Hit & Run: A very tall story

Saturday is Valentine's Day, the 20th anniversary of the day Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses. And while enlightened commentators pick over the significance of the novel, the row, and the ramifications for Islam and the West, how is the author coping with this reminder of his near-death experience? Oh, look – he's at a party with a sultry actress.

He's always at a party with a sultry actress. Sir Salman, 61, currently appears on more red carpets and at more charity soirées and celebrity openings than David Walliams, always with his arm round the waist of a considerably younger beauty.

The new girl on his literary arm is Pia Glenn, 32, currently appearing as Condoleezza Rice in a Broadway musical. She towers over Rushdie by several inches, but he does seem to like his companions tall. Aita Ighodaro, the stunning 25-year-old who was his arm-candy at the Cowdray Park polo last summer, loomed over him like a lamppost. So did the 24-year-old actress Olivia Wilde, whom he squired to the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington a year ago; and Riya Sen, 27, the much swooned-over Bollywood actress. His fourth wife Padma Lakshmi, has a few inches on him, so his interest in leggy beauties since their divorce may be a subtle tribute.

Rushdie has always had a showbiz streak ("Salman," Martin Amis once asked him, "do you actually have any friends who aren't famous?") and comes on like a writerly rock star. Remember when he swapped banter on-stage with Bono at a U2 concert? More recently MTV viewers caught him briefly kissing the back of Scarlett Johansson's neck in the video of her song "Falling Down". Appearing (as himself) in 'Bridget Jones's Diary' gave him a taste for celluloid, and he appeared in Helen Hunt's 2007 movie Then She Found Me. Last November, he turned down the chance to appear on American TV in ABC's Dance With the Stars, but it was close.

Top British novelists do not, as a rule, consort with actress-model-whatevers and get their pictures in the party sections of ES and New York magazines. You won't find William Boyd or Kazuo Ishiguro snapped with their hands on the rear ends of leggy ingénues in plunging Dior couture. You won't catch Ian McEwan or Sebastian Barry showing up in the new music vid from Florence and the Machine.

But how foolish to disapprove of such tactics. At a time when book sales are plummeting, and publishers and booksellers struggling, shouldn't writers do everything they can to keep their names constantly in the public eye? Is there any reason why A.S. Byatt shouldn't appear on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here? Why JG Ballard shouldn't guest-star on The Sunday Night Project? Why Sir Tom Stoppard shouldn't appear at the Baftas squiring Eva Delicieux, 24, the unfeasibly tall Brazilian model and "aspiring playwright"? John Walsh

The bonus question is: who else merits them?

If there's one thing guaranteed to unite the wrath of all Britons outside the Square Mile, it's bankers' bonuses. But there are other professions which could benefit from performance-related pay.

Take cleaners. You might think anyone could don a pair of marigolds, but you need look only to hospital infection rates to see the work is harder than it looks. What would happen if cash prizes were handed out for the cleanest wards? Goodbye, MRSA.

Haringey Council's Sharon Shoesmith hasn't done much for their reputation, but social workers could do with an incentive. Surely taxpayers could spare a few pounds to reward staff that pull families from the brink of self-destruction?

Then there's the tax man. If inspectors got a bonus every time they closed an offshore tax loophole we'd get some cash back from the oversized City pay packets. And there'd be fewer of those nauseating Brits who spend half the year in Monaco.

Or what if bonuses were dished out to marriage counsellors for every couple saved from a split? It's a Conservative policy waiting to happen.

And if MPs spent as much time boning up on economic affairs as they did filing expenses, they might have been better equipped to keep an eye on the bankers. So why not swap the John Lewis list for a bit of performance-related pay? Emily Dugan

Is Amazon selling us down the river?

Amazon has just released its second-generation electronic reader, the Kindle 2, and, again, we saps this side of the Atlantic can't get our hands on it without paying international postage. Well, maybe we're not interested anyway. MP3 players are one thing – but you don't make a playlist of books and read six of them on your way to work, do you? And who wants a paperback that's 40 times the price of the real thing? (Still, I'll be at the front of the queue when they turn up.) Tim Walker

Pants that make girls wink

Real men don't wear pink, so they say, but sales figures at Selfridges are defiantly rose-tinted – ahead of Valentine's Day, the London store has sold out of men's underwear not only in pink, but in purple as well. Could this be the latest seduction technique in the male, er, arsenal? "It's great to see British men being more adventurous in 'what lies beneath'," says Selfridges' menswear director David Walker Smith. With traditional machismo getting crunched in the economic maelstrom, perhaps boys are investing their feminine sides to remain in the pink? Harriet Walker

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam