Come on, Clare! MPs urge Short to join 'naughty club'

Politicians are not known for their trend-setting prowess. There does, however, seem to be an emerging vogue in Westminster for MPs to flash two fingers at the big political parties (mainly at Labour).

Clare Short became the fourth independent MP on Friday, when she resigned the Labour whip, although she remains a member of the wider party.

Exciting news for the other three independents - Dr Richard Taylor (Wyre Forest), George Galloway (Bethnal Green) and Dai Davies (Blaenau Gwent). They want Short to join their informal "naughty club" - a posse finally big enough, they say, to keep pace with the big guns.

There have been casual talks between the parliamentary outriders about bonding to demand better access to Westminster's inside track. Galloway "welcomes such a liaison".

Davies explains: "Party MPs have an advantage because their whips office gives them the rundown on debates, motions and last-minute changes. We don't have that, so we could miss something important.

"Apparently, you need a minimum of four individuals to demand this information. We need Clare to resign from the Labour Party completely and join us."

He chuckles: "The other party's members are running away. We're the only group in Parliament that's growing."

Adds Dr Taylor: "I'm hoping to meet Clare some time today to see if she will come to sit with us independents in the House. Dissenters are good for democracy."

Lock up the gunpowder!

A righteous kiss seals Young Vic love affair

The grand reopening of the Young Vic on Friday night, after a £12m rebuild, was emotional for the actor Clive Owen (Children of Men).

He met his wife, Sarah-Jane Fenton, there when they played the star-crossed lovers in a 1988 production of Romeo and Juliet. The play toured, and their romance passed behind the stage curtains after three months, in Belfast.

"This theatre has huge resonance," Owen tells me. "It's a fantastic place. Seeing [former artistic director] David Thacker here tonight - he brought us together in the first place."

The evening's "community opera", Tobias and the Angel, was pretty magical, too.

Asked if he'd return to the Young Vic to act, Owen, pictured with Sarah-Jane, replies: "Yes, if I'm asked."

Jude Law told Pandora last month that he was "sorting out the details" about a return to the stage there.

Claudius and Hamlet?

He used to be a sweet boy

Canadian rock band The Dears have offered an insight into the behaviour of the British pop icon (aka Mancunian miserablist) Morrissey, right.

"Opening for Morrissey was a sad sight, man," Dears guitarist Patrick Krief tells the (obscure) Obscure Sound blog, of their US tour with the singer.

"Seeing what success can do... is pretty painful. Being asked to leave the building when he's crossing the corridor or being told not to look directly at him made me sick!" (And revives the spirit of Howard Hughes, the playboy industrialist, aviator and filmmaker, who took to sitting naked in a white chair and defecating on the floor in his later years.)

"Sometimes, it's better not to meet people you admire. The whole band was pretty upset." Morrissey's publicist did not return calls for comment.

Man Disunited

The BBC's recent appointment of Telegraph scoopster Mihir Bose as sports editor isn't likely to heal its rift with Manchester United.

The football club has been at loggerheads with the corporation since 2004, when the Beeb screened Fergie & Son, a documentary questioning the business relationship between United and Sir Alex Ferguson's son, Jason.

A further falling-out seems likely next year when Bose releases his book Manchester DisUnited: And the Business of Soccer. It will document the club's dip of late, as well as its controversial takeover by the Glazer family.

Don't expect Bose's debut act in his new job to be the Beeb's first interview with Ferguson in more than two years.

Scarlett's story of cock and bull

Scarlett Johansson pricked ears last week by saying she regularly undertakes HIV tests, even though she's been in a "steady" relationship with fellow actor Josh Hartnett since last year. Perhaps her diligence has more to do with a penchant for body piercing.

Pandora spotted Johansson in the West End at the weekend, sporting a pierced septum adorned with a "bull ring". No primary historical sources suggest the Tudors were enthusiastic about such garb; presumably it will be removed for the filming of The Other Boleyn Girl, in which she plays Mary, sister of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne.

Elizabethan earring-wearers such as Shakespeare aside, piercings were not popular in the royal court until the days of Prince Albert. And the less said about his body jewellery, the better.

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