Pandora: Ramsay's recollection cooks up another row

After taking a good kicking from his detractors of late, Gordon Ramsay has been characteristically keen to respond with a few counter-punches of his own.

With 2009 widely regarded as his annus horribilis, the chef claims he could not help seeing the funny side when one request headed his way. "When things get tough, it doesn't mean the comedy stops, especially when the critics are involved," says Ramsay in the latest Waitrose Food Illustrated. "Take one British critic, who will remain nameless: six months after he put the boot into me, he asked for a flattering quote for his book."

While the supermarket magazine declined to reveal the scribe's identity, industry insiders quickly pointed fingers in the direction of The Observer's Jay Rayner, who offered a contrasting version of events when Pandora called. "My publishers did indeed send novels of mine to Gordon's people for endorsement quotes and, without encouragement, they obliged, but Gordon has his chronology wrong," he said yesterday.

"I made critical comments about his food after he endorsed one of my books, not before."

Mortimer's the girl for Russian dirty talk

Despite growing success across the Atlantic, a trusty dose of self-deprecation is never too far away when Emily Mortimer is in the room. The actress explains: "I studied Russian language and literature at university, so I pissed away this very expensive education I was given. There were a lot of things I could have done but now I'm no good for anything else." Not that her linguistic skills are entirely wasted, mind. "I can have conversations with Ukrainian taxi drivers," she adds. "I can swear really dirty words and they're very impressed."

Southern surprise for Rantzen

Having made a belated career change to become a would-be MP, Esther Rantzen is still adapting to the cut-throat world of local politics.

Yesterday, Rantzen told her followers on Twitter that BBC Three Counties radio presenter Stephen Rhodes had recently informed her he intended to stand in the neighbouring constituency of Luton North. The dispirited television veteran then went on to relay the news that Rhodes had just resigned from the Beeb but was, in fact, standing against her in Luton South.

Diplomatic ace

Andy Murray was quick to pay tribute to English hero David Beckham after injury ruled him out of the World Cup this week. The young Scot hasn't always been so generous – back in his less PR savvy days, Murray caused a stir after declaring he wanted "anyone but England" to win the said tournament.

Jack it in, Johnny

While few would consider Johnny Depp to be in need of career advice, one former collaborator cannot help trying. The maverick director and former Monty Python star Terry Gilliam declares: "Johnny and I are happily divorced. I love him, he's one of my best friends, but he has to escape from Jack Sparrow. Jack has run its course."