writes, "really shook the old guard up as he's the youngest member at 48". Among his achievements are some YouTube videos revealing microchip implants in Cotswold bins. Meanwhile, Mount goes on, the Tory cabal who "wield the real power [are known as] the 'Committee of Public Safety' as per the French Revolution, as they have just issued a decree that means my bins won't be lifted if the lid is partially open". Balance restored, we hope.