The Feral Beast: A match worthy of Downton

Dining al fresco
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The Independent Online

He is the 22-year-old son of Julian Fellowes. She is the 21-year-old grand-daughter of sex baron Paul Raymond, and heir to his £330m fortune. I can now disclose that, in an unlikely union of posh and porn dynasties, Peregrine Fellowes has moved in with India Rose James. They are living in one of her many Soho properties, in central London.

Despite their families' enviable wealth – Lord Fellowes has made a fortune as the creator of Downton Abbey – both are busy getting on with their careers. Peregrine has just completed a degree in art history at Goldsmiths, and has projects lined up in the world of film. "I'm doing a few assistant jobs," he tells me. Meanwhile India Rose is the "stressed, depressed, but well dressed" fashion editor of Fault magazine, and is dating model Jake Hold.

The two friends are having a great time as flat-mates, enjoying the attractions of Soho, much of which she owns. Raymond opened Britain's first strip club, and went on to make a £600m fortune from pornography and property. He was played by Steve Coogan in the recent film The Look of Love, which drew lukewarm reviews. Peregrine enjoyed more success with a Pinteresque play he put on at the Edinburgh Fringe, though he's taking this summer off. "I'll be up there," he says, "but just to watch."

Flat spin

As a BBC war correspondent, John Simpson, has frequently come close to losing his life. Now he has revealed that, while covering the 2003 invasion of Iraq – when he was bombed by US forces – he also nearly lost his flat in Paris. Simpson has kept a bolthole in the French capital for 14 years, and recalls he nearly lost it to bailiffs when he failed to pay the bills while he was away in Iraq. "I didn't visit Paris from January to April, and neither did my wife," he says. "So we missed seeing the letter from the council warning that if we didn't pay our rates (which we'd forgotten about) they'd come and seize our possessions to the required value. And indeed a Swat team from the town hall duly turned up, armed with a battering ram, to grab their due."

Disaster was fortunately avoided by a neighbour, who called the concierge, who called a friend, who wrote a cheque. Now he pays by direct debit.

Cash splash

George Osborne is getting heavy with Whitehall departments to make yet more cuts, as it becomes clear he won't meet his target to slash £11.5bn of spending. Following a recent scandal in America, where state departments were found to be wasting thousands of dollars on bank charges on dormant bank accounts, The Beast has done a bit of digging in the accounts around Whitehall. And sure enough, some departments are squandering cash on unnecessary bank fees. Easily the worst offender is the Department for Transport, which has frittered £18,600 on charges over the past four years, and last year had seven dormant accounts.

Osborne's department was guilty too: a Freedom of Information request revealed that the Treasury has spent £600 on bank charges this year, after shelling out £506.42 in 2012, on two accounts with a zero balance. It wouldn't make much of a dent in £11.5bn, but every little helps!

Hard times

Duncan Bannatyne is putting on a brave face despite a series of financial and personal setbacks. The Dragon's Den star and gym tycoon fell off this year's Rich List, having seen his fortune dwindle from £430m to £85m in just two years. Earlier this year, he settled an acrimonious divorce from his second wife, Joanne McCue. Perhaps understandably, the father-of-six arrived without a date for a fund-raising dinner in aid of the Terrence Higgins Trust at the Tower of London last week, hosted by Stephen Fry. "I thought the recession could end this year," he tells me cheerily, "but no. So I'm just chilling at the moment, waiting for it to end."

His sabbatical doesn't sound terribly relaxing: he tells me he is currently trying to buy back a loan from the Anglo-Irish bank, after it went bust. He is also writing a book, Riding the Storm, due out in October, and finds time to watch The Apprentice. "I want the one with the eyebrows to win," he says. That would be Alex.

Venetian blind

While the art world clatters around the Venice Biennale, best-selling painter Jack Vettriano says he can't think of anything he'd less like to do. "I have never been invited to Venice and nor would I want to be," he tells me at a London party. "It doesn't bother me in the least. I'm very happy not to be a part of the artistic establishment. I don't even have any artistic friends." The Fife-born former mining engineer has sold more than three million prints of his picture The Singing Butler, though The Guardian's Jonathan Jones once called his work "brainless", and said he's "not even an artist".

Vettriano couldn't care less: "Nick Serota [director of the Tate] is on record as saying he has nothing to say about me or my work. It really doesn't bother me. As long as the public like my work, that's all I care about."

Pippa issue

Racial tension has hit Marlborough, the Wiltshire town where Pippa Middleton went to school. The local Big Issue seller has fallen foul of Waitrose, Pippa's employers, after customers apparently complained of his "Muslim appearance". "Poor Marcel, he was in tears when the suits told him to move on," whispers my man in the bread aisle. "His English isn't very good, but he's completely harmless. Last week, I overheard a customer complaining to staff about him being of 'Muslim appearance'". Marcel was unavailable for comment, but a Waitrose spokesman said: "We have a long-standing good relationship with Big Issue vendors and the magazine's regional offices – although you'll appreciate we can never discuss individuals." Murky waters.

Fingask frolics

As the biggest ever Edinburgh fringe festival is announced, one enterprising troupe is fleeing Scotland to tour England. The Fingask Follies is an annual revue featuring four singers and two actors. It takes its name from Fingask Castle, ancestral home of AndrewThreipland, who founded the show.

Now in its 18th year, the cabaret act has become a launch pad for future talent: past members include Katie Hall, a star of Les Misérables, and Stuart Barr, now Shirley Bassey's musical director, who conducted at this year's Oscars. On Thursday they are at the Polish Hearth Club in London, then it's off to Broughton Castle in Oxfordshire. Fashion designer Chris Clyne has designed this year's costumes, and novelist Alexander McCall Smith has leant his support. Who needs Edinburgh?

Out of the frying pan into the ire

Paul Theroux ended his 15-year feud with V S Naipaul at last year's Hay festival. Now, the travel writer seems destined to embark on a new one. His latest book, The Last Train to Zona Verde, has received a mauling from the New Statesman. In a review headlined "How not to write about Africa", Hedley Twidle asks: "What are you doing here, Paul? Why are you making me rehearse this done-to-death critique of stereotypical versions of Africa?" The lecturer says he'd rather watch clips of Theroux's son Marcel on YouTube. Over to you, Paul.