DIARY

Pretty shoddy, Portillo

I would not recommend Michael Portillo to loiter too close to the Lords at present. One of their number rang me in a high twitch yesterday to say that the Portillo name is mud in that chamber.

The problem? It seems that in his entire political career Portillo has only ever put two important Bills through Parliament: the first being last year's Jobseekers' Bill; the second is the Reserve Forces Bill, which is just going through.But in both cases the original Bill has been so badly drafted that it has had to be recommitted - that is, redrafted and re-presented to a committee before making it through to the Lords for debate.

"It is a pretty shoddy performance," says my disgruntled noble lord, "and all parties here are very fed up with him."

But isn't this a tad unfair? Surely, it's up to the parliamentary draftsmen to sort out the fine print. "It is not," an equally angry whip tells me. "The responsibility to get these Bills right before they enter Parliament belongs to the minister. The draftsman just follows his or her instructions."

Enemies in the Admiralty, enemies in the Lords ... 1996 has not begun well for the darling of the right.

The Prince and the what?

The Prince and the showgirl? Puh-leese. It's the prince and the actress. I'm glad to find Patricia Kirkwood upholding the traditions of actorly hauteur.

In a letter to the Daily Express this week, she scotches the myth that has resurfaced in the press recently of a relationship between herself and Prince Philip. It is a myth that has dogged and distressed her for 10 years, she says. And she adds, giving vent to 10 years of irritation: "Incidentally, I was never a 'showgirl' and neither was I a 'dancer'. I was an actress and singer, as described in two volumes of Who's Who in the Theatre."

Quite right. It just doesn't sound quite so catchy in a headline.

Ally behind the scenes

I am much moved by a stirring article in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. In it the journalist Barbara Amiel, wife of the Telegraph's proprietor, Conrad Black, makes a passionate case for the Royal Opera House in the light of recent criticism.

"It is home to the finest ballet company in the world," she reminds us, "and one of the finest opera ensembles as well." The average price of an opera ticket may be pounds 67, but, she argues, that can't begin to cover the cost of production.

In lyrical vein she claims that the dancers Darcey Bussell and Sylvie Guillem "take us into a world of such incandescent beauty that even spring flowers cannot match their radiance".

She then moves on to a more metaphysical level altogether. "Giving funds to opera when you don't like it is akin to giving to a charity for an illness that one will never get. My age and childlessness does not stop me from contributing to childhood leukaemia ... "

It can only have been pressure of space, I'm sure, that caused both Ms Amiel and the Daily Telegraph to neglect to mention that the author is a member of the Royal Opera House Trust. According to the Royal Opera House's literature, the trust was "established to support the work of the Royal Opera House and its three companies ... The Royal Opera House is extremely grateful for this support."

MPs drink to the Czechs

The arduous workload of our underpaid MPs: part II. On Wednesday night the honourable gentlemen and a few ladies packed the large Jubilee Room at the Commons for the fine and upstanding cause of supporting Czech Heritage. The particular aspect of Czech Heritage turned out to be that country's beer heritage. The free and lengthy beer-tasting session (sorry, heritage support meeting) went on well into the evening.

Welsh Water's dry humour

Welsh Water was in bullish mood yesterday when it officially took over South Wales Electricity in a pounds 853m deal. The water company's chief executive, Graham Hawker, went on BBC Wales's morning radio bulletin to announce that the new company so formed would be called Hyder, the Welsh word for confidence. In the town of Brecon, home to Welsh Water's head office, the townsfolk would have been glowing with confidence and pride over their morning tea, were it not that the latest in a series of leaks had resulted in all the water being turned off.

Eagle Eye

Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football
News
news
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
life
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Consultants - IT - Trainee / Experienced

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40-50K first year: SThree: The SThree group i...

Primary teachers needed for supply in Huntingdon

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers need...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£21500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone