Pandora: Don't play the PR game with Tebbit

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The Independent Online

Quick, fetch the sous chef! Word reaches us of an almighty culinary row threatening to bubble over between staff at Norman Tebbit's office and an upmarket restaurant, over what appears to be an attempt to rope the former Conservative cabinet minister into a bizarre publicity stunt against his will.

Tebbit, recently reinvented himself as something of a domestic god, releasing an anthology of game recipes and appearing on the BBC's Today programme to offer a demonstration of how to make them. The response has been a general clamour from all quarters – including a request from the acclaimed West Sussex eatery Jeremy's Restaurant, of which, apparently, Lord Tebbit is something of a fan, for him to make a personal appearance. In the event, he was unavailable and staff notified the restaurant's PR team to let them know.

Since then, however, Jeremy's has continued to claim that Tebbit agreed to their offer – insisting that his decision not to attend represents a last-minute U-Turn, and announcing it via a press release headlined "Norman Tebbit not fair game."

Naturally, Tebbit's parliamentary staff are indignant at what they see as an out-and-out attempt to use a retired minister's name. "It's an absolute untruth," fumed one spokesman. "They were very pushy with the offer – they obviously knew it would do them good. But we told them from the off that he wouldn't make it. He lives miles away and by the time he got home it would be well past midnight. It just wasn't practical."

I'm Derek Draper, get me out of here

Reformed attention-seeker Derek Draper continues to resist the spotlight. The former spinner has, apparently, been asked to appear on life-sapping reality show, I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! and – would you believe, it – has turned down the offer. "I'm not sure he's cut out for jungle life," giggles wife Kate Garraway in her weekly column for New magazine. "He hates insects and whenever we go on holiday, the last thing he wants is to rough it. He can't cope without his usual yoghurt and croissants for breakfast!"

Tom's wife has high hopes for climb

Time to reach into your pockets: news of further cash-flow problems chez Aikens.

Last year the heart-throb chef Tom was forced to place his group of London restaurants into administration following debts to suppliers and environmental health problems.

This time around it's Tom's elegant wife, Amber who's having difficulty. She has just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Film Aid charity. After setting herself a target of £10,000 she has so far only raised £430.

"She got to the summit yesterday and now she's coming back down," Tom, pictured, tells us. "It's things like that which teach you what is really important in life. She has a JustGiving page – sponsor her!"

No skeletons under Marr's watch

Andrew Marr spent much of yesterday being berated and heckled at the Labour Party conference for daring to quiz Gordon Brown on whether or not he took prescription painkillers.

But surely we should be praising Marr's bravery? He obviously believes that the personal lives of the British political elite are fair game and will defend that principle whatever the cost. Clearly, those in the public eye with skeletons in their closet should tread carefully.

Kaplinsky seeks out Diversity

What's this? The normally butter-wouldn't-melt newsreader Natasha Kaplinksy appears to have developed a soft spot for Ashley Banjo, chiselled frontman of dance troupe Diversity.

"I met them all when they came into Five news," Kaplinsky tells us. "I get to meet lots of people doing the show, but they were one of the few I actively sought out in the green room. I wanted to meet the handsome one, Ashley, but he was in the toilet when I got to the green room so I had to sit around and wait. He is gorgeous though!"

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