The Feral Beast: Daft Punk? Never even heard 'em

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The Independent Online

Liam Gallagher is reported to have said he could have written Daft Punk's No 1 single "Get Lucky" "in an hour". Which is odd, given that when I caught up with him at the Soho Hotel on Thursday, he told me he had never even heard it. Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories is predicted to topple Oasis's Be Here Now to become the fastest selling album in the UK, following its release last Monday.

But Liam's not bothered. "It's not about chart battles," he tells me at the playback of his band Beady Eye's new album, BE. "Daft Punk are Daft Punk. I've not heard them. I've never heard anything by them ever. It's not my scene, man. I'm into guitars and soul music, stuff like that." Liam behaved like a proper rock star all evening, ordering £17 tequila shots and strumming an air guitar during the playing of the album. And he couldn't resist getting in the standard-issue dig at his brother Noel when I asked him to describe the album. "It's an upper. It's definitely not a downer. There's no sad stuff on there. I don't put fucking downers on it. I leave that to Our Kid."

Hairy moment

Jo Johnson, David Cameron's new head of policy, is widely billed as a less spunky version of his brother Boris. But nothing could be further from the truth. At a recent party, Johnson Minor was standing with his sister Rachel when the journalist Bruce "the Brute" Anderson bowled up. Ever the charmer, he turned to Rachel and remarked upon her faintly downy upper lip. "Och, lassie, you'll be wanting to shave," he boomed, at which point Jo bridled and said: "Do you want me to hit him Rake?" Rachel declined as she is rightly quite proud to be a baby-blonde baffona. Still, good to know Jo responded in the traditional alpha manner.

T'ai chill

Keanu Reeves was pictured relaxing with a glass of champagne over lunch on a yacht at Cannes last Sunday. But he tells the Beast he champions alternative forms of therapy, having spent time in the East. "I think we could all learn a lot from t'ai chi," he tells me at the preview of Man of Tai Chi, the first film he has directed. "If only the world practised it each day. Especially the saying that your greatest enemy can be your greatest teacher, because you get your energy from learning from your mistakes." The 48-year-old star of The Matrix and Point Break spent 105 days filming on location for the Chinese-backed movie, which was made simultaneously in three languages, Mandarin, Cantonese and English. "We even had to survive filming during a hurricane in Hong Kong to make it!" he says. "A typhoon hit the island and we couldn't even fly. We were stranded for days."

Fashion crime

Greek millionaire Demetri Marchessini admits he was the anonymous author of an advert in The Times, attacking its journalist Rachel Sylvester. Following my item last week suggesting the 78-year-old boulevardier had paid for the ad, signed "Neanderthal Caveman", he writes to confess it was. Marchessini recently gave £10,000 to Ukip, but has caused much hilarity with his views on fashion. In 2003, he wrote a book arguing women shouldn't wear trousers, supported with lots of pictorial evidence. When I telephone to ask what his wife makes of his views, he reveals that she is guilty of trouser crime. "Yes, she wears trousers to play golf, or to do work in the house," he admits. "But never when we go out." And what of his four daughters? "They wear trousers when they want, but when they see me they wear skirts," he says. "Otherwise they get a good clip round the ear." How enlightened!

Hytner's blag

Sir Nicholas Hytner has admitted to using his title to get preferential treatment. The outgoing director of the National Theatre tells the Jewish Chronicle he initially considered turning the honour down, but now rather likes it. "I realised that I wouldn't have the moral strength to refuse it without letting everyone know about it," he says. "And then I realised I was actually rather thrilled." Indeed, he admits he once used the title to get upgraded on a flight. "I tried it on with British Airways, hoping for an upgrade. It worked – and I was so embarrassed, I never tried it again."

Blushing Auntie stays mum

John Humphrys was named Broadcast Journalist of the Year at the London Press Club awards, in no small part for his excruciating interview with George Entwistle, which finished him off as director-general of the BBC. Newsnight reporters Liz MacKean and Meirion Jones were awarded Scoop of the Year for their investigation into Jimmy Savile, which the BBC was too squeamish to run. Normally, when BBC journalists win prizes for the corporation, a global email is sent round congratulating everyone for their hard work. On this occasion, no such email appeared.

The drifters

GQ magazine offers a rather different assessment of Humphrys – it lists him as one of 10 journalists "who are not as influential as they think". Others include Liz Jones, Peter Hitchens, Jon Snow and Robert Peston, which is confusing, given that not so long ago, GQ named Peston "commentator of the year". It also offers a list of the top 10 most influential hacks, which includes Ben Goldacre, recently dropped by The Guardian, and Jeremy Paxman, widely ridiculed last week for savaging an astronaut on Newsnight. His line of questioning included suggesting space would be "boring", and asking "You're just drifting around, aren't you?" Still, GQ knows best!

Kenny Everett – a gag a minute

Kenny Everett's domestic arrangements were always known to be somewhat eccentric – he moved in with ex-Red Army soldier Nikolai Grishanovich and his wife, and they were later joined by a Spanish waiter. Now, a biography of the late comedian relates some of the scrapes they would get into. "Nikolai would leave him tied up and go out," recalls friend Francis Burton. "He used to come and visit me. Three separate times I remember the phone ringing and there was this 'uuuggh urrgh'. It was Kenny, bound and gagged. I'd say, 'Nikolai, you've gone too far.'" The book, Cupid Stunts: The Life and Radio Times of Kenny Everett, by David and Caroline Stafford, goes into eye-popping detail, but makes some hilarious observations. "Thankfully, Kenny was an early adopter of the push-button tone-dial phone with speed-dial facility. Even if he was tied up and hanging from the ceiling, as long as the phone was in reach, he could get through to Francis with one toe."

Bonnie has the right stuff

Bonnie Wright is the latest Harry Potter actor to make her stage debut. The 22-year-old, who played Ginny Weasley in nine Potter films, will star in Peter Ustinov's The Moment of Truth at the Southwark Playhouse next month. It coincides with Daniel Radcliffe's return to the West End, cast by director Michael Grandage in The Cripple of Inishman. Wright is the daughter of Sheila Teague and Gary Wright, better known as the jewellers Wright and Teague. She is the second of the Potter child actors to brave the professional stage: Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have yet to try it.