Pandora: Breakfast with Soames
Friday 14 March 2008
Yesterday's breakfasters at the Goring Hotel, by Buckingham Palace, were treated to a dining spectacle worthy of Sir David Attenborough's hushed commentary. On one undersized table for two sat Little and Large: the slim-Jim prospective Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, and his spherical right-wing ally, Nicholas "Fatty" Soames, whose eating habits concern marine conservationists, and whose acclaimed love-making technique is, in the words of one beneficiary, akin to "having a fully loaded wardrobe fall on you with the key still in".
The porcine parliamentarian's beady eyes swelled upon spotting the establishment's fried feast (£25), which can stretch to four courses – fruit salad and cereal, toast, pastries, then the main event. Soames sat panting at his platter of bacon, sausages, black pudding, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and lambs kidneys. "He suddenly jabbed the fork into a quivering kidney and gobbled the whole thing!" spits a fellow diner, breaking into retrospective meat sweats at the thought.
Respect? Galloway targeted over Iranian 'propaganda'
A scorching row has broken out between George Galloway and Peter Tatchell over their respective special interests – the Middle East and gay rights – with regards to the gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi.
Tatchell accuses Galloway of "mouthing the propaganda of the homophobic dictatorship in Tehran", after the Respect MP claimed on Matthew Wright's Channel 5 talk show that Kazemi's boyfriend was executed in Iran for "committing sex crimes against young men".
Galloway said the uproar over Kazemi's possible deportation from the UK "is being used as part of the propaganda against Iran". He added, controversially: "All the papers seem to imply you get executed in Iran for being gay. That's not true."
Galloway says that he has campaigned against the death penalty in any circumstances. He tells Pandora: "But it is important to avoid that propaganda. There are those who are trying to give the khaki war machine a veneer of pink." He added: "I have an unblemished record of support for lesbian and gay equality. I have condemned homophobia in Iran and oppose the deportation."
Tatchell does not fear the litigious Gorgeous: "George was asked to provide evidence for his claim that Mehdi Kazemi's boyfriend was hanged for sex crimes against young men. He has failed to do so. Moreover he has failed to apologise or withdraw the allegation.
"This shows him to be a politician without integrity or principles. He should either provide the evidence or shut up."
Deportation halted, Page 5
McCall Smith, Curtis and Minghella film faces picket
An off-key footnote to Alexander McCall Smith's jocular No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency novels: the BBC film of the book, adapted by Richard Curtis and directed in Botswana by Anthony Minghella, is to be picketed tonight over the plight of the southern African nation's Kalahari Bushmen, forced off theirancestral lands.
McCall Smith stands accused by Survival International of "portraying Botswana in a very rosy light, when the reality for the Bushmen is very different: one of repression, bullying and persecution".
A screening at the British Film Institute this evening will be visited by protesters, posing a security challenge. "We can't comment on who will attend," says the BFI.
I was blackballed by the Botswanan government last year for covering this issue.
Annie Lennox got into the spirit of the occasion at the National Portrait Gallery's launch of "Brilliant Women: 18th Century Bluestockings & Bryan Adams".
The Scottish former flautist, 53, has sold 80 million records and reportedly amassed a fortune exceeding £30m. "Women still have to work harder than men," she tells Pandora.
"When you go to hospitals and care homes it is women doing the hard work, the drudgery, who are the cleaners, the nurses. Women do the housework – they work behind the scenes and have to do it all and also compete with men."
Noble and true sentiments, and good of Annie to pipe up from the coalface.
At last! A diplomatic incident to get the fromage flying ahead of Nicolas Sarkozy's state visit in 11 days. The French president will address members of Parliament in the House of Lords' gigantic Royal Gallery. Two enormous, bloodthirsty war murals, painted by Daniel Maclise on waterglass, line the 110ft chamber: The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher after the Battle of Waterloo (46ft long, 1859-61) and The Death of Nelson at Trafalgar (1959-65).
* More from Pandora's altercation with Alastair Campell at the Galaxy British Book Awards shortlists. Pando: "Hello, I'm from The Independent." AC: "Are you a diarist? I knew it, you all look the fucking same. Thank God you're not the Standard otherwise I'd have told you to fuck off." Pando, sizing up competition for the biography of the year: "So is The Blair Years better than [Russell Brand's] My Booky Wook?" AC: "I don't know. I haven't read both. Have you?" Pando: "Erm, I've read one." AC: "Which one?" Pando: "My Booky Wook." AC: "Well fuck off then."
Host Richard Madeley's verdict? "Oh, My Booky Wook, definitely."
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