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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most