* Labour's Ian McCartney has suggested that MPs donate a single day's salary (£165) to the 140,000 low-income families whose savings for modest Christmas treats have vanished with the £40m collapse of the Farepak Christmas club.
One man has taken a public stand against the pint-sized Scot's charitable suggestion. Ed Vaizey MP - appointed to the Tory front bench this week with the arts portfolio - may henceforth be known as "shadow minister for misery".
"I won't be making a donation," declares Vaizey, above, on his blog. "Why single out Farepak? Where do you draw the line?"
McCartney's idea "is typically Blairite, implying that one is somehow heartless if you don't give to Farepak". He adds: "I don't feel guilty," and says he makes an annual charitable donation and offers charities prizes of lunch in the Commons.
Nearby Oxfordshire Labour MP, Andrew Smith, who is among those making a donation, begs to differ. "When MPs are calling on banks and retailers to donate, our call has more force when we do so ourselves," he says. "It is going to be Christmas, after all."
Vaizey becomes the first nominee for Pandora's inaugural Spirit of Scrooge Award. From now until 21 December, I will gratefully accept the names of particularly miserly public figures (e-mail address at the top).
The winner will receive a single humbug, delivered in person by Ann Widdecombe dressed in an Agent Provocateur Santa's Naughty Helper outfit.
And may Vaizey get a lump of coal in his stocking.
* All hail the (Stephen) King of horror! The gruesome novelist, on his first promotional visit to the UK for a decade, entertained the crowd at his book launch on Wednesday by "jamming" with the Brixton acid house/ blues band Alabama 3 (left).
King's singing and dancing are not quite as nasty as his gore-thirsty writing.
His latest offering, Lisey's Story, charts the sometimes-homicidal intent of over-zealous horror fans.
Might it be written from experience? I hear that one excitable devotee at a signing on Oxford Street (attended by 1,200 fans) refused to leave.
"This Geordie girl didn't make the cut-off, so threw herself at an organiser, screaming, 'I've come all the way here from Newcastle! I've brought Stephen's grandchildren toy hedgehogs. Let me in! I need to speak to him!'"
Says King's publicist, diplomatically: "In the book, the hero novelist and his wife have a term for the 'loosely wrapped' fans, which is 'deep space cowboys' - you know, out on their own somewhere.
"Stephen naturally says that none of his fans are like that."
* It was probably not one of Kaiser Wilhelm II's strategic goals during the First World War. Nevertheless, his U-boats made importing American Vogue hazardous, and led to the establishment of the British edition in 1916.
For an old bird, she's looking pretty good. There was a starry line-up at Hyde Park's Serpentine Gallery for Vogue's 90th birthday. Kate Moss even graced guests with her presence for 15 minutes. That's 39 seconds for each occasion Vogue has boosted Moss's career by putting her on its front cover. Such gratitude!
I hear the British fashion elite is not exactly flocking to support the flagship new fashion academy for 16- to 18-year-olds in London. The newly crowned Designer of the Year, Giles Deacon, comments: "Sorry, I've never heard of the thing. What's that? I have no idea what you're talking about."
Another canapé, waiter!
* Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has his own blog but is less than keen on his people receiving verse from the outside.
One year ago, his Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council banned western music from the airwaves "to eliminate trite and violence". Last month it cracked down on high-speed internet downloads. There are chinks in the firewall, however, through which Iranian music fans seek... Radiohead.
Music website Last.fm has 142 Iranian users, and the band is by far the most listened-to artiste (47 fans), outstripping U2, the Beatles, B B King, and the more traditionally popular (in lifts and shopping centres) Eric Clapton and Kenny G.
But Radiohead? Can this be downbeat propaganda planted by the CIA?
* Bhajis, samosas and, er, cups of traditional English tea with digestive biscuits at the House of Commons on Wednesday, for the grand launch of the 2007 "Bollywood Oscars" - which, will, somewhat improbably, be held in Yorkshire.
The Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, made an impassioned speech about Indian cinema: "It is wonderful. I thoroughly enjoy Bollywood films."
"But which ones, Tessa!" I hear you cry, on your way out of the door, coat half-on, arm pointing in the direction of the nearest "Videosyncratic" store. A prolonged, awkward silence: "Um... um... um... Can I take your number and get back to you on that one?"
Bless Tessa: her colleague calls back at 10pm with the answer. The Bollywood film to have left the most lasting impression on her is Lagaan (meaning "land tax", apparently). The plot revolves around the exploitation of poor Indians by a British Victorian colonial, and culminates in a cricket match.Reuse content