Diary: On the level... Gwyneth's bare essentials

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The Independent Online

Cook, actor and Earth Mother Gwyneth Paltrow has graced Elle Décor magazine with her list of the "things she can't live without". Cannot. Live. Without. Given that this is an interior design publication, you might imagine Ms Paltrow's selection would be superficial, not spiritual. But you'd be wrong. Granted, it's true that she "can't live without" her De Gournay hand-painted wallpaper, her Charles Edwards star lanterns and the Antonio Lupi Baia bathtub in her bedroom (yes, bedroom). But among her favourite things is also her Juxtaposition Religion Shelf, a shelf with slots of varying depths to hold the Koran, Bible, Tao Te Ching et al, "all at the same level", she explains, "which is how I like to think about religion."

* Naturally, following the riots, politicians have agreed to disagree. The PM's address in Oxon yesterday was rebutted by Ed Miliband, speaking from his alma mater, Haverstock School in Chalk Farm. Known as "Labour's Eton", the school educated Milibands E and D, former MP and mayoral candidate Oona King, novelist Zoë Heller and footballer Joe Cole. In a recent Sunday Times interview another ex-pupil, Tulisa of N-Dubz and the X Factor, claimed of her schooldays: "We used to have police outside every day. Whoever did what they did out of that school bloody well done to them, because when I was there, it was horrific." How so, Tulisa? "People were smoking weed on their lunchbreak on campus... There were kids shagging in the toilets at the age of 12 in breaktime... I started getting attacked by gangs of girls... I used to walk around with a baseball bat or a knife... They would get a bottle, smash it on the floor and happily stab it in your face... You wouldn't tell the police. It was against the code of street law." This sounds like the sort of thing Dave would describe as "moral collapse". (Does it also make Ed a bit more "street"?)

* The riots have given The Quiet Man cause to roar again. Iain Duncan Smith, who once spent an afternoon on a Glasgow housing estate, sees this as an occasion to plug his welfare reform plans. But as the Work and Pensions Secretary tours the broadcast studios of the land, he has not endeared himself to everyone he encounters. Take "BenefitScroungingScum", a guest blogger for disability campaign site The Broken of Britain, who took part in Channel 4's Street Riots: The Live Debate with IDS this weekend. BSS, as we shall call him, is a wheelchair user, so when he was bursting for a pee after the debate, he of course headed for the disabled loo. Finding it engaged, he was forced to wait uncomfortably for his turn. But when the person within finally emerged, who should it be (or so claims BSS) but the able-bodied IDS himself? "Why are you abusing this facility?" BSS (allegedly) demanded. "I've had to wait in extreme pain and discomfort because you think you're above the rules that everyone else accepts!" IDS apologised and made for the exit – but, insult heaped upon insult, BSS claims the minister hadn't even flushed. If that's not moral collapse, then what is?

* Remember "phone hacking"? Nope, me neither. But it seems the managers of Brooks's gentlemen's club in St James's may have longer memories than you or me. No wonder, for the club was founded 250 years ago and boasts Pitt the Younger and Lionel de Rothschild among its late members. According to City AM, however, a certain James Murdoch was nearing the final stages of a two-year application just as said "phone-hacking" scandal hit. The final part of the membership process is a vote on candidates by the 1,400 existing members, and the club accepts gentlemen only "of the highest social order". For some reason, Mr Murdoch's enrolment has been put on hold.

* Bad news for MPs' WAGs and/or HABs: their breath is about to get worse. Word in Westminster is that the present supply of House of Commons Mints (a traditional Christmas gift for parliamentary aides) is dwindling, and that Bendicks of Mayfair, the supplier, is discontinuing its arrangement with the retailers. At time of writing, there are just two boxes left. Loot 'em while you can.