Sting in the tale of new Blair 'war crimes' drama

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The Independent Online

* It appears that the eco-friendly rock star Sting and his wife Trudie Styler are the latest slebs to pull the plug on their support for Tony Blair.

The musician has been a dinner guest of the Blairs at Chequers and was considered part of the New Labour furniture. He was appointed a Commander of the British Empire in 2003.

But in the credits for More4's forthcoming drama The Trial of Tony Blair, thanks is given to pop's most celebrated tree-hugger-cum-tantric sex specialist and his spouse, pictured.

That's surprising, since the film, produced by the team who made A Very Social Secretary about David Blunkett, is somewhat derogatory about the PM (again played by Robert Lindsay).

It imagines the months after Blair leaves office. The former leader - by now a Catholic convert - is gripped by hellish hallucinations of dead children and suicide bombers, leading to a breakdown over his legacy (the Iraq invasion). He is extradited to The Hague where he faces trial for war crimes.

Sting's involvement with the project is to allow the film-makers to use a (Johnny Cash) cover of his song "I Hung My Head" in the soundtrack - something he was delighted to do, I'm told.

"There was a legal problem," says the executive producer, David Aukin. "But we got in touch with Trudie Styler who said it was fine. They were very happy for us to use it."

Says the writer Alistair Beaton: "We got up Blunkett's nose and that's a real thrill."

No 10 has not yet asked for a copy of the tape.

* Another setback has befallen Keith Floyd's return to the precarious business of catering.

For the past 18 months, the famously hard-living chef has been trying to open an eponymous restaurant in the exotic Thai resort of Phuket. It was finally due to take bookings in December.

Unfortunately, the grand opening has been postponed again after Floydy arrived to find things "in a right state", with the staff not trained properly to wait or cook. He is "totally pissed off".

His spokesman embarks on a lengthy, impassioned rant against the locals when I call, and concedes: "This goes on and on. Keith's supposed to be flying back there to open it in a few weeks, but who knows what will happen in the meantime?"

Such chaos has a familiar ring. His last venture, Floyd's Inn Pub, bankrupted him after he personally guaranteed a drinks order of £36,000.

* Rod Stewart doesn't bother with interviews, so Psychologies magazine has secured something of a coup for its February edition.

Asked what misconceptions of him persist, Stewart (born in Highgate 62 years ago today - happy birthday, Rod) replies: "One, that I'm tight. Two, that I'm 5ft 7in, which annoys me."

He explains: "The papers say: 'Midget-like Rod, Penny's boyfriend.' I'm not 5ft 7in - I'm more like 5ft 11in."

Which may, as the picture shows, be true on a good hair day. Especially if he stands on his wallet.

Stewart plans to wed his charming 35-year-old fiancée, Penny Lancaster, in the summer. She gave birth to his seventh child 14 months ago.

Whatever Rod's specifications, they have hardly hindered his love life.

* An update for you from the chimps' tea party in Westminster. In an attempt to prove that Slough is more populous than the Government claims, Fiona Mactaggart, the honourable member for the town, told the Commons: "The council has even counted the amount of shit that goes through our local sewers, which is considerably greater than it was 10 years ago."

Tory opposition MPs began hooting and hand-clasp grooming, so she quickly added: "I'm sure that's not a parliamentary word. I am sorry."

Labour's Paul Flynn helpfully intervened, asking, for the record, if it was appropriate to use "shit" in Parliament "as a noun but not as an adjective". The deputy speaker acquiesced, then cut short the titillation: "Orderrr! We have dwelt long enough on one word."

* Last week brought news from the front line that a Royal Marines cricket team had been skittled by the Afghan National Army. (This a country with a five-year cricket history, where the national game, buzkashi, a sort of polo, involves throwing about a headless sheep and whipping each other.)

Pleasing to hear, then, that our MPs have (sort of) restored national sporting pride during their cricket tour Down Under. Although they lost both their matches against Australia's Parliament - albeit by just five runs on one occasion, Freddie take note - they did pip New Zealand's representatives in a rain-interrupted match in Wellington's Botanical Gardens.

Captain Graham Allen MP (Lab) claims: "I think it may well be the country's sole sporting success in the southern hemisphere in 2006." Cue outraged letters from tiddlywinks players.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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