Pandora: Sounding out Blair
Friday 28 March 2008
Tony Blair invaded Iraq with fabricated "evidence" and the Stop the War Coalition won't let him forget it. Next Thursday, the Middle East peace envoy is to deliver a speech at Westminster Cathedral on "Faith and Globalisation". (Fear of being labelled "a nutter" – his word – made Blair avoid talking about his religious views in office, and stick to less controversial matters like waging war in the Middle East.)
To jollify proceedings, Stop the War is organising a "wall of sound" at 6.30pm outside God's house, inviting all and sundry to appear with musical instruments to drown out Tony's talk. Confirmed attendees include two choirs and students from the Royal Academy of Music. "We're hoping for a hell of a turn-out," says a spokesman. "The phone keeps ringing."
Queen's catering for Sarko leaves fishy smell at the castle
Given the hackneyed nonchalance of the French about such matters, President Nicolas Sarkozy is unlikely to have devoted much thought to the provenance of his Filet de Barbue Beatrice (fillet of brill) starter at Wednesday night's Windsor Castle state banquet. Why, though, is Buckingham Palace so sniffy about disclosing the origin of the flatfish served to HM's 148 guests?
Brill is classified as an imperilled stock by the Marine Conservation Society and features prominently on its Fish to Avoid list. "Brill is mainly taken as by-catch in beam trawl fisheries in the North Sea," warns the society. "A considerable proportion of the catch is immature and the stock over-exploited. Avoid eating. Choose brill from other areas caught by demersal otter rather than beam trawling. Avoid eating immature brill (less than 40cm) caught by any method as small fish will not have had chance to spawn or reproduce."
So where did Liz get her brill? A Palace spokesman claims: "We don't have that information."
Although exempt from Freedom of Information legislation, the Royal Household states its policy is to "provide [non-political] information as freely as possible" and "to account openly for its use of public money".
Kippers for breakfast seems to fit the criteria for disclosure. Yet Buckingham Palace last year repeatedly stonewalled requests from this newspaper to list the fish species it purchases with public money. Enough to make one spit out one's goblet of Chassagne-Montrachet, n'est-ce pas?
Return of the green fly: Goldblum in enviro talks
Save the flies, man. Jeff Goldblum, star of the classic 1986 science fiction-horror-romance in which a man mutates into an insect, is in talks with leading environmental lawyers about possible joint projects.
The lofty actor, 55, currently in London to perform in Kevin Spacey's Speed the Plow at the Old Vic, has met the chief executive of ClientEarth, a non-profit group of lawyers seeking "Justice for the Planet" – fighting coal power stations, airport expansions and the like.
The outfit's trustees include Stephen Hockman QC, proponent of a world environment court to enforce Kyoto targets. The musician Brian Eno and would-be MP Zac Goldsmith are patrons.
They seek a collaboration with Goldblum, who has previously advertised Toyota's petro-electric hybrid Prius car.
Goldblum and the ClientEarth CEO plan a further (presumably staccato) meeting in Los Angeles this summer.
Martine's novel hold-up
Martine McCutcheon's attempt to reinvent herself as a Mills and Boon de nos jours appears to have hit the buffers.
In January, the cockney actress, 31, was reported to be in talks with several leading publishing houses about her planned debut novel, The Mistress, about "the other woman", the first in a trilogy about strong women.
However, I hear the talks with the Century imprint – whose seduction had included the exclamation that Martine "writes like an angel" – were placed on hold. There has been a parting of ways between McCutcheon and her agent handling the sale, Jaine Brent.
"I'm not actually dealing with Martine any more," says Brent when I call. As for whether the pair have fallen out: "I'd rather not comment on that."
Aha, a photo op – let's be 'avin ya! The Schools Secretary Ed Balls, a Norwich FC supporter, and Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, an Evertonian and one-time pitch invader, yesterday played each other in a heated football computer game (Fifa 08). The pretext was their press conference about a crackdown on violent games.
"Have you any idea what's going on because I'm not very good at this," Balls told one boy. The ministers were 0-0 when they asked two kids to take over, having been called away to host the conference. Upon their return, Balls was horrified to discover Norwich losing 2-0. "I can't find the shoot button," protested the child. Interrupted Ed: "Kill the game." The Press Association duly reported the score as 0-0. Spin docs don't die, they just get promoted.
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