Bedtime stories with Boris: healthy fun for all the family

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The Independent Online

Boris Johnson isn't a full-time buffoon. He also finds time to be: an MP, a journalist, the Tories' London mayoral candidate. And now: a children's author.

Bozza has penned his own picture book due for release by HarperCollins next month: The Perils of the Pushy Parents: A Cautionary Tale.

It is a castigation of the middle classes; a cautionary tale, in verse, about young Jim and Molly Albacore. "Their lives were not entirely cushy: their parents were so very pushy."

At the risk of spoiling the plot, the publisher's blurb reads: "Mr and Mrs Albacore will do anything to get their offspring to the top of the pile. Father reads great literary works to them before they are even born, and puts them down for Mensa at five. Mother is not content unless her darlings are the star of every show.

"Molly and Jim are happiest eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and watching telly."

Sound like any parents you know?

Does this fit with David Cameron's mantra that the Conservatives are the party of aspiration? In the cafes of Bozza's native Islington, his hardback may go down like lead shot in a macchiato.

Delightfully, Johnson, left, has also chosen to illustrate the book himself.

"It's not political, it's more a cautionary tale, really," says a spokeswoman for HarperCollins. "The [line] drawings by Boris are excellent – he is very talented." Let's be kind and say that the cover artwork is inconclusive.

Bedtime with Boris! Um... errrr... That's a different story.

Keith's lofty plans for his film on the Pharaoh

There has been a surprise guest in the public gallery during the inquest into Diana's death: the rowdy actor and one-time pharmaceuticals hoover, Keith Allen.

Allen is fronting a feature-length documentary on the inquest which he hopes to show at next year's Cannes Film Festival.

"It's a belter," says Allen. "You wouldn't believe what's going on in that courtroom. I've already been to the Pont d'Alma tunnel and the Villa Windsor in Paris."

I hear that the man behind the programme is the dreadlocked controversialist Victor Lewis-Smith. "They are filming the day-to-day evidence," says a source, "and interviewing Mohamed Al Fayed a lot to get his take on it."

Allen has previously interviewed the Fuggin' Pharaoh for a 2005 documentary, You're Fayed! They both support Fulham.

When contacted, Lewis-Smith grunted: "I'm busy. Talk to Keith."

Keep your popcorn, Harvey

Samantha Morton's pregnancy has its unexpected bonuses. The Oscar-nominated actress, who plays Ian Curtis's wife, Deborah, in the Joy Division biopic Control, was unable to attend the film's New York premiere because she expects her second child in January.

Morton was famously vetoed by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein from being the leading lady in The Brothers Grimm, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger – reportedly on the grounds that, in Weinstein's opinion, the characters would not want to have carnal relations with her because her arms were too porky.

So take a guess which porcine studio boss should pick up the American distribution rights to Control! Morton is "not bereft" about missing out on sharing her popcorn with Harvey.

Van man

The human rights group Liberty recently hired a "mobile billboard" (a lorry with an enormous poster on the side) to drive about, protesting against the Government's rolling extension of "anti-terror" laws.

Right to protest? The professional driver, just there to pick up his pay cheque, was stopped by no less than 12 police officers, and detained for an hour while his truck was searched with a comb and he was interrogated about "demonstrations".

The plod used stop-and-search powers granted under anti-terror legislation.

Hunting down Tony Blair

I don't want to accuse the Blairs of lacking community spirit, but they have ignored a string of kind invitations to socialise with their Connaught Square neighbours. "We invite them to our meets but they never reply," says Duncan Macpherson, the Joint Master of the Connaught Square Squirrel Hunt. His hunt was founded after the ban, which outlaws dogs chasing squirrels. Instead, the hounds and libertarians chase a sock on a rope. "The Blairs would enjoy the exercise, companionship and honest exchange of views."

Sadly, the welcome does not extend to the Squirrel Hunt's ball at Banqueting House on Thursday, to be attended by Richard Hammond and Vernon Kay. The Blairs are barred. "They would add tawdry glamour, but the Security Service would have to background check our guests and I'd be disappointed if half of them didn't have something to hide. Also, the presence of so many loaded guns in the hands of non-country folk would make people a bit twitchy."

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