The IoS Diary: With friends in high places
Sunday 16 October 2011
Zac Goldsmith is the second most fanciable MP, according to SexyMP.co.uk. But has someone got carried away with their fantasies? A story reaches me concerning the poker-playing Tory and the gay cruising website Grindr. I'm told that a friend of Goldsmith played a practical joke on him during a recent game of cards, and downloaded the Grindr app on to his iPhone when he wasn't looking. The app alerts other people in your vicinity that you are, ahem, up for it. When he went to the Commons the next day, he was met with astonishment from fellow MPs, who presumably gave themselves away as Grindr users. The only disappointment is that Zac says the story is not true. "This is completely made up," says Goldsmith when I ask. "Love to know where it came from." But my source insists it is true. Why would anyone make it up?
* Poor Louise Mensch. The novelist turned Tory MP for Corby has been hounded by suggestions she's had a facelift, and now says she may stand down at the next election. It seems juggling life in Parliament with bringing up three small children is taking its toll. "It is a giant strain on family life, so I am going to have to think long and hard about what I do at the next general election," she tells the Northampton Evening Telegraph. The remarks will come as a blow to David Cameron, as he struggles to maintain his appeal with female voters. Don't go, Louise – there are few enough interesting figures in Parliament.
* The billionaire Tory donor who claims Adam Werritty "tricked" him into funding his lavish lifestyle, is said to guard his privacy "fiercely" (is there ever any other way?). If so, Poju Zabludowicz might want to start vetting his wife's blog. Anita Zabludowicz is a trustee of the Tate and a big cheese in the art world, who keeps an account of her life on the Zabludowicz Collection's website. Among scintillating revelations about her "blockbuster Summer" [sic] and a visit to last week's Frieze Art Fair, Anita posts pictures of her husband and details of their jet-setting lifestyle. Nor is she shy of a bit of publicity: in July, she invited the Financial Times to visit their Finnish holiday home for a weekend feature, and talked about growing up in Newcastle. "At that time, there was nothing fulfilling me culturally. Just work and discos. I'm very Geordie." Poju may wince, but at least she's honest. She should go into politics.
* At 76, Barry Cryer can safely be called a veteran of the comedy circuit. But he's not the oldest performer in his household. His wife, Terry, has gone back on stage at the age of 79, after reuniting with her former showbiz partner Jackie Hockridge. The pair, who call themselves The Taylor Maids, performed for the Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Hospital last week. "They've known each other since they were at school, and hadn't performed together in over 50 years," Barry tells me at The Oldie Travel Awards, where journalists Ann Leslie and Kate Adie, below, were in full swing. This prompts much flirting from an old friend. "It's good news for me," she purrs. "When Terry's away, Barry and I can play!"
* Perhaps the most disturbing detail of the phone-hacking saga was Rebekah Brooks's friendship with the mother of the murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne, whose phone was being hacked at the time. But there were signs that Brooks had problems with empathy. When The Sun ran the headline "Bonkers Bruno locked up" about Frank Bruno in 2003, the mental health charity Sane complained and The Sun made a donation. Brooks volunteered to be trained for Saneline, which takes calls from people with mental health problems. But while her then husband, Ross Kemp, passed with flying colours, proving himself to be a sensitive and compassionate man, Brooks failed all the tests. "She didn't have the empathy required. She was too directional and didn't have the patience," says Sane chief executive Marjorie Wallace. "Rebekah herself admitted that she was completely unsuitable to being a volunteer. But at least she responded to our complaint, and did it in some style."
* Playwright Edward Bond, 77, lays into the coalition in an essay to accompany the revival of his once banned play Saved at the Lyric, Hammersmith. David Cameron "did not give the looters – even the children – a second chance. He gave that to his editor friend [Andy] Coulson", he complains in "Then, Now and To Be". But in his anger at the erosion of political memory, his own appears to have gone a little awry in likening the PM to "St Francis walking on the water". Er, hang on, wasn't St Francis the one from Assisi who talked to the animals? Walking on water is traditionally attributed to Jesus of Nazareth.
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