Pandora: Former Sun editor to pen parable of booze

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The Independent Online

David Yelland, the former Sun editor turned high-flying publicist, is to try his hand at fiction. He has announced his intention to publish a children's novel, telling the tale of a boy with an alcoholic father.

Yelland, who now works at City PR firm Brunswick, gave up the booze in 2005, claiming that "it didn't have a good effect" on him, but has, until now, stopped short of discussing his battle with alcoholism.

His book, The Truth About Leo, will draw on his own experience of what he has described as "falling victim to alcohol".

"I was compelled to write it... even though at times it was an intensely painful experience," he told an audience at the Penguin New Talent Evening on Monday.

"I am not the father in this novel. He is the man I nearly was. Some years ago, I realised that I would die if I did not stop drinking entirely and I saw that I needed help."

Yelland won't be the first public figure to turn his hand to children's fiction. Comedian David Walliams recently published a bitter-sweet account of a boy who enjoys cross-dressing, while in 2004 Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife Maria Shriver wrote What's Happening To Grandpa? about a child coping with his grandfather's battle against Alzheimer's disease.

Sir Nick keeps his hands in check

Sounds like Sir Nicholas Winterton has been on the receiving end of a stern ticking off. Total Politics' Amber Elliott spotted the Tory grandee – who was accused last week of slapping Labour MP Natascha Engel on the bottom – having lunch in the Commons press gallery. As he made his way through the crowds, she says, he was seen throwing his hands in the air and chanting: "I'm not allowed to touch, I'm not allowed to touch." Whether it was David Cameron or Sir Nick's MP wife Ann doing the disciplining remains to be seen.

Rankin ranks PM ready for a makeover

Shrewd observers note that Gordon Brown suffers from a slight image problem. Still, it seems that help could be at hand. We hear of one taste-maker who is only too willing to do what he can to help. "I like Gordon," avant-garde photographer Rankin, who recently shot the Prime Minister for a series of portraits, told Pandora at Monday's Destroy/Rankin private view. "I think he is serious. I will be voting for him."

The praise raises the prospect of Brown receiving a high-fashion overhaul in time for the general election campaign. Would Rankin ever consider the project? "Yes, I would. The alternative is so bad. The Conservatives seem to be pretending to be serious, which is what rock stars do."

Don't say you haven't been warned.

Portillo's true blue hues don't wash

To Pandora's mind, Michael Portillo always looks the picture of dandyish perfection. Still (and unfathomable as it may be), the former Tory Cabinet minister-turned-custard cream of British politics complains that he is not always secure in his on-screen appearance.

"You know I am always trying to buy brightly coloured clothes for television," he despairs. "But then you wear what you think is a bold colour and it ends up looking so washed out."

Ah, the perils of prime-time celebrity.

Westwood makes frogs fashionable

Vivienne Westwood continues her conversion from Grande Dame of British fashion to eco warrioress-in-chief. The right-on designer – who sent her models down the runway accessorised with amphibian-shaped cuddly toys at London Fashion Week – is helping to curate a frog-themed exhibition alongside interior designer Kelly Hoppen to raise awareness of the plight of the rainforest frog. Tomorrow evening the pair will exhibit a series of frog-like sculptures at Hoppen's west London studio. So, um, hop along. (Sorry)