Still life: reclusive Freud prepares to bare all

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The Independent Online

* Lucian Freud, long revered as one of Britain's greatest living painters, is also among the most reclusive, shunning the limelight throughout his 60-year career. But Pandora hears that the portrait artist, 83 will "bare his soul" on the glossy pages of the society magazine Tatler next month.

Freud is understood to have spoken for the first time about several aspects of his colourful personal life, in an interview at his London studio with the editor, Geordie Greig.

He gave the article to mark a forthcoming exhibition at the Acquavella gallery in New York.

Greig declined to comment on the contents. A colleague promised a "full profile", however, adding: "The interview has just been transcribed. It looks like nothing was verboten - the ex-wives and girlfriends were certainly not off-limits."

In recognition of Freud's swordsmanship, Tatler voted him Britain's second most eligible bachelor, after Prince Harry, in 2002.

Says critic Martin Gayford: "It's a bit of an event. Freud did an interview with Leigh Bowery, one of his models, for a magazine called Lovely Jubbly in the early 1990s - that's the only one I can think of. He doesn't generally like talking to the press, but who can really blame him?"

Freud was eating with a young blonde woman in the Wolseley restaurant in Piccadilly on Saturday night.

"He was looking quite unkempt," says a fellow diner. "Stubble, paint-spattered trousers - and seeming to eat only a bowl of spinach."

Good for him!

* British fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney choose not to launch their collections in London, preferring the higher-profile Paris, Milan or New York.

Welshman Julien Macdonald insists they are wrong, telling me at a cocktail party: "It's not trendier elsewhere. London is where fashion begins, where trends are set - and it's my home.

"That's why I keep coming here - and that won't ever change." Some promise.

Accompanying him to the drinks bash was the Hollywood stylist Rachel Zoe, who gave the throng of hacks her three top tips for walking the red carpet: "Smile, keep your shoulders back and make sure your dress isn't see-through." Take note.

Shame she hadn't advised actress client Lindsay Lohan to wear knickers when pictured legs akimbo by the paparazzi last week...

* Having been ordered to rest until the end of the year, the maverick chef Keith Floyd has, naturally, ignored his doctor's advice.

Floyd, 62 postponed his one-man theatre show after being diagnosed with exhaustion and a stomach ulcer in April, prompting fears that the old rogue was heading for retirement. I'm informed that the hard-living presenter nevertheless plans to fly out to the Thai island of Phuket this November, where he will open his new, eponymous restaurant.

"He's back in action," triumphantly declares his spokesman. "Keith's going to be in Phuket for three weeks training the staff and doing presentations. He's then coming back to do a theatre show in Dorchester."

Good to have the boy back.

* The riots prompted by the Hungarian Prime Minister's alarming honesty (he admits his government has "lied morning, noon and night") may prove a boon to the British writer Victor Sebestyen, who last night launched his book Twelve Days: Revolution 1956. How the Hungarians Tried to Topple Their Soviet Masters.

"I honestly didn't organise any of this," pleads Sebestyen. "The Hungarians are just extremely good at spontaneous rioting, because of their rashness, impetuosity and courage."

Guests attending last night's book launch did not burn down the Arts Club in Mayfair and run screaming along the Mall before being floored by water cannon-wielding riot police.

Which is sort of a shame.

* As the country veteran Willie Nelson, 73, contemplates a possible six-month jail sentence following a drug bust on his tour bus in Louisiana, he may be heartened to hear he has the support of another man partial to the occasional jazz cigarette.

Step forward the celebrity dope ambassador Howard Marx, who is quick to offer Willie his sympathies when I call (purely for journalistic reasons).

"It's actually not much for a busload of people," Howard helpfully points out, on hearing that US police uncovered one and a half pounds of marijuana and 91 grams of magic mushrooms. "But it's a great advert for the stuff when you consider he's still out performing every night at his age."

Perhaps not the character witness Mr Nelson requires at this trying time.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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