Tough times for Allen over US photoshoot

Another day, another unsuspecting victim falls prey to Lily Allen's considerable mouth – but this time it comes in the surprising form of The New York Times. A few months ago, the singer agreed to be interviewed for the paper's arts section.

Understandably chuffed at being sought out by such a lofty institution, Allen granted its photographer rare access inside her London home, under the slightly naïve assumption that the shoot would remain on the other side of the Atlantic. The paper's syndication department, however, had other ideas and the photos have since cropped up in OK! magazine, leading Allen to brand the cerebral folk at the Times "cheap skanks".

"Needless to say I was mortified," she says. "In fact, I was in tears, six photos of inside my home for everyone to see. It is unusual for me to allow photographers into my home, but these seemed like special circumstances. After all, The New York Times is one of the most respected news publications in the world."

The Times has responded to the rant, claiming that the 23-year-old failed to request before the interview that the photographs would not be passed on for syndication.

Erotic dancer rolls into Hay

*Here's news to put some lead in the pencil of the leather-elbowed regulars at the Hay Festival. Among the speakers at this year's distinguished literary event will be Immodesty Blaize, an erotic dancer who describes herself as "the queen of tassels" and "a dazzling, dynamite bombshell with natural curves and gravity-defying assets".

Also pencilled in to make it down to the Brecon Beacons national park in May is the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The organiser, Peter Florence, says: "We are hoping they won't have to share a dressing room."

Winner's Auschwitz gaffe

*Michael Winner picked an unusually receptive group for his latest example of ineptitude. The British film director, 73, was a guest at the recent Jewish Book Week, where he spoke at length about his greatest passion: himself. Referring to an uncomfortable experience waiting to appear on BBC television, he told the audience at London's Royal National Hotel: "I had to sit in a small airless waiting room for half an hour. It was worse than Auschwitz."

Get back to the good life, urges Wood

Jo Wood is leading a one-woman fight against wastefulness. According to the soon-to-be ex-wife of the Rolling Stones guitarist, Ronnie, we have become a nation of shopaholics.

"I'm always shocked when I hear about how much we buy as a nation," she says. "We are not re-using things anywhere near enough and we seem to be in a culture where stuff gets replaced, even if there's nothing wrong with it.

"Clothes should be mended rather than thrown away. It makes economical and environmental sense but it will also mean we'll cherish what we have. We need to get back down to earth with our shopping."

How true – and how admirable, coming from the lips of someone who is looking at a reported £50m divorce settlement from her estranged hubby.

Tongue-tied Titchmarsh

*It takes a lot to throw Alan Titchmarsh off his chirrupy stride, but he found himself momentarily stumped while speaking at an engagement in London last week.

The eternally sunny television presenter was introduced to nine-year-old twins Finlay and Joseph Taylor, who were after some gardening advice. "Is wee good for tomato plants?" asked the green-fingered young scamps. "Because that's what my mum's friend suggested."

After a lengthy pause, Titchmarsh finally mustered a response. "I wouldn't put it directly on to the plants," he replied. "It might be better to put it in the compost bin first."

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