At last: Gordon's book of heroes has a conclusion

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The Independent Online

* Gordon Brown popped up earlier this month to promote Moving Britain Forward - a weighty selection of his speeches billed to enforce his credentials ahead of the battle to become PM. What news, though, of the Chancellor's long-delayed literary opus, Courage of Heroes?

Brown began writing the book - profiles of 10 people he admires for their "extraordinary bravery and self-sacrifice" - in 2001. He was reported to have finished it the following summer. But there's been no sign since.

However, a source at Brown's publisher, Bloomsbury, says that 1 May 2007 has been discussed as a possible release date: "It isn't concrete, but they've been looking for a date for ages and that is what was discussed. They have been told it'd be good timing for him."

Indeed - if, as expected, Tony Blair resigns around May's council elections. Like Blair's resignation letter, "Gordon's book is on the system. We just haven't decided when to release it yet," says a Bloomsbury spokeswoman. JFK penned a similar tome in 1957.

The roll call of those Brown admires for "not taking the easy option" includes Todd Beamer, a passenger on 9/11's Flight 93 who overpowered hijackers, and the Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under military house arrest.

Others are the Swede Raoul Wallenberg, saviour of Jews from the Nazis, and Eric Liddell, the God-fearing Scottish Olympian who refused to run on Sundays.

They all share great moral integrity and have suffered lengthily for a noble cause. Sound familiar, Mr Brown?

* Actress Samantha Morton, who plays the Moors murderer Myra Hindley in tonight's Channel 4 drama Longford (about the peer's campaign for Hindley's release), is "apprehensive" over the reception it will receive.

"I just want it to air now," she says. "It could be difficult - there will be questions like 'Should it be on the television?'

"Whether people like it or not, though, I hope they watch it, because the sentencing of paedophiles and murderers is such a timely issue. Perhaps Hindley's case shows when 'life' should mean life."

Speaking after Save the Children's Marilyn Monroe celebrity auction at Ronnie Wood's Scream gallery, Morton said she was relieved to walk away from her character.

"I tried to understand her. I listened to tapes and learnt to mimic her voice. I spoke to people who knew her and read her letters. But I have no sympathy for her."

* Mojitos aplenty at the Westminster launch of George Galloway's latest work, the Fidel Castro Handbook, on Tuesday night (Islamic comrades excepted).

"I sent Fidel a copy of the book in hospital, but no, he hasn't got back," said Gorgeous, puffing on a Cuban (cigar). "I expect he will be pleased with it."

Galloway, pictured with the Cuban president, earlier addressed students at the London School of Economics. "I made my joke about the 'special relationship' between the US and the British government being the same as the special relationship between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton," he grinned. "It turns out Miss Lewinsky [an LSE student] was in the audience. I apologise!"

I enjoyed a "journalist cocktail" (poisoned?), and have since had a headache. If this column has a different byline tomorrow, you'll know what's happened...

* Senior climate boffins at Southampton University's School of Ocean and Earth Science (home to a £20m research programme on the dangers of rapid climate change) have upset colleagues by flying private jet to a conference in North Carolina - the environmental equivalent of drowning kittens or taking a JCB digger to the 18th green.

"We feel betrayed," says a co-bigwig. "It's a damn disgrace. The hypocrisy makes my blood boil."

A limp response arrives (by e-mail, not jet) from the uni. "Some people will not agree with the choices we make," it concedes, adding that the flight allowed a cheap face-to-face meeting.

Nobody is suggesting they should have rowed there in a rubber dinghy - but who's the mystery benefactor?

* "Pandora Put Down", reads a slightly alarming subject heading in my inbox. On closer inspection, the doomed creature turns out to be pensioner Sylvia Armour's Siamese cat.

Talk about having a bad week: Pandora, 16, was first of all barred from her local pub, The Washington in Hampstead, north London, which she frequented tied to a lead. Days later she suffered breathing problems and visited the local veterinary practitioner for some sleeping assistance.

Pandora was "lovely, gentle, clever and friendly", according to Mrs Armour, and "used to purr with pleasure" on her way to the watering hole.

Replies the pub's landlady: "Staff were getting sick of untangling the cat's lead from the chair legs. Sylvia is a character. She once bought the cat a vodka."