What's in the PM's sock drawer? £300 of socks

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown has not had much of a spring in his step for the past 10 days, but it is not for want of trying.

I hear that the Prime Minister recently splashed out almost £300 on a bulk order of socks: the thick, ribbed, long, comfy type, to cushion your soles from days spent standing up.

Last month he bought 20 pairs of "Navy Sea Island" cotton tootsy warmers, at £14 a set, from the outfitters Charles Tyrwhitt. All in his preferred jet black.

Rather than visit its Jermyn Street store or send a minion, Gordon shopped online and got the consignment delivered to his Scottish home in Kirkcaldy, Fife. He has done so every six months or so for the past two years, because he "loses his socks very quickly", apparently. He occasionally gets assorted plain ties sent in his sock packages.

For his suits, Brown goes instead to Savile Row and buys expensive handmade jackets each with three pairs of trousers, then wears them until they're in threads and the linings spill out.

David Cameron also shops at Charles Tyrwhitt. He likes classic shirts in neutral colours, often blue, which are currently on offer for a prudent £29.

Think of this as something of a (bizarre) service to male readers. Now, you, too, can dress like the Prime Minister or Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition!

'Sun' fails to shine on Lewis. Or is it Louis?

Jumping on bandwagons is fairly straightforward. Trying to hop on to the back of a 200mph racing car, however, is an altogether trickier proposition.

Just ask executives at The Sun, who sent their star feature writer Sharon Hendry to Shanghai at the weekend to present British sporting hero Lewis Hamilton with a special Sun trophy, if he won the Chinese Grand Prix and the Formula 1 world championship in his debut season.

Two obstacles quickly presented themselves.

Hamilton crashed out of the race leaving the title battle wide open. (It will be settled in Sao Paulo this Sunday.)

And the glittering trophy wouldn't have been much cop even if he had taken the chequered flag in China.

When poor Sharon opened her suitcase and unwrapped the gong, she noticed it had been engraved, "Congratulations, Louis Hamilton".

Back to the pits!

Slow hand of the law

Nowadays, Eric Clapton likes to play the mild man of rock. He wasn't always that way.

"We would go shoplifting in Cobham or Woking," he says of his days as a teenage tearaway in his new autobiography. "We'd get on one of the trains from Guildford, choose an empty compartment and demolish it... smash the mirrors, tear down the maps, cut the luggage nets with our penknives, slash the upholstery to ribbons, then get out hooting with laughter."

Clapton should be careful with such loose talk. When Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher boasted "we are lads, we have burgled houses and nicked car stereos, we like girls and swear," Manchester CID threatened to investigate.

Surrey Police says Clapton's crimes are too old for them to bother with.

Media moves

The rumour mill at Rupert Murdoch's Wapping Fortress hums with speculation that the business editor of The Times, James Harding, will take over from editor Robert Thomson within weeks.

"Sorry to disappoint," writes Harding in response, "but the rumour mill seems to have got ahead of itself."

We shall see!

* Meanwhile, over at London's Evening Standard, reports come in that Tom Bower, the biographer husband of editor Veronica Wadley, suffered a prang with another motorist on Monday evening on his way back from a newspaper function. Providentially, no serious damage was done to either jalopy, and after swapping numbers the drivers tootled off.

Tatchell sets sights on Tehran

I feel moved to warn the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to watch over his shoulder. Forget George Bush planning air strikes on Tehran. He should really beware of Peter Tatchell.

The campaigner, who memorably twice attempted a citizen's arrest of the Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe only to be beaten by thugs, has now fixed his attention on the Iranian regime's human rights abuses. His mood was not helped by his treatment during Sunday's Al Quds Day pro-Palestinian rally in Trafalgar Square, which George Galloway attended.

Tatchell claims that he was threatened by pro-Iranian, pro-Hezbollah marchers. He said: "They were anti-Semitic and chanted: 'Tatchell is a paedophile. Tatchell is a CIA agent. Get out! Get out!' They behaved in a most unreligious way."

Email pandora@independent.co.uk

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