Pandora: Balls and Bercow ready for a festive party piece

Rudolph, fetch those reins! Someone is striving to be a very good little boy this Christmas.

The chap in question is the new Commons Speaker John Bercow, who has taken the unprecedented step of throwing open his official residence to host the annual Westminster Kids' Club party. The move is in contrast to his predecessor Michael Martin who, we are told, rarely invited MPs, let alone their offspring, into his abode.

"We usually hold it in the members' dining room but this year John suggested his house," explains the event's organiser, the Labour MP Keith Vaz. "His kids have enjoyed the party so he asked me whether we would like to use his house for it. It's very kind." Kind is the word. Included in the evening will be an in-house bouncy castle and, that enemy of soft furnishings, a chocolate fountain.

Not only will the occasion – which raises money for the child poverty charity World Vision UK – mark the first time that the Speaker's house has been used as its venue, it will also be the fifth time that the Schools Secretary Ed Balls, has played the role of Santa Claus.

"Ed is a fixture," chuckles Vaz. "We have considered others – Frank Dobson has the beard and Tom Watson the shape – but Ed simply refuses to give it up."

No surprise there, then.

Porter picks white Christmas wedding

*Bad news for Lucy Porter's legions of male admirers. The winsome comedian is to marry her boyfriend of two years, fellow comic Justin Edwards. "We are trying to plan it for December," Porter tells us. "It might be a fool's errand. It's actually a terrifying thought, being a bride. People say, 'Oh, it will be easy for you. You are used to being the centre of attention'. But that doesn't make it easier." Porter recently won Celebrity Mastermind with a record-breaking score of 35. Her specialist subject was Steve Martin. Watch out!

Opik, the MP as good as his word

*Ever the crusader for noble causes, Lembit Opik added his voice to the outcry over Kate Moss's remark that "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" (honestly, a model who diets! Who could have thought?), promising to lodge an Early-Day Motion in the Commons condemning it. And lo, the famed seducer of pin-thin pop stars made good on his promise. Yesterday, an EDM emerged, requesting "that in future due care and attention is taken by celebrities in the fashion industry when commenting about weight". Ms Moss, take note.

Did Victoria snub Marks and Sparks?

"It was to be a gathering of national treasures," says Victoria Wood in this week's Radio Times, of a recent Christmas advert in which she was asked to appear. "I said, 'No, I'm not going to do it then, thank you very much.' I just don't like it at all. I think it's very limiting. It's meaningless."

No word from Ms Wood's people on what the advert in question was for Marks & Spencer, incidentally, has just become embroiled in controversy over their annual festive plug, starring national treasures Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and Jennifer Saunders. Critics claim it is sexist. A lucky escape for Victoria?

Rowling returns to literary roots

*Never let it be said that JK Rowling has forgotten her roots as an unpublished writer in search of a break. We're told that the world-famous author who, so the legend goes, began work on her phenomenally successful series of Harry Potter novels while tapping away on a manual typewriter in a small Edinburgh café, could be seen over the weekend tapping away on a laptop in a small Edinburgh café. "She looked a bit like a student finishing her homework," says my mole. Plus ça change...

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific