The Feral Beast: Hillary's feast feeds rumours

Even the claws are chocolate

Only weeks after Hillary Clinton stood down as Secretary of State, speculation is mounting that she has her sights on the White House for 2016. With Barack Obama obliged to stand aside at the end of his second term, the chatter in wonk circles is that she plans to throw her hat in, even though she will be 69. I can disclose that Alec Ross, one of Hillary's closest aides, gave a dinner for Democrat-supporting British politicians in London earlier this month. Ross was senior adviser to Clinton on innovation during her four-year tenure as Secretary of State. Guests at the dinner, held at a private members' club in the West End, included MPs from all parties and a smattering of celebrities with Democratic sympathies. "The issue of running for office didn't actually come up," whispers my man clutching the silver cloche. "But it's safe to say Mr Ross was testing the water for support of Hillary's possible nomination." Hillary has so far maintained a Boris Johnson-style coyness when asked about her presidential plans.

Self keeps it Strictly private

John Sergeant was a surprise hit on Strictly Come Dancing, thanks in part to his porcine build. So were producers hoping to find another unlikely star when they asked Will Self on to the show? The erudite novelist and thinker is not known for his dance moves, but has a striking figure, being 6ft 5in, gaunt, and whippet thin. I can reveal that makers of the hit BBC1 show were desperate to sign him up, but failed to persuade him. A new series is planned for later this year, but no names have yet been revealed. My source tells me producers were hopeful they could secure Self, but negotiations broke down at a late stage. It's thought there was some unhappiness over the pay structure, whereby the size of the fee depends on how far through the series the contestant lasts. Self is typically laconic when I ask about it: "I think they once asked me. I've been asked to do most of that celeb reality horse shit – but always declined. Obviously."

A pussycat bow for Hodge?

Writer Damian Barr has enjoyed a glittering career since he was signed up by The Times straight out of university. His latest book, Maggie and Me, a memoir of growing up in Thatcher's Britain, is being tipped as a big read of this summer. The book isn't published until May, but I gather film executives are already eyeing it up for the big screen. The question is, who would play Margaret Thatcher? Meryl Streep set the bar impossibly high in The Iron Lady, and Greta Scacchi, Maureen Lipman and Andrea Riseborough have had a crack. Barr tells me his preference is for Patricia Hodge, who once played Mrs Thatcher in a stage play. "And Anne-Marie Duff for my mum," he adds. What about for himself? "Some brilliant child actor, as I'm a kid for most of it." The only obstacle to international stardom could be the film's title. Maggi & Me is already a hit fantasy comedy in Singapore.

Boyd's dramatic surprise

William Boyd only got round to writing his first play last year, saying he had "finally managed to get this monkey off his back". Longing, based on two short stories by Chekhov, is currently at the Hampstead theatre in London. Though one reviewer felt it "struggles to achieve dramatic impetus", Boyd can't get enough. "I'm loving it, I must say!" he tells the Beast. "I've seen it a dozen times now. Can't stay away." So much is Boyd enjoying his new life in theatre, that he has begun a new play. Boyd is better known for his novels, which include Brazzaville Beach and Any Human Heart, but started as theatre critic for his university magazine at Glasgow in the 1970s. "A lot of my friends are actors, and I've always been stage struck," he told this paper last year. "I've got the theatre bug" he tells me now. "Another play is on the stocks."

Toynbee fury makes the news

A gripping spat broke out on Friday night between left-wing columnist Polly Toynbee and Daily Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher. It began when Toynbee accused his paper of not reporting on cuts to benefits. "Telegrph [sic] NEVER tells readers truth re benefit cuts," the Guardian columnist Tweeted. Mr Gallagher promptly hit back, accusing her columns of being "repetitive, leaden & hectoring", and saying "you are starting to sound like the crazy person on the bus". It all rollicked along to Fleet Street's delight, finishing with a demand from Toynbee that the Telegraph "print my col". Mr Gallagher's silence suggested to some voyeurs that La Toynbee had had the last word. But Mr Gallagher clearly had other plans. Yesterday's Telegraph ran a story quoting the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith saying he is not seeking to cut the welfare bill further. On the front page, no less.

Wossy wonders who's the Lady

Jonathan Ross is tickled to have received an email from Amazon addressing him as "Lady Susan". "That is officially my new nickname," he declares on Twitter. It prompts the question – which Lady Susan is receiving Wossy's emails? Let's hope it's not Lady Susan Hussey, the Woman Bedchamber to the Queen, who is also Prince William's godmother. More likely, as the comedian lives in Hampstead, it's Susan Garden, Baroness Garden of Frognal, Hampstead. One can't help feeling Wossy, with his schoolboy humour, would enjoy meeting the Lib Dem peer – she's formally styled The Right Hon The Lady Garden.

One Justin or two?

Justin Hawkins – remember him? The gangly shrieking frontman of The Darkness is back, but with less swagger. Speaking to Q magazine ahead of a UK comeback tour, he admits he was thrilled to be once immortalised at Madame Tussauds, even if they got him wrong. "I was just happy to have one, really," he says. "What was a bit 'off' is that I had to wear – well, my waxwork had to wear – a weird scarf, because there's a join at the neck that would normally be concealed by a collar or something like that. I would never wear a scarf because it would be impractical – it would end up in my guitar strings." As to whether it's still there, he is doubtful. "I imagine that they've melted it down and made it into somebody that people would actually pay money to look at," he says modestly. "You could make two Justin Biebers out of me."

Arabella doesn't see the joke

Arabella Weir tells me she has mixed feelings about modern comedy, and worries that some of it is needlessly brutal. The author of Does My Bum Look Big In This?, who made her name on The Fast Show, tells the Beast that "a lot of modern comedy is cruel". "The comedy of 'today' is the comedy of embarrassment," she says. "I do think Ricky Gervais is a genius, but you're not laughing, you're mainly cringing." She adds: "Then there's stuff that's ludicrously slapstick, like Keith Lemon and you think to yourself – 'that's not sophisticated'." Whereas bottoms...

m.bell@independent.co.uk

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Geography Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We require a teacher of Geogr...

HR Assistant / Human Resources Assistant

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: An HR Assistant / Human Resources Ass...

Talent Community Coordinator

£Neg + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Talent Community Coordinator is nee...

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little