Revealed: Blair's secret past in public school choir

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The Independent Online

* Tony Blair's spin machine puts it about that he likes pop music, organising "Cool Britannia" parties at Downing Street, and talking-up his student rock combo, the Ugly Rumours.

They have, however, been keeping a guilty secret. For it emerges that our guitar-strumming Prime Minister, pictured, is in fact a former choirboy, who spent his adolescence warbling Stravinsky.

We owe this revelation to Michael Lester-Cribb, a little-known classical musician from Edinburgh, who taught at Blair's public school, Fettes.

In a letter to this month's Prospect magazine, he speaks for this first time about the experience.

"By chance, I was nominally responsible for our Prime Minister's musical education for four or five years," it reads.

"For understandable political reasons, he chooses now to stress his interest in pop music. He organised a pop group while he was at school, and I was pleased that he showed initiative.

"What I do not forget is that he was also a voluntary member of the chapel choir, and showed every sign of enjoying a wide range of music, from Palestrina to Stravinsky."

Lester Cribb's decision to break his silence - he's previously avoided biographers - fills in a large gap in the PM's teenage CV.

"The existence of a Fettes pop group is previously unknown," says an expert.

"Neither has it been proven, until now, that he was a choirboy. At his prep school, Durham Choristers, Blair is thought to have failed the audition."

* Gordon Ramsay may yet succeed Jeremy Clarkson as the loudest-mouthed bête noire of Britain's earnest environmental lobby.

Next week's edition of The F-Word shows him chucking more than a hundred portions of sea bass into the bin.

"Gordon's getting a team of chefs to cook for 50 people at a restaurant in Chelsea called The Deep," reports an insider.

"Unfortunately, he keeps finding little things wrong with what they're doing, and about 150 plates of fish get chucked away. Like most UK fish, Sea Bass stocks aren't exactly healthy, so it's a pretty horrendous waste."

Asked about the incident, Channel 4 admits: "It would be fair to say a good number did not reach the requisite standard."

All of which leaves the Marine Stewardship Council in a tricky position. "Gordon's a supporter of ours," they claimed yesterday. "He's extremely interested in the issue of sustainable fish stocks."

* Despite being engaged since May 2004, Sian Lloyd has yet to "name a date" to get spliced to matinee idol Lembit Opik.

It's already well overdue, though. For Lloyd shows every sign of making a cracking MP's wife.

Speaking at the Macmillan Lords versus Commons tug-of-war on Tuesday, the weather-girl managed - in five splendid minutes - to both tell me about future hubby's medical problems, and insult his party leader.

"Lembit isn't taking part," she said. "He gets out of everything like this because he's got a bad back.

"In fact, I don't think any Liberal Democrats are taking part. That doesn't bode well. Perhaps Menzies Campbell should be - after all, he must be better at tug-of war than he is at PMQs."

* My telephone stands to attention. It's Mark Oaten: Lib Dem MP and victim of Pandora's favourite sex scandal of this Parliament.

Mr Oaten would like to stress that (contrary to my item on Tuesday) his fall from grace did not involve a glass coffee table.

He does admit to hiring rent boys, but reports of "acts unsuitable for a family newspaper" remain the subject of ongoing discussion with the News of the World's lawyers.

Apopros of another important issue of confusion - whether he has or hasn't decided to grow a beard - Oaten tells me: "It's designer stubble; heaven knows when that moves into being a beard."

* As I recently revealed, auto-cutie Kate Silverton is heading-up the BBC's fashion teamatt this week's Royal Ascot. It's a strange appointment, since Silverton has a famously dodgy dress sense. This month, viewers of BBC Breakfast received a formal apology, after she wore a green and yellow psychedelic blouse, with matching scarf.

Now - shock, horror! - I learn that the migraine-inducing garment is poised to make a return to our TV screens. Silverton has decided to donate it to Children in Need, on whose behalf it will be auctioned-off to the highest bidder (once viewers have been warned to adjust their contrast). "They will have to be very needy children," she said, quite needlessly, when we met at the Berkshire racecourse.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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