Diary: Will Shane bowl Hugh over?

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The Independent Online

Knowing how much he enjoys rabbiting on about his own personal life given half a chance, I'm surprised my old golfing pal Hugh Grant still hasn't offered his public congratulations to Liz Hurley and her new bit of Antipodean rough, Shane Warne.

Indeed, what with another ex, Jemima Khan, also in the spotlight this week courtesy of her backing for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, England's second favourite bachelor boy after Sir Cliff Richard could be forgiven for wondering where it all went wrong. (That's not crass innuendo by the way Hugh, I happen to consider it a fact). Quite what High Street Ken's favourite actor really makes of "Warney" is inevitably open to conjecture. He certainly appeared to have a warm enough relationship with Liz's husband Arun Nayar – after being spotted holidaying with the couple on more than one occasion in recent years. Could such an admirable tradition be continued with her new man, I wonder? The sight of Hugh forcing that winning smile as his mate Shane proudly poses for snappers in his Speedos is an image I'll leave with you.

* Having been excitably hailed as "more popular than Winston Churchill" on the eve of the general election, no one needs to tell Nick Clegg about the fickle nature of fame. Only yesterday, observers noted that the Lib Dem leader cut an openly morose figure as he sat alongside that cocky boss of his at Prime Minister's Question Time. Still, what with those troublesome students, ungrateful MPs and Mr "Look at me, I've got a conscience" Darcy doing the dirty on him, I'm not surprised! (Rumours a man fitting Mr Clegg's description was spotted jumping up and down on a Pride & Prejudice box set in the very early hours of yesterday morning remained, as we went to press, unconfirmed).

Fortunately, I'm assured festive relief is on the horizon for this most troubled of souls. Colleagues say he and his glamorous Spanish other half Miriam plan to head for Switzerland during the Christmas break, where it's hoped ol' Deputy Dawg can finally "get his head together".

I for one don't doubt for a second that the ever-presentable Senora Clegg will set about her constitutional duty with the kind of dedication we would all expect.

* Our Deputy Prime Minister isn't the only one in the wars, of course. If some are to be believed, amiable Tory toby jug Ken Clarke could also be living on borrowed time (please don't take that in a medical sense – I'd hate for this to backfire if the red-faced pensioner is taken from us in the night). Still, while I'm sure his outspoken critic and old university rival Michael Howard would happily don the Grim Reaper's cloak and take a trusty scythe to Ken's political career, the veteran bruiser has long insisted he'll sport a carefree smile come the day his leader says the game's up. Just earlier this year he defiantly declared: "It certainly won't be one of the traumatic moments of my life." So there you are, Dave. If you sack Ken, he won't care. Not one jot. What's more, I'd go as far as to predict he'll have lit up a large one and cranked up the Miles Davis CD before you can even say the words "valuable contribution" and "backbenches".

* Here's a scoop I didn't imagine getting as I hastily departed one secret location yesterday morning. If I were to say that Westminster City Council is packed to the rafters with bloodthirsty Satanists, you might think High Street Ken's affection for mulled wine has yet again taken an unwelcome hold. That, or I'm merely exaggerating for some kind of cheap, sensationalist effect. Both theories would, admittedly, have a ring of truth. That said, my God-fearing men on the street regrettably insist that an "inverted five-point star", historically considered in some quarters to be a symbol of the Devil, currently proudly sits on top of the giant Christmas tree in Berkeley Square. Don't shoot, burn, or indeed sacrifice in any way, the messenger.

* While High Street Ken's critics have suggested he merely writes this column to aggravate people in a "juvenile fashion", perhaps there's more to him than meets the eye? Just this week, I've repeatedly declined suggestions I mention the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is a "dead ringer" for Doctor Who's dastardly alien foes the Sontarans.