Pandora: Bend a book spine like Becks

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The Independent Online

Poor Golden Danglers. England's bespectacled new football boss, Fabio Capello, has dropped David Beckham, stranding him on 99 caps. At least the former captain can bury himself in a book.

Staff in the London Colney branch of Borders – near Arsenal's training ground, where Becks has kept fit – dropped their stacks last week, when the tattooed dead ball specialist breezed in.

"Beckham and his meaty bodyguard were here for ages in the children's section," says a witness. "Beckham bought a job lot of children's books, loads of different titles. Took ages to scan. That was the second time he was in last week, the bookworm."

Becks struggles to complete his son Brooklyn's maths homework, but his biography did win a major gong. This entitled him to visit Dover Street's Arts Club and vote on the books of the year. He requested copies of John Banville, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alan Bennett and the Jung Chang biography of Chairman Mao.

Kershaw finds long-tailed cellmates no joke on the Isle

A rat catcher to the Isle of Man's prison, please. Word arrives from Pandora's lag with the cheesecake-covered file that conditions at the crusty and soon-to-be-redundant institution – currently home to the esteemed world music DJ Andy Kershaw – "would please the Victorians".

An extreme claim, but the details sound unpleasant.

"Do not do anything illegal on the Isle of Man because it is a serious nick," I'm told. "Bloody freezing, the cells don't have toilets, and it is infested with rats. Andy Kershaw has been complaining about the rats, he's got a problem, he's like a Womad version of the Pied Piper.

"Kershaw is doing proper bird and he just wants out."

The DJ, who has extensive experience of staying in global fleapits while pursuing the next indigenous music sensation, was jailed a fortnight ago for breaching a court order. He will be eligible for release in four weeks.

"I've checked with the acting Prison Governor and he hasn't heard anything about rats," says the bastille's cheerful public relations woman. "Though we don't use that word in the Isle of Man, we call them Longtails.

"We have regular visits from pest control because everyone gets them, but there's no specific problem at present. So if any inmate's got a problem they should report it and the matter will be dealt with."

On Tuesday, Manx building contractors handed over the (enormous, iron) keys to the island's new slammer, which is not yet secure. The press release does not specify whether or not its £41m mod-cons include furry cellmates.

Wallop! How the party went Wong for Cavalli

Word arrives of a delightful ding-dong between rival preeners at the Chinese New Year soirée of socialite Andy Wong.

The hedonistic party at London's Dali gallery – already jollified by the presence of naked female door staff – was further enlivened when the fashion designer Robert Cavalli found himself on the receiving end of a fellow guest's boxing moves.

The Italian seamster took umbrage when a couple turned up cradling a baby, who inevitably began to cry.

"Like most of us," a witness explains, "Roberto thought it poor form, not to mention cruel, to bring such a young child to a grown-up bash. He told them so.

"The bloke, presumably the baby's father, was shouting back like a madman. Then he belted Roberto right in the face.

"The guy was chucked out on his ear – but not before poor old Roberto's permatan was smudged."

Dazzling defiance

Julie Christie is considered a shoo-in for the Best Actress Oscar. It will be fascinating to observe how she shares the red carpet with her diamond-encrusted contemporaries.

Pandora understands that, on Monday, Christie will be nominated the first "ambassador" for that scourge of the diamond industry, Survival International, the global charity which aims to support tribal peoples.

It campaigns against the practices of the diamond firm De Beers, whose jewellery hangs off Hollywood enchantresses. Survival accuses De Beers of collaborating with the Botswanan government to push Kalahari bushmen off their land.

Christie is considering wearing Kalahari bush jewellery on the big night.

Golden gains

The news that Ben Goldsmith and his banking heiress wife Kate Rothschild, 25, are expecting their third child has put the skids on their plans to retreat to the country.

Goldsmith, 27, son of the billionaire Sir James and little bro of David Cameron's environmental adviser Zac, forked out £15m last spring for a nine-bedroom pile in Hampshire. But with a tot on the way, the couple concede that their eyes were bigger than their appetite for wallpapering. They have sold up without moving in.

"We're a bit sad," says Goldsmith. "It didn't seem like the right time in our lives to take on such a big project."

On the plus side, they created a large chunk of new native woodland.