Pandora: Chalky with your cheese, sir?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rick Stein has unveiled a touching memorial to his Jack Russell terrier and screen partner Chalky. The chef this week flung open the door to his refurbished seafood noshery in Padstow, Cornwall. The centrepiece: a bronze sculpture of his pooch, who died last year aged 17.

It is a fitting tribute to Chalky, and one less likely to upset dog-lovers than the suggestion by the full-bodied Bristolian wine merchant Bill "XXL" Baker.

Bill died in his sleep on Sunday, but before he and Chalky's untimely demises, he appeared on Stein's cookery show and suggested that, when the dog popped it, his owner should mount him on wheels and stick a motor up his backside. BBC viewers complained: "Who is that dreadful fat man?"

Baker was nevertheless resolute that Chalky was "a horrid little dog and vicious too. He was still snarling and going for the ankles at 16". But none of that here. Please charge your glasses...

Miliband? He's a foreigner to us, moan overseas hacks

When David Miliband returns from his overnighter to Afghanistan and leaves his burly minders in the duty-free shop, he may wish to carefully check Whitehall's shrubbery for rocket-wielding members of the international press corps pointing his way.

For the moustachioed flesh-presser has delivered a series of snubs to the Foreign Press Association – the 120-year-old society for the global media's London-based correspondents.

Not only has the Foreign Office – in contrast to other governments – stopped its subsidy to the FPA, but senior members say Miliband has refused to meet them since he took the post seven months ago.

The FPA now has a £100,000-a-year hole in its finances. Creditors are demanding £50,000 immediately. Some members talk of the association having to leave its grand offices at 11 Carlton House Terrace – once home to Gladstone – because of rising rates by the British Academy, which loans the property on behalf of the Crown Estate.

"We are the British Government's bridge of communication to the rest of the world. What will remain of us if he gets away with this?" says an FPA source. "Other European governments help the foreign press in their capitals and welcome overseas journalists. This will be a mark on Miliband's record."

Diplomats, presiding over general cutbacks, did not expect such tenacity. Time, perhaps, for Dave to ditch the sandals, bracelets and tie-dye T-shirts and snuggle up to Johnny Foreign Hack for a cuddle.

Jodie invests in a fine new pair of winners

The earnings Jodie Kidd lost following last year's cocaine exposé – she was dropped by the Marks & Spencer boss Stuart Rose from his advertising – do not appear to have stopped her dabbling in racehorses.

Pandora hears that the lanky, car-loving clotheshorse has just bought shares in two nags in readiness for the flat season.

The steeds, part of the Derby-winning outfit Highclere Thoroughbred, are named Countenance and, pleasingly, considering the model's run-in with the red-tops, Print.

As an owner, Kidd has already tasted the sweet glug of winner's champagne. Last year, her filly Cliché enjoyed a decent season, galloping first past the post at Windsor and earning Jodie a nice sale fee, which will no doubt boost her golf ball fund.

All the best to JG

Best wishes to our most esteemed science fiction writer, JG Ballard, the author of the autobiographical novel Empire Of The Sun, who was once famously dismissed by a publishing house as "beyond psychiatric help".

The 77-year-old was pencilled in to talk alongside fellow storyteller Hari Kunzru at London's South Bank Centre in a fortnight, but has withdrawn owing to ill health. The event has been scrapped, with no plans to reschedule.

Ballard's delicious recent autobiography, Miracles Of Life: Shanghai To Shepperton, ends with him revealing that he wrote the book only because he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer two years ago. He praised his specialist, Dr Jonathan Waxman at the Hammersmith Hospital, for inspiring him.

Save our ass

Residents of the Alpine-esque Gloucestershire village Chalford, whose steep lanes appeared before the motor car, are caught in a delirious bidding war between the Daily Mail and ITV to see which can supply them with their first donkey since the 1950s.

Chalford donkeys used to carry panniers loaded with groceries and coal up the hill. Talk of their return worked editors into a foam to get an exclusive.

"The Daily Mail has descended en masse," reports a villager. "The Mail has offered two donkeys and ITV just the one. But the bidding isn't over yet."

Disturbingly, the hamlet is also the haunt of animal-pickling artist Damien Hirst, whose macabre studio sits down the road. New donkeys, beware.