The Feral Beast: Rod's other life in the book world

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Singer Rod Stewart's "naughto-biography" does little to diminish his reputation as an energetic old man, who has fathered eight children and married three wives. But one detail the 67-year-old rocker has omitted to mention is his family connection to the great travel writer Colin Thubron. When Rod was 17, his then girlfriend became pregnant, and he persuaded her to give up the child for adoption. Their daughter, Sarah, was passed between various care homes until she was five, when she was adopted by Gerald and Evelyn Thubron, a brigadier and his wife from East Sussex. They already had a grown-up son, Colin, who went on to write major works on China, Russia and Europe, and is now president of the Royal Society of Literature. For her first 18 years, Sarah Thubron, now a carer, had no idea who her biological father was, despite having a poster of him on her wall. While for many years they didn't see each other, they now do have a relationship. Meanwhile, her brother Colin couldn't be less like Rod: he waited until he was 71 to get married, two years ago.

Secrets of the caravan

Among those in on the secret of Jimmy Savile's revolting behaviour, as long ago as the 1980s, was Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange. Interviewed in 1987 by a young journalist who now works on this paper, Burgess brought up Savile for no apparent reason, referring to him as "that disgusting man". When challenged, Burgess replied that he'd heard (but couldn't prove) that Savile spends his time luring young girls into his caravan to have sex with them. Because of libel laws, the story never appeared, but was firmed up last week, when the widow of Savile's former driver said the late presenter would cruise the country in a mobile home accompanied by young girls, and would signal for her husband to leave him alone with the words: "Go and get a cup of tea." "I couldn't say how many [girls]. It was all over the country every time they stopped," Lucy Garbutt told the Daily Mirror.

Call for Akers of the Yard

On the subject of Jimmy Savile, an interesting late possibility has emerged as a candidate to look into the BBC's treatment of the peroxide perv. Sue Akers, who steps down this month from the helm of the Met's continuing Operation Weeting into phone hacking, has told friends she would enjoy nothing better than to look into the culture of sexual harassment and indecent assault that seems to have been treated so larkily at the corporation. Word was that the Oxbridge types at the Beeb wanted a QC, and an announcement is said to be imminent. A source at Scotland Yard says: "If they really wanted to get to the bottom of it, they'd put Sue in. She had plenty of experience of all that in her early days as a copper, but I'm not sure they do." Even more reason to give her the job, then.

Shut that door

When Sarah Brown announced she was writing her memoirs, she promised it would be "very personal", prompting industry sources to say it could be worth a six-figure deal. However, several major publishers were said to have turned it down, finding her account of life at No 10 "disappointing". When Behind the Black Door did finally come out, reviewers struggled to find kind words, with one calling it "unobservant, imperceptive and dull". Now, 18 months on, I understand a big pile of them has turned up – at Poundland in Eastbourne. "The book's title certainly promises a lot," says my man in a mackintosh. "Behind the Black Door is an adult movie starring Ron Jeremy and Ebony Ayes. Sarah's book isn't quite so exciting."

We're only here for the art

Spotted shopping at the Frieze Masters art fair was one Hans Rausing, the billionaire Tetra Pak heir. It's the first time he has been seen in public since he narrowly escaped going to prison in August over the drug-overdose death of his wife, Eva. I understand he has been in rehab since he was arrested while driving erratically round south London, which led to the discovery of his wife's body rotting beneath binbags at their Chelsea home. "He looked much healthier," says my source, "and was clearly there to look at the art rather than to socialise. He was alone, except for a male minder." Rausing was charged for preventing the burial of his wife, but avoided a jail sentence thank to his barrister Alexander Cameron, the PM's elder brother. He explained that his client had "committed this offence when, as Shakespeare would have put it, the balance of his mind was disturbed".

Bafta winner's gift for jealousy

Adam Deacon, the Hackney-born star of Kidulthood, saw off competition from Old Etonian pretty boys Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston to win the Bafta for Kidulthood and Anuvahood earlier this year. In an interview at the time, he lamented that he was always being asked to play drug dealers or criminals, and said he'd like to break new ground. "What you have to understand," he says, "is that I'm an actor. OK, I'd have to work hard to get into, say, a Victorian role, or a Shakespearey role, but I'll do it." Now, I can reveal he is to star as Othello in a new film adaptation of the play. He will play a promising rock musician on a present-day west London housing estate. His Desdemona will come from Little Venice, and have very right-wing parents, who disapprove of he marriage. "I'll do whatever it takes," he said back then. "Look at Ray Winstone. There's an actor who's stayed true to himself his whole career. I admire that. No reason why I can't go the same way." He'll go far.

Stiff upper lip

Kirstie Allsopp says that every time she appears on TV, someone sends her a tweet telling her to "Shave off the 'tache". How rude. But as she explains, the dark mark is in fact chloasma, a condition pregnant women can get from spending too much time in the sun. "I have these brown spots from having children," she explains. "This one on my top lip looks like a moustache." So now she is campaigning to raise awareness of the condition, reminding women on Twitter always to wear a hat and cream. As she says, "You have to get something out of every negative experience. If you know something and you are in a situation where there are 250,000 people you can impart that knowledge to, you have a responsibility to do so. Otherwise, what the hell is the point of being famous?" Quite.

Sloane, sweet Sloane

Thirty years after co-writing The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook, Peter York has come a step closer to becoming a Sloane himself. The former style editor of Harpers and Queen used to live in some splendour in a house in Marylebone. Now, he has moved to a ground-floor flat on the Pimlico border with Chelsea, within loafer-throwing distance of Sloane Square. "I'm still getting used to having neighbours above and below me," he told me at an event at Annabel's to launch Nicholas Coleridge's new bonkbuster, The Seductress. "But it's good for parties."