The IoS Diary: A bonus for all

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Lily Allen, Sophie Dahl, Gyles Brandreth – all the hip young things went to Bedales. So perhaps it's not surprising that Johnny Depp, the heart-throb actor, is considering sending his daughter to the liberal Hampshire boarding school. My man at the Cricketers' Inn tells me the Paris-based star has quietly bought a house in Sheet, a village just the other side of the A3. Depp has two children by his partner, the French singer Vanessa Paradis, of which the elder, Lily-Rose, turns 13 in May. This is the age at which pupils can join the £9,000-a-term school. I'm told his friend Jude Law may have recommended Bedales to the Pirates of the Caribbean star, having sent his own children there. It wouldn't be Depp's first association with Hampshire: in 2007 he was spotted in Lymington and various New Forest pubs. Bedales declined to comment.

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In other Bedales news, we doff our hats to former pupil Amanda Craig, who has come out fighting from a spat with ex-pupils of her school. Craig endured a ghastly ordeal last summer, after writing about how much she hated her time at Bedales because she was bullied. This prompted a torrent of abuse from current pupils, who said she deserved to have been bullied. Now, she is re-releasing her 1991 novel, A Private Place, about a school called Knotshead. It is available as an ebook, and if 500 people download it, Abacus has promised to publish it in print format. As the blurb says: "Knotshead is a school catering for the children of the rich, famous, liberal – and deluded. With its progressive curriculum, complacent staff and beautiful grounds, it looks like Paradise. But the clever, the odd and the bookish are relentlessly persecuted as pupils make their own rules in a bubble of privilege and prejudice." Sock it to 'em.

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Who said the Labour luvvy was dead? Patrick Stewart says he is prepared to offer Ed Miliband advice on his presentation skills, even though he backed David to be leader. The Star Trek actor and paid-up Labour member was talking to Sarah Montague in a late-night interview when asked if he would help Ed. "Yes, if asked, I would be very happy to give any advice that I could give to any politician who I admire and respect, and that is certainly the case with Ed." Al Gore said that if he'd listened to Stewart's advice, he would have ended up in the White House. Of Stewart's backing of David Miliband, he said: "It's well known that I campaigned for [Ed's] brother during the campaign." And look where that got him.

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The first president of Zambia made a surprise visit to Devon last week to pay his respects to an old pal. Dr Kenneth Kaunda flew in to Britain to attend the burial of his "great friend", the Reverend Merfyn Temple, a Methodist minister who worked for 30 years in former Northern Rhodesia. The people of Honiton were thrilled to see Dr Kaunda pop into a local tearoom on Wednesday, where he played the piano and had a soft drink, according to the local paper. He then attended Mr Temple's funeral, where he read a statement from the current president, Michael Chilufya Sata. Mr Temple spent years campaigning for freedom in Zambia, and helped Dr Kaunda become the country's first president after independence by giving him a Land Rover. Before that, Dr Kaunda went canvassing by bicycle.

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Peter Mandelson made a brief return to newspaper headlines last week, as the High Court heard how he was thrashed with birch twigs in a Siberian sauna alongside Nat Rothschild and Oleg Deripaska. But it was another of Lord Mandelson's embarrassing friends who sparked some excitement in Davos last night – one of the billionaire Hinduja brothers. A reporter from London newspaper City AM overheard one of the Hindujas say "See you in Delhi" to Mandy. In 2001, Peter Mandelson resigned over allegations he lobbied the government on their behalf: they donated £1m towards the Millennium Dome, and Srichand Hinduja was granted a passport with unseemly haste, though Mandelson was later cleared of any wrongdoing. Who knows what excitement they have planned in Delhi.

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Friends of art critic Brian Sewell are astonished by an attack on him by the former head of the Royal Academy, Norman Rosenthal. After Sewell penned a damning review of the new exhibition at the RA by his friend David Hockney in the London Evening Standard, Rosenthal wrote in to defend Hockney and the show, and called Sewell's review "mendacious and venomous". "It seems a bit off to call a review mendacious, when by its nature a review is an expression of opinion," says one who knows them both. Wouldn't it be fun to see the pair debate the Hockney show on TV?

m.bell@independent.co.uk

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