Coe fears British attitude may scupper Olympic bid

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The Independent Online

* As the London 2012 Campaign prepares to hand in its plans next Monday to host the Olympic games, Lord Coe has admitted for the first time that things look shaky for the British bid.

* As the London 2012 Campaign prepares to hand in its plans next Monday to host the Olympic games, Lord Coe has admitted for the first time that things look shaky for the British bid.

The former Olympic runner - who heads the London campaign team - believes Britain's conduct during the Athens games this summer could cause the International Olympic Committee's decision to swing against Britain.

"There was a typically British approach beforehand that said: 'Let's hope they're a failure.' We ran down [the Greeks] day after day and we didn't do ourselves any favours internationally. We were the only country that took that attitude and we did our bid some harm," he says.

Coe himself has lost no time in trying to make up for this by lavishing flattery on the Hellenic games.

"They were very successful," he tells the ePolitix website. "But there were British journalists going out to Athens who couldn't tell the difference between a stadium construction and Lego Land, writing rubbish about how there were six months to go and the stadia weren't ready."

Far be it from Pandora to suggest that such harsh words could be motivated by any last-minute nerves. Lord Coe's relationship with the press has been strained since his affair with the clothing designer Vanessa Lander was exposed in May.

* IT'S FRYING pans at dawn - all over again. The latest chef to bait his competitors into a feud is Tom Aikens, who landed himself in the headlines recently when he accused a diner, who spent £500 at his restaurant, of stealing a coffee spoon. Now he has turned his knives on fellow cooks Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver.

"Gordon is overexposed and Jamie Oliver... well, everyone is just a bit bored of him now. I think people who are always on television destroy their mystique. It is very important to me to keep some things back, to keep a side of myself in the kitchen," he said at the Remy Martin Restaurant awards on Monday.

As his peers now prepare their ripostes, he is setting his eyes on bigger things.

"I have plans to open a second restaurant at the end of next year," he adds. "But only one more. You can't look after more than that properly."

* WITH THREE films running in London cinemas at the moment to rather limited box office success, Jude Law is turning to the theatre where he hopes to play the Dane.

Law's last great London stage outing was 10 years ago, when he appeared naked in a bath at the National Theatre as Michael in Jean Cocteau's Les Parents Terribles . Now he is in discussions with the Young Vic to star in Hamlet .

"Jude is actually a terrific stage actor, so his Hamlet is an exciting prospect," I'm told. "It's also a way for the Young Vic to square up to Kevin Spacey's big theatre next door."

Law's agent confirmed that he is interested, but the Young Vic was reluctant to commit.

"We have talked about it, but nothing has been scheduled beyond next May," a spokesman tells me.

* ANOTHER INSTALLMENT in the sniping match between the usually mild-mannered Michael Buerk and "Britain's rudest man" David Starkey.

Readers may remember that last month, Starkey - a guest at Buerk's book launch - told Pandora that the newsreader is so smug that he'd invented the word "smuggery" to describe him.

Over to Buerk: "David's problem is that he can't resist temptation. You know the whole image of him as the rudest man in Britain only came about because of the Moral Maze . I won't say that it made him, because he was a distinguished historian before it, but it certainly put him in the public eye. I suppose all this must be a gossip columnist's dream."

* It has always been the rebel's choice of abode, but London's houseboat community is losing one of its cult leaders.

Nick Cave - lead singer of the Bad Seeds, currently touring Britain - is selling his houseboat, the Encantada, and shipping out.

"He's getting £385,000 for it, so he's done pretty well," says my man on the quayside. "He's had it moored in Chelsea for five years, but decided he'd be happier by the sea, so he's moving his family down to Brighton."