The Feral Beast: Gwynnie flies to Mozart

Never drops Blair from its jaws
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The Independent Online

Uh oh. If we were the sort of gossip column that cared about celebrity couples, we might try to find significance in the snubbing of her hubby Chris Martin by Gwyneth Paltrow.

In an email to followers of her lifestyle website Goop, she revealed how she spent an 11-hour flight listening to anything but Coldplay. We are given the full playlist, which included 27 tracks by everyone from Mozart to Vampire Weekend, but nothing by her husband. She says she "had to fast-forward through four or five totally rando tracks". Surely Coldplay wasn't among them?

Bremner outdoes Iannucci

The current outpouring of candour from former New Labour spinmeister Alastair Campbell has produced yet another nugget. As the IoS revealed last week, the ubiquitous Campbell became entangled with Armando Iannucci, accusing him of joining the "establishment he claims to deride" by accepting an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours list. Iannucci replied by suggesting "it's probably more establishment to order your army to march into other countries for no reason", which maybe wasn't up to his usual standard. But chatting to Campbell the other day about the new volume of his diaries, I learnt that he has an illustrious ally. Rory Bremner, no less, turned down an OBE from Tony Blair in 2007 because he felt satirists shouldn't accept honours. Imagine the stink had he accepted it.

House music

Mischievous music fans with a few million to spare should snap up Garsington Manor, outside Oxford, which has been put up for sale. For 20 years, it was home to Garsington Opera, which has moved down the road to Wormsley, the Getty family estate in the Chilterns, but kept the name. Now, after the death of Leonard Ingrams, his widow, Rosalind, has decided to sell. She is planning a final series of concerts in the grounds, over three weekends starting next Sunday, with a lieder recital by tenor Mark Padmore as a grand finale on 15 July. The manor comes with an illustrious history, having been home to Lady Ottoline Morrell in the 1920s, whose guest lists included Aldous Huxley, D H Lawrence and Cecil Beaton. Leonard was the brother of Richard Ingrams, ex-editor of Private Eye and still a leading mischief-maker. Now that The Oldie, his latest venture, makes so much money, why doesn't he buy it and start a rival Garsington Opera? That would wind up the Gettys.

Silent comedy

Why did The Guardian take so little interest in the big story of the week – the revelation that Jimmy Carr has avoided paying millions in tax through a legal offshore loophole? The story led news bulletins and made the front cover of several papers, but The Guardian consistently buried it away. Could this have anything to do with the fact that GMG, the company that owns the supposedly left-wing paper, is no stranger to nifty offshore arrangements itself? In 2008, GMG bought the magazine company Emap through companies based in the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg, which, as it admitted at the time, could mean avoiding UK tax should it ever sell. And last month? Sure enough, GMG sold part of Emap, since renamed Top Right Group, for an estimated £175m. No wonder it's keeping quiet.

Arty Clark

Sotheby's chairman James Stourton is standing down to write the long-awaited biography of Kenneth Clark. The late art historian, famous for his TV series Civilisation, was the father of philandering Tory MP Alan Clark, and called his own father a member of the "idle rich". In his memoir, Another Part of the Wood, he described how his father shot all winter and gambled in Monte Carlo all summer. On one occasion, a guest on his new yacht said she liked it so much she would do anything to have it. "Anything?" said his father. "Yes, anything." So he named the enormous sum that would make the vessel hers, and handed the yacht over, there and then, and left for a hotel. Clark also recounted how his mentor, the art historian Bernard Berenson, made a healthy income by making favourable attributions to paintings owned by the rich. But Clark, who became director of the National Gallery, has also been accused of naughtiness: in 2003, two other former directors, Neil MacGregor and Charles Saumarez Smith, hinted at a conflict of interests between Clark's private and public buying. And Brian Sewell, the art critic, has called him "possibly the worst director the National Gallery ever had". Sewell also says there is a "question mark over how he dispensed patronage to artists during the war". Murky waters indeed. Good luck, Stourters!

Word play

The Isle of Wight is not the only performance venue to suffer in the downpours. A new play at the Royal Court in London was previewing last week, its title in big neon letters across the front of the building. But what, wondered puzzled passers-by, was this daring new oeuvre Birhtday? It should, of course, have read Birthday, the latest play by Joe Penhall, but it was raining so hard that, when the blokes who erect the signs turned up, they decided to lean out of the window, instead of climbing a ladder and getting soaked. Only the next day, when the rain stopped and they ventured outside, did anyone spot the howler.

Decor Styles

Harry Styles, he of boy band One Direction, is not just a pretty face. As my picture reveals, he is also a fan of brown furniture, and was buying chests of drawers at an antiques fair at Kempton to kit out his new flat. Antiques dealer Nigel Worboys, who snapped him, tells me Styles is part of a trend among young people favouring the old over the new. "I run a campaign called Antiques are Green, and Harry was happy to support it," he says. "I've noticed a big increase in a younger, more style-conscious customer buying antiques. Antiques are green because they're a renewable product." True, but we suspect the fans are still more interested in the face.

Spicy stuff

A new book about Porfirio Rubirosa, the five-times married racing driver and polo player, is titled The Irresistible Mr Wrong. Written by Jeremy Scott, a colourful Seventies ad man, it's billed as a "serial biography" of the women who married Rubi, including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Barbara Hutton and Odile Rodin. In the introduction, Scott says he wants to find out why women fall for scoundrels, and offers this explanation: "Providence gifted him with a singular and outstanding attribute ... In the 1960s, the giant pepper grinders brandished by waiters in fashionable trattorias were named 'rubirosas' ... His third wife, Doris Duke, states that the appendage was 'much like the last foot of a Louisville Slugger baseball bat' ... It had the nickname and reputation toujours prêt." Ooh la la! Scott has himself been married four times. Makes you wonder what they call pepper grinders now.

Rooney runes

Paul the psychic octopus was the toast of the 2010 World Cup. Now, a sheep sanctuary in Shipley claims to have found his successor. Curly, the Swalesdale ram, has correctly predicted the results of England's matches so far, by choosing between feed buckets with footballers' pictures attached. So what about today's match against Italy? "He's picking an England win," says our woman by the feed bucket. And the score? "He doesn't say."