Hit & Run: From hired to fired

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The Independent Online

The machinations of celebville are as turbulent as the intrigues of a bloodstained Renaissance court this week, with Madonna cast as Henry VIII and her personal trainer, Tracy Anderson, as the unfortunate Cardinal Wolsey.

Anderson, who claims to be able to shrink the body of any woman to that of a ballet dancer's through a punishing regimen of two hours workouts six times per week, was instrumental in helping the 51-year old singer get back into (very enviable) shape after two pregnancies, a hernia and a riding accident. But after three years, the singer has let her go.

"Tracy Anderson is my saviour," Madonna said earlier this year. She was recommended after sculpting famous friend Gwyneth Paltrow to perfection, but word is Anderson brought too much "personal baggage" with her. Roughly translated, this means she was too self-interested to subdue her own career prospects in the face of Madonna and the Divine Right of Celebs. It's a scenario often faced by the star makers and famous faces of the tabloids and gossip mags: losing your best staff to the bright lights is an occupational hazard. And unfortunately, celeb-spotters are more familiar right now with Madonna's sinuous forearms than they are with the tune of her current woeful single – cue Anderson's fall from grace.

Stylist Rachel Zoe found herself in a similar situation, when her skinny cohorts – or 'Zoebots' as they were known – deserted her in droves. Having shrunk most of Hollywood to a size double zero, the press were suddenly more interested in Zoe herself rather than her clients' clavicles, and it all proved to much for the power-hungry (and probably just generally hungry) Mischa Barton and Nicole Ritchie. Zoe now has her own website and reality TV show, while still dressing the likes of Anne Hathaway and Cameron Diaz, who must be safe in the knowledge that they're famous for more than just being thin, so there's no danger of being eclipsed by their staff.

When a celeb's valet gets more attention than their vocation, you know they're no longer in the ascendant. Britney Spears' former assistant Alli Simms is launching herself as a popstar, and spilling the beans along the way; Cherie Blair knew when she had to dispose with Carole Caplin; and Claudia Schiffer turned on her chef, who used a quote from the supermodel on the front of her new recipe book, by suing her into bankruptcy and out of the celeb-o-sphere. It isn't quite the beheading that Wolsey got, but Henry also took his fancy house off him first, because it made him look cooler. Tracy Anderson better watch out: mortals who mess with the gods always come a cropper in the end. Harriet Walker

Does being free mean falling Standards?

Gone are the cries of, "Get yer Evenin' Standard 'ere," from the capital's street corners. Yesterday, for the first time, vendors were thrusting London's "quality" evening newspaper into people's hands without demanding their pocket shrapnel. So what do the punters think? "I'll start getting the early edition every day," says Victor Maxwell, 69, a taxi driver, in Kensington High St. "I'd normally just drive on by at midday, and wait until later. But this is great, saves me a lot of hassle."

As ever, Londoners are acutely conscious of their purse strings. "I generally don't trust newspapers, but when thelondonpaper shut I considered it a big loss," adds Damian Sinclair, a 58-year-old communications technologist. "That said, this is passing the time nicely while I wait for a friend.

How are they are going to fund it? God only knows." Others observed that the new freesheet – which yesterday boasted 68 pages – had managed to maintain its quality, despite sacrificing its circulation revenue. "I like the news journalism, though I'm less keen on their showbiz stuff, but you can't complain about the overall standard," says Mary Jones, a 49-year-old office manager.

However, Becky White, 28, a publishing assistant, was less enthusiastic. "I wouldn't go out of my way to get one if they weren't just throwing them at passers-by – and the litter is going to be atrocious." Rob Sharp

And the bride wore fangs

Alex Reid – cage fighter, cross-dresser and Jordan's fiancé – will be glad to hear that Woolworths online is stocking a Halloween outfit designed with him in mind.

For just £39.99 he can slide into a replica of his wife-to-be's bridal gown from her 2005 wedding to Peter Andre. Called "Glinda", the dress can be accessorised with tiara, wig, false eyelashes and fangs, which cost extra. Think Bridezilla meets Bride of Frankenstein.

Some might consider Halloween as a time for traditional scares: vampires, werewolves, ghosts. But these days you're likely to find yourself face to face with a rather more topical monster come 31 October.

Last year, masks featuring the face of that inexplicably popular grotesque Sarah Palin were all the rage. This year, why not try dressing as a bloodsucking sub-prime mortgage broker, a Michael Jackson "Thriller" zombie, or, most terrifying of all, John and Edward from The X Factor? Tim Walker

Why 10 days is the greatest escape

When it comes to taking a break, it seems there is such a thing as a perfect 10. It's not the size you have to be to slip into a halterneck bikini though – it's the number of days that holidaymakers have decided is the perfect amount of time away from home. TUI, the owner of holiday purveyors Thomson and First Choice, has reported a 64 per cent rise in customers booking 10-day vacations, wisely choosing them over measly weeks or extravagant fortnights. I'm a big fan of the 10-day break – it's enough time to escape the stresses of real life and feel relaxed, but not long enough to go completely feral and forget how the office email works. Heaven forbid that should happen – how would you earn enough to afford the next trip? Rebecca Armstrong