Toby, Boris and a rather tricky bit of party politics

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The Independent Online

Both Young and his editor at the magazine, Boris Johnson protest that they are on good terms despite the play's depiction of Bozza as a philandering fool. But behind the scenes, animosity between the two has just grown to envelop Johnson's sister, Rachel.

She is an old friend of Young, and has invited him to her 40th birthday party next month. This infuriated her brother - and his wife, Marina - who insisted if Young were there, they would have to stay away.

Since then, some quiet diplomacy appears to have taken place. When Pandora called Young yesterday, he said he would not be going.

"I think Boris is going," the playwright insists. "But we can't. We had to cancel."

For his part, Johnson was being magnanimous. "I've nothing against Toby," he said. "If you want to find out about my sister's party, you'll have to ask her." Rachel Johnson preferred not to comment.

The two men can meet tonight, however, at the Speccie's summer bash. Kimberly Quinn, who publishes the magazine, and her cuckolded husband Stephen - also targets of Young's farce - are expected to stay away.

Her ex-lover, David Blunkett, will just have gone on holiday.

* A mere three weeks after London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics, a bidding war is underway for the coveted job of lighting the Olympic torch.

An early starter (hoping to join the likes of Mohammed Ali, who did it in Atlanta in 1996) is - surprise - Sir Steve Redgrave.

"I'm the best Olympian that this country has ever produced," he tells me, modestly.

"It would be the greatest of honours - it would top everything I've achieved. I've been involved with the Olympics for much of my life as a competitor and recently with the media."

To boost his chances, Sir Steve goes on to lavish praise on Lord Coe, who is still running the 2012 committee, and recommends him to be the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

But Redgrave's final plea is more poignant. "I'll be 50 in 2012. And if I was asked to light the flame, it would be a very special occasion."

* The announcement of one of London's least likely engagements - that of the former lobbyist Derek Draper to the GMTV babe Kate Garraway, pictured together - is a cause for celebration.

She's been telling everyone (including the five million or so viewers of her morning television show) that Draper has proposed.

"I wanted to get the announcement out before he sobered up this morning and panicked and regretted his decision," she said yesterday.

Draper, on the other hand, remains strangely reticent. "I am not talking to people about it," he tells me. "But I think Kate is. Give her agent a ring, then he will say whatever Kate wants to say."

Draper has obviously learnt a thing or two from his past involvement with the press. He was at the centre of the "lobbygate" scandal after he boasted of his intimacy with the "people who matter" to undercover journalists.

* The historian and controversialist Dr David Starkey is being nasty again, though this time behind closed doors. He's kicking up a fuss at the committee meetings he attends to decide who deserves an English Heritage blue plaque.

"I am fighting to the death against one for the conductor Annunzio Mantovani," he tells friends.

"I've used the dirtiest tactics - and what I have learned in academic politics is very dirty indeed."

When Pandora called to find out what the "rudest man in Britain" has against Mantovani - the king of easy listening music, who died in Tunbridge Wells in 1980 - he would not say, but there is a clue in Starkey's favourite blue plaque of recent times.

"I was fully in support of Jimi Hendrix, who triggered one of the most violent discussions we've ever had," he adds.

* Stand by for a messy split among animal rights activists. One Sean Gifford, the European director of the campaigning group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) appeared recently in a debate on the ethics of fishing in which he was asked what he'd do if a mosquito bit him.

"Splat it," came his decisive answer.

Back at Peta headquarters, this causes something of an uproar. It takes 24 hours for them to prepare a written statement. When it comes, it reads as follows: "If someone is honestly worried about cruelty to insects, they can give them the benefit of the doubt by leaving them alone, moving them along with a wave of the hand, using a repellent, or at least killing them quickly."

I wonder whether the same goes for dogs and cats.