Comeback kid Boles heads for Westminster

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The Independent Online

At the end of June, Conservative high-flyer Nick Boles was diagnosed with Hodgkins' disease, a cancer of the lymph system. Told he would need six months of chemotherapy, he had to pull out of the contest against Boris Johnson to be the Tory runner for London's mayoral elections.

Late on Friday night, in a small market town in Lincolnshire, he completed a remarkable medical and political recovery.

Boles shocked doctors by beating the cancer after four chemo sessions. He has subsequently been selected to be the Conservative candidate in Grantham and Stamford, a position vacant since Quentin Davies MP defected to Labour. The Tories won a majority of 7,445 at the last general election and Boles will likely enter Parliament.

Boles, 42, won over the Grantham audience with fighting talk about proposed cuts to the local hospital, Post Office closures and police underfunding. He was applauded for announcing he was gay – this in the town where Maggie Thatcher was born.

"It was my annus horribilis, but I feel the sun has come out from behind the clouds," Boles says, adding that his selection is a symbol of the way the Conservative Party has changed.

He was teased for wearing a tie instead of sporting his usual open neck – pretending not to be a "tieless Tory", the charge laid against young right-wing upstarts from Notting Hill. When he won, he tore off his neckwear. A number of his moustachioed future constituents followed suit. Viva la revolució*.

Blessed is the Britpop cheesemaker

How does it feel to eat me like you do? The Blur bass guitarist-turned-farmer Alex James is making a cheese named Blue Monday.

After his award-winning milk curdling with "Little Wallops" – a mild, lemony goats' cheese wrapped in vine leaves – James, above, has begun production at his farm in the Cotswolds, on a 12-inch, blue-veined fromage.

"Blue Monday" was a 1983 totemic dance-pop number by New Order, memorable for Bernard Sumner's acid-influenced deadpan lyrics. Although this is the biggest-selling 12-inch single ever, the expense of the flashy sleeve artwork meant that every record sold lost money.

Mercifully, James has done his sums, and resisted extending the influence of New Order to pumping his product full of LSD. He is also adding a lamb pudding to his range of fine fare.

Jen takes up bomb making

It's not all Hollywood glamour for Ben Affleck. His wife, Jennifer Garner, turned up alone to her Leicester Square premiere of The Kingdom, an FBI versus terrorist blow-'em-up in Saudi Arabia. She left Affleck in Brentwood, Los Angeles, cleaning up after their 22-month-old daughter, Violet.

"Ben's at home babysitting, and that's just great," she laughed. "We're taking it in turns, and it's his at the moment."

Garner was applauded in the cinema for one scene in which she simultaneously machine-guns and knives several foes. She said she was repeatedly hospitalised for heat exhaustion during the Middle East film shoot.

"We spent a lot of time preparing with the FBI, sometimes even in bomb classes. And then I had to learn how to play basketball."

Modern-day motherhood skills!

Two meals

In the queue for tofu and special fried rice at the Chinese Embassy's buffet: who should glare at Pandora, but the Rt Hon John Prescott? What's his problem?

The former deputy prime minister seemed to be under the impression that he was the victim of queue pushing. He was wasting away.

Prezza was there in his capacity as a British emissary for the Olympics (canapé eating).

An aide was on hand to identify each dish for him – kind but unnecessary, given JP's fondness for Mr Chu's China Palace in Hull.

Royal flush

A mole claims a sighting in the haze of London's Ritz casino: none other than Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Prince Albert of Monaco. A frightening threesome to bump into on any night out!

Tony, friend of the supercasinos and new man-about-town, was in London at the time to flog his memoirs to publishers. Bill was here for meetings and media interviews, while Albert, recently seen fishing with a topless Vladimir Putin, was in the Smoke to open Monaco's new consulate general.

"No, Tony Blair was not in the casino," insists his spokesman. The other two leaders declined to confirm or deny a night hitting the card tables. Perhaps the casino should serve weaker cocktails, but if any eyewitnesses care to step forward I shall invite the statesmen round for a game of kitchen Texas Hold 'em.