Pandora: George's unhappy clappy bus
Friday 18 April 2008
I fear the Brotherhood in London's East End is not as considerable as George Galloway hopes. The Teddy Bear of Tower Hamlets has a surprisingly happy clappy election campaign, touring atop an open double decker bus with balloons and reggae-type music. A voter writes: "For weeks now, [expletive] George Galloway and his [expletive] so-called Respect bus have been trawling the streets of Shoreditch interrupting my peaceful afternoons with George blaring away on his bloody megaphone and his relentless music.
"You can't tell what he's saying, it's just screeching. The only word you can make out is 'Respect', which he screams intermittently as he cruises through residential streets. It's a poor man's carnival float."
Indeed, when Pandora called George yesterday afternoon, he was treating residents to stentorian loudhailer sermonising. "We do this during sociable hours. We're sorry if some people are upset."
Cherie hits the road to help publisher out of a bind
It could be so arid as to leave the mouth parched and eyes rolling – or, contrastingly, the most sumptuous political memoir for decades. Indiscretion will be all, and we can't measure that until October. In the meantime, having accepted a reported £1m advance from Little, Brown to write her memoirs, Cherie Blair learns that there's more to it than packing Leo off to school and single finger-typing bitchy comments about the old neighbours.
Mrs Blair snuck in to this week's London Book Fair to gladhand global publishing dignitaries, in what industry sources describe as an attempt by Little, Brown to boost what has so far been minimal interest in the foreign language rights to the autobiography. (It paid Cherie for "world rights" and hopes to recuperate some of cost by selling the rights to non-English editions.)
Cherie's deadline to deliver her draft cogitations is May. Only the Dutch language rights had been sold before this week's fair. The Meulenhoff Boekerij publisher is anxious to obtain a copy of Cherie's draft asap, in order to begin the translation – fearful that Holland's bilingual readers will simply buy the English version.
Cherie stayed longer than expected, almost revealed the title of her tome before a publicity minder intervened, and disclosed that her most recent read was Iain M Banks' Matter (sibling super adventures in the outer galaxy). Publication is 2 October – awkward for the PM, addressing Labour's conference that week.
Mind your back Rob, it's a rough game
This week has been an eventful one in the tenure of the young old fart Rob Andrew, former 71-cap England fly-half and now the Rugby Football Union's elite director.
Two days ago he dispensed with the services of national coach Brian Ashton – who took England to the World Cup final in October – and replaced him with the Webb Ellis-lifting pug-nosed bruiser Martin Johnson. Amidst the blood-letting, Andrew found time to wash the crimson from his palms and head out on to the rugby field for a long-delayed playing comeback. He captained a team of MPs and Lords raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
Toiling in the politicians' pack was the barrel-chested member for Hemel Hempstead, Mike Penning, appointed as minder to protect Andrew. "This was the first time he had played in nine years," reports a breathkess Penning. "But still no one was capable of laying a finger on him. Actually, it was my job to make sure nobody touched him."
Andrew and the MPs lost 17-7. Modesty restricted him to taking one penalty kick, which he converted.
Jasmine's stout denial
Note to self: don't call Jasmine Guinness a "brewing heiress" – as the model and toy shop owner is popularly billed in the printed pages of Her Majesty's Fourth Estate – unless willing to own a shiner colour coordinated with a pint of the black stuff.
"It's complete bollocks!" exclaimed the otherwise friendly Jasmine, granddaughter of former Guinness director Lord Moyne, as she warmed to her theme at a Montblanc party. "There is no heiress to the Guinness fortune. If I was the heiress I wouldn't have three jobs and live in some crappy flat. I hope you print that because journalists always ask that but I'm not."
She added: "Me and my friends were thinking about that the other day: what could you do with all that money? A girl inherited £2.5bn. Imagine. If you had that much you could help millions of people at the grass roots."
Note to Bank of England employees. Jenny Scott, who is leaving her job at the BBC as Andrew Neil's sidekick to join you as director of communications, after losing out to Stephanie Flanders for the corporation's economics editorship, does not, reliable sources insist, have a tattoo on her chest "just below the waterline" of a red rose with a small green stalk. So if contacted by BBC staffer who insists she does, please ask him to desist...
* Ah! A Heat moment. Spotted: the respected former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd returning, yesterday lunchtime, to the Foreign Office. "He was at some huge meeting with a load of Arab diplomats," says my suede-loafered chap in the Locarno Suite. "He was really tucking into the strawberry and cream canapes."
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