Meyer joins the Tories - but only as a 'walker'

What, then, will the Deputy Prime Minister make of news that his bête noire is to be a star turn at the Conservative Party's forthcoming summer party?

Sir Christopher, pictured, makes a surprise appearance on the list of "celebrity guests" expected to attend the glitzy fundraiser, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on Monday.

As the serving chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, it's a brassy move, since Sir Christopher is frequently expected to preside over politically sensitive PCC rulings.

On Monday, however, he will be clinking champagne flutes with half the Shadow Cabinet. In addition to David Cameron, the guest list includes George Osborne, Francis Maude, Oliver Letwin and Boris Johnson.

Organisers said last night they "weren't exactly sure" how Meyer found his way on to the guest list, but that he paid for the ticket himself. "It's sold out, and we're not really doing freebies."

Meanwhile, the man himself said he was going as a guest of his wife, Lady Catherine. This did not compromise his political impartiality.

"She's a paid-up member of the party, and I will be there in dutiful husband mode," he told me.

"I'm going along as a walker, rather than a Conservative. No one has the slightest inkling of my political allegiances, except perhaps my wife."

* Brian May, who is already the proud owner of a CBE, is on the verge of becoming a doctor, too.

The Queen guitarist a keen astronomer, has resumed work on the PhD he abandoned in the 1970s, when his music career first took off.

Should Imperial College London play ball, his thesis, on Zodiacal dust, will soon be formally assessed by fellow wonks.

"I don't know great details, but Brian mentioned that he was returning to the thesis when we appeared on a radio show together," says science writer Marcus Chown. "He's a very good astronomer, and was kind enough to read my latest book in manuscript form before it came out."

Regarding May's thesis, Chown adds: "It concerns the way that light reflects from dust shed by asteroids. In the past 10 years, this has become very fashionable again."

* Colonel John Blashford-Snell is dipping an adventurous toe into the choppy waters of fashion.

The (endearingly) bonkers explorer has designed a "signature" hat, to wear on forthcoming trips to the Amazon jungle.

It's a hi-tech piece of kit - mosquito repellent, Teflon-coated, refrigerated headband - and will be flogged by London's poshest hat maker, James Lock.

"I've always used a pith hat, until now," says Blashers, when I call. "In fact, one once saved my life: I fell off a mule and cracked my head on a tree. It stopped my skull splitting wide open.

"Thing is, you look silly carting a pith hat on to an aeroplane. So we designed this. Its first trip happens later this year: I'm off to search for an undiscovered meteor crater, in Bolivia."

* Ping! It's an e-mail from Random House, which recently signed a book deal with Ann and John Armstrong, protagonists of the BBC2 show The Armstrongs.

The press release carries a splendid quote from John Armstrong. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank the nice ladies and gentlemen at Random House for giving us money, and also a lot of free books," it reads. "I'd also like to take the opportunity to tell other publishers who offered us a deal that you're a bunch of fucking wankers who wouldn't give Jesus 50 pieces of silver for his autobiography. Well fuck you, and don't call again!"

Over to Random House: "You, and several others, were sent an early draft of the press release, in error," I'm told. "We're mortified."

* My item on Ruth Kelly's failure to attend tomorrow's EuroPride march in London stung the Labour Party into action. Yesterday, Ben Bradshaw volunteered to speak at the gay rights event. He joins Tory Alan Duncan, and Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams.

"We spent months trying to get Labour to send someone, so it's about time," says an organiser. "Ben recently became the first MP to enter into a civil partnership, so ought to be a star turn."

Kelly will remain conspicuous by her absence, however. The Equalities minister, who has never voted for gay rights, is a member of Opus Dei. She must therefore view homosexuality as a sin.