Diary: Vettriano's temazepam years

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The Independent Online

Scottish painter Jack Vettriano has never quite earned the respect of the critical establishment, despite being one of the country's most (financially) successful artists.

But he does share at least one significant cheerleader with the YBA avant-garde. "I know I'm not cutting edge," Vettriano told me at the private view for his new show at London's Heartbreak gallery. "But Damien Hirst's mother is a fan of my work. She's coming here tonight." The exhibition, named Days of Wine and Roses, contains work inspired by the trams of Milan and the yacht clubs of Monaco. In the four years since his last solo show, Vettriano was commissioned to produce portraits of Zara Phillips and Sir Jackie Stewart. Nonetheless, the 58-year-old admits, "it's been four years of soul-searching – nicotine, alcohol, anti-depressants, temazepam – then suddenly the sun burst through and I went back to work. I parted with my gallery, we had some legal issues for a couple of years [and] this is my comeback. I'm delighted." Me, too – I'd almost run out of greeting cards.

* Jacob Rees-Mogg MP isn't scared to flaunt his privilege. In 1997, the (very) well-spoken young Tory canvassed in Labour-held Central Fife with the help of his family's nanny. ("I do wish you wouldn't keep going on about the nanny," he said to one interviewer. "If I'd had a valet, you'd think it was perfectly normal.") Former hedge-funder Rees-Mogg, 41, finally made it to the Commons this year, winning Somerset North East while refusing to give any interviews at all. Now the Register of Members' Interests reveals that the offbeat MP, who reportedly shares use of an "exclusive" loo at Claridge's with the King of Spain, still earns more than £10,000 a month for 30 hours' work with his company, Somerset Capital Management (clients include the Household of the Prince of Wales). Which makes him the best-remunerated member in the region. Nice work if you can get it.

* The new Labour leader differs from his recent predecessors in his exercise habits; Miliband (E) acknowledged this week that he's a stranger to the gym. Exercise has long been viewed as essential for the Westminster elite. Gordon Brown scotched rumours about his health by declaring he was "running three miles a day" during his stint in No 10. Tony Blair was a known gym addict, who once admitted that while watching the somewhat sexualised Eric Prydz pop video, "Call On Me", he "nearly fell off the rowing machine". Jogger David Cameron recently hired Matt Roberts, trainer to the stars. How long before Ed comes to the crunch (and the press-up, and the squat-thrust)?

* She may present The Book Show for Sky Arts, but Mariella Frostrup would appear to be unfamiliar with the work of acclaimed American author Tom Perrotta – or with the film of his novel Little Children, starring Kate Winslet as a frustrated housewife who begins an affair with a frustrated house-husband after they meet at the park and pool where their children play together. This premise is remarkably similar to the one Ms Frostrup dealt with in her most recent advice column for The Observer. Her correspondent continued with the clunkingly familiar tale (using a peculiarly American turn of phrase): "One day the other man and I left the pool due to a sudden rainstorm. We went to my house and while our children were having their naps, we made out. I crave more. Since my husband and I may separate, is it OK for me to have sex with this man?" Happily, Ms Frostrup reaches the same conclusion as the film: "A quick fling is not the solution... when we get what we think we deserve we're horrified to discover how far removed it is from the fantasy." Relationship counselling skills: intact. Literary radar: faulty.

* "People talk about the dominance of Eton," Boris Johnson tells Classic FM. "It's about time that people looked at the spooky stranglehold of Primrose Hill Primary School over politics." Among Johnson's contemporaries at the Camden primary were his journalist sister Rachel; novelist Zoë Heller; director Sam Mendes; actress Sadie Frost and her preferred kiss-chaser, Miliband (D). Miliband (E) was a few years behind. Which Miliband or Johnson boasted the most impressive intellect? "I can't remember," Boris hedges.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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