Cameron scores own goal over his footie credibility

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The Independent Online

* There is an intriguing footnote to David Cameron's childish spat with Gordon Brown, over who is the "proper" England fan.

Both men returned from Cologne this week, and promptly started accusing each other of hijacking the World Cup for political ends.

The Scottish Brown was accused of snubbing normal fans by watching from a VIP box. Cameron (pictured) for his part, was dubbed a "Johnny-come-lately" who "faked" his interest in the beautiful game.

Splendidly, the latter accusation seems to hold water. For Pandora was passed details yesterday of an interview between the Tory leader's office and the East London Advertiser, published before the last council elections.

In it, Cameron's aides are asked what football team he supports. The answer printed: "not specified".

"We were doing a profile, but his spokesman kept evading that particular question," says the reporter responsible. "I said it'd be good publicity for his wannabe councillors in the East End, and she eventually went to ask.

"A few minutes later, she came back and said: 'He doesn't really like football, so doesn't have a proper team'. So we left that bit blank."

Last night, Cameron's office insisted their man was an Aston Villa fan, saying his uncle, Sir William Dugdale, is a former Villa chairman.

"We're not going to lie and say he watches them every Saturday," they added, "but we all get more interested in football when England are playing." Quite!

* Keanu Reeves has certainly got brawn, but he's never previously enjoyed a reputation as a rigorous intellectual.

Strange, then, to discover that the Hollywood star is a dedicated fan of London's greatest living highbrow, Sir Tom Stoppard.

During his visit to London this week, Reeves made undignified efforts to secure tickets to Stoppard's new show, Rock 'N' Roll.

"The entire run's totally sold out, so we had to put Keanu on the waiting list for returns," says a box office source.

"His people were livid, but there's nothing we could do. There were oodles of other celebrities in front of him, so he had to wait his turn."

Others who queued in this manner include Yoko Ono, James Purefoy, and the Sunday Times editor John Witherow.

"It was a bit embarrassing," says a Royal Court spokesman. "But we did eventually manage to get Keanu in."

* Ozwald Boateng, the angry young man of Savile Row, is spitting feathers at the decision to kit England's footballers out in Armani suits.

"It's just disgraceful," he tells me. "The World Cup is all about pride, and English tailoring is famous around the world."

"I could understand if British tailors weren't good enough, but that's not the case. No disrespect to Armani, but we should be sending players off feeling as good as possible about their country."

Boateng was speaking at the opening of an exhibition of Pele photographs at the Getty Images gallery on Wednesday.

"I wasn't approached for the job," he added. "But I can't understand why they didn't ask someone like Paul Smith."

* The breakfast TV presenter Kate Garraway is making laudable efforts to avoid the honorific: "auto-cutie."

In advance of her return to the GMTV sofa on Monday - she's enjoyed a three-month maternity break - Garraway has decided to dye her blonde barnet back to its natural brown. "I did it a couple of weeks ago, because I was feeling maternal," she tells me. "This is my natural colour. Don't you think it makes me look earth-mothery?"

Garraway was speaking at the launch of The Future of the NHS, to which psychotherapist husband Derek Draper has contributed a chapter.

"Originally, I thought this might make me the first non-blonde to have presented GMTV," she added. "But there's been at least one other: Lorraine Kelly."

* Tony Blair's losing his hair. He's got a dodgy ticker. Now, the Prime Minister's bad back has become a hot topic in the tea-rooms of Westminster.

Austin Mitchell - one of Labour's "awkward squad" of MPs - is suffering from muscular problems, and recently hobbled into a physiotherapist to have them sorted-out.

"It turned-out that this woman has also been treating Tony Blair," says a chum. "There's a picture of the PM on her desk; apparently he needs to be manipulated about once a week.

" Cherie is also a customer. In fact, the physio claims to have been a lot more successful treating her. Tony has recurring problems with slipped discs, and Carole Caplin isn't around to help out any more."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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