Wayne's word: Rooney will cover 'Auld Slapper' affair

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The Independent Online

* With Wayne Rooney's track record, you easily could be forgiven for attempting to draw a veil over gory details of your private life.

It is, therefore, surprising to learn that England's footballing wunderkind intends to break his silence over the "Auld Slapper" affair in his forthcoming autobiography.

The publishers HarperCollins are on the verge of signing a £5m deal for Rooney's memoirs, which they'll release in five volumes over the next 12 years.

They've already sounded out several ghost-writers, who were told that nothing will be "off limits" for the autobiography.

Although this may be a ploy by HarperCollins to sign up the best talent available, sources there insist that Rooney is willing to detail the now-famous incident when he visited a brothel in his native Liverpool.

"This isn't as strange as it sounds, because the memoirs will be released over five volumes," I'm told.

"We won't get to the Auld Slapper affair until the end of volume two, which will be published some time around 2010."

"By then it'll be ancient history, from Rooney's perspective, but should still guarantee a big serialisation deal."

Yesterday, HarperCollins was unwilling to discuss details of the project, but a spokesman for Rooney said: "The expectation is that any deal will be for a series of books."

On the record, neither party would officially rule the Auld Slapper affair in or out of the autobiography at this early stage.

* Rula Lenska is finally getting the credit she deserves for getting George Galloway to drop on bended knee, lick her hand, and utter the immortal word: "Miaow".

The Celebrity Big Brother star is the subject of a bidding war between rival cat-food companies, who now wish to sign her as their "face".

Lenska tells me that two firms - believed to be Sheba and Whiskas - are in contact with her agent. A deal will be signed in the coming weeks.

"Ever since I came out of the Big Brother house and saw that video of George and me together, people have been saying I ought to appear in a cat-food commercial," she says.

"I've now had several offers; we're considering them, and something will be signed soon."

The evergreen actress, who was speaking at the first night of Diana Rigg's new West End play Honour, will be helped by an important co-star.

"I'll probably appear in the advert with my darling pet cat," she adds. "Sadly, he's not called George, though."

* For all his poise and elegance, it would be stretching things to describe Ronnie Corbett as a fashion icon.

Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that the pint-sized comedian has attended London Fashion Week.

"Corbett and his wife turned up at the achingly trendy Japanese designer Michiko Koshino's catwalk show on Wednesday," I'm told.

"They were sitting in the front row, next to Meg Matthews and Sean Pertwee. You couldn't really make it up."

Apparently, Corbett had bumped into Koshino, by chance, in a branch of Waterstones last week.

"Michiko recognised Ronnie from TV, and they hit it off immediately," says the designer's spokesman. "She thought he might enjoy her show."

Corbett's trademark outfit involves tartan trousers and a Pringle jumper. But he rose to the sartorial challenge of Fashion Week.

"Ronnie wore a snappy jacket," I'm told. "It was off-mustard yellow in colour, which is very trendy this season."

* Ping! An e-mail pops into Pandora's inbox from Michael Cashman, a Labour MEP and former star of the soap opera EastEnders.

It brings joyous news: Cashman and his boyfriend of 23 years, Paul Cottingham, have set a date for their wedding.

"We wanted to let you know that Saturday 11 March is our civil partnership ceremony," it reads.

"It allows us greater stability and security as we face the world together, no matter what life may throw at us."

As to wedding gifts, the smitten Cashman adds: "If you want to celebrate our commitment to each other with us, please donate to the Labour Party today."

Who said romance is dead?

* As if the Tate Gallery didn't already have enough on its plate, its new Gothic Nightmares exhibition looks set to open a can of worms.

Staff at the troubled gallery report being swamped by peculiar ticket applications for the show of paintings by William Blake and Henry Fuseli.

They have received hundreds of advance bookings from real-life New Romantics, who intend to turn up in full "goth" costume.

"One was from some bloke who called himself the Vampire Master of Great Britain, and signed it 'yours eternally'," I'm told.

"His e-mail address involves the phrase morbid frog. It'll make a change from the normal coach trips."

Tate director Stephen Deuchar reckons: "Our diversity strategy will move forward in leaps and bounds, if not necessarily within government guidelines."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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