William Hague's long and lucrative association with the after-dinner speaking circuit has not ended on a happy note.
The shadow Foreign Secretary was on the books of the London-based agency JLA, where, as an "A-grade" speaker he could officially command one-off fees as high as £25,000. Such profitable pursuits are soon to be a thing of the past, following David Cameron's ruling that all frontbenchers abandon "outside interests" by the end of the year.
Those browsing JLA's website could be forgiven for presuming that Hague, like a typical Yorkshireman, had chosen to cling on to the bitter end. Yesterday, his costly services were still being proudly advertised. An unimpressed spokesman for the politician is anxious to clarify matters when I call. "It is not the first time JLA has done this," he snaps. "William did his last one back in September. They were asked to take him off the but they haven't. I suppose it makes the website look better."
Hague's ability to secure hefty sums predictably left many of his colleagues green with envy. It was mischievously claimed that he could even haggle about his appearance fees while being driven between political engagements.
Despite the obvious tensions, JLA's boss Jeremy Lee is keen to pay tribute to his star client. "It's the end of an era," he tells me. "He is the best speaker on the circuit, and not just out of the politicians. He will be sorely missed. They are very difficult shoes to fill."
Hey, Jude, don't forget number four
*As an eventful year draws to a close for Jude Law, observers uncharitably suggest the dashing thespian could be suffering from an alarming case of memory loss. During his appearance on David Letterman's US show, Law raised eyebrows when he confidently informed his host he had "three" children. You may recall that Law, who does indeed have three kids with ex-wife Sadie Frost, recently became a father for the fourth time, courtesy of a brief but costly liaison with the model Samantha Burke. A mere slip of the tongue, surely?
Prezza finds some wriggle room
While the dust settles after the Copenhagen summit, John Prescott helpfully sheds light on a pivotal moment in backroom negotiations. Prezza assures us he stopped at nothing when it came to getting his message across. "I lobbied John Kerry, Al Gore and the Chinese Environment Minister, Xie Zhenhua, telling them they had to 'wriggle more' to get a deal," he writes on his blog. "The translator fell silent, but when I mimed a wriggle to Mr Xie, he smiled and understood what I meant."
No facelift for Hugh
*Hugh Grant's female fans would be quick to point out that the old boy is weathering rather well. Grant, however, insists there are worrying signs. "In the hotel where I'm staying there is a mirror to the side of the basin," explains the actor, 49. "I was shaving and looked up at it – but my face stayed pointing down. That's a new one."
*Heartening to learn that the Californian climate doesn't stop Paris Hilton from fully embracing the festive spirit. Speaking to Hello!, the celebrated actress – no, stop it – recalls having shiploads of "real snow" delivered and a "mini-mountain" being built in her garden. Personally, I never settle for anything less.