Reid reveals whereabouts of his walnut to Currant Bun

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The Independent Online

* Oh, to have been a fly on the wall when the Home Secretary got his papers yesterday morning.

"NATIONWIDE HUNT," exclaimed the front page of The Sun. "JOHN REID'S BRAIN IS MISSING."

Beneath a picture of a literally brainless Home Sec, political editor George Pascoe-Watson extinguished any hope Reid carried of becoming PM, attacking him for his "abysmal failure to solve the prisons crisis".

"There were fears for the Home Secretary's sanity," GPW wrote, parking his caravan on Reid's front lawn.

"In what could be a sign of dementia, he has resorted to begging judges to let crooks loose rather than send them to the slammer... Reid's walnut-sized brain went on the run." The paper opened a Missing Brain Hotline, promising to collect the absent organ in a matchbox.

Reid was "totally pissed off" about the knife wound - his camp has courted the Rupert Murdoch media empire, leaking stories to The Sun and News of the World.

He stormed into a press gallery lunch yesterday and swivelled his neck, a la Mr Mackay of Porridge. "Where's George Pascoe-Watson?" he demanded. "Come here George." Reid handed the sheepish hack a walnut whip. GPW beat a hasty retreat to the corner.

Reid's special adviser Steve Bates - the gnashers in his attack dog bite - was seen cradling the sweet bag.

Pascoe-Watson says he has not eaten the sweet: he is saving it for a special occasion. "It has pride of place on my desk."

* Actress Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) won the Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for Gideon's Daughter, set in the summer of 1997 when Tony Blair entered No 10 and Princess Diana died.

Blunt, 23, has been shortlisted for the same gong at the Baftas, where she is also up against Bond girl Eva Green for the Orange Rising Star Award, voted by the public.

Blunt will be "flying solo" at the ceremony, however, because her Canadian crooner boyfriend Michael Buble ("Bou-blay") is nominated for a Grammy the same evening, 11 February, in Los Angeles.

"I won't have time to shop for a dress because I will be filming Sunshine Cleaning in Albuquerque," she tells me on the phone from her Tinsel Town hotel room. "I have a lovely girl who helps me with styling, so she will probably have to fly to New Mexico."

Blunt adds: "I don't expect to win but I will write a speech. The Globes [night] was a frenzy: I hadn't written anything.

"I looked down at the audience and Jack Nicholson was staring up at me and I couldn't even remember what my bloody name was.

"So I have learnt my lesson!"

* Hard as it is to believe, priapic celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli is ready to settle down.

I hear that Novelli whose previous romantic conquests include Patsy Kensit and musician Marina Laslo, has found love with a beautiful young colleague, Michelle Kennedy. She started working with him one year ago. In a September interview with The Independent, Novelli described her as "a very good friend".

He tells me now: "People used to say I was a womaniser but I fell in love with her. It's a nice feeling because I don't actually think I fell in love with anybody [before]. I know I sound a bit of a mush, but I think people underestimate the size and potential of love. It changed me, but I didn't know it would ever happen."

Monsieur, le sick bag s'il vous plaît!

* The top-shelf glossy Penthouse has resumed publication, reincarnated as a "men's lifestyle magazine targeting mantellectuals".

Says a spokeswoman: "The new Penthouse does have an, erm, appreciation of the female form. But it is artistic and tasteful." And it has an unexpected endorsement from Germaine Greer.

Sandwiched between erotic fiction, video reviews, fashion tips, "Ron Jeremy's porn card from America" and some intriguing pixellated personal advertisements, is an interview with Greer about her 1969 launch of the first European sex newspaper, Suck.

The new Penthouse reprints a graphic photograph of the feminist author with her blessing. Greer says: "It's a historic event, so I don't mind."

£4.75 at all good corner shops.

* Rejoice! British heavy metal outfit Saxon are to enter the hallowed pages of the Guinness Book of Records. Their feat: a new high in communal air guitar playing.

The band took to the pitch at half-time during Sheffield Wednesday's match with Sunderland on Saturday (to promote a gig in the city this evening), with a lady from Brighton "who has a PhD in air guitar".

Unfortunately the 29,000-strong home crowd, having just seen their team concede two goals, were in no mood to co-operate with the record attempt. One official says that he has "seen more cheerful faces in the dole queue" and that only about 250 people could be caught on camera jamming.

Comments a Guinness spokesman: "We are confident that Saxon have set a new record, as there are no previous attempts in this category."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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